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 17 December 2017

Pantries and Preparedness. The year in review.

This is the last pantries and preparedness post for 2017.  I am really starting to reflect on the year and what we have learned and achieved.  I know for sure that setting goals and looking at them weekly has helped us come a long way.  It is now three years since I started!  
We had moved into this house and I had a small cellar which I never used.  I began to feel a strong prompting that I should be using it and get prepared.  And ever since that is what I have been doing!
It is truly amazing how much you achieve when you just keep at something even when you do it in lots of really small ways.

The main things we achieved this year were adding a rainwater tank and buying a bigger, more powerful,  generator.  We continued to build up supplies and I learned how to make many more things myself from sour dough bread and yoghurt to essential oils for fending off germs.
Also we are working on other things like bartering more and establishing extra streams of income.
These things are going to be high on my list in the new year.

In many ways this year wasn't easy!   I was sick the first half!  I just had one thing after another early in the year then the spider bites which made me so ill.  I will never forget it!  
We did two lots of renovations which means we now have a beautiful bathroom and new floors in half the house.  I love both!  But the removing lasted a few months and as anyone who has renovated knows it throws you into a mess that cannot be described!  It is pretty stressful!
Andy has had times of plenty of work and times of none.  He has then had clients who pay their bills and are thankful and clients who don't pay.  
My daughter Lucy has suffered migraines that become constant giving her no days off... now she has two neurologists and we still aren't sorted out although some progress has been made...

BUT the year had many blessings and I am celebrating those!  Firstly, Scarlett was born!  A second Granddaughter!

She is such a happy baby!   Everything is funny!

Harper was besotted with her from day one.  This is GreatGrandma putting Scarlett to bed ever helped by Harper...

This was an early photo that is my favourite and I have shown before.  Scarlett's constant companion...

Then Scarlett started to grow and they could play!  

This was exactly how Chloe and Lucy were!  It is so lovely!

Our other great celebration is Chloe and Luke's engagement.

Now we are planning a wedding for next year! 

So we have a lot to be thankful for.   And a Christmas of all being together next Monday! 

How have you increased your pantry and your preparedness? 
Are you in a better place than you were at the beginning of the year?
Start thinking seriously about your goals for the new year as that is what we will be talking about next!
Last week we were talking about using the Christmas sales and the season as a way to build up your pantry.  This week I am working on that as I am already seeing sales.   Usually I am too busy now to really notice and investigate.  But this week I am checking several places as if I can fill the freezer and re start my gift cupboard at amazing prices then that is what I am going to do!  I will probably have more success straight after Christmas though.  But either way it will send me into 2018 well ahead!  That is the aim!

Have a wonderful week.  Enjoy this very special time.  Make Christmas joyful.  Bless others and help them. Watch out for someone you can help... there will be someone right under your nose...

See you on Wednesday for last minute gift ideas! xxx


  1. You have had quite a year. Those grandbabies are just adorable!!!
    I guess we all look at the new year as another new start. I like that thought.
    I have accomplished a lot this year - but plan on being more organized in the coming year. That's a HUGE goal for me.
    Enjoy your family and your Christmas.

    1. Dear Cheryl,
      Thank you! I do really see the new year as a new start. I usually make a lot of changes and make a lot of plans. And change the blog too! So I am thinking on this!
      I am glad you feel you accomplished a lot this year. My biggest help for organisation is my planner. Everything is written down and this helps me enormously. That and spending an hour or so every Sunday yo plan my week. This is my biggest time saver too.
      Have a wonderful Christmas to you too! With love

  2. Dearest Annabel, A very merry and blessed Christmas to you and your Family, thank you for all you do and teach. You make the biggest difference to the quality of many peoples lives, we all love you. Also wishing you and your family a great healthy and happy new year.

    1. Dear Cassandra,
      What a beautiful thing to say! Thank you! Thank you for all your comments and support too!
      I hope you have a wonderful Christmas with your family and that 2018 will be very good for us all! With love and thanks,

  3. Your granddaughters are just adorable! I'm so happy too for Chloe and Luke. You have definitely had a eventful year!
    You know I just told my husband today while Kroger (US) is giving us good sales we need to stock up. So every week we get what's on sale. Prices seem to be getting higher little by little and products seem to be getting smaller. So while we can we are building our pantry. Have a wonderful Christmas! Vickie

  4. Annabel, What a year!!!! I'd say the end was better than the beginning and a wonderful blessing as a whole! Thank you for bringing us along and teaching us all something in the process! Many blessings for this Christmas season and the new year to come! Hugs, Holley

  5. Hello Annabel and lovely bluebirds :) . You have had a beautiful year of lots of accomplishments this year Annabel and you continue to amaze us.

    Our accomplishments include -
    - Saving our 1st ever crop of broad bean seeds from the gardens for planting next season.
    - Worked out that we can successfully use dried grass clippings and dried shredded leaves for mulch instead of buying hay which cost us $120 each time we have to mulch all our vegetable gardens.
    - Purchased a lovely new 3mt cantilever umbrella for our veranda so we can eat outdoors under shade in hot weather.
    - Bought 18 more strawberry plants, 3 lavender plants, 1 dwarf Lisbon lemon and an Imperial mandarin tree for the gardens and the fruit trees to put in pots on the veranda.
    - Through trial and error found an easier way to compost our scraps and trench composted them instead straight into the gardens which saves a lot of back breaking turning of ground compost piles.
    - Increasing our food storage in the home from the beginning of the year by 6 months worth of sugar, toilet paper, 1 year of BBQ sauce, 4mths worth of flour, 2 weeks worth of long life tinned vegetables and meats, 2 months of spam, 1yrs worth of honey through trading labour and about 2 months worth of prescription pain medications for DH's back injuries by intermittently rotating with natural mineral supplements recommended by our doctor and pain medications.
    - This is a valuable money saver and one we found out this year for those in Australia on high doses of prescription pain or other medications on benefits is - that you can request that your doctor make out 1 bulk script for a months worth of medication on one script. The doctor then rings through to the pharmacy with your Medicare number and gets a code. You then go to the pharmacy and have that script filled and instead of in our case paying $6.30 per script of 1 box of medication we pay only $6.30 for 12 boxes of medication (normally this would cost us $75.60).
    - Increased our trading skills and traded home grown garden vegetables for lemons, figs and eggs.
    - Asked when we saw our neighbour was not using his lemons on his tree whether we could pay or have them and he said we could have them and picked the lot for us too, what a blessing.
    - Learnt how to make strawberry jam in our bread making machine and now thanks to Annabel can save money by substituting lemon juice for the pectin I used to purchase.
    - Worked more diligently on hunting for specials for clothing I had grown out of or were worn out and got new 3 tracksuit tops, 3 vests, 1 cotton embroidered nightie and 2 pairs of jeans for $5ea. Also purchased 4 new vintage style cotton dresses on clearance prices from America for about $23 ea and a new swimsuit for $15 saving a fortune on prices we pay here.
    - Worked on in the last few months of this year only stocking up on most groceries on a 10 - mostly 50% discounted price now we have built up a stockpile.
    - Discovered a wonderfully cheap secondhand store in our little country town and purchased a lot of needed items for the home including some clothing @ $1ea, a new to us wall clock for $2 to name a few.
    - Learnt how to make bread using plain flour instead of more expensive bread makers flour by adjusting the recipe in the book through trial and error.
    - Made our 1st couple of batches of bread rolls in our bread making machine.
    - Saved all glass bottles with metal lids to use for making strawberry jam, saved plastic drink bottles for storing freshly squeezed orange juice in the freezer, saved plastic screw top containers for storing saved garden seeds in.
    - Saved and cut up old cotton clothing and flannelette for making household cleaning rags rather than buying paper towel.
    - But biggest of all is this year through bargain shopping diligently and using what we had around us we saved to date $3000+ over what our budget said we would for buying land and having our new home built :).

    Looking forward to honing our skills in more next year to save more for our home next year.


    1. as always sewingcreations15, I wish you lived next door, along with Annabel and several others. I am sure you will learn and save more next year, and will be in your fully paid for home very soon.

    2. Oh Margaret wish you were my next door neighbour too :) .

      Thank you for your continued encouragement and friendship, it means a lot to me.


    3. Sewingcreations15,
      I am always amazed at your lists of accomplishments, and many of your things give me ideas for my own frugality. This is a great list. :)

      Merry Christms,

    4. sewingcreations15, would you please give us more detail on how you are making bread in your machine without bread flour? I have had no success with that. Thanks

    5. Cristy I am glad that I can offer you some more ideas and send best wishes, thoughts and prayers to your family for this Christmas too. Hoping 2018 will be easier for you and your family financially and in all ways.


    6. Lana I am so sorry to hear about your husband and the very difficult time you have had this year. Your husband will gradually improve over time and with physio and yes as an ex nurse it is the hardest thing for anyone to witness.

      I believe from seeing your posts that we may indeed be of the same faith due to you mentioning missions. Let me tell you as my husband was a ward mission leader and I was the assistant ward mission leader of our previous ward that it is normal during the 1st 6 months or so of anyone's mission for them to feel homesick. Rest assured that like me your daughter will get many reassuring hugs as I gave all of our Sister missionaries when they were down or troubled. Many a time I came home on a Sunday with a wet tear stained shoulder but they all knew that I was available at any time to talk to or listen to them, after all they are my Sisters in the gospel.

      On to the bread and I agree the bread flour is getting hugely expensive well at least here anyway. Shall give you the reasoning why we do the instructions below is that plain flour simply does not have the protein content of bread flour so by adding more protein in the form of bread improver you essentially turn plain flour into the same protein content as the bread flour which makes it a tougher dough so it rises better.

      We only make a 750g loaf because it rises enough to make a large loaf using these instructions which are simply double the bread improver, sugar, the yeast, and add an extra 5ml of water to what your bread book recipe says to allow for the extra ingredients you are putting in. You will find that this will give you a beautifully fluffy loaf of bread.

      Also remember when you are making flavoured or any other breads to include the same amount of bread improver as you put in a normal white loaf. If you buy yeast and bread improver in bulk cheaply as I do it still works out way cheaper than buying bread flour.

      I hope this helps and have a wonderful Christmas and your family will also be in our thoughts and prayers. May 2018 be a much better year for you and yours.


    7. Thank you Sewingcreations15, for your kind words and prayers. I hope next year is better, too. :)

  6. What a beautiful year you have had! I'm thankful you are ending it feeling better and with so much to look forward to next year. It's been a pleasure to learn along side you. Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year!

  7. Dear Annabel, those little girls are gorgeous. You are very lucky. Have a beautiful Christmas together. Love Fi xx

  8. i have totally enjoyed reading your blog throughout the year & am slowly getting there with organising, though am not very good at it; slowly been building up my pantry again with mostly tin foods (beans, corn & fruit) still yet to learn other things especially cooking-wise; loved making knitted handmades for everyone; & learning more crochet; look forward to replenishing the gift box next year.
    you are an inspiration to many & i hope you keep up the good work, many can learn from you.
    hope you have a wonderful christmas & a safe new year
    thanx for sharing

    p.s. well done to Sewingcreations15!

    1. Selina you did so well this year restocking your pantry :) and thank you for your encouragement.

      We all have skills we know that we are good at but with practice those more difficult tasks become much easier over time. Keep up the great work.


  9. Annabel, you have achieved such a lot in the last 12 months and have inspired all of us at the same time. Both you and "Mimi" have so much to give and do it with I'm sure a smile on your face.
    Best wishes for the year ahead, whatever it brings.

  10. Dear bluebird ladies
    Praying you all have a blessed Christmas. I have throughly enjoyed finding the bluebirds blog,learning new skills and making some new friends for this year. Looking forward to 2018.
    Blessings Tanya xxx

  11. This year was a tough one for many. The reasons to be thankful have balanced out the times we would rather forget. I am looking forward to a New Year. I am looking forward to a new Grand baby to be welcomed into the family. I am looking forward to the Grand baby having Daddy home safe and sound. There is still a number of dark clouds threatening but I am so hoping that we can get past these. Much love to one and all.
    May you all have a Merry and safe Christmas. Stay warm or stay cool, whichever is required.
    Life is good.

  12. To Dearest Annabel & The Bluebird Family

    What a year this has been. Sometimes very tough, but other times a wonderful time of spending with friend and making memories with families.

    Your children are a credit to you Annabel, such beautiful and strong women and they have you to thank for that. Your two delight and gorgeous Grandchild whom I am sure will grown to be like you. Life sometimes throws us a curve ball but you always seem to come out of everything stronger and wiser.

    This year has seen many changes for my family and a fresh start also with a recent move, and losing some of my closest friends who were also moving away. These are woman that in the past 5 years who have been my surrogate family and there were some very hard "goodbyes" to say but I know I will come out of this experience stronger from the support I have had around me and the posts that I have read here from you and fellow "bluebirds". Thank you to you all for taking the time out and being there to help each other through, especially as we do not know each other. Support here is something we can always count on.

    Merry Christmas to you all and I hope that everyone has a wonderful day be it with family or friends.

    Aly xxx

  13. Annabel, and Bluebirds,

    I agree with Jane that this year was a tough one for many, and that the reasons to be thankful balance those things we would rather forget. I am very thankful to still have my wonderful husband with me and that he is getting better all the time. I am grateful that the kids still have their wonderful daddy, too.

    It's been a tough year here. It was tough financially even before the heart attack, but after it ... well, the numbers are staggering. But I hold to My Rock--Jesus. He has seen me through other storms (none this bad), and I know I can trust Him.

    I am looking forward to a new year and will start thinking about my mission, my goals, my resources, reassessing my preparations for emergencies. I can certainly see a lot of holes in that area now.

    Thank you for all you do for all of us, Annabel. I write down many things from different posts in a journal that I call "Cornucopia Project". (It's a name from an old magazine article proposing that we work on our food resources and learn more humble ways.) And I go back over it pretty regularly to remind myself of things I *can* do in the face of so many things about which I can do nothing, but pray.

    Merry Christmas to all and may every one who reads this post have a better year next year than this one, no matter how great your year was this year. :)


  14. Annabel, you have a beautiful loving family. You are blessed (but you know that). Thank you for all your encouragement to the ladies through out the years. I too began seriously 'preparing' about 3 years ago. I had read a few 'thrifting' blogs and then at church one Sunday, the pastor was speaking about the famine in Egypt and he said, "Joseph prepared." I felt that was a confirmation from God for me to continue with my preps. I have not always gotten such great bargains you have, but I keep at it. I have learned many new cooking skills, have found great things on sale, have done some bartering, and just last week I discovered some sources of free fruit for my jelly making next year. My husband has always been thrifty and resourceful, so he is a great companion. Also, he's finally come on board with the preps and has come up with several free water storage barrels and a rain water catchment system. If nothing else, extra everything comes in handy in case of loss of income or illness. It is not silly or strange to prepare for the future. Here's to all the ladies that contribute their fantastic and inspiring ideas on this blog--and to other bloggers who also are a wealth of information on preserving food and obtaining supplies on a free or inexpensive basis. Merry Christmas to you all! Until we all live in the same neighborhood, we'll just have to meet up here at Annabel's!

    1. Dear Joy,
      It is funny that it is three years for you also! And I agree we can read so much about being prepared. And being watchful! On a small scale this week once again because I was watchful Scarlett had baby formula.
      You have done so well and it is fantastic your husband is on board. Working together we can do so much more!
      this is great about the free fruit! You will be able to do so much with this! I know you will make the most of it! Also I hope you might find great pantry items pre and post Christmas at amazing prices! This year I am doing so much more to take advantage of this!
      Have a beautiful Christmas. Thank you for being part of this little group we have made. It is like getting together for a chat then we go off and get working and come back later and compare notes! I love it! So blessed! With lots of love

  15. Oh how our Mama hearts hurt when our children hurt. I am so sorry to hear of Lucy's migraines. I am hurting over a daughter who is now on the mission field and so homesick.

    This was the hardest year of my life with almost losing my husband of 39 years to the heart attack and sitting by his bed while he was in a coma for ten days. We have learned to live on half of our previous income but with that I am so thankful that we had not been living on all of it before and we are debt free. We have certainly learned that things are just not important. In the midst of it all we were blessed with new friends who have loved and cared for us all year. What a huge gift.

    Merry Christmas to you all! Much love to you all!

    1. Dear Lana,
      You have really been through a lot. I am sorry! I can imagine you are hurting now over your daughter! Im pretty sure it being Christmas doesnt help when apart!
      I am glad you have something wonderful to celebrate which is just having your husband and having Christmas together. A coma for ten days is so dire... and yet here you are at Christmas! This is like Jane and Bluey!
      Thank goodness you are debt free too. And have such great and helpful friends! They sound wonderful!
      Have a very Happy Christmas and I hope 2018 will be much smoother sailing! (for us all!) With lots of love,

  16. Hi Annabel and everyone,

    You have all been so inspiring and helpful to me over this past year, I am so grateful to you all for sharing your efforts, and for being so encouraging. Our quality of life and our savings are much the better for all of you. I wish I could give you all a big hug and share a cup of tea.

    This year, we:
    - built 2 raised bed gardens for veggies, planted herbs in pots, and learned to root herbs in water for future planting.
    - purchased a rain barrel for help watering our garden.
    - had gutters installed around the entire outside of our house.
    - replaced our garage door and added a new storm door to our home.
    - put in two large standing pantries for food storage and built up a good supply of canned goods and basics.
    - removed the front landscaping and replaced it with roses and junipers; put in a small bed of roses and lavender in the backyard; planted echinacea, hyssop, mint, and bee balm.
    - I learned some new knitting techniques and found some new favorite recipes, especially for items that freeze well. We learned to diligently shop sales and look around for the best prices, saving us literally hundreds of dollars.
    - My husband made many small repairs throughout our home and also put in extra storage shelves and organizers that have made our lives much easier.

    I hope everyone has a wonderful new year.

    1. Dear Kathy,
      Thank you so much! Together we can do a lot because encouragement means a lot. I find "reporting in" motivates me or I would have nothing to report! Thank you for all your Friday reports as I can see how much you are doing! This in turn inspires others!
      Looking at your year, your garden beds, rain barrel, water collection, things you did around the house and garden and your knitting and freezing it is all a huge effort! And you are right! The shopping is something to learn that we can get better at! Boy I really have found this! Expanding the places I look and compare and going further afield etc has really made a difference to me. This all adds up enormously!
      Now I hope you have some great pre and post Christmas finds!
      Have a very Happy Christmas and great 2018! With love

  17. Merry Christmas Annabel. I hope and pray your new year will be a wonderful one. Paula in Kansas

  18. Annabel,
    You have had such a big year and you have achieved so much! Big things little things they all add up! Your have such cute granddaughters and I may be blessed with another on come May, but we still don't know yet what the peanut is. The blog has been such a wonderful source of encouragement and inspiration that I look forward to another year! I apologize for any absences, but LOL you know why that is.
    Every single one of you have done so well and inspiration! It has been such a wonderful year seeing and reading what my fellow bluebird sisters have been up to and saving. I hope everyone is proud of a job well done!

  19. Happy Christmas Annabel, and to your family.
    Heidi x

  20. Annabel
    I have suffered from migraines for 28yrs now and a doctor told me years ago to use magnesium tabs every day and I have found it as helped maybe worth a try
    Merry Christmas

    Jenny Palmer [Tasmania}
    Jenny Palmer

  21. I am so sorry I missed most your posts this year. I start out to follow someone then I go on to something else and forget. I am reading through your posts and want to thank you for all the things I am learning. God Bless.

  22. Goodness gracious, it's almost a new year!
    I have had the privilege this year of watching my grandson, who is now 15 months old, three times a week while my daughter works as a nurse. It has been exhausting but oh so fun to be with him as he's learned to crawl, then walk, and discovered the world around him. It really is more fun as a grandparent, as my parents always said.
    I will soon be 60 years old, and am recognizing that I won't always be here on earth, so my focus is to bless and encourage as many people as possible before my time is up. Earlier in the year I had an urge to teach some of my skills (canning, preserving, herbal remedies, etc.) to younger folks, but was not able to get going on that. So I began to clean out all the stuff that I've accumulated over the years, and discovered that some of my daughter's friends were delighted to receive it (how many pepper grinders and cookbooks does one really need, LOL?). It's been fun using up some of my fabric stash for baby blankets and other gifts, as well. Who knew getting rid of stuff could be so fun! I've also been getting to know some of our neighbors a little better while taking the baby on daily walks. So my focus next year will be to continue with the clearing out, and who knows, maybe some opportunities to bless the neighbors will crop up.
    Following your journey and creativity, as well as that of the other Bluebirds, has been a huge encouragement and blessing to me. Thank you for all you do, and a very blessed and merry Christmas to all!

  23. Dear Annabel and Blue Bird friends just wanted to pop in and wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Safe New Year.

    Thank you all for sharing your knowledge with us, your families and beautiful craft ideas.


  24. Dear Annabel and lovely Bluebirds may you and your families all have a blessed Christmas season. To those who have struggled this year you will be in our prayers for a better year in 2018.

    Sewingcreations15. xoxo.

  25. I saw you make a comment about being sick from a spider bite. My son was bit and got a Staph infection. The doctor told us Spiders carry staph. Didn’t know that! He was on two antibiotics and it kept spreading. I was taking him in every day to check the progress. The doctor was worried the Staph would get in his joint. Someone told us to put Manuka Honey on it. Raw if possible. I put it on and covered it with Saran Wrap. It was so much better the next day and brought all the infection to the top of the skin. The doctor said he had never seen anything like it before. I kept putting Honey on it till it healed. I now keep a jar for my friends and family. Hope this helps someone else.

  26. I saw you make a comment about being sick from a spider bite. My son was bit and got a Staph infection. The doctor told us Spiders carry staph. Didn’t know that! He was on two antibiotics and it kept spreading. I was taking him in every day to check the progress. The doctor was worried the Staph would get in his joint. Someone told us to put Manuka Honey on it. Raw if possible. I put it on and covered it with Saran Wrap. It was so much better the next day and brought all the infection to the top of the skin. The doctor said he had never seen anything like it before. I kept putting Honey on it till it healed. I now keep a jar for my friends and family. Hope this helps someone else.

  27. I apologise if this is a double comment as my first disappeared. Look up Dr Berg on youtube. Dr Eric Berg is amazing and has helped many and has videos on migraines. His website is Feel better. Also, I was in horrible pain and went grain and sugar free with amazing results. Trim Healthy Mama has great healthy sugar substitutes and recipes. All my best, love your blog


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