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.

Monday 31 December 2018

Happy New Year! Its 2019!

Last night we had new years eve dinner with Chloe and Luke.  It was a beautiful mild evening and we ate outside at their big table.  Chloe had made a giant pavlova for desert.  

I was happy to hear them both seriously review their year and also be surprised by it!  Luke listed some of what 2018 had held for him and amazed himself when he considered it all!
Earlier in the evening I had read to Andy the list I had made of significant things for the year.  It was a long list!  He also was immediately surprised and grateful how far we have come and how many things we just have to be thankful for.

As we drove home the sun was setting right in front of us.  It was the hugest and pinkest sun I think I have ever seen!   It was stunning!  All the grasses on the roadside were tinted pink as it cast a pink glow over everything.
As we got home the sun had set and left a beautiful glow over the property.  I wish I had taken my photos sooner but I wanted to take a photo of the sun setting on 2018.

This morning we have a brand new year.   It is a brand new opportunity.  Imagine how many people with hours of days left to live would love to have this year ahead of them.  With one more year gifted to them I wonder what they would do with it?

Imagine how many would love to have one more year with someone they love.  Well, that applies to us all.   But here we are with that opportunity with those we do have that are here with us.  

Today I am thinking about challenges to set myself and changes to make.
Sometimes one small change can make a world of difference.
It is a year since I made one small change.  I stopped eating wheat.   It sounds small but it took adjustment.  With that one change I no longer live with daily pain in my legs (which started when I was maybe 3?) and later became an ache all over at times.   All my pain is gone.  Just like that. 
Another is it many months since I started drinking a couple of litres of water a day.  Lana got me going on that.  This has made an amazing difference to me.  Now if I skip it I feel really thirsty so it is easy to continue.  But at first it was quite hard!  

Other changes I can think of that turned into huge things were buying up whenever I saw something half price that we use a lot.  I pretty much filled a whole pantry this way.
Gardening every day even if for only five minutes.   This habit is very relaxing.  It took me from no garden what so ever to a full veggie garden in just a few months.   

Ok, usually the five minutes turns into half an hour or more.  But the power of a little each day is truly amazing.  It adds up so much! 
The garden is the most basic demonstration of "you reap what you sow"  i.e. you plant tomatoes, surprise surprise you harvest tomatoes! 

Many things that seem insignificant really surprise you when you multiply them by the fifty two weeks of a year.   My $8 coffee and cake per week was turned into a full cellar of food and preparations in 2015.   I stopped spending that money and used it on half price specials so it gave me $16 worth of long life food, batteries, matches, candles and so on to fill my cellar with useful goods. 
What I ended up with after a year was worth so much more than a coffee with a slice of cake.

Before that I learned to make a really good pizza and we gave up ordering Friday night pizza.  In one year that saved a ridiculous TWO AND A HALF THOUSAND DOLLARS.   I am not so stupid now but I was then lol.

You get the idea.  The daily coffee, weekly take out etc all surprise you when you calculate the weekly amount then times it by 52! 
Equally powerful are changes that relate to health, diet, housekeeping etc.  Small things really add up!   

So today I am planning my goals and changes I want to make.   We are quite well set up here now.  Fully unpacked and settled in.  The huge amount of work this all took is mainly done.   Now I can turn my efforts to other projects.  Straight away I have things come to mind.... plant more fruit trees,  establish a fantastic woodpile,  build up my gift cupboard, build up our emergency fund,  crochet a rug to match the lounge and so on...

In the next few days I am posting my goals and challenges!  I am really excited and have a gorgeous new planner.  I got as far as setting it up and writing in all the birthdays and celebrations,  names and addresses and so on.   I will work on it more today.

What would you like to achieve this year?   What small changes would really add up?
Do you have a huge project that would seem possible if you could break it down to five minutes a day? 
If we start today 2019 could be the year of getting stuff done.
The year of improving our health.
The year of learning new skills.
The year of savings...
The year of home cooked meals...
The year of bed time stories. 
The year of.... ???

I am off to water the garden and think it over!


  1. Great advice and sounds like you had a fantastic year!! Happy New Year to you and yours!! from Iowa

    1. Dear Melody, Thank you! Very Happy New Year to you too! Love

  2. Dear Annabel,
    For me, this year is going to be about using things that I have and using things up. I want to wear the aprons I have collected, drink from my tea cups and eat from my china in the cabinet, read the books I have on my shelf, etc. There are also things that need to be used up, like samples, products I have tried but am not crazy about, things that have been pushed to the back of the pantry for way too long, etc. I also want to do this in the craft room and use some of the fabric I've been hoarding! I have a heap of magazines waiting to become cards and gift tags too. There are two sayings that come to mind: "use it up, wear it out, make do or do without" and "do what you can with what you have, where you are." These two things will help me declutter and also enjoy the things I do have, while saving money as well. Of course I will be reporting my progress!
    We have other things we'd like to accomplish in the new year as well, like cutting out processed food from our diet and relying more on our garden. That in itself entails a lot of things!
    I am really just so excited about 2019. I can't wait to see what you have in store here on the blog too!
    Love, Kelsey

    1. Dear Kelsey, Oh my goodness you are going to love what I have planned. Great mins think alike maybe! :)
      This year we are going to set some many things that are sitting idle to good use!
      As you build up your garden you will naturally be eating healthier and healthier. It will be wonderful!
      I am so glad you are excited about the new year. Me too! With lots of love,

  3. Dear Annabel and bluebird friends,
    What a lovely post and that sunset photo is stunning and a perfect analogy of the end for the year .
    2019 will be my year where I do a few things .
    Firstly it will be the year where I have an attitude of gratitude.i will express my thanks daily as I try to do now but not just in my familiar circle.i will thank people I don’t usually, or simply smile at people more, I will also express my thanks to my parents more and I will try to be thankful every day and write it in my planner.
    It will also me the year to continue taking care of myself and my health.i would like to lose a kg or a kg and a half each month, it doesn’t sound like much but 18 kg in a year would add up over a few years and add to my total loss so far .i might aim to lose 2 kilos a month which is 500 g a week and 24 kg for the year , that’s achievable I think.
    Also on my health , I will aim to start doing chair yoga, I have researched it on you tube and found a couple of videos I like already and I have a yoga studio near me that caters to disabled people so once I know some basic moves or feel confident enough to go I will go to the studio and put into action what they teach me .also if I do chair yoga via watching you tube videos for 3 months I can see if it’s for me or not and save money while getting a bit of zen in my life, because I would not be paying for classes or fitness gear etc.
    And finally it will be my year of organisation and decoration , I am researching Pinterest for decoration and organisation of small spaces and getting very inspired .one of my January goals in my planner is to create a nook to read and relax and perhaps to do chair yoga in?!.
    I need to continue my declutter in and will be putting 5 minute cleaning and Decluttering bursts into my planner, some call it zone cleaning but my lounge room is fairly big , it’s a lounge dining room so a big zone so I am instead doing mini zones in small increments which is easier for me .
    My tasks for today were / are :
    Do a load of washing, which is on now
    3 x 4 minutes of doing dishes , I can only stand up for a few minutes at a time and yes I could sit but like to alternate between sitting and standing where I can and I sit on my couch a lot.
    It will also continue to be a year of savings but I do that every year , I will be saving hard for my holiday ( our holiday) in February and have been for a couple of months but with Christmas it was slightly difficult. I actually deviated from my gift giving plan a bit at Christmas and spent a little more than I planned. So to avoid doing that I am organised already and have some Christmas gifts plus two or three birthday gifts put away as well as having plans to make gifts this year , more than I have other years.i will start today by making a few things . I a, trying to take advantage of all my craft goodies in my stash and also taking advantage of my restored eyesight.
    Ok, that’s it for now.
    Oh my other plans for today were to mark in any appointments ( into my planner ) that are coming up in the next two weeks .
    And also to have some fun today!.i think I might do something like make a few cards and a book mark today or at least start on the cards and make the book mark.i also would like to start reading one of my library books.
    Have a great afternoon everyone and may 2019 bring happy and healthy times.
    Love Barb W.

    1. Dear Barb, What an excellent plan! I love the thought just to be kind and smile at people. One time recently I was talking to a lady in the car park at Woolies. She was lovely, an older lady. She said at the end "thank you for talking to me" and I thought wow no one must talk to her! So just talking to someone, saying something nice to them can mean a lot to them.
      You have a great craft stash! I hope I can help you with ideas for that in upcoming posts! Good luck with all your goals, you are set to have a very productive year! With love,

    2. Two of my daughters work in a supermarket and often talk about the horrible customers they have to deal with. I now have a much greater appreciation for the work that goes on behind the scenes in a supermarket and I make an extra effort to smile and be polite and thank people that serve me in shops. It is a small thing for me to do but I hope it wipes away some of the horribleness that shop assistants have to deal with on a daily basis.

  4. Dear Annabel, beautiful photographs as always, and clearly Chloe has inherited your presentation skills. That pavlova looks mouthwatering! My year ahead will be about living with purpose and not wasting time. My time is precious now that I work full time, and I want to prove to myself, that I can still retain the essence of who I am, even whilst tackling a corporate role. After all, I've never believed that 'a job' is who I am. It's just a means to an this case the end being helping families. It's a good 'end'. Nonetheless, I'm going to have be very disciplined, and I'm hoping I'll learn a bit about myself in the process. I'm looking forward to 2019. We have a wedding in the family! Love, Mimi xxx

    1. Dear Mimi, This is good advice and not wasting time is relevant to everyone. Many things suck up our time and we have to be careful where it all goes.
      I know you will do a wonderful job as you have great organisational skills and prepare ahead etc.
      No a job is not who we are. Funny many do kind of think that way. But it can be a wonderful contribution to other peoples lives especially in the field you are in and of course medical etc.
      Have a fantastic new year! With love

  5. Oh Annabel I nearly dropped my phone when I read about how you gave up wheat, for that is exactly one of the things I am trying this year to heal my body from what ails me! A still, small voice guided me to try it, and I keep getting encouragement from so many unexpected places! So today is the first day of a 6 week trial to see if it helps!

    1. That is really weird Cheryl as all morning I wondered what your health issues are and if this would help you. This is what I have found out... most pain comes from inflammation one way or another. Many foods cause inflammation. If you are sensitive to something it will cause more inflammation. I knew by the end of day four. Suddenly there was no pain. But it still got better over the week. Now if I do have wheat even a tiny amount the pain is back. Then it takes five or six days to leave. With experimenting I know most grains dont really agree with me. Rice seems ok. And many seeds do not agree. Chai seeds give me terrible pain. Many people with arthritis and other painful conditions report great improvement with no wheat. And for some with no nightshades. I seem fine with those though. Well good luck and if you need any help email me anytime ( with love

    2. Thank you Annabel, so kind of you!
      I have had bursitis on and off in my right hip for a couple of years, and now it seems I’ve always got sciatic pain in my groin. Additionally I’ve had issues with dizzy spells, severe brain fog, severe tiredness, aching calf muscles, palpitations, lightheadedness and other minor ailments. I saw my GP just after Christmas and she is running a heap of blood tests, but I don’t have the results back yet. I should have seen her much sooner but my symptoms come and go, and I thought every time they went that I would be right, but that’s just not happened. I watched what’s with wheat recently and thought why not try it. I will definitely let you know how I get on. I’m so glad to hear the pain settles so quickly, after eliminating wheat, it makes me even more keen to try it!

    3. Oh Annabel, I absolutely LOVE your blog and get so excited when I see a new post in my inbox. I usually refuse to read the new post until I have time to really relax and enjoy it!:) However I don't remember if I ever commented before.
      But this post and reading how you quit eating wheat and how much it has helped you really resonated with me and I had to write. I'm so excited to know of someone else who has had the same results and sticks to that way-of-life! It takes courage and determination doesn't it?

      I had a very similar experience as you. In 2009 I was in a car accident and ended up with 4-5 slipped or herniated discs in my neck. I suffered tremendous pain for 3 and 1/2 years. Drs. gave me no hope --- other than cortisone shots, pain killers etc. To me that was no answer. Then a chiropractor that I was going to, suggested to me to quit eating wheat. I couldn't understand how that would help my pain, but I was willing to try. Soon after I changed my diet, my pain disappeared!!! I then also did research and learned that wheat causes inflammation that then settles into the weakest area of your body. It will be 5 years in March that I have been on a wheat-free way of life. I don't call it a diet --- it is a way of life for both my husband and I now.
      About a year after I quit wheat, I decided on my own to cut out all grains from my diet. Except, I do also eat rice and popcorn on occasion and fresh sweet corn from the garden. Since I've made these changes I rarely have pain in my neck anymore!!! The slipped/herniated discs are still there, they were never repaired by surgery (due to Drs. advice) but I do not have pain UNLESS I eat wheat (sometimes hidden in restaurant food etc.) or if I decide just to be different and see what happens if I eat a bit of it. It never fails, the pain returns until it works out of my system again. In fact, many times in the past, when my husband & I have eaten in restaurants --- I can often tell by how I feel when I get up to walk out of the restaurant and I'll tell my husband, "I think I had some hidden wheat". Sometimes within hours the pain returns! It's surprising how restaurants use so much wheat --- in gravy, sauces, soups --- even crab cakes or meatloaf....
      The adjustments to change were a real challenge, but SO worth it!
      I'm also with you on the drinking water bit --- I drink 3 quarts a day - yes, I measure it out. :) And it does make a difference in how I feel, especially drinking a quart of water upon rising. I can feel really tired or groggy when I wake-up. But after I down that water, I perk up a lot! It's better than having to drink coffee to wake up! :) Better for you too!
      Do you ever share any of your gluten/grain-free recipes here on your blog? I think people could benefit from that. Especially those who want to try to quit wheat. When I started I had no support and had a lot of "trial & error" with recipes and such. Although in the past years the recipes have popped up all over the internet now too. I'll share a link to one of the first blogs that helped me:
      Have you ever heard of it?
      Anyway, Thanks so much for your lovely blog and all the work you put into it, Annabel!
      Have a Happy & very Blessed New Year!

    4. Dear Sue, Thank you so much for your comment and sharing this!! It astounds me no one told me this information even though I went tot he doctor many times over my pain. As you say people are given no hope of pain relief which is a terrible prognosis. People give up I think.
      A while back there were a few posts with some gf recipes mostly others shared. I will get more going this year. I am going now to check out the website you mentioned... no havent heard of it before so will look with interest.
      I think your comment may help others. So many people have pain. This obviously works for a lot of people so certainly would be worth a try.. like you I was desperate enough to try anything! Also like you I was very doubtful how it even COULD work. But it did! I knew very fast!
      Have a wonderful 2019 and please do join in with everything as I really appreciate your comment. With love

  6. Happy New Year Annabel, Andy, Family and Bluebirds.
    I just lost quite a long comment :-(so will be brief this time. I am feeling really optimistic with the beginning of the New Year. I love reading about everyones goals and plans and am enjoying and looking forward to reading your posts and ideas Annabel.
    I will comment in more detail next time.


    1. Dear Mandy, Thanks for trying again! Sometimes I lose a reply too it drives me crazy!
      I am glad you feel good about the new year. I hope 2019 will be very good for you. You made some changes in 2018 and they paid off well for you!
      Thank you so much for your encouragement! With love

  7. Dear Annabel,

    Happy New Year!

    This is a lovely post to get us all started in 2019! Thank you :)

    I have kept my plans for the New Year very minimal and achievable. I have just done a quick post on my blog about them (and my new hair). First is health, second is fitness and mostly I want to post more on my blog like I used to do. All totally achievable with smart planning.

    I have been thinking about giving up wheat/bread/cakes etc, because it feels heavy/bloated when I eat it, and who knows maybe other issues like you mention that I have been blaming on the "M" word!

    I am loving seeing snippets of your new life, what a wonderful opportunity for you all!

    Chloe's pavlova looks delicious, and I am a little envious of your veggies! Mine survived the heat but I had to cover them over as usual, but at least the wind couldn't burn them because of the protection that is now all around. We had two days of 46 and 47C!

    I look forward to seeing your next post, and getting much needed motivation.

    Love Tania xxx

    1. Dear Tania, I just went over and read it! I have enjoyed your blog and following your garden and cooking and all you produce. I will enjoy following this year! I hope you can post more!
      I think the M word as you say gets blamed for everything! It is hard sorting out what foods agree with us and everyone is so different. Seeds are no good for me or wheat it seems.
      My veggie patch will be tested when we get mid forties... I dont know how we will go then, little worried. I will have to stay close to home in that kind of heat or will lose the lot I think!
      Many thanks Tania! With love

  8. Happy New Year to you and yours Annabel. Happy New Year to all my fellow Bluebirds.
    For the past couple of years I have directed all my energies into keeping others healthy and happy. I started to feel like I was becoming invisible and of no consequence. I felt I was marking time and waiting for life to come to me. Well no more. I will still be keeping an eye on the health of loved ones and matching my pace to theirs, but I will also be attending to my own wellbeing. This is really just a simple change in attitude. I am going to follow the quote, "Bloom where you're planted".
    We have a Wedding in September and I get to make the little Flowergirls outfits. How wonderful is that on both scores!
    My beautiful garden has been left to languish for too long. I will be taking on your mantra and doing a little, often, to get is all back under control.
    Life really is good.

    1. Dear Jane, Thank you for sharing how you feel. I think when there is someone really ill (as Bluey was) then everything goes out the window except their care and keeping up. It is also very easy to get run down and just not have time for yourself. I think as well as Mums and women we do just tend to look after everyone and care about everyone and run out of time for ourselves. I had a few scares over the last few years with my health and I think it shocked me into being more careful and doing more for my own health. But maybe we all need a darn good reminder on this. I hope you can find ways to get back to feeling better and living the life you want.
      The flower girl dresses will be a lovely project! And really it sounds unrealistic but five minutes often really does conquer all kinds of projects and tidy ups. Garden time is also good I think for thinking and relaxation. It seems to do me good!
      Have a wonderful 2019! with love

  9. Happy New Year Annabel,
    I had a bad fall in December and broke my wrist which required emergency surgery and a permanent plate and screws,currently still in plaster. This has caused me to reevaluate a number of things and appreciate my health even more. I am very thankful to my husband and kids as they have been a wonderful help to me. This has set the tone for my focus this year in 2019, family, health, gratitude and really enjoying my time with friends and family and appreciating all the blessings in my life, small and large.
    Wishing you, your family and all the bluebirds a happy, safe 2019.
    Love Lisa xo

    1. Dear Lisa, I am so sorry about your injury! It sounds awful and painful. We sure do re evaluate in a crisis. I am so pleased your husband and kids have been so supportive. I noticed when I was sick suddenly I found Chloe and Lucy could do more than I thought... kind of in a way they stepped up and it had benefits as they learned more.
      I think truly appreciating our blessings is huge. It is hard to fathom how blessed we are. If we went to live with a family in a third world country for a week we might realise many blessings we dont even think of!
      I hope your wrist is mending well. Do not over do it! Have a very happy New Year, with love

  10. Annabel it is so good to plan ahead and Happy New Year to you and yours along with all fellow Bluebirds :).

    A rough list of things I would like to accomplish this year is -

    - To finish unpacking and organising the house.
    - Save for some more needed machinery and hand tools for the farm.
    - Continue to save money each month.
    - Use up what we have and reuse what is here to create and repair. Later in the year we intend to build a fence between us and the neighbours and think we may well be able to repurpose the interior fencing we are going to take down.
    - Keep looking for bargains to increase our food storage, buy equipment and hand tools at cheaper prices.
    - Start setting up our vegetable gardens in April/May and save up for timber to create raised garden beds. We already have a local lady who dropped in to welcome us to the neighbourhood who can get free hay for us to help fill the bottom of the beds with :).
    - Pay off as much as we can off our mortgage to save interest and time.
    - I would like to also learn to preserve things by canning, finances permitting.
    - Buy and plant more fruit trees now we have more room.
    - Continue to keep learning more skills.

    No doubt I will come up with more during the year and I have heard from local gardeners about the different conditions here and what percentage shade cloth to use and what the soils here are difficient in. So I am more prepared.

    Sewingcreations15 (Lorna)

    1. Dear Lorna, We have many similar plans. We purchased a few major farm related things already but we have a purchase to make later this month. We consider these things investments for sure.
      Also the same issue re gardening... the soil is different, the conditions are different and then the other similarity is meeting the new neighbours! It sounds you are off to a good star there with free hay! How nice!
      Also very nice that lady came to welcome you.
      Lorna maybe ask around as I think there are canners and jars sitting in sheds unused if only we can lay our hands on them. We are also the same on fruit trees... planning and waiting for cooler weather.
      Living in a new place is a learning experience. We can learn heaps from what others are growing, what fruit trees are around and so on.
      It will be a very exciting 2019!! With love

  11. Happy New Year Annabel and bluebirds,I love your photos of the sunset on the horizon,and photos of your new home & garden,its all coming together just lovely, its going to be 42 here on Friday that is Hot! so will be adding some ice blocks to the freezer,I too like Cheryl suffer from bursitis on the hip and shoulder and it comes and goes i have cut out and trying too to cut out grain, and still learning about foods and their triggers i started walking around the block and it helped a lot and losing some weight did help too these are the things that i want to achieve this year as it all helps.

    Have a great 2019

    1. Dear Melissa, It is a big effort to eliminate and kind of experiment with what foods might have an effect on pain. It seems like wheat is a really common one. The other is the nitrate family. If wheat it can be grains generally too and for me some seeds. The only way is to eliminate one thing at a time and try it. So its trial and error. I seriously would begin with wheat. I wonder too about castor oil packs? Patsy taught me about them and now I am a convert! They reduce inflammation and therefore pain of an inflamed area.
      I really hope 2019 helps you health wise and that you feel so much better. With much love

  12. Great post today, really got me thinking! Happy New Years!

    1. Happy New Year Hilogene I hope 2019 will be wonderful for your family xxx

  13. What a beautiful sunset. I am so happy for all that has changed in your life in the last year. Blessings indeed! Chloe's pavlova is gorgeous.

    Our big, big goal is to move house. We really have a desire to move to the little town where our lake house is located which is two hours from where we live. The pace is slow and there is little traffic. People are not in a rush and still take time to talk to one another.
    We are praying and trusting God for answers. We also must trust Him for the strength and health to make the move. Any change is hard for my husband with his brain injury.

    Happy New Year!

    Much love, Lana

    1. Dear Lana, The town near the lake sounds just lovely. Maybe the time now of deciding to move and planning it will help your husband adapt, rather than the moving happening suddenly faster than he could handle. I am sure you will know when it is right and then it will be so exciting. Meanwhile plan and dream and get ready for big changes in 2019! I will be following as I know the excitement of it! With much love

    2. Lana, good luck with your search for a new home that fits your needs. Having downsized recently I have to admit that a slow and steady approach of decluttering even before the final housing decision was made was much easier on us. At first I felt like I needed to find the "perfect home" for everything we planned not to move but eventually got to where I just decided surely it would bless someone if I just donated what we didn't want or need. Settling in with less "stuff" has been a true blessing and I haven't missed anything we chose to declutter. Anne

  14. Happy New Year to You and Yours Annabel.
    It has been a full year for you and your Family. So much for all to rejoice in.
    We all have been blessed in so many ways that we forget many that have happened throughout the year. We need to sit and remember the moments. In my older years I have been keeping a journal, it has helped me recall the prior year. Really sometimes just the prior week.
    I am excited to be blessed with numerous flower beds at my new home. Problem many would look at is that they are overgrown. My eyes see differently, I see time well spent this Spring will give me opportunities to expand on the beds with dividing up the plants and sharing with others. What a true blessing. Plus it will get me out into the fresh air and free exercise. Extending the Beauty of the Lord.
    May All Have A joyous New Year.

    1. Dear Rosanne, Working in the garden is wonderful and sharing plants will be lovely. The year was so big it takes a while to consider it all!
      I agree a journal is a huge help. I like it as a record too. I keep all my journals to refer back to. Big help to me and a help in planning ahead also.
      Have a wonderful 2019! with love and thanks,

  15. Thank you for a wonderful energising post Annabel. I took redundancy/ early retirement at the end of last year so this feels like a really new page being turned in my life.
    I am going to declutter a great deal this year - we have probably ten years of 'stuff' to sort and re-home.
    We have a wedding in the family in June and my husband and I aim to lose some weight before then. We need to be more mindful of our health in other ways too.
    I want to learn some new skills and polish up others and use them to make homemade gifts.
    I don't think I want to return to a regular job so I intend spending our income very wisely, stretching it as far as possible
    and maybe looking at ways to earn a few pennies from home.
    I feel really upbeat about 2019.
    Wishing you, the family and all your readers good health in the coming year.

    1. Dear Penny,
      Yes you do have a new chapter starting! I have a big craft and making things challenge starting in a couple of days and another about setting things to good use. So this might really suit you! I am absolutely sure that the saving you can make being at home can equal a job. If you think about where money is spent and what you can DIY it is amazing. Have a wonderful 2019! With love,

  16. What a beautiful Pavlova Chloe made. She takes after her Mom. Oh, that glorious sunset - what an amazing Artist our God is! What an amazing life He is blessing you with and you are cooperating by doing all the hard work required. Happy, healthy New Year! Love, Mary B in San Diego

    1. Dear Mary, I love pavlova so I was thrilled! The sunset was so special. We have had amazing full moons here too that we are just in awe of!
      I hope you have a wonderful 2019! With love

  17. Dear Annabel,

    Happy New Year!! That sunset is just gorgeous...and so is that pavlova! You made some comments about someone having only hours or days to live, and what would they do with a year gifted to them...that has really made me thoughtful. I am really determined to put our money where our mouths are and try to really only spend on what we really need, best quality we can afford, and shop as local as possible. We always try to do this, but a lot of junk still ends up in our house. I am also determined to have Christmas really under control well in advance this year. I have done this in years past, especially with your Christmas Challenge, but this year wasn't as well planned, and too much junk ended up under the tree. I am also keeping an open mind about the upcoming year, as I think some sort of guidance/opportunity is in store for us that I need to be ready for...not sure what it is, but I am like you...niggling thoughts and directions have pushed me in certain directions in the past, and whenever I listen to them, I am always amazed!! (And when I don't, things don't go well.)

    Your garden looks wonderful!!

    Lots of love,

    Jen in NS

    1. Dear Jen, In a couple of days I am starting a big craft and making challenge which I think will suit you and see your gift cupboard full. So you will be set by next Christmas! Getting started now is the key so review your supplies as we are going to be trying to sue what we have as a priority.
      It will be interesting to see what unfolds re your opportunity! It will be something! I hope 2019 will be wonderful for your family! With love,

  18. Happy New Year !!
    Dear Annabel and Bluebirds, we had a lovely quiet new years eve, our son and family visited and we had a little break from the heat, it was a breezy 27c and kids played outside. Im really fired up to learn new skills and keep track of my daily activities this year as I felt with all the difficult stuff we had happening last year we stagnated and I felt unaccomplished but after much reflection I realized I did achieve many things, sadly one thing was not spending my money as wisely as I should have. today i'm doing a stocktake of the pantry and freezer, and will try and shop from my food storage this month. My vegetable garden although small this year is popping with tomatoes, rhubarb, zucchinis and herbs and the figs are fattening up nicely. Annabel its interesting what you say about God whispers, I have those too, sometimes its a flash of a feeling and I always kick myself when I don't act on them and that happened too many times last year. You have achieved so much this past year and it gives me such hope that my situation will improve this year, looking forward to a successful year and much inspiration from your posts and from our fellow Bluebirds, I really feel the Lord has guided us altogether in these matters. regards Cassandra

    1. Dear Cassandra, That sounds a perfect NYE. I certainly have had clear moments where I had a strong urge or feeling. And they proved to be correct every time. So we do have to listen. I didnt several times with disastrous consequences.
      Your garden produce is going to make your use it up month really good. A few fresh things from the garden add a lot. I have a million cherry tomatoes coming on. I am planning some pizzas with cherry tomatoes and mozzarella.
      Thank you for your kind words. I am glad you could review the year that has been, this helps put things all into perspective and helps us chart a course for the year. I feel the same.. With much love

  19. Happy New Year Annabel and Bluebirds!

    This year I plan to a) take care of myself! I have started that off today by drastically changing my diet. And b) making more things for gifts. There are a few other things as well, but these are the major two.

    Here's to 2019!


    1. Dear Jenn, Very good goals! I am with you! In a couple of days I am starting a gift making challenge!! I hope you will like it! We can encourage each other in this. But I also am working on health and I made some changes last year that actually stuck so now I am adding a couple more. So fingers crossed! Have a very happy New Year! With love

  20. Happy New Year Annabel and beautiful Bluebirds. I love this post. There are so many things that speak right to my heart and what I have been hearing in my heart the past few days. Thinking about if you had one year left to spend with loved ones is very insightful. Interestingly enough I feel a resounding message to keep on this path. I would really like to exercise a couple of times a week/spend time in nature, garden, reduce our grocery bill/reduce wastage and get clever with gifts. We need to really tighten our budget up this year, so I am looking of ways to not spend at all. I think being grateful and being loving is also important. Lots of love, Bridge

    1. Dear Bridge, Happy New Year to you all! Well I hope to be able to help you on the path to making more gifts. Consider cooking as gifts too. Spending time in the garden doubles us as exercise and time in nature! Gardening is a win win. And with kids they like being outside but they like you being there so you in the garden encourages them to play outside too. In the right weather soaking up some sunshine is very good too. Truly a few minutes a day really adds up. Go by what people you know and neighbours have success growing as these things will likely do well.
      There are lots of challenges but we will make it fun! Many thanks Bridge, With love

  21. Dear Annabel, thankyou for this post,it inspired me to get on and do my 2018 review and reflect on the past year with DH,and be grateful for the ups and downs.
    Ive been cleaning and sorting the kitchen and spare pantry , and ended up painting the hall cupboard yesterday , and DH painted the black cabinets I use as cubby holes for storage and then it all came together . I washed all the empty glass jars I gathered together , used some for pantry items and stored the rest .
    And now the newly painted hall cupboard stores all the spare pantry items and the nearby Ikea cabinet has the emergency kit items,everyday med kit and toolkit.And today I updated the book I write all stores in.I had thought to stop doing this but after a week it was not going to work so back to the tried and true.
    I/we have no set goals for this year, but would like to go with the flow more, see another point of view better,and listen to my gut more , like you have said above. On to a bright new year of learning , with love Maria xxx
    Ps Pav looks yum!

    1. Dear Maria, We have been running all year. A review is good and I know you have been thinking it over as I have. Well done on the cupboards and pantries! A good sort out is a good start to the year. Make sure you have time just for yourself. We are busy taking care of everyone else! With much love

  22. Happy New Year Everyone!

    Annabel, this was such a good and inspiring reminder for me today. It is wonderful to read all that you have accomplished in such a short time!

    In 2019, I am hoping to 1) better learn to slow down and take time to enjoy the little things in life - a cup of coffee in front of the fire with a loved one - 2) expand the food garden and redo some of the flower beds with pollinator plants - I would love to grow more of our own veggies, but need to invest time & energy into making some more raised beds - and 3) improve my sewing skills!

    I hope this is an amazing year for all.

    1. Dear Kathy, Thank you! Happy New Year to your too!
      You have great goals for the year. I think sewing skills are excellent to have. Also I think you can mix herbs and veggies in with flowers with great success. However raised garden beds are also really good! I hope you get lots done toward your goals! with much love

  23. Happy New Year, Annabel and Bluebirds! Thank you all for being a blessing to me. Sharing your work and words of inspiration has kept me focused on my job of service.
    The last 2 years has given me the opportunity to encourage younger women in my church to serve their families. I didn't have that opportunity in my previous community.
    The McKinley family had to adjust to moving to the city after 16 years of country life. We see God using us as a light in our neighborhood: taking kids to VBS; blessing older people with conversation and treats from our front porch; and praying over sick neighbors in their homes!
    God is good!
    Blessings, Leslie

    1. Thank you Leslie! Thank you for being a blessing to me too. I am so happy you have had this opportunity in your new church. The world needs lots more Christian ladies and older ladies to help the younger ones. I know you will be wonderful at that. I am sure you are a light in the neighbourhood! I hope 2019 will be a great year of opportunity for you and your family. Thank you for your kind words! With much love

  24. Annabel,
    The pavlova looks so good! For me 2018 was a bit of a challenge with lots going on, but not in the good direction. I still managed to save and make do so we did make it through, but for 2019 my goal is to recoup and grow from what I've learned. I want to improve what I consider personal flaws and encourage others when I can. Your friendship and blog posts have been a balm to my soul so thank you for a wonderful year of it!

    1. Dear Vicky, You did have some challenges! I think you handled the water one much better than I would have! I do hope this year is easier and you achieve your goal of catching up plus getting ahead again. I know you put in the work and I hope we can think of lots of ideas together. Thank you for all your support and friendship! Here we go into another year!! With love

  25. Happy Christmas and New Year all the Bluebird ladies!
    I know I don't get to post here often but I am always keeping up to date with blog posts. Thank you to all who share throughout the Bluebirds blof, your wonderful ideas to make life more simpler and frugally fun means alot to me and my family. Wishing you a great 2019.
    Blessings Tanya xxx

    1. Dear Tanya, Thank you so much! I hope 2019 will be great for your family! We have lots of savings and making challenges coming up! With love and thanks,


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