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.

Saturday 5 January 2019

The second challenge. Set it to use.

Thank you for such an amazing response to The Tuesday Afternoon Club. I am working away to have lots to report on our first Tuesday get together.

So my first challenge is to make things and have the motivation of meeting in a group regularly to report what I achieved and what I am working on.   Just to make whatever I can with what I have or what comes my way.  To set things to good use!

This challenge adds on a bit more.

I am not the least bit inclined to eat down our pantry or reduce our preparedness in any way.  The opposite in fact.   And as for clutter that is actually useless, ugly and space wasting we just didn't move it with us when we shifted so that is done.  There is only so much space in a house and I do not like to feel crowded and I don't like the look of clutter.  It kind of makes ME feel cluttered.
But my pantry, emergency supplies, medical cabinet etc are all pretty ordered and enclosed and I value all of these more than money in the bank.   Mind you we are also working on our emergency fund and actual money in the bank too.

I am turning my attention to things that need to be used or or they will be wasted as they will be losing freshness.   Things I can set to use and at the same time save money which can be used to invest in building up the pantry or the emergency fund.
Some things that come to mind are mixes I have made i.e. enchilada mix,  cream of chicken soup mix,  butter chicken spice mix..

Others on my list to either use up or not buy are:
Herbal remedies for winter,
Cleaning products,
Olive Oil,
Herbs and spices...

As I go I will no doubt spot lots of things that have been hanging around a while and probably should be used up.

Then there are things in the garden.  I have spinach and it looks like two million tomatoes are about to be ready, the apple tree is covered and so are the pear trees.  I have thyme, basil and parsley in great quantities!  Now to set them all to good use.  For everything I use up I am not buying and I can stretch the grocery money by a day or two or a week!   Just by using things up I can expand the pantry quite a bit and have food to share as well.

Another area we can set things use could be seeds. Get them planted when the time is right.
And another might be appliances that could be working hard for us and be a handmaiden except for the fact we have never studied the instructions and practiced.
Like Laine always said, get all the handmaidens working first thing in the morning!  Make them all work well for you!  What a help.  While you are working in the background the washer is washing, the bread is rising, the dinner is in the slow cooker and so on.  Many things are happening at once!

What do you have that could be used up or set to use?
How could you save money by using things up?
Do you have savings goals this year?   There is an enormous amount to be saved just with eliminating waste, packing lunches,  being inventive with left overs etc.

Maybe you have something you just cannot figure out how to use it up.  Could you sell it, donate it or barter with it?  This might make it useful and help you stock up or save or help a charity.   It might also clear space for more important things.
Sometimes we can find a completely fresh purpose for something.  It can be reinvented and suddenly it is useful!

It is a lot of fun to work out ways to turn things to your advantage.  The possibilities are endless!  So take stock of what you have and begin... this is going to take me all year and some things are seasonal i.e. I will use up my butter chicken mixes when the weather cools down.  And right now my hands will be full with using up fruit and produce.   We have to prioritise and turn out attention to what needs to be used up today.

When we are using everything to its fullest suddenly the world seems much more abundant!

Very often savings come from a quick review of what is in the fridge.  Having a clean and well organised fridge so you can see what you have stops science experiments forming and helps you to see that you do not need to buy more of something as you still have some left!  And that tonight is the night to use up something before it needs tossing out tomorrow!  
A good sort through the freezer is the same.  I often have stashed all kinds of bits and pieces in there and can put them together to create a kind of free meal.  

Flylady always says that housework doesn't have to be perfect to bless your family.  Well meals don't have to be perfect to bless your family either.  Simple nourishing things are just fine.  In fact homely old style cooking is most often the nicest of all.  

This is the year to quit wasting stuff and throwing money in the bin.  To set things to use for your advantage.  There are lots of little things that add up to a big difference.  With luck our efforts to use things up will increase our skills too.  It has a roll on effect as we learn more.  

I have one more post then I have set the scene for my intentions for 2019.  It has been fun to catch up after not being able to post very much.  I always feel strongly to get the ball rolling in the new year. 
Have a lovely Sunday!  I am off for a drive to Mum and Dads and it is a glorious day!xxx


  1. oh how i need your encouragement to help me get me out of the holiday lag! I've spent the morning dealing with an abundance of apples given to me, and more of the apricots from our tree. What a joy to gift home-made fruit straps and bottles of fruit to visitors. I have discovered a better result from cutting into 1/6ths or even eighths, my apricots before drying them, we are loving them in our home made mueslis and slices, much easier than cuttingonce dried, and they dry more evenly.

    1. Dear Julie, Dried apricots are just so nice. What a great use for them too. Apples right keep a little while... when there is too much to do in one day I lay out the fruit and pick out what needs dealing with immediately and get on to that... and repeat the process each day. Apples are so very useful as can be good sweet or savoury. I look set to have a lot of apples. But Im determined to make the most of them. Chloe has a dehydrator I gave her fro Christmas a year ago... so I think dried apple will be something I can make with the excess.
      I am glad you are making the most of this abundance. Well done! With love

    2. Hi Annabelle, Does Chloe love the dehydrator and use it a lot?I have thought about getting one but I am not sure .....I value your opinion
      I have been harvesting and saving seeds...lots ready for next season. As always a great post. Cheers, Jo

  2. Annabel,
    Using up what we already have is a great reminder! Sometimes we get so accustomed to seeing something in our pantry or in a cabinet that we look right past it without actually seeing it.

    1. Dear Sharla, I need to set my vac sealer to good use now. I have a whole craft cupboard too that needs to be converted into gifts and homewares. I am doing bit of a stocktake! I hope to have lots to report on Tuesday in the club! With love

  3. Using up is on my agenda for this year. I have already started with leftover makeovers and aim to have a zero waste kitchen. My main goal for the year is debt reduction, as 2018 was a rough year. I also want to add to my pantry. Using things will help to reach these goals.

    1. Dear Wendi, I am sorry last year was so rough. I really hope that the challenges help you to gain ground back this year. Between us all there will be many ideas. So far each year I have made serious discoveries that are like lightbulb moments with savings. I like that you also want to build up the pantry so I hope you get many opportunities. We are off to a good start with our goals set! With love,

  4. So true ladies, the encouragement given by Annabel, helps me to get a wriggle on. I belong to a craft group & this year we are knitting squares to make into blankets for charities.

    1. Dear Virgo baby, The knitted squares make lovely blankets. And there is always a need. I always say if there is no one in the family to craft for there are still many people who would LOVE a handmade warm blanket, hat or scarf. Your group sounds wonderful. With love and thanks,

  5. Dear Annabel,

    I am so joining you in this! I am having a use it up challenge during the last half of January as I will have $30 credit (flybuys,rewards) at both supermarkets I am putting to work buying just essentials and then into February I am doing a full month challenge as well. I can see bits and pieces needing using up in the freezer everywhere!
    What I do is put all the items needing using up from my pantry (expiring dates) in a basket or tub and make it a challenge to use those up or need to bin them at the end of the month. I group freezer stuff in a basket in the freezer in same way. That is a huge incentive to me to get creative 😊 we would never stand by our bins tossing dollars and coins in it would we! 😂 I am moving on to bathroom and laundry products after that.

    This will be fun!

    Love, Kaye xoxo

    1. Dear Kaye, I can see we will be both making some creative meals! But I kind of enjoy that challenge and the savings can be well used. The idea to set the need to be used items in a basket is great. As you work through the basket you will see your progress and be motivated to keep going.
      We are off to a god start for the year! With love,

  6. Dear Annabel ,good timing ! I have been cleaning out and tidying kitchen drawers and pantry , spare pantry and emergency stores. Cleared out all the empty jars I had in the bottom cupboard and sued them to store baking items , after a good hot wash.
    I painted the hall cupboard and moved spare pantry stores into there . And the Emergency kit stores went into the nearby cupboard.So they are all in one spot now except for my water stores which are heavy and take up too much room in a cupboard so they are on the bottom laundry shelves.
    The freezers have been tidied (on the smaller side of sizes) and am using up odds and ends daily.
    Yesterday I attacked my wardrobe and shoes and have a big bag to take to the opshop.On a roll here !
    Im using up all the items on your list too,I must say it takes me ages to get through bottles as I use very little and dont waste any .
    Look forward to your next post , love Maria xxx

    1. Dear Maria, You are off to a flying start! The wardrobe is a good area to mention! I will do a big "shop my wardrobe challenge" when Autumn comes.
      Your emergency kit and water are very good. I know you have had a few earthquake frights. So it is really good you keep this up. Well we all should anyway!
      I am on the lookout for jars now as I am going to run out! Jam season...
      Have a good new week! With love

  7. Annabel what a great post and I am sure you were a fly on the wall in our home :).

    As we just moved into our own home we went through all of our grocery stockpile while sorting it onto shelves and found -

    - 3 packets of pasta that need using (one is in the container and we are currently using).
    - About 4 tins of sweet corn that need to be cycled through.
    - About 6 tins of carrots.
    - The same amount of tinned green beans.

    Other things we have found and plan to reuse around the property for building other things where we want them are -

    - Metal pipe, diamond wire fencing, chicken wire, numerous metal gates.

    In the miscellaneous items pile we found that we will sell is -

    - A portable baby cot new in it's box and never used.
    - Some drive belts for a Sentry 2 Kirby vacuum cleaner that just bit the dust after 10 years and we have now bought a new vacuum cleaner. We repurposed the extra pipes and fittings onto our new vacuum cleaner as they fit it.

    Other things we had that we used were -

    - A piece of timber, a tin of varnish, raw plugs and miscellaneous screws which we turned into a large wet weather and coat rack for our rumpus room. Hung up and using this morning.
    - Found a forgotten about hanging fabric shoe rack that I turned into a new and old hat and gardening glove work station after hanging it over a blind rail. Things are now ready to grab for when we are working outside in the back room.
    - Turned a moving box that I cut down into a container to hold my fabric ribbons.
    - Other found screws in the shed were used to fix our temporary kitchen table that was wobbling as the legs had lost some screws.
    - Repurposed an old tuppleware container into a container to hold all of my sewing threads in as the original cardboard box fell apart.

    I am sure we will find more as we look more carefully.

    Have a great week ahead everyone.

    Sewingcreations15 (Lorna)

  8. Go Annabel!

    You are off and running, so I had better get my joggers on lickity split!

    After I write this comment I am off to clean and organise my fridge. It is something I haven't got to since Christmas, next will be my pantry. Mostly it just needs a tidy up as things just got plonked in there over the busy Christmas period. This year I am taking Cath's advice and that is to "just do it!"

    Thank you for all you do,
    Love Tania xxx

  9. Yes! Love this Annabel! My goals this year are to really make the most of the resources I have and to make my home more comfy and homely. I want to learn more and get better use of my handmaidens like my bread maker, yogurt maker, slow cooker, etc and to use my recipe books & patterns. I plan on using my fabric stash to make things for my little family and own home - I have made so many gifts in the past, but very little for myself. It is time to make some quilts and other items for me and my home! As I’m also focusing on decluttering, my motto for 2019 is “Use it, or lose it”. Will look forward to our industrious journey altogether this year. Cheers, Kelly

    1. Dear Kelly, I find my slow cooker so helpful. I have a whole section in the index... and yoghurt!! Well there are so many uses for yoghurt so the yoghurt maker is a really good thing. A fabric stash gives you so many possibilities! I hope it will be a very industrious year! I think so... we are up and running already so we have the whole year ahead of us. Many thanks Kelly, with love

  10. LOVE your motivation and inspirations for this year! I'll link over to you in my first Gentle Domesticity book study post on Tuesday. :-)

  11. Dear Annabel,
    We must have really been thinking the same thing this year! Really I got excited with every word because this is one of my main goals for 2019!
    I am the same, I don't want to reduce my supplies. I just want to use up what needs using, which stretches dollars and eliminates waste. This is a no waste year. Our list looks very much the same.
    Just this past week I ran out of liquid hand soap, which I like to use in the kitchen. I had bar soap on hand that has been stashed away and not used so I grated it and made it into liquid. Savings there. At the bottom of our potato chip bag there was just broken bits and crumbs so I looked up recipes to use chips and found a casserole recipes. The chips just act as potatoes. Not the healthiest but we got a meal out of it plus leftovers. No waste there! I have some coffee in the pantry that we got on sale and I'm not too crazy about it. So I just add one scoop to each pot that I make and I can't taste it! This gets rid off the stuff I don't like, while stretching the coffee I do like.
    I have been dealing with oranges this past week. I canned slices and made jam. I saved the peels and they are soaking in different jars of vinegar, vodka, two oils, and some are dried. Again, no waste and making good use of things I have. These are just a few examples and like you, this will be a year long process for me.
    I am really looking forward to getting ideas and reporting the progress we make! Annabel, we are just on the same track this year!
    Love, Kelsey

  12. I am so onboard with you in use-it, do-it, make-it.
    It's winter here and fresh produce is a premium, so my intent is to go through my stash of yarn and fabrics and make my home comfy. As others I have made for family, friends and have found many are unappreciative. So this year with our new home I am concentrating on making it homey, loving. 9no worries though, I know who appreciates my work and will be receiving gifts this year.)
    I find it is time to revamp my pantries and make them more attuned to our needs, one of the goals is to have more homemade convenience foods available. Aka: Home spice mixes, homemade bread in a jar mixes, meals we can just heat and eat in freezer. When we come home from a long trip we tend to stop at a restaurant instead of going home because there is no quick food to cook, so if there was heat and eat in freezer, problem solved. I already take the majority of our meals with us when we travel to save on expenses. (I even take my own tea).
    This is the year to fill the holes in my pantries, but by being frugal. We had an expensive year with the move in 2018, so I want this year to be frugal.
    May all the Bluebirds have a year of learning and prosperity in their pantries.
    Love, Rosanne

  13. Oh ladies, it looks like we have all put some challenging tasks and goals before us this year! My biggest challenge is clutter. I need to do a big sort and then sell, stash or donate. I am feeling like you mentioned Annabelle, "cluttered". There needs to be more white space in my home. I will be challenging myself to clear a cupboard or cabinet daily.

    That should keep me busy! It is amazing how many "treasures" we find that have been pushed to the back or buried. One of those task, which will be my first to tackle, is cleaning out my sewing corner. My sewing chair and table are just overloaded with stuff, mending, projects etc. I need to get cracking on 2 quilts I have in progress as gifts for my niece and nephew.
    I am so looking forward to seeing what each person is working on in our Tuesday much fun!
    Have a blessed day ladies :)

  14. Yes! What you call handmaidens, I refer to as my servants, and I do my best to get them going in the morning while I work on everything else. Beans in my Instant Pot, the laundry going in the washer, the bread machine kneading a batch of dough for me, and the dishwasher sloshing away, it's all music to my ears!

    I'm one of those who is eating down the freezer; I have plenty of things lurking in the bottom that need to be used up so I can take advantage of new, fresh food on sale (it's QUITE full, plus it could stand to be defrosted). My pantry is the same; I have things that I've collected (or my husband has; there are several cans of mackerel in there...) but never really used, so I'm looking forward to getting creative with some new recipes this year. We live in an area with a lot of fantastic grocery stores that are in heavy competition with each other, so we get some really great sales (and yes, every week I grocery shop, I realize how lucky I am for this! My mom, who lives about an hour away, is constant amazed by how low certain prices go up here), so my ability to rotate my stock frequently is high. I'm looking forward to all of this! :)

  15. Annabel,
    This is a great post! I agree with you I have no intention of eating down the pantry, but continuing to build it up. It has served us well over the years. I have been using up the odds and ends in it so they don't go to waste. I do not like wasting things. I have made it through all of the store bought green beans that I had for back up and am down to only what I've canned. Plus all of the bread cubes I dried for batches of homemade stuffing and some of the spices.
    I saved some jars that are not canning jars for a few projects and recycled the rest. We do a lot of recycling. I also saved the big popcorn tins from the holidays that I will do something with sooner or later too.
    I am done with my first gift for the year yay and it used a good amount of a cone of pink crochet cotton I've had for a few years. So double duty there.
    Giving a second life to things is something I enjoy the challenge of so I'm in!

  16. It seems I was that excited to read through this post I missed a gem of a quote in between your last 2 photos!

    "When we are using everything to its fullest suddenly the world seems much more abundant"

    Well said! I love that and wrote in my planner as inspiration. 😊
    Love, Kaye xoxo

  17. Oh I'm not the only person thinking like this ha! So far this year I've begun using up trims, lace and crochet cotton I've had for years for gifts. Defrosting and rotating freezer foods, sorted through soap making supplies and decluttering when i can. Baking and meals for future have also begun for the busy times. Thanks or the encouraging posts fellow bluebirds.
    Blessings Tanya xxx

  18. Dear Annabel,

    I am sorry I didn't get a chance to comment on your last post...we were away. I am very excited about the Tuesday Afternoon club. I am not on Facebook, so will just join in here (thank you for going to the extra work to post for us on your blog). And this Challenge is also one I need. I waffle back and forth between saving too many things that I will never have a chance to make into a gift, etc. (even though I have good ideas and motivation, I just have too much!!), and feeling that I can't get rid of anything or I am being wasteful, not prudent, etc. You know when the clutter "experts" tell you they can't think of a single instance when a client has felt they wished they hadn't gotten rid of something, well, I have kicked myself time and again for decluttering certain items out of my house that I could have used later on. That said, my house would be hoarders central if I had kept it all!!! So as you see, a bit of a dilemma. I really have quite a large yarn and fabric stash, so I want to use up a lot of that, instead of just collecting more with projects in mind. I also want to eat from our pantry during the winter, here, so that I can refill it in the summer. This is our "rotating"...filling in summer with canned and frozen goods and eating it all winter. Of course this only really works if I keep away from the grocery store, too, or I am not really saving any money!

    I think I need to crack down on my time management, too. I am pretty good and get lots done each day, but I do waste a LOT of time each day online (not on here, of course!!) that could be the extra 15 minutes here and there on other projects that really add up! That reminds me, some home reno jobs (like painting a bathroom door or two, touch ups on the kitchen cabinets, etc.) also really need to be done, and I need to split them up into manageable chunks in order to actually tackle them at all. So I want to cross a few of those off my list, too! Like you say, a few minutes here and there really add up!!

    I am thankful for all the encouragement here!!

    xx Jen in Ns

    1. Dear Jen,
      I just wanted to chime in here and say I understand your dilemma. I have collected quite a few craft supplies myself, but this year instead of buying (or gathering) more, I'm working through what I have. This saves money while preventing waste! Truly I have so much that it will probably take me more than a year to work through all I have.
      One of my dilemmas is that my personal style differs quite a bit from most of the people I would be gifting to, so I need something to do with all of the stuff I make too lol! Besides personal use, there is always selling items if you have a way. This is one reason I opened my Etsy shop. I make more cards and gift tags than I can use in a lifetime at the rate I like to create. I'm also looking at our local farmer's market for selling some of my sewn creations as they may be a bit more random than what I want to market in my shop.
      There is also charity as Annabel has said before. This can really brightens someone's day and can mean so much for someone to have made them something. I would like to work on this myself, sending more cards to elderly and giving out small things like fabric bookmarks to those I think may want one.
      Just trying to give you some outlets for all the materials you have and don't want to waste! (Craft supplies are just all too fun and easy to hoard so I totally get it!).
      Love, Kelsey

  19. Annabel apples and tomatoes go together to make a most wonderful tomato sauce. You have both coming on. I cant stand bought sauce but love the homemade variety. Dried tomatoes in herbed oil. These are delicious to eat and lovely to gift. Herbed oils full stop are lovely to use and lovely to gift.
    I have not been very good at setting things to use of late. My tropical apple tree produced an abundent amount of delicious tiny fruits, and most ended up in the compost. I planned to stew them up but didnt get to it. I really need to be more focussed in this area. Thank you for setting up this challenge. I can see it will keep me honest.

    1. Dear Jane, I did not think of apples and tomatoes together yet I have made relish with this combination. Ok this could be good for me! We love sauce and relish...
      With fruits it s hard as the opportunity is often pretty small time wise. If other stuff is going on well it can be hard!
      I think the challenges will keep me on my toes or else I will have nothing to report! But I am doing ok with lots of things set to use so far! With love,

    2. Dear Annabel, hope I don't lose tis post like I have the others, the internet here has been playing up with the storms.
      What do with my tomatoes etc, when I don't have the time to process them, I for eg green tomato relish, Iuse my food processor and slice the tomatoes, onions and apples and bag them for when I have my fuel stove going in late autumn, when I then cook it alll, some for us, some for the family and friends and some for the local grandchildren's school fete.
      For my tomato sauce, usually my tomatoes are ripe well before the apples in the orchard are ready, so I process the tomaotes through my machine that separates the seeds and skin from the pulp, I then vacola/wagerbath the puree, and it is stored in the pantry ready to make my sauces. I also stew my granny smith apples and vacola them, and we have them for pies, sauces etc.
      This way my hand maidens are working for me and it is not so rushed to deal totally with all the goodies
      Love Lorraine

  20. Annabelle I was so happy when I read today’s post.Last week I went through my pantry, checked expiry dates and made up my menu plan for the next couple of weeks using all the items close to expiry. I’ve gone through the freezer and again if it’s been in there over six months it’s to be used, pork and salmon went in there a week ago but won’t be used now until the other meats are used.
    All the fowlers bottles are ready to be refilled when the plums, peaches and tomatoes come into the shops. Unfortunately we don’t have any trees fruiting yet at our new house, they have been planted though, two plums a peach, mulberries, two apples, numerous berries, a quince and a lemon tree (in a pot) I just have to be patient. When I get given fruit I also deal with the most likely to deteriorate first, I also divide into bottle, freeze and dry as I don’t want all my eggs in one basket.
    Have also spent so time looking through patterns to use my stash of fabric and spinning fibre.
    I love the feeling of satisfaction I get from making and preserving.

    1. Dear Sue, I hope lots of bargain fruits (or free!) come your way! But you have made a great investment with the fruit trees!
      What you are doing will all add up to such a lot. It does take effort and organisation but honestly it is worth so much.
      I love what you said about not putting all your eggs in one basket storage wise. That is really wise! This fruit season can be really busy! It is a true case of make hay while the sun shines! I also just love the satisfaction you are talking about. A row of preserves is a beautiful sight to me! With love,

  21. Thank you for touching on this issue. Yes, using what I have on hand is not only a fun challenge creatively, but it clears up real estate.
    I calculated this weekend how much I saved for 2018. This is from cooking from scratch, second-hand clothing, movies at the library, and hanging laundry (even in winter), homemade gifts, etc. My total was $16,328 USD! Amazing!
    Blessings to you Bluebirds,

  22. You were so very right, I do love this challenge. I think I'm pretty good at it already and this is just the inspiration I need to get even better!


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