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.

Friday 27 December 2019

Feather your Nest Friday. 27 December, 2019.

I am so late posting as I have had no internet all day.   So first of all I hope you had a wonderful Christmas.   We were really blessed with a beautiful family day and I loved it.  I appreciated every moment.  It was a lovely day with time spent with family and all the work on gifts during the year paid off!

It seems a long time since last Friday!  It is very hard to know where to start because right now we have a fire north of us.   The whole week has had the worry of fires.  There has been a distant one in a national park all week and today it escaped and is causing a lot of worry.  I can see there are bombers there and fire units... Luke is there fighting it ( and so is Dad I just found out.) We can see and smell smoke.  So I feel unsettled...
On Thursday morning we woke up to see the whole landscape was smoke.  It was like being in a thick blanket of fog... but it was smoke.  This was from the same fire but then it was contained...

I will try to concentrate on the ways I managed to build up my home this week:

The first was I had a ten kilo box of Apricots. They were just beautiful.  Many were soft and needed to be used right away.  I made those into jam.  As I handled each apricot I sat aside the best ones.  Some went into the fridge to eat fresh and the rest went into jars for my very first canning attempt.

I had purchased a Ball starter kit which was only about $30.  This is just to use your own stock pot and it is an easy way to start and cheap!  I studied all the directions and decided to make a light syrup for my apricots.  Well, I just followed the steps and ta dah!  It worked!

At the end of the day this was just like soap making.  I wasted years thinking it was difficult when it is easy.   So thank you everyone who encouraged me!  Now I can save sooo much freezer space!  

So I am excited and ready for the fruit to come in over January and February!

On Monday evening we had a Christmas dinner on the deck and invited out neighbour,  Chloe and Luke.  It was so nice.   I kept it very simple and it was relaxed and happy.

My neighbour walked through the kitchen and commented on the canned apricots.  She admired them and said how she used to can and has so many bottles and supplies, perhaps I would like them?
This would be an understatement, obviously!

On Boxing Day I went outside to water the veggie garden in the morning and this is what I found near the back door..

The canner has a full instruction book and recipes...  
Beautiful tall and wide mouth jars... 
I was just so thrilled.  But it didn't stop there.  It turned out this was just the beginning and my neighbour has been back twice since with boxes and boxes of jars in different shapes and sizes.  
The dish washer is on as we speak with another load going through. 
Since I felt the prompted to begin canning I have found that letting everyone know has seen so many jars come my way.  Now I believe the fruit will come my way too!

I recently bought a little cabinet for $15 from my local Buy, Swap and Sell on Facebook.   While it was hot I painted it up as an indoor project. 

It is a nice little solid wood cabinet.

I used a decal and knobs I had left over from other projects and paint left over from the house...

The drawer is going to be for storing seeds and the shelves for other gardening things.   It fits the space I had wanted it for just nicely.
I have a little table to do next and as it is hot over the weekend that might be another job I can do inside quietly.

It is getting late now.  Dad is home and ok and Luke is on his way home.  The fire is sort of contained they say.   This is the first fire that I have really felt seriously worried about.  If everyone is safe and sound I might have some hope of sleeping tonight.
So much of Australia is burning.  We have lived through some shocking fires but I don't remember fires going on and on for weeks as they have this year.   

I hope you had a beautiful Christmas.  How did you build up your home and family?  

The next few days are my absolute favourite time of year.  I always feel very reflective and think over the year that we have had.  It was a really big year!   Actually it was massive!   Over the weekend I  am getting out my brand new planner and the financial planner from The Cheapskates Club.   I do well with goals, lists and plans!   The thought of the opportunity to start a fresh new year is very exciting to me!  And we are starting a fresh new decade too!   But first lets count all our blessings and how far we came this year.  

So this week there are two questions... how was your Christmas and week?
And what were your achievements this year that helped build up your home?   We always look week by week.  But looking over the year as a whole is really another thing!  It is hard to do as we forget so much!   But goodness a lot can happen in one year!  I hope there are many ways that you were able to get ahead and many things you learned along the way! xxx

Friday 20 December 2019

Feather your Nest Friday, 20th December, 2019.

I am sitting inside the cool lounge room hoping the power stays on.  Outside it is blowing a gale and it is 47 here.  This is about 117F.  Dust is everywhere.  It is hard to tell dust from smoke so we keep doing to the top of the hill to check.

This is the worst and most dangerous day since we lived here.  I prepared all I could yesterday but I think I am going to lose a lot of my plants.  Things got so bad so quickly this morning I was outside in my dressing gown watering.  The wind is too much for anything I have had covering my plants.  My market umbrellas over my vegetables have had to come down as they are a hazard now and could blow away and break a window.

I got in the car and checked all the animals.  I could not find Laffie!  Oh great!  She got out of her paddock and was sitting in the sun in the next paddock.  With the car I drove her over the hill and down towards the trough.  I got her as far as I could then got out and called her.... she followed me to the trough which also has some green grass around it.  Then she had a big drink.  I gave her a big pat and she seemed ok.  So I went off to do the next thing.  I set a sprinkler going in the chook house.  I got wet through from that but it is working to keep them going.   After this I went looking for Brady and Freddie.  Then I thought I must be a sight in my nightie and dressing gown, wet hair... and boot on!  hahah! So I went inside and dressed for the rest of the day.

Now there are reports of lightening coming.  Lightening is what has started most of the fires on the farm over the years.  A cool change is due tonight.  I am just praying for tonight!

Here we are, it is almost Christmas!   I am pretty well ready.  The last two days were also hot so I was able to work quietly inside most of the time on things like crochet and painting a little cabinet.  I set my painting up on an old sheet in the lounge room.  It is beautiful to have projects to work on in dreadful weather.  Being safe, sound and content inside is a wonderful thing.  I save up things for these kinds of days.   These are the times to update the photo albums, clip my recipes, write letters, sew, paint and make cards!   Being content and absorbed in a project also just makes the time pass happily.  And reduces the stress a bit...
When the girls were little I would set them up with crafts or some kind of indoor game and pump out the homemade ice blocks!   Cath suggested to me how Jelly is very good in the heat as it helps hydrate kids too.  So when you know heat is coming it is good to fill the freezer and fridge with cooling foods and drinks to keep everyone hydrated and happy.  

Not all of the week was this way!   Some of the ways I feathered my nest were:

The basic water bath canning kit I ordered arrived!

I had ordered some Ball jars at the same time not knowing how many jars I would find in the op shop and for 50c!  However I am glad I did as I have apricots coming today and my order for lids, rings etc has not arrived yet.  So happy I have jars ready to use!

 I have been studying and asking friends for all their tips on this kind of preserving.  I have made jams, relish, sauces and some pickles most of my life.  But I have not canned.   And I really need to as freezer space is precious.  And last year we had so much fruit, especially apples.   Last season the cores and peels went to the chickens.  Not this time!   This season they are going to become apple jelly!   So much to learn so little time!

Chloe and I went to a lovely Christmas craft market in one of our regional towns.   We found a few ideas.  After we sat in the park and ate dinner. There was a street parade and kids were everywhere because Santa was coming!!!   Then we heard sirens and along the street came an ambulance blaring then a fire truck then another fire truck carrying Father Christmas!   All the kids were going nuts.  Chloe said  "take a photo! This is soo  Australian... "   and so I did! 

That evening we picked up all the canning jars I got for 50c.  There were 98!  We loaded them into the car in big boxes.

All week I have been washing these jars.  First I soak them in the sink, then they go through the dishwasher.   I am still going!  Many are that lovely old thick glass with the greenish tinge.  They are beautiful.

Lucky for me this house has really high kitchen cupboards.  All my top shelves were empty.  I have been able to store all my ready to use jars this way.   I even admire my rows of jars as the cupboards fill.   I have been up and down the kitchen ladder a lot of times!

I am down to my last box of jars to wash.  It continues!

This week we had an early Christmas celebration at Lucy's.   They are going to the city to see Kato's parents on real Christmas Day.  So Lucy put on a Christmas lunch for Mum and Dad, Chloe,  Luke and us.  The girls thought it was Christmas too since in the city they won't have their Christmas tree and all of that so it was truly like Christmas Day.  

Lucy had set her table beautiful and baked a beautiful ham.  

She made a centrepiece from the beautiful pinecones she picks up in her garden...

It was a beautiful day.  There girls were so excited.   

This is Mum helping Harper with a present...

And Scarlett using her new vacuum cleaner! 

It really was just a joyous day.

I took Gingerbread biscuits and the girls loved these as they decided they were Snowflakes like in the Frozen movie.

I also made a trays of angels, stars  and moose.  Nothing like variety! 

During the week I made a large impossible pie and gave eggs away.  I gave 8 dozen eggs away this week alone.

It is late evening now and I still haven't been able to publish this post as the internet is not loading photos.  So meanwhile we had such heat that our driveway is lined with dead birds.  I have driven up and down and turned over every bird I saw.  There are dead Rosellas, Lorikeets, Galahs and Corollas.  I found two Corollas still alive so they have been in the lounge room in front of the air conditioner.  Then we had a thunderstorm.  Then a downpour. Now a fire at a farm further north.  I am hoping that the downpour we had will be enough to mean it won't get too far.

I will be glad when this day is over!  In the Adelaide Hills the beautiful winery where Kato and Lucy got married has been burned. I know I will have other readers affected by fires today as there are severe fires all around the country.  I pray you are all safe. 

I hope you had a good week and found lots of ways to get ahead, be prepared fro Christmas and also to just be able to enjoy the season.   However some weeks and some days are just about getting through! This was one of them! 


Thursday 12 December 2019

Feather your Nest Friday, 13th December, 2019.

I had a wonderful week.  It continued to be cool and mild so I was able to do a lot in the garden and get heaps done generally.  

Some of the ways I saved, furthered my pantry and got ahead were:

I made up my annual Coconut Ice.  It is delicious but I think the main reason I do it is small amounts are a big gift as it is very rich and it looks so pretty wrapped up.

I added pink ribbon and dried rosebuds.  This tray went into town to ladies I know who work in an office.  The reaction I got was so nice.  Then I went on to wrap about another ten pieces and they have been gifts given out this week and some next week.   It really is a very economical gift.  My friend Nerilie sent me a text that she saw smaller blocks of Coconut Ice for $15 each! 

My craft project has been to crochet wool lambs jumpers for the orphan newborn lambs in winter.  
I am working on a boys blue one now.

I am also working on crochet bottle holders so I can hang a warm bottle of milk on the gate and save my arms standing there holding them.  Once the lambs have learned to drink well they are good little drinkers.   This is one of my planned "easier ways" as I know I am needing to think of some short cuts.  In fact "easier ways" is going to be a subject on Bluebirds for 2020.

This week I was given a lot of free food.   I had sliced ham and roast meat, roast potatoes, bread rolls, small Christmas puddings, custard in containers and the biggest one by far,  a bucket of farm honey. 
I stayed up late that night to make the most of this.   I plated up the roast meats and roast potatoes into meals for two and froze them.    When I heat them I will just add whatever other veggies I have on hand.  The ham I stood and made up ham and cheese rolls and froze a heap of those.   Other items I worked into the weeks menu plan.

Now the honey!   I will begin to pour it into jars to store.  This bucket is so heavy it was hard to lift onto the counter!   I love honey and this gives me something that will last forever in my pantry.  I use a lot in my cooking and consider honey a very medicinal thing too. 

I have decided to learn canning.  Nope I have never canned.  I have always made relish, sauce, chutney, jams and pickles.  But none of these things need canning.  (not in Australia anyway)  Last year we had so much fruit.  Freezer space is better reserved for meat as when I am offered meat I want to be able to take it!   So the answer is dehydrating the fruit or canning.  I will dehydrate some.  But it is time to be canning.  
Friends are helping me and I am studying!   When I costed it out I found a basic kit is very inexpensive.  That is arriving today!  The more expensive part is the jars and lids.  Good jars can be reused but you need new lids.   So I put word out I am looking for canning jars and I began to watch FB Buy Swap and Sell... and I asked in the op shop.
Well this produced quick results!!   My friend Wendy told her parents and they offered me canning jars stored in their shed.  (happy dancing...)   Online I saw about a hundred bigger Fowler jars for 50c each.   I got them!   Well,  I am picking them up late this afternoon.   And in the op shop I asked... and the lady let me go out into the back work room and go through boxes and boxes of jars and bags of lids.  She also knew about canning.  She taught me how to tell if a lid is new and lots of other things.   I found several boxes of good jars and new lids to match.  AND I found lids for beautiful Agee jars I had at home all year that never had lids.   They are the most beautiful jars for pantry use.  The lids are no longer available.  And there they were in one of these bags!   It was just my day!
I will show all these jars next post.

With all this looking at FB Buy Swap and Sell I found two other things I have been really wanting.  I got a little table for Harper and Scarlett in solid wood for $10.  And a small cabinet for a space I have for $15.   I am thrilled.  I am saving painting these up for a hot day project.  On really hot days I like having things to do inside.  I set up a paint sheet on the floor and paint while in air conditioning!

Mum and I  had our day trip to see the girls.   It was a lovely day.  I did some weeding while I was there and came home with a huge basketful of thistles for the chooks and ducks.  They went crazy over them!  

The deck is all stained and put back together.   I love it.  We are eating out there again now.  We have a beautiful view and at the moment Cockatoos everywhere to watch.  We also watch the antics of the calves, lambs and Eddie the goat.  Believe me there re plenty of those.  The three I weaned last week cannot be separated. They are a gang.  One is a calf, one is a lamb and one is a goat. Doesn't matter they are inseparable.  At first Eddie escaped continually.  When finally I beat him the calf and lamb escaped and came to sit next to Eddie.  I have no idea how they did it but when I woke up and looked out there they were! 

The Christmas tree is up.  I have kept things very simple.  The tree has nothing but fairy lights and little birds.  The decorations are deer antlers,  pinecones and gum nuts. That is it.  I love it.

I planted a whole extra pumpkin patch!   We have the room so on top of a pile of sheep manure I dug a hole and planted pumpkins.   Then in another spot I planted zucchini and Rockmelons.   I am so excited to have all these going! 

I made up some Gluten Free Scones.

I went to see Mum and she gave me some bits and pieces out of the garden to transplant to mine.   I need to get them all planted out today.   I also collected pretty bell shaped gum nuts.   While doing this a tiny Grey Fantail was sitting on her nest right next to me!

Inside were three little eggs...

These are one of my favourite birds.   They are tiny!  Also very tame.  I will go back in a week and take another peek!

I cut Andy's hair.

I had lemons getting dangerously old so I stood and juiced them. They were so juicy.  I froze these.

My niece came over to dinner.   She knows of Fig and Mulberry trees I didn't know about.   She said when they are ripe she will let me know!   She now has Guinea Fowl.  We are doing a deal so I will helpfully be able to hatch some under a broody bantam.

I took Coconut Ice to my neighbour out the back.  She also has fruit trees and said I am welcome to pick Mulberries and I am not sure yet what the other trees even are!
See!  This is why I need to get canning! 

Wendy gave me Lillie bulbs and I now have my first flowers!  

It really was a week of opportunity.  If there is something you wish for or need put the word out!   A little networking is amazing!   
I heard a funny story.  When Allie gave me the baby goat later on I did some baking for her as a thank you.  Well word got out I gave her Lasagne for a goat.  Now I have heard there are two local guys that heard about this (love the grapevine!) and asked Luke what could they do for me that I would make them Lasagna!  Hahaha!   I said to Luke "Plenty!"  If my Lasagne is so famous and those boys want some jobs send them over!! 

I really hope you had a good week too with some opportunities that came your way.
How did you save, get ahead or build up your pantry?
Have a wonderful weekend.   I hope your Christmas plans are going well.  I feel good as I am on top of mine now.  This is because I started really early!

Later today Chloe and I are going to small Country Christmas Market.  Last year it was wonderful and so much fun!  And we are picking up my big lot of canning jars.  I am looking forward to it so much! xxx

Thursday 5 December 2019

Feather you Nest Friday, 6th December, 2019.

We have had another lovely cool week.  I think we broke the all time recorded record for cold days in December and some places had summer snow!  I know we are very lucky as fires are still burning in other states.  We also had some rain!

It was a good week!   Chloe and I went to a country craft market. We had so much fun!  There was so much to look at.  So many ideas!   It seems everyone has some kind of sideline, makes or grows and sells something.   I love this.  I found some bargains too and bought a lot of pretty little succulents for 50c each.  And a heart shaped bird bath for $10!   It was a great day and another market is coming up next week.

I was given a whole bucket of lemons!

My little bantams have settled in and are so tame. You can just pick them up.  This is the little rooster.  He is just learning to crow.  It sounds hilarious.  It sounds like he is crowing with a bag over his head!

The two hens are silver/lilac.  So the babies should be a light version... we will see!

I caught up with Wendy. We did some trading and had a lot of ideas to talk about!  I took her eggs and she had found me stunning embroidery threads in an op shop.

Also a large decanter with stopper and a whole box of smaller bottles.  I am set for my next batch of coffee liqueur and my planned sticky balsamic vinegar.

While in town (of course) I checked out the op shop.   I practically crashed the car when I saw in the window they had a huge vintage kettle!   Then I found they were closed!  I was writing a note to put under the door when the door opened...   A lady was working in there putting out stock and she saw me.  I asked her if I left the money could the kettle be saved for me until there were open?    She invited me in and said to go ahead and look around while she worked.  And I found another kettle!  I adore these.  They match my kitchen and will heat on the combustion stove.  If the power was out I can heat a lot of water!  Just so thrilled!  

The black dot above the spout on the right hand kettle is Brady in his new paddock!  This is the view out the front.

Mum and I had our day trip to see the girls.   It was a beautiful day and I came home with more pink roses.

I made a big rice salad. I love salads that last a few days!   Also a tray of gluten free pumpkin scones.

We had animal fun and games.  It was well and truly time to wean Brady, Eddie and Freddie.   
Now I am not feeding any bottled fed animals!   We all marched over to the big paddock to join in with the big kids.   It is good as we can still see them in this paddock from our front deck.  

The biggest of them all is Laffie.  She is the friendliest cow and loves affection.  And Arnotts Milk Arrowroot biscuits!  

And Loui is just beautiful.

Anyway as usual a simple plan blew up.  I had planned Eddie would be the edge trimmer and moved around the yard.  He was not impressed.  He cried and cried.  We have been through this before with him.  He wants to be with the other guys.  He can escape any fence but he will only stray about 20 yards away from Freddie and Brady so he breaks out and back in again all day long.   A crying goat sounds exactly like a toddler screaming.  He could have his own TV show or get a job in sound effects.   I couldn't put up with this for long and abandoned my plan so now he is having a great time int he big paddock.   And in there are big logs and stones and hills to climb on so he will be having a great time!

I planted more zucchini, basil and spinach into the garden as I cleared out the spent spinach and fed it to the chooks and ducks.   The ducks just love anything green.   They are so cute and get so excited!

The rest of the big trees we cut down was dealt with. This was the stuff too big for us to cut up or move.   Luke put them out on the driveway with the tractor.   A young man came and set up his big saw to slice it all up into slabs and he made post and rail style fence posts with a lot of it.   

This young man was local and so hard working.  So this was a good trade as we needed this cleaned up and the wood was very useful to him.  He sliced me a great table top for the cabin which will fit my super rustic theme.  And he arrived with a gift for me that he had made.

My constant companion Scout is so good!   Whatever I do she is there.  

Enthusiasm is her middle name! I have to mention her with the other animals.

Now that the animals are moved from the small yard, which is my orchard yard, I have  another area that I could put in pumpkins.  There is a big mound of sheep manure in there.   So next week I am going to dig a dish shaped hole in that and plant another batch of pumpkins.   I am watering there every couple of days as it is so it will be easy to water them.    And they will have so much area to sprawl around.  So happy about this!! 

I have been crocheting, making lambs jumpers for next winter.  Last year I used small dog coats.  Now I am making up a heap ready plus for my friend Di who raises a lot of orphans.  Also bottle hangers so lamb bottles can be hung on the gate. And if I get far enough I want to make a joey pouch as Di often raises baby Kangaroos.   I love having a new project to work on.

I hope you found ways to save, get ahead and build up your pantry this week.  How did you build up your home or savings?
Also I am hoping you are doing well with Christmas plans.  I am making my coconut ice next week.   And posting off all my cards and parcels on Monday.  I am starting to feel organised! 

Have a lovely weekend! xxx

Sunday 1 December 2019

How to beat rising prices like Nana did. Skills.

Both my Nans were very capable women.  They accumulated skills.  Nana L was the youngest of thirteen children.  They lived on a farm and everyone helped.  It was inevitable you learned a lot of skills as you went along.  And she had so many older bothers and sisters to learn from.   Nana B was an accomplished florist by her teenage years and made an income from making flowers for weddings and funerals.  Later she became a a wonderful seamstress.
As a child I just took it all to be normal and under appreciated how capable they were other than enjoying the beautiful baking!  But later I realised their talent.  Nana B was featured in several books.
Nana L ran a spinners and knitters group that gathered at her house, she would take a raw fleece and comb it, spin it and dye it with natural plants from the garden then knit it up.   She fed us beautiful things all our childhood years and into adult hood.  Both Nans mended, darned, baked, preserved, hemmed and altered,  kept animals,  never wasted anything....  it was not until years alter that I understood they had been through the great depression and the wars...  they had known hardship but never talked about it.   As they had always been in good families and happy they still had not felt deprived.  Nana L had brothers go away to war though.  This was a hardship of it's own.  The stress on parents of their child going away to war is beyond what I can imagine.
I remember how Nan and Pa looked after things.  They kept things in good condition and fixed things and made them last.  The re used and recycled.    Pa's car was sold years after he passed away as it was in such mint condition a collector bought it!

With all this in mind it is no surprise Mum is very capable.  Preparedness books today don't have a patch on Mum's capabilities in a crisis,  power outage, illness,  injury...  Her pantry and stores cover everything.  First comes the families needs then helping others is high on the list too.   Like the Nans many things to Mum seem wasteful and crazy.  She saw a recent fashion magazine and was appalled to see the models looked about twelve and their dresses were thousands of dollars.   She thought it was ridiculous!

So somewhere after Nans and Mums younger times things changed dramatically.  Times were more prosperous and convenience became the big thing.  Skills were not necessarily passed on anymore.   Over time so many things that were once just the norm became specialist services.  Instead of hemming your jeans you take them to a seamstress.  Instead of washing your windows you hire professionals.  Even walking and washing the dog is something you hire someone to do.  You can pay someone to do everything and instead of live your life you work for someone else and pay others to do your stuff.   Sometimes there is a financial profit in all of this and sometimes not.

Some years ago I noticed advertising attempted to diminish any form of domestic activity.  There was an ad on TV where one older lady said to another "Oh you don't STILL make your own jam DO YOU?"  as if to let everyone know you would have to be stupid to make jam yourself and not buy it from a certain brand.  Then you have the whole "you deserve it" advertising...   go ahead you deserve it... whether you can afford it or not! haha!

I have written before too about people who will attack you for being a homemaker!  It is implied that homemaking is a waste of time, as is caring for children and surely you would want to do something else to be "fulfilled."  Most of us have experienced some of this.  I have to the extent that it seems to UPSET some people that I do all of these things and enjoy it.  My theory on this is that the devil hates  a homemaker and he has many good reasons to do so.  I have always kept Proverbs 31 in my line of sight and I do not buy the worlds view of homemakers one bit!  

We have already covered how Nana made do and would be so trendy if she was here now as she already recycled, re used and never wasted anything.   She didn't use plastic bags she used her basket.   Everything "new" now is not new at all.  It was largely how Nana did things!  You can read that post here.
Then we covered how Nana beat prices in the laundry here in  How to beat rising prices (or shortages) in the laundry like Nana did.
Then How to beat rising prices like Nana did. Cleaning.
Then How to beat rising prices like Nana did and how to make meat go further.
I have been slow as a wet week to get to a new subject just because of being busy and having had both Dad and Andy rushed off to hospital since then!

Having followed Flylady I think she nailed it in regards to one of the reasons why we have gone away from doing things ourselves.  Besides convenience there is perfectionism.  We feel if we do something ourselves it might in some way be sub standard, a failure, somehow less than perfect.  She says that housework done imperfectly still blesses your family.  Well, I can tell you a cake you make for your child does not need to be perfect.  They will think it is wonderful that YOU made them a cake.  And so will your friend. And so will your Mum...  And the same with something you have sewn, knitted, crocheted etc... your small child will love that you made it.   (Teenagers are more dangerous territory lol!)
As for a whole list of skills that need to be practiced and improved on... this is NORMAL.  No one is born a wonderful seamstress, baker or anything else.  It is usual to have a go at something, gather information on how to do it, ask someone to show you and try.  First time will likely be wonky.   We cannot improve if we don''t persist.  The number of times I have heard someone say they are no good at something amazes me.  I will ask "how many times did you try?" and the answer is usually once!   Like you fall out of bed just BEING a good cook or knowing how to do anything!?

The next objection is about no time.   Great Gran had thirteen children and no washing machine but mended.  She would probably have a good laugh over our idea of no time.   She might be amazed at how much people watch tv and drive around from one place to another, spend on their devises and the phone.  She would think she would just not have time for these things!
None of us can do everything.  And I am all for making easier ways.  But if we identify where the budget is really breaking we might be able to learn a skill to help.   A quick way to work out what these may be is to calculate the annual cost of things.  If you have five children and haircuts are costing a fortune per year then hair cutting equipment and some study might save you hundreds per year.  If taking up pants and jeans is a regular cost this is a really easy skill to learn.   If your family spend a fortune on yoghurt this might be a good one to study.

I am mortified to share this but here goes.  We once spent $50 a week on pizzas.  It was a Friday night thing from a fancy pizza place.  They were divine I admit.   But that is a whopping $2,600 a year!
Learning to make a decent pizza base (and later a good gluten free one)  and yummy toppings reduced this to well under $10 a week. And it was easy.   And saved over $2000.   Nan would have said I needed my head read to ever have paid that.    Anyway now I don't and I routinely price the cost of things annually.   This is always amazing and you realise that it is absolutely worth doing it yourself, finding an alternative, making do or learning how...

We are so blessed to be able to study any skill for free online.  If you are lucky enough to still have your Nan or Mum and can ask her to show you how to do something that would help your household then do!  It will be a beautiful time together!   If not then you have an endless choice of free tutorials, you tube, the library...    It is exciting to learn a new skill.  It might save you a fortune.

A couple of years ago I learned soap making. I had a fear of caustic soda I had to overcome first.  Today I saw homemade soap is selling for $10 a bar.   Knowing how to make soap is something I am so glad I learned.

My friend Laine decided early on that with four children she would need a lot of birthday and celebration cakes.  So she took a short course in cake decorating.  She long ago lost count of how many cakes she made and how much that saved her.   But it would be a fortune.  What a good investment that class was!

Here on the farm I have learned to take good care of leather boots.   It has reminded me how Pa always polished his shoes.  Shoes were expensive and you took good care of them.  Leather boots are an investment and I take care of mine.  Then I learned how to keep them waterproofed.

Knowing how to make bone broth and stock is a skill that means you can feed your family nutritious food very cheaply.   Soups and stocks are very economical.   Stocks can be made from things you normally would throw out!

If you develop skills you may also have an alternative income stream or ability to trade.  These could come in very handy!

What skills do you use that save you the most?
Do you have something you would like to learn that could save you a lot?
Are there any jobs that you could do that are not so much skill just time and mess?  Mine was windows.  I thought I was really bad at windows.  Now I use the cheats method.... for outside windows I hose everything down.   Then I use a window washer dipped into a bucket of a few drops of dish washing liquid and half a bottle of Finish Rinse Aid.  I give them a rub with this.  Then I hose them down well and walk away.  They dry practically perfect!    My neighbour in Adelaide paid $300 to have the windows all done.  I timed it and I could do all mine in under an hour.  Not perfect but still wonderful. I gave up perfectionism for good shiny windows!

Approaching Christmas things are busy!  But now I really start to think over the year and about next year too.  My presents are all made and wrapped.  This is largely because of The Tuesday Afternoon Club.  We encouraged each other, shared skills and ideas and started in January!

Now I will think about what skills I should learn that will help us in the future.  It is not only money saving but it is fun!  And good for us!   Have faith in yourself as you can save a fortune taking things on yourself.


Thursday 28 November 2019

Feather your Nest Friday, 29th November 2019.

We were blessed with such a mild week of weather and even some rain.  Nice weather just makes life so much easier.  I have tried to take full advantage of it too!  So this week was quite productive!

Because the weather is good the garden is good!   My pumpkin patch is really growing!  I am so excited to even have a pumpkin patch!
My Foxgloves have flowered and flowered.  Everyone sees them as they are right near the kitchen door....

And I have pale pink Hollyhocks out.  They are so tall!  I love them I will be saving all of the seeds!

I fertilised all the veggie, herb and flower beds plus all the fruit trees and gave them a good soaking.  This was almost a whole days work. 
My first zucchini is ready to pick.  The parsley has gone to seed and when the seeds are ready I will save them and pack them up.
I planted two types of cucumbers and used an old wire garden chair as my climbing support.  It looks so pretty in the garden too!  I have been studying how you can greatly increase your garden space by going up. If you include supports for your tomatoes and have them go up instead of spreading out,  if you have a wall of fence add some wire or something and send up passionfruit or climbing beans or snow peas...   the sky is the limit to what you can plant that will climb. And it looks beautiful!  

I made two big impossible pies.  One was for us and one was for Lucy and family.  Each took a dozen eggs and garden spinach.   And I used my 25c bargain creams.  So they were very cheap to make and tasted so good.

I made Peanut Butter biscuits for the girls, this is what they requested this week.

In the op shops (thrift stores) I found new quality reels of cottons for $1. This is how I stock my sewing cabinet.  Also a vintage apron sewing kit.  It has voile underlay and organza top ... it was $4.  I will either make it up or give it as it is as a gift.

I made up some laundry liquid.  I recently ran out and I missed this a lot.  I use it for towels, socks, jeans, all the work clothes etc.  The spare amount is kept in a bucket with a lid and I have four large bottles on the shelf.   The recipe is the same one Jane uses from Down to Earth Blog.   I like Rhonda's recipes as she costs things out and provides links to ingredients and studies.   This was an older post and she costed it out to save you $80 every batch you make.  It would be more now!  I was shopping with Mum and many brands of Laundry Liquid were $20 each! 😬   When a recipe calls for grated soap I just use Lux flakes.  I think in the US there are Ivory flakes which are about the same.

There is no need to make it pink but it just makes me happy!  I walked away and later saw my pink roses drying, my laundry liquid cooling,  and my pink kitchen towel over my mix master.  These little domestic scenes make me so happy!

There are many times I just adore a little snap shot of life that is so beautiful.  A basket of eggs,  a bowl of lemons,  things just picked from the garden being washed in the sink...  sheets drying in the sun...  they are all so beautiful! 

We added to the family!  I have four ducklings!  It was an accident, I swear!   

No good pictures yet... they are Call Ducks which are what Bantams are to Chickens, only the duck equivalent.   I also accidentally got three tiny Pekin Bantams in pale lavender grey.  I hope I have photos soon. All this happened yesterday!   Unfortunately (for his health) Andy smokes cigars.  I said to him "you know how you just have to have a cigar in the evening? Well, I had this same kind of experience only it was with ducks."   And so I have ducks but also snuck in baby Bantams. 

I have been pulling up giant thistles in the hay shed to feed the chickens along with spent chard and spinach plants that are really tall!  Wherever I go I watch for potential chicken (and now duck) food.

I made Dad his favourite Sultana cake.

I cooked  roast lamb with loads of extra veggies.  When I plate up dinner I separately plate up enough for two more serves, cover it in gravy and hide in the fridge.   I love these "TV" dinners.  A complete night off!   What is left makes lunches and rolls.  A roast is a very good way to get many easy meals and also save a fortune on deli meats.  I do not buy deli meats.   Either I bake a ham or roast something then slice it up.  If you compare this can be over $20 a kilo cheaper and sometimes much more.  Also no added sulphates and so on.   The slow cooker does a good piece of cooked meat too.  So handy in summer!

So that was my week.  And today is just beautiful!  Sunny but not hot at all.  A man is coming to slice up the big tree stumps to make furniture with.  I will get a piece that will become a coffee table in the cottage.

I hope it was a good week for you.  How did you build up your home, add to your pantry, preparedness or savings?   Also Happy Thanksgiving to the USA ladies.  xxx