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.

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Thursday 3 January 2019

Feather your Nest Friday, 4th January 2019.

Our first Friday of 2019!
It has been a really good week.  After Christmas we managed to have a few fairly quiet days and it helped me to take in all the changes in our lives over the last months.   Finally I could really start to think about plans and goals for this year.   It is exciting to begin again!

Some of the ways I built up our nest, saved and got ahead this week included:

I made a big rice salad as we have had a lot of cold meat and salad dinners due to hot weather.

I chopped and froze left over celery.  That will go into chicken soup in Autumn.

We had a wonderful day out.  We took Mum for the drive down to Lucy and her families farmhouse that they are moving into later this month.  They were down there working on it getting it ready to be lived in.   It was a beautiful drive and a gorgeous day.  Harper and Scarlett were excited to have two Nan Nans' visiting together!
We were pleased to see how beautifully the house is looking.   It is a huge old farmhouse and it also has a walk in pantry with the highest ceiling I have ever seen.  The shelves go right up so you need a ladder!

The garden has old fruit trees.  Some need loving back to life but there is a Quince with small fruit,  a lemon,  three fig trees and the hugest Mulberry Tree I have ever seen!

I picked figs, they are the free type that are pink inside.  Chloe has the purple type over near her house. 

In Adelaide last year figs were $2 EACH.

I also picked cherries.   There was a small tree with just a few left.

They turned out to be really small plums!   When I adjusted to this I decided, well,  they are a glorious colour!  So I did something easy and made up a gluten free packet mix cake and covered it in slices of the little plums.

It was beautiful!  I wasn't sorry they weren't cherries by then!

As it turned out my SIL's Dad sent us all cherries!  So I still ended up with a kilo to use!

Mum gave me two jars of farm honey. I love to keep as much honey as possible in the pantry.

Chloe gave me apricots and lemons!!

Andy ate a couple of dozen as he loves apricots.   The rest I made into Jam.   If I have small amounts of fruit to make up I do it in the microwave.  It is quick and easy and the bonus is you get this amazing jewel like colour. 

I made eight jars so that is a good start to my summer jam making.   The microwave method I use is  here.   This has never reduced the life of the jam.  And there are so so many uses for jam!   I wrote up some uses for putting it to good use in this post.... Take a Jar of Jam.

Both my Nans' and Mum were big jam makers.   Dad called in on Tuesday for a cup of tea.  I was making the jam then.  So he pulled up a chair in the kitchen.   When he was leaving he said coming to my place reminded him of his Mum.  She was "always collecting things and making jam."  This was a compliment since Dad loves and misses his Mum.  

This week Luke came over and helped with the Bobcat.  That is basically a small tractor.  In a few hours he got so much done, clearing away tree stumps,  filling in the holes in the lawn where trees had been and moving a dead tree that had fallen. 

He is such a help.  He is always happy even out there working in the heat.

Yesterday I went for a shopping trip to Naracoorte which is our regional town one hour away.  I had not shopped at all for over two weeks.   I am learning what I need to stock up on, how long things last and so on.  It was a beautiful drive.  From here we go through gorgeous vineyards and huge gum trees.  Even now it is all green.  I know the town fairly well from years ago when I also shopped there fortnightly when the girls were still at school.  It is a lovely town.  I did a big shop to stock up the pantry.   They also have two op shops (that I know of so far) and one was open and I got a Royal Albert milk jug covered inside and out with little flowers. It was $1!   And four crystal drinking glasses for 50c each!
I went to the nursery and got some seedlings, more spinach, capsicums and basil.
Woolworths and the Health Food Shop had so many Gluten Free things.  It was fantastic.
I took cold packs and frozen drinks.  These kept the meat and dairy items good and cold all the way home.

After the drive back I got busy unpacking and filling the freezer, fridge and pantry.  I feel so good to have stocked up well.   The country towns are more expensive.  Next week I am taking advantage of a city trip to do a major stock up at Aldi.  The price different is huge.

  I had already mentioned the lovely NYE we had with Chloe and Luke and the beautiful pavlova Chloe made.  It was a great week! 
As you can tell it is fruit season here.  It is a matter of each day making the best use of the fruit that comes my way.  Today I will work on figs.

How did your new year start off?   Did you find ways to build up your home, save or get ahead?

Tonight or tomorrow I will post the first challenge of the year!!  Plus two more posts in the next few days.   I am trying to get the year off to a good start and hit the ground running!

Have a lovely weekend! xxx



  1. Dear Annabel and bluebird friends,
    Wow Annabel what a wonderful week you’ve had!.all that fruit is such ,a blessing and a huge huge savings.
    My start to the year has been a bit slow but productive all the same.
    Are we still doing the Vicky challenge this year?.
    I have saved a lot this week but spent some too, it was planned spending and I now have gifts for my mums birthday , a friends birthday and some other gifts plus some new cushions for my bed and lounge .i havent added my savings up this week but it’s been a good week.
    I spent a voucher that was a prize in a raffle, I think I mentioned my raffle win.i bought an umbrella and some jelly beans ( the yummy glucose jelly beans) and had a few dollars left over which I put towards a gift pack of Natio products. I will use two of the products and give away one of them .there was also a beautiful bag that the products came in so I will use that to take on holidays with me for toiletries or something.
    I used a gift voucher I was given for Christmas to have a lovely lunch out on Wednesday I had to put in a few dollars but that was a very cheap lunch!.

    I had my usual Centacare services this week and that saves me a lot as you know!.
    I had all the usual savings, transport , doctors twice this week and on Monday before the new year started I took advantage of the last day of getting free medication for the year and got some scripts filled.
    I look forward to what you have in store for us Annabel, I am so excited!!.
    Take care everyone and have a great Barb W.

  2. What abundant fruit you have on offer Annabelle! Wow! I will tell my husband (the jam maker) about your microwave method. Thanks

  3. I always so enjoy reading what you are up to, Annabel! It was a fairly quiet week here, too. Christmas gifts have been put away and the house tidied. I still need to take the tree down, but there's been a lot of rain and all of the storage things are out in the shed!

    The main ways I saved this week were utilizing leftovers into other, new meals and staying home.

    I've also been writing down gifts to make for the upcoming year.

    I can't wait to see what the first challenge of the year will be!

    Have a wonderful weekend!

  4. Oh my goodness, I forgot it was Friday until this popped up! Your week sounds just perfect. Very hot here today, the weather station is saying 44.8! Cooler in the house, and hoping for rain with the change tonight to freshen up the garden. Cathxxxx

  5. You and Lucy are so lucky to have those wonderful pantries! The little girls are going to love living in the country I think. Our realtor is probably getting irked with me as I look for the perfect house and a pantry like that one would be a dream come true! I love reading about your summer in the middle of the grayest, rainiest winter I remember in a very long time. Al the fruit sounds so delicious. How funny to have such tiny plums! We did buy one carton of strawberries this week and they have been like a ray of sunshine with our meals. They were so fragrant that the car smelled of only strawberries all the way home from Aldi.

    We had many crazy deals at the grocery store like half pound packages of organic sliced Colby cheese for 11 cents each and boneless pork loins for .89 a pound. We are very well stocked here and could use a few weeks off from big shopping. We had a quiet NYE and watched a movie while the neighbors did very loud fireworks. Thankfully it is very wet in the woods and I did not have to worry about a spark setting a fire. All the Christmas decorations are put away until next year and we are ready to move on with 2019. One goal I have is to reconnect with old friends whom we have not seen in some time. There are many. After my husband 'retired' with his disability we kind of became hermits for awhile and we need to remedy that.

    I am looking forward to your plans for the blog for the year!
    Much love, Lana

  6. Dear Annabel , all that fruit and jam keeps you very busy and I love that microwave method !
    I’ve been making small batches of chutney, lemon curd , and today I tried orange curd , unfortunately not so well as other preserves turned out . Daughter snd family have visited today snd her partner is a chef snd we agreed what the problem was I can avoid with my next batch of orange curd.
    I will follow the lemon curd recipe method but use oranges. Fortunately I only made 1 jar as all my preserves are to use up things snd it suits me using the microwave .
    Today I’ve made Sunshine orange cake and cupcakes to use up more oranges .
    Mainly taking it easy while hubby is home on leave . I’m sure Andy loves having Luke around to help with his cheerful attitude too , marvellous! I can picture them both in my mind :-)
    Have a lovely weekend and thanks for cheering me up .with love , Maria xxx

  7. It is lovely to see all of your produce, as here where I live in the U.S. it is winter. We have had a wonderful holiday season, but due to my children all having extended illnesses, and now I’m having refrigerator issues, my nesting has consisted of taking care of those in my nest and using up food and trying to keep smaller amounts cold. There are a few things I’d like to work on getting better at this year. Like you, we are far from grocery stores. We recently got one in our town, but it is considerably more expensive. We also have switched to buying jugged or bottled water because our towns drinking water is not always safe. I would like to get better, or at least feel more confident and at peace with stocking up on groceries and water. I’d also like to start on Christmas and birthday gifts like you do over the year. I didn’t think there was anything I could do craft wise, but this Christmas I made my mother a lovely handlettered picture after I saw something similar at a store. It was easy and I enjoyed it, and she loved it.

    Like I mentioned above, my kids have been sick off and on with ear infections, bronchitis, and pneumonia since June really, but most consistently since October. I can’t figure out why we aren’t shaking it? We wash hands and try to limit contact with others who are sick. Do you have any advice when lots of sickness is going on?


  8. Dear Annabel,

    It looks to me like you certainly are hitting the ground running! The jam looks so pretty and I'm sure it tastes great. What a fun time visiting Lucy's future home!

    We have been enjoying spending some time with 2 of our granddaughters and the older one's husband since they have been home from school in California. Our younger daughter took all of us to see the movie Mary Poppins Returns as our Christmas gift from her. It was such fun! When they learned my husband and I had never seen the original movie, they invited us over to dinner and to watch it. We enjoyed a nice evening with our older daughter and all of her family, as well as our younger daughter.

    I received a turkey for free with a grocery pick-up order. Since they were out of frozen turkeys, they substituted a fresh turkey for free, even though it was quite a bit more expensive. My husband smoked it on the grill a few days ago. We have enjoyed several meals from it. I was able to get a lot of lovely broth and have quite a bit of turkey frozen for later. We have also been eating from a spiral ham that I found on sale for $1.27 a pound. Some of it is in the freezer for future meals. I made a big dish of ham and potatoes to take to a church potluck. The sales and coupons have been pretty good, helping to stock our pantry and get some things to share at the food box distribution at church. I am watching the after Christmas sales and have been doing fairly well not buying things like sweets even if they are greatly reduced. Some of our Christmas gifts even added to the pantry ---a spiral ham that arrived frozen and went directly to the freezer, an assortment of almonds and assorted pecans.

    The rice heat packs I made went over well. I didn't get them made for everyone I intended, so will work on that for next year.

    The citrus is beginning to ripen. My neighbor has already mentioned they have lots of lemons in case I want to make lemon bars. I took them over a plate for Christmas and received a package of homemade chorizo in return. We took part of it to brunch at our daughter's and the rest is in the freezer, as are a few of the lemon bars. I have picked a few tangeloes and grapefruit from our trees. I'm looking forward to getting some oranges from the neighbors who are always so generous.

    I enjoy your posts so much and am looking forward to what you have planned for the new year!

    Hope the new year is off to a good start for all of the Bluebirds! Happy Weekend!

    Love from Arizona,

  9. Annabel having access to a bobcat, and someone who knows how to use one, is such a blessing on a farm. So much heavy work can be done well and done quickly with one of these fab machines. You are very lucky to have Luke to come and give a hand. He is worth doind some extra baking for.
    We had a similar incident with cherries. Just before Christmas Bluey bought some cherries and told me not to eat them as they were for our Christmas Breakfast Feast. I did as I was told for a change. When they 'cherries' went on the platter we all did a double take. Turns out the 'cherries' were grapes. They were still delicious.
    Even though we are in town we still like to keep a well stocked pantry. There is a cyclone hanging off the coast and well to the north of us. If it even hints at tracking south all the water, bread and milk will empty off the shelves within a couple of hours. It is ridiculous but it has happened often enough now that we just laugh.
    Thank you for the link to the microwave jam. I have about 20 figs on my little tree. I might make a few spoons of fig jam from these.
    Life is hot and humid and will be really good if we get some rain.

  10. Dear Annabel,

    You have such abundance come your way, both in the fruit and the op shop bargains! I loved the post you had recently about making the most of blessings that come our way.

    How wonderful that your dad likened your ways to his mum! That is such a great compliment to you. My old nan was such a jam maker and any tiny bits that came her way were turned into a jar of something. She always had something cooking away on her combustion stove.

    Here it has been a hot spell of days which concludes thankfully today with forecast 46 deg (think only tipped 45) and a cooler week ahead. I was able to get all of the christmas decorations away again and freshen up the house with summer decor. We are having a low spend year and a no spend January to kick that off. Our aim is to save as much as possible. Think the economic climate ahead might be challenging for us Aussies.

    Hope everyone had a great start to 2019! Looking forward to what you have in store on the blog 😊

    Love, Kaye xoxo

  11. Love reading your posts. I read your one about microwave jam making and am going to give it a go with raspberries do i still use lemon and same quantities of sugar and fruit. Look forward to your next post.

  12. So much abundance Annabel! You are going to be kept very busy over the summer months. It is so good that all you girls are going to be together and neighbours. What a wonderful life to share with your loved ones.

    I have not kept track of my savings this week but I will see how my memory goes;

    ~A friend gave me excess peaches from her tree. I stewed them up minus sugar and froze them in 2 cup lots.

    ~I bought four containers of Phil's soy ice-cream that was on special.

    ~I bought reduced baby spinach for us and the chooks.

    ~Cooked all meals from scratch.

    ~Used up old and left over veggies to make a spaghetti meal.

    ~Shut the blinds, doors and windows to keep the house cool in the heat and didn't turn the air conditioner on until I started to feel warm.

    ~I was gifted an old singer sewing machine in working order, so I am going to set it up to use.

    ~Saved fuel by filling up at Wilmington, a lot cheaper than Port Augusta. We just top up now when we visit my parents.

    ~For breakfast we have been having mandarin juice I had frozen in winter.

    ~Small pickings from my garden. A couple of tomatoes, zucchinis and silver beet.

    ~mum has been loading me up with cucumbers and zucchinis from their garden.

    ~made zucchini bread

    ~Made my own Kombucha and sourdough bread.

    ~dried washing outside, easy in this hot weather.

    ~cleaned my carpets with a Bissell machine that was gifted to us from a friend.

    That's it, cant think of any more, but I am sure to have missed something haha!

    Cant wait to see your coming posts.


  13. Wow! All that lovely fruit and I love the items you made with it. How wonderful having Luke and his bobcat coming in to do those jobs; it would have made short work of what would be a big job if working with picks and shovels. .
    You mentioned Naracoorte...on our recent holiday Bruce and I visited Alexander Cave there...absolutely amazing! Wish I’d known about those op shops though! Lol

  14. Annabel how lucky are you to have so much fruit to work with and we do the same and make jam when we get free or low cost fruit. So nice to see Luke giving you a hand in the grounds with equipment that takes the hard work out of it although the heat has been fierce here and I am sure there too.

    I also find it motivating to compare notes with like minded friends and contributors and thank you for all you do Annabel to create such an encouraging environment on your blog for all of us :).

    Our Vicky challenge added up to $135.26 in savings last week.

    We have not purchased anything apart from a few soft drinks at the local RSL club, really reasonable prices, to celebrate us finding the floor with no boxes in the home anymore, yay, apart from a couple of small ones for storing some items :).

    Finances -
    - We have paid off 1% off the capital and are in advance in payments on our home loan since the start date being the 19th of December. I chose to pay all of the setup bank loan fees off straight away so we don't incur any interest on them.

    Home Organisation -
    - Finished unpacking & setting up the sewing, lounge and rumpus room in the home. I am ready now to sew some more and organised and rolled up my rolls of ribbons in a new box and reused an old tuppleware container to store all of my threads.
    - We reused a pine shelf we had to create a wall shelf for all of our music CD's in the lounge room and mounted it with wall plugs and screws we already had.
    - We replaced all of the tap washers in the home which were not changed in an eon and we had to persuade getting the taps off with a hammer to break up the calcification (just get a bigger hammer we always say :) ). It took a couple of hours saving us $103.80 over getting a plumber in to do it for us.
    - Another trip to the tip to drop off all of the cardboard boxes and the old TV antenna we had replaced with a new one.
    - DH repaired the kitchen table by putting in more screws we had here as well.

    Have a fantastic week ahead everyone :).

    Sewingcreations15 (Lorna)

  15. Such lovely photos. I'm envious of all your free fruit! Our apple tree had to come down last summer- it was bad off the first year we moved in and just continued to grow worse over the past three years. We replanted with an apple and a plum tree, but it'll be a few years before we see any fruit (if they even get to that point! Fruit trees can be so finicky). I did make dandelion jam from our excessive amount of dandelions last year, though! It was the first year we had enough dandelions in our yard that I felt comfortable taking two cups of flowers- there were still a ton left for the bees, I made sure of that! :)

    I'm going to start eating down our freezer and pantry a bit; the freezer badly needs to be cleared out, and my pantry is well-stocked, so I'll plan meals based on what's lingering around there. It'll be a good way to save money, to make up for some medical bills we just had to pay off. It's going to make for some interesting meals, I think! Good thing my family isn't too picky. ;)

  16. I have chopping and freezing celery and carrots on my to do list today.
    Having just read Jane's comment I have added to my to do list that I need to check our emergency preps - water, batteries, fuel for the generator and gas for bbq cooking - just in case Penny causes any problems down this way. The ants are going beserkers outside so it could mean we are in for lots of rain (or it could just indicate there is a lot of scale hatching at the moment).

    Your cake looks lovely Annabel.

    1. Dear Sherri,
      I joe there is no cyclone threatening you (or Jane) but they seem to be a regular occurrence and being fully prepared is a really good idea. A couple of years ago I saw the QLD gov had a preparedness site and a week by week plan. It was really good! I notice what the ants are up to also! I remember years back in cyclone Tracy that people reported all the birds left before it hit so there was eerie silence. So now I listen to what the birds are doing as they are smart! I freeze all the celery leaves as well, they are so good for broth/stock/soup. Many thanks! With love

  17. I'm slightly envious of those beautiful lemons and apricots. Two of my favorite fruits.

  18. Dear Annabel,
    It looks like you've had a good start to the year. I am late commenting but wanted to post anyway as I intend to be more diligent about tracking and reporting my savings.
    This week we needed to take a trip to the city and while we were there we sold some of John's old clothes to a store that sells gently used second hand baby things. I went through our bookcase in anticipation of this trip and gathered a few books to sell to a used book store as well. We were given a gift card to a restaurant so our meal was only a few dollars out of pocket, and we had leftovers from it the next day.
    I used my $25 in weekly store points to buy a set of onesies for my cousin who is having a baby. They are part of her shower gift. Colton bought a tool holder for his belt with the rest of the points.
    We fueled up while we were there to save money as it was cheaper gas than locally.
    I used a couple of gift cards for other things we needed, saved on groceries by shopping the sales, and made my own liquid hand soap using things I had on hand.
    Some things I used up were paper holiday napkins and packets of spices that I just emptied into larger containers.
    I canned more mandarin oranges and made some jelly (jam) from oranges that were given to us but full of seeds and a bit sour. I saved all of the peels for other projects.
    A lot of savings this week had to do with just being sure nothing went to waste and using what we already had. Those dollars all add up! My savings for the first week of 2019 came to $187.94. It may not look like much but if we hadn't put forth the effort we would have really spent that much and all of a sudden it is a lot!
    Hoping our week to come is just as good (or better) as the first!
    Love, Kelsey

  19. Wow you are busy but its such a special type of life in the country. thanks for sharing.


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