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 31 January 2020

The Vicky Challenge. Preserving.

I hope you had a week of savings and opportunities.  Because I am in Australia and we are in summer this is fruit season.  I thought this weeks subject should be preserving.  Now there are many ways to make the most of and not waste any fruit or produce that comes your way.  When I have fruit everything else is put on hold as fruit does not usually wait!

This year I finally learned to water bath can.  So it took me long enough!  And I love it!  I have always made jams, relishes and things like Lemon Curd, I have dried lots of herbs and fruit.  But never canned!  I had help and encouragement from friends to get started.  One of them was Vicky!  She helped me so much.  She has written something for you.  This might help anyone new to canning to get up and running!

Let's talk canning! 
Some of us are old hats at this, but for the beginners or anyone who would like to start, but haven't yet maybe we can change your mind. 
First: canning or bottling are just loose terms we use, but there are different processes to them. Some of us say we "put up" something and again it's just a loose term. 

Why can? Many reasons! From adding to pantry, making sure all of the juicy goodness we grow, forage or are gifted doesn't go to waste before we can use it all, convenience, to save money and control what is in some of our food and offset the costs of organic food. 
There are 3 methods - water bathing, pressure canning and steam canning. 
We will look at the water bath method first. 
This method is for foods that are acidic or enough acid can be introduced to safely can it. For example tomatoes, tomato juice, tomato sauce,  pizza sauce, bbq sauce, fruits,  relishes and pickled foods like cucumber pickles and pickled peppers. The relishes and pickled foods generally have vinegar which makes them acidic enough to water bath can. An acidic environment inhibits bacteria growth. 

There is some initial investment to canning and some thereafter like lids, but we can keep the costs down by accepting free jars and getting the best deals on lids and rings or caps and clips. I've found many at yard sales and thrift stores. 

Granite ware pots are usually what is used and come in different sizes, but a heavy stock pot deep enough that your jars can be covered with water will do. And this is why it's called the water bath method. Your jars of food are boiled in the water for a certain length of time to ensure that not only is the jar sealed, but to become hot enough to kill off any bacteria if any is present which is usually from dirt believe it or not so make sure what your canning is washed really well.  You cannot see botulism. Also a funnel and jar lifter are helpful. 

Do you want to try canning and haven't yet? Water bathing is so easy and a good start. Tomatoes are so easy and can be used in so many ways. so if your wanting to add to your pantry like Nana did this would be one of the ways. Another plus is if you are able to can,  is if the next year's garden isn't good or there is some income loss it is security. It is also becomes one of the items we don't have to buy at the grocery store unless we choose to as a back up. 
I recommend starting off with a batch of something easy just to get the hang of maybe some tomatoes or applesauce? Also when you do can some foods eat them! Don't just leave them on the shelf or toss them later use them up otherwise you will not know what you like or dislike. As long as your fruits and veggies are washed well and you follow the proper canning time and instructions there is no limit to what you can do in your own kitchen! 

Canning for me was like soap making.  Everything I was worried about turned out to be easy.  So then I was thinking "why oh why did I take so long to start!"
So if this is something that would help you make the most of fruit that comes your way then put the word out that you are starting! I did this and jars in all shapes and sizes began to come my way then even a canner!   Ball and Fowlers Vacola have very easy to follow instructions and videos on their web sites.

If you make the most of any produce you can get your hands on this will likely last you for many months.  Sometimes we have to learn new recipes and new ways to set something to good use.  It can be a new challenge.  I am waiting to see what I end up with this season.  I am thinking I will have a lot of apples, quinces and figs.  But you just never know what else.   I am happy to make jams, relish, sauces,  can some, make pies, cobblers, crumbles, muffins,  dry some for snacks...   Also I am happy to put everything aside and work all day and into the night if needed... which sometimes is if you have soft fruit and time is running out!  

There are many ways to preserve the fresh produce of the season.  I think many of us have been heavily dependant on the freezer, I know I have.  Then we have the issue of the freezer is full!  The power goes off!   So I think the more we can diversity the way we preserve the better.  Canning is going to save me a lot of freezer space.  It is also going to be find if we have an extended power outage.  My dried foods are also in this category.  So there is an advantage to having your jars ready to fill.

I have had great success with just putting the word out that I want to can and  that I am looking for supplies.   I say do this with the fact that you are wanting fruit and produce too!   Ask and you shall receive!  If you see fruit falling to the ground knock at the door and ask to pick it.   
The other day Mum and I were driving to see the girls.  As we turned a corner of a little country road I spotted an apple tree!    Covered in small apples!   It is not on private property but the road side.  You can be betting I will be inspecting it each week and hoping to pick the apples!  I never go anywhere without a basket in my car!

What are your favourite methods of preserving?   Do you have something in abundance each year that could be put to better advantage?   Also do you have any tips on saving money on preserving equipment or methods? This is an area we can really save and get ahead in.

Now for my own Vicky Challenge this week.

I was given two large pot plants and 21 rooted cuttings of succulents and Aloe Vera plants.    So this week was wonderful as far as my "stop buying pot plants" challenge.   I estimate all of this would have usually cost around $230 to buy at our local nursery.  You can bet I am counting these savings!
I also got busy the minute I got home and planted it all and water them in.  Now we have had all this rain I think my new plants will take off.  It was a lot to add to the garden in one week and I filled some bare spots.

I saved $36 on coffee.

My sachets cost around $1 each to make (for the lavender) and a few cents each for the rose.   When I convert them to gift value the savings are just enormous.  Pretty lavender sachets in the gift store are at least $10 each and I have seem them up to $30.  Then I think the value of having gifs in the cupboard rather than rushing to the store is a saving too.  When we need a gift, and fast, I think this is when it is easy to totally blow the budget!

My homemade pizzas were so very cheap and a big savings there.

My 7 dozen eggs for the week save at least $30 a week even considering chicken feed.  I turn this saving into more by bartering with my eggs and making so many homemade goodies.

The essential oil roller balls and sprays I made up were a significant saving.  Now I am set up each time I make up a roller I am probably saving close to $30.  I can make up a set as a gift that might be worth $100 from an Essential Oil website or shop yet it has cost me a tenth or less of that price.

How did your challenge go?  
I am so happy to catch up as I felt my internet might never work again!  But I think it was just so much storm and electrical activity that took it out!   I will get a bit of sewing in this afternoon and make an impossible pie for dinner.  I call that a good day! xxx

Feather your Nest Friday, 31 January, 2020.

I am late with my blog as we have had the biggest storm and no power.  The up side is we have had a massive amount of rain.  I don't know how much yet as it is still raining!   I hate being late with the blog as it makes me feel unreliable.

Well, apart from the obvious rain celebrations, it has been an interesting week.

In the garden I now have a large shade sail over the veggie patch which will help me keep things going through the really hot days.

By watching Buy, Swap and Sell on Facebook I found a beautiful wooden table and eight chairs for the cottage for an amazing deal.   They are perfect for the cottage.

When we picked this all up the lady was so lovely.  They were moving the next day.  She had the loveliest garden and she offered me potted plants,  roots and cuttings.   I came home with a potted Daisy bush and Lemon grass, Aloe Vera plants (five I think) and all kinds of creepers and succulents! It was just wonderful.

I made baked egg custards,  pizzas from the garden tomatoes and basil and I also planted 18 more basil seedlings.  If you want to harvest it first you have to plant it!

At the store coffee was on the best special I have seen in a long time.  I saved $36 on coffee and got ahead in supplies.   Now, I am finding very few good deals and very high prices.   Also fairly empty shelves.  Still notices up saying this or that is unavailable or in short supply.   So this makes it even more important to take advantage when we do find a really good deal.

We had some really hot days.  I finally got back to sewing!  I am trying to use the fifteen minutes a day method.  (I think this came from Down to Earth Blog and also Patsy,  it works!)  Once I get going I find I am there more than 15 minutes but other days I have just achieved the minimum.  None the less this adds up so fast!

First I made up some Lavender Sachets.  I am using what I have and the fairy images I had from WISH.

I found playing with pretty fabrics so much fun.
Having things to work on during awful weather makes the days so much better!

I kept going until I ran out of Lavender.  Then I went on to Roses and kept going until I ran out of Roses!  I save and dry roses all year so all the buds are dried for free, not purchased.

In the evenings I crochet and I finished a cotton shopping bag.

Everyone has heard about the virus outbreak.   This is where my medical pantry came in.  I see that masks have sold out and people are selling them for incredible prices on Ebay.  That is ok I already had about 80 in my medical supplies.   When something like this happens you are not going to be the first to the store and the first few to the store will buy all the supplies.  That is all they have!
It also made me glad I have my essential oils.   I got busy and made up kits for myself, the girls, my niece and a friend.   We all have purse sized hand sanitisers,  immune boosting rollers,  germ fighting rollers and I have a diffuser necklace so I walk around in a little personal cloud of germ fighter.

I had everything on hand to make things up.  With the masks and essential oil supplies I am now thankful I started a medical pantry a couple of years ago.   I am amazed how fast things sell out.  Then there is panic buying.   We need to have our supplies in place then we are not part of this.

I hope you had a good week!   Also it is now February!  
Now I need to work on my Vicky Challenge post as that would normally be today.  I will do my best to catch up.

We had 1 and 3/4 inches or rain so far.  This is amazing for us.  Because it has been warm the grass looks such a bright green!  

Have a lovely weekend! xxx

Friday 24 January 2020

The Vicky Challenge, 2020. Week 1 report.

This year I want to have a special Vicky Challenge post every week.  It is an opportunity to learn some new weeks to save and see how our efforts at home add up to some serious economic impact!

If you are new this was the introduction post...  The Vicky Challenge 2020

My little way of tracking my savings is to keep a list on the fridge and quickly note things down. Sometimes I will know what I saved right away and sometimes I might need some time to make some calculations or comparisons... but my note on the fridge will at least remind me.

An example on my list this week was something I once would not have tried.  My dishwasher was not working and not draining!  Oh no, I love my dishwasher!  Now we are 40 minutes by road from a town that possibly I could get a repair man to come from.  I still don't know the fee but Chloe will tell me as she has had to call out repair man from town. Whatever it is it will be steep!
So I downloaded my dishwasher manual and I watched you tube videos.  The first couple of things I tried did not work so I went on and tried more things.  But, low and behold,  I fixed it!  I seriously would NEVER have tried this a few years back.  But now I know with you tube etc you can have a go at many basic things.  It took me a while but I guess I saved at least a coupe of hundred dollars!  And I felt good about it!

I trimmed my hair with Chloe's help.  And I colour my hair.  I have lowered what this saves me per  month as country prices are a bit less.  But it still is a huge saving per year.

I made a birthday cake and a birthday Pavlova and I counted the savings there as they were really beautiful and a fraction of the cost of buying Birthday cakes.

I resolved to expand my garden with cuttings and other free ways to add to it and added over 30 plants all up for free!  I have to really treat this as a challenge as I love to buy plants.  But an average potted plant is $14 at our nursery.   What a saving just here!

Being able to pick Mulberries and make jam I counted my five jars of jam as a $20 saving.

My easy pizzas with home grown tomatoes and basil were another pretty good savings.

I am not listing my actual totals or too many specific figures as these all will depend on where we live. I had an incidence of someone not believe how much I save doing my own hair!  I think some readers don't realise I live in Australia and prices differ!  To figure out your savings though you need to go by what you are really saving.  When I worked out my savings on making four dozen sausage rolls I peeked inside the local bakery and checked their current price list.  Sometimes I will google prices.  Usually I am amazed at the savings of making something yourself!  I am recording each saving and a weekly total.  At the end of each month I will get a monthly total.  And at the end of the year I will have a yearly total!   It is totally up to you how you share your savings and what you are comfortable with.  The main thing would be if you share what you did as this way we all might get new ideas on things we might be able to do too!

Now the week was full of blessings and opportunities!  And I count those!  But this challenge is a financial one and I know my week amounted to some very good savings and my efforts seriously added to the home economy!

This week my subject is about the money easily spent at cafes, restaurants and getting together with friends.  This can be costly!  And it can be hard when friends want to catch up and they suggest meeting at a cafe when you know by the time you have coffee and something to eat and buy something for the kids it all soon adds up. And there can be real pressure to do it too.
My Nan always visited and always had visitors!   Actually both my Nans were very social.
Nana L had a weekly spinning group.  They took turns at all their houses.  So a social day was also a productive day and so much fun!  They talked and spun!
I know that Cath and Wendy attend a card making group.  Again it is time to socialise and catch up and make lots of cards!   This is my idea of a great way to get together with friends.  In fact this is how The Tuesday Afternoon Club started.  Alison and Rebecca in New Zealand had been following along and decided to meet Tuesday afternoons to work on making their Christmas presents.   By the sounds of it they had the most wonderful time and they did produce so many beautiful gifts for Christmas time.    Also I know Nanna Chel attends a group that teaches new skills... from sour dough to rug making.   So we can turn our social time into something really constructive.
If you have no one in your life that you feel would want to do this with you then join a group.  As soon as the weather cools I am heading off to spinning group in my nearby town.  It is once a month and I know these ladies will help me get going.  I feel ladies in a spinning group are likely to have many other interests I might share too.

Now I want to share with you Margaret's photos.  She is a star member of The Tuesday Afternoon Club.  Margaret hosts both a sewing group and a Bible study at her house.  She crochets, bakes, preserves, gardens and each week you can bet she has produced so many beautiful goods.  The other week it was a lot of lovely homemade soaps.   Since she joined she has shared some of her afternoon teas for the ladies who come to her house.   Everyone comments and says things such as the only thing wrong with Margarets afternoon tea is that we weren't there!

Everyone agrees we would love to be in Margarets sewing group!   
This all reminds me so much of my Nan.  I would much rather be in this setting than in any cafe.  This is warm and homely and so inviting.  What a treat. 

Mum and I were travelling and we were talking about Margaret and how beautiful this all is.  How a sewing group or Bible study at her house would be so heavenly.

I know there is a great revival in home cooking, aprons and cookware, tea and also doing things in a sustainable way.   Many younger girls also think this is just gorgeous!

Margaret uses a lot of things from her garden and what she has.  She had apples so apple pie it is!

Somehow after many weeks of images like these I thought how I really wouldn't care if I never went int a cafe again.   I have a beautiful deck with a big old table and chairs.  It is beautiful to sit out there.  What could be better?  I have old teapots and pretty cups and saucers.  

Margaret also always has flowers on the table, from her garden...

This in itself reminded me how a tablecloth and some flowers on the table make a world of difference.  Things just seem special.

It is lucky we don't know your address Margaret or we all would turn up!

You are an inspiration and wonderful example of hospitality and how it is just so beautiful.  

Ladies we can do our own little versions of this.  Much of my prettiest china is from op shops.  Some was from my Nans.   Things put out in a pretty way to make a lovely table setting just look so inviting!

We can socialise in a way that we can chat, listen, work on some crafts and skills and have a beautiful time.   We could pack a little picnic and take it to the park with our children.   I remember I would take the girls to the beach and sit and knit while they made sandcastles and tide pools.   You could get together with friends at a park or the beach and everyone bring something to contribute.

I think that a lot of us need to find new ways to save. Food prices are really going up.  Utilities have been going up so much in Australia it is past a joke.  So we need to make a lot of modifications to how we live and find savings from other areas.   I hope each week we can help each other come up with new ideas and also encourage each other.  Many of life's pleasures are little things.  To me having my cup of tea in a pretty tea cup makes me happy!  Clean linen on the bed.  The smell of line dried sheets.  Flowers on the table or bed side table.  Jars of preserves I made lined up on the shelves.
There are so many joys that really cost very little or nothing.   Sometimes social pressures end up causing us money.  Being asked to "chip in" to gifts for the boss or a member of staff,  to attend a wedding in the Bahamas! To come to a restaurant for a birthday but you are expected to pay to attend. Some of these are just awkward.  At the end of the day everyone would love you to give them your money.  Charities who pay high administration fees then don't even pass the money on to the needy.
Actually everyone would love your money and your time!    It is ok to say no.  Your responsibility is first to your household and making sure you are ok.  After that if we have spare money it is up to us how we share it.

I can't wait for next week as I have our subject ready to go!  I wondered at first if I could find 52 savings subjects that could really help but I think I have!  It is exciting to find things I have never thought of! xxx

Thursday 23 January 2020

Feather your Nest Friday, 24 January, 2020.

It was a good week.  And we had rain on Wednesday night which made it a great week!   We had half an inch and this is enough to get excited about!

January's are birthday month in our family and this week we had both Mum's birthday and Lucy's.
For Mum's Birthday I made a Pavlova and we had afternoon tea together.

For Lucy's Birthday I made her favourite cake which is Armenian Nutmeg cake.  I doubled it so she could freeze some.  And I made Mum and I a gluten free version.  

I had a mixed bag of ways to save and get ahead this week.  And I have been counting my Vicky Challenge!  It is very motivating!  I am going to do a post each weekend so everyone who wants to participate can report in either here or there.  Each week we will have a savings subject so that we can hopefully learn new ways to save from each other.   

This week I was given MORE canning jars!  These are lovely ones as they are smaller in size which I think I will find really useful.  

I picked tomatoes and basil almost every day.  One night I used them to make pizzas.  They were simple and delicious.

I also made a big pot of spaghetti sauce.

I had some op shop finds including a bag of 30 reels of sewing cottons for $4 and some fabric remnants.

As well I found beautiful flannelette sheet sets.  One lot was a child's set with little owls and the other white sheets covered in pink roses.  So lucky! 

I was able to go Mulberry picking at my neighbours.  They are just delicious.  I was stained purple from head to toe. haha

After eating lots fresh I made the rest into jam.  

I love adding to my shelves! 

Mum and I went to see the girls and Lucy (for her Birthday of course.)  

It had been very windy.  Like the wild west the grasses blow up to the veranda  and the girls play in them.  It is clean and not prickly so this is their version of snow! 

This is as close to snow as we are ever going to get!

They had some lambs that needed some care.  

I got lots more succulent cuttings this week.  I have given up buying pot plants.  Some make it and some do not.  But a plant now is around $14.  And the sun and wind, rabbits and other things I am battling claim a lot.  So I am doing a cutting and transplant kind of challenge.  This week I ended up with about twenty new plants this way for free.

I cut my hair with Chloe's help for the bits I couldn't do.

Andy did a repair on my spinning wheel.  Now I am ready to go to the spinners group to help me get started.

I hope you had a very good week.  Did you find ways to build up your pantry, save and get ahead? 
We are very lucky right now with mild days.  This will help me get lots more done.  
See you tomorrow for our first Vicky Challenge get together.  xxx

Friday 17 January 2020

The Vicky Challenge, 2020.

Having just moved last year I found it too hard to do my normal Vicky Challenge.  But it is time to take it up again!

Some of you joined in during 2017 and 2018, some of you are still doing it.  For anyone who needs a refresher (and anyone new)  you will find the original starter posts here.   This challenge was started by Vicky when she explained some of her ways to me.  I thought it was a brilliant idea!

In a nutshell it is simply about tracking all the ways you save at home and adding the savings up each week.  I always stress that your presence in the home is about far more than the financial situation and the importance of running the house, caring for children and all you do is literally far above rubies.   This challenge factors in the actual money you are earning.   I say earring because saving and earning are so alike.   Money earned is taxed.   Money you save by doing things yourself will not be taxed.  You get to keep more of it.

Vicky adds her weekly savings up at the end of each week.  Then the month and finally the year.  To many of us this is very motivating.  When you see how much difference your efforts make to the household economy it is exciting!   Usually you will find this is easily a whole wage.  If you work full or part time you can do it too and count the ways you save in the hours you are at home.

If you are a stay home Mum or ever have been someone has probably said something along the lines of  "don't you FEEL you should be contributing financially?"

First things first.  I had this from someone I knew well one time  I asked her how much then did she contribute financially to her family?  She had two small children and was working.  She said what her wage was but that is not what I wanted to know.  I was asking how much profit did she make?  She said she had no idea.  So we worked it out.  Out came paper and pen. We sat and wrote out wages less tax.  We took out childcare.  We took out uniforms, hosiery, dry cleaning, transport and fuel.  We took at work parties presents and contributions and convenience foods as she was so short on time.   The long and short of it is she was earning about 50c an hour.
Now I am not saying all jobs equal this result.  But many do.  And I am not saying it was not her choice either.  I am just saying hey, with my home industry I am saving a lot more than 50c an hour thanks very much!
So really the truth of it may not be what it seems.

Then I get "aren't your bored at home?"  Well no.  I am so busy I don't have time to be bored.  There are not enough hours in the day.  So I cannot figure this one out at all.

It is up to you what savings you count.  I do not count housework.  But if you want you can count that and if you take up cleaning your own home over hiring a cleaner I certainly would count it.    I do count window cleaning as a number of times in the past I have paid a window cleaner.
I count my baking.   This week I made four dozen sausage rolls.  

I need to check our local bakery prices.  But lets say  full size sausage rolls are $5.  Then I made $240 worth of sausage rolls.   Now I will estimate my costs to be around $30 as I cheated and bought pastry!   So my savings are around $210.   Not bad for an afternoons work.
Further, the supply of quick tasty meals in the freezer means we basically never get take away.  I won't even bother to count that but I hear it is nothing for a lot of families to spend $2000 a year on takeaway!

I do my own hair.  In Adelaide I dropped into the three closest hair dressers for a price list.  To my surprise I was saving  $200+ a month.  I should now check our new local prices.  This week Chloe trimmed my hair for me.  I do my own colour and treatments.  It can't be too bad as I get compliments on my hair.  This is a savings of over $2400 a year.

When Andy was working in Adelaide I packed his coffees, lunch and snacks every day.  At that time I worked out this saved around $10 a day.  So that was another $50 a week or two and a half thousand dollars a year.

Even if you would do this challenge for a week you will be amazed!  It is worth doing!  It is certainly motivating.

Week one this year I had so many things to count.   By putting the word out about wanting to can and needing jars I came into over $1000 of free canning equipment and jars!

I count the amount I save on gifts by making them myself.
I count the savings on bargain priced items I find.
The amount saved on things we fix ourselves.
Sometimes I can't quite decide whether to count things or not!  For instance when we came here everyone expected me to want to rip out the kitchen and oven.  But I love all things farmhouse and I love the old oven!   I wonder what I saved there!?!

Savings Andy makes are also counted and this motivates him.   Many things he makes himself or fixes are big savings.

The other day I learned to make Meringues.

Lucy told me she saw a small bag of coloured meringues for $15!  So now I will adapt and make pretty little ones and colour them.  That is my next project!

Just now I have a Pavlova in the oven for Mums Birthday.  Since the eggs are from our chickens it is only costing me a tiny amount.  I will work out my savings and count those.

At Christmas I gave out homemade treats and worked out what I saved there over bought things.  Some of these savings are surprising!

I trying to keep up to date with the going rates for hand crafted goods.  I have found soap making a big saver.  I gave my son in law chunky and rustic homemade soaps.  Some he had were from Lush and they were around $14 a bar!   Mine were just as good or better and cost me so very little.

Making my own laundry detergent is a huge saver.  It worked out to be a savings of about $90 last time I made this up.

Each day there are just so many ways to save!  The possibilities are just endless.  
It is absolutely up to you how you do your own Vicky Challenge and how accurate you want to be.  I mainly to quick checks on retail prices or services, usually get a shock,  then record my approximate savings.   I do not spend too much time on it.  The main thing is I quickly jot things down so I will remember them! 

Tonight I am making pizzas.  I am using tomatoes and basil from the garden.  I will figure out my savings over buying pizza from the nearest place which is a local Tavern.

Apart from it being motivating I think knowing just how much difference you are making to the home economy is very uplifting.  It also gives you ammo when someone tries to tear you down.   Trust me, you may be contributing financially more than them.  Not that is is anyones business but that does not seem to stop negative comments!
At the end of the day you need to know your own worth.  Read Proverbs 31.  Study it.  The work you are doing might involve wiping snotty noses and endless washing but it is more than that.  Building a family and strong foundations, good nutrition, morals, charity, education and so much more are all things that will pay off long term.  The work you do WILL affect at least several generations.  
If you have no children at home then your work is still important.  Read Titus 2.  There is much work to do.  Coming along side a younger woman who needs encouragement, teaching how to save money, how to cook, garden, sew, make soap or whatever you can is helping someone else in their home.  
Many people are struggling and one pay check away from disaster.  The need to learn skills and encouragement are so needed. 

If you really want to save this year ,or just get ahead in any way, it can be helpful to work out what area to attack first.  If gift giving and Christmas are big expenses for you come over and join The Tuesday Afternoon Club, start now and make your gifts for next Christmas! 

I find a secret in crafting too.  I am CONTENT AT HOME.  In fact I would rather be home than anywhere else.  I can't think of anything worse than the mall.  I would rather have time to get some crochet done.  Or some card making.... (Oh the savings in card making!!)  A while ago I said I would rather be making jam than jetting around.  I am serious! 
When you are truly busy growing some veggies,  feeding the chooks,  making your yoghurt, sewing or mending,  baking and decorating and so much more you do not have time to be in the shops.  You are busy.  I say this because shopping is an addiction for many people.  Spending on things you do not need is a big problem for many families.

At one time Friday night pizza night cost us a lot of money.   So I just learned to make a good pizza base and began making my own.  Over time I have picked a lot of areas to see how I can save.   One of my best tips is just to take time to think over any purchase.  Many times a good idea will seem like a stupid idea after a few days.

Now with the money you save you have options.   But I would PLAN what you are going to do as your increase your savings.  It might be wise to pay down debt.  It is always wise to have a good emergency fund. 
Four years ago I gave up weekly coffee and cake and used that money to build up a pantry in my cellar (at our old house).  I saved $8 per week.  I chose half price items to use it on which gave me $16 worth of goods to add to my pantry every week.  Building up a pantry is a very good investment.

You might bank it. You might decide to invest in things that will further increase your savings.   Some of the things we invested in were chickens,  a bigger freezer,  I invested in a spinning wheel...   when I began making my own yoghurt I invested in a yoghurt maker.  If they are well planned they will give you new savings!   

This year my savings are going to be invested in doing up the cottage.  I could have a potential income from letting out the cottage or as a B and B.  To me this will pay me better dividends than the bank.  So that is where most of my savings are going for 2020. 

I hope you can see just how important your work is and how much potential there is to save. 
If you would like to join in you can do it privately or share each week your savings.  We can get so many ideas from each other!   

You are very welcome to ask for ideas and you are very welcome to share how you save.  I would love to hear of anything you have invested in that you feel has helped you save more.  Also any skills you learned that have helped with savings.  

Together we can make 2020 a year of getting ahead, even though it is a year in which we are expecting to see some pretty big food price rises. We are battling ever increasing electricity and water prices also.  But when things get tough the tough get going!  So be encouraged. xxx

Thursday 16 January 2020

Feather your Nest Friday, 17th January, 2020.

It was a big week!  We still lived in a cloud of smoke until Wednesday afternoon.   That morning the smoke was particularly thick.   NASA reported that the smoke from the Australian fires was so intense that it drifted across and past New Zealand and made it's way around the whole globe then came back over Australia!  Yep, we had it all twice!   I would never have imagined this possibility!
But now we are smoke free, fire free and some of the worst affected areas in the country have rain!
Rain is also forecast for here.  I sure am hoping that is correct!

The first adventure of the week was Saturday. Shearing day.  My sheep were "rounded up" by getting out the biscuits and they all came running.  This was the first time any of them have been shorn.  I took biscuits with me so after their hair cuts they would get a reward.

Blossom went first.  She honestly didn't care.  The shearer was kind of amazed by these docile sheep!

So her wool is lambs wool which I saved and it is so soft.

Paddy was waiting for his turn.  (for anyone new Paddy is Chloe's pet Alpaca) 

You hear that Alpaca's do not like being shorn and put up a giant fight and kick and so on.  Not Paddy.   He just relaxed and it was so funny.  He looked like a big teddy bear.  The shearer was really nice and talked him and Paddy talked back.  Alpaca language is quiet little mmm mmm mmm noises. 

Alpaca wool is so soft like a cloud.  As it came off we found a neck! haha!

The transformation was amazing.   Paddy was completely fine with it all.

I ended up with a lot of wool for my spinning and two beautiful brown/black fleeces also.  As this came off the sheep it was like thick velvet.  

The sheep are much more comfortable now as this is summer.  They all had their biscuits and off they went back into the paddock.  Paddy and Blossom went in the trailer home to Chloe and Luke's. 
This all took a whole afternoon!

Other than this some of the ways I got ahead, built up my home and added to the pantry included:

I did some baking.  First I made two high fruit cakes that my Dad and brother like.

I had bananas to use up so made two banana cakes.

Then I made up little sausage rolls for Harper to take to Kindy on Friday.  And full sized ones to share with everyone else.

I made tomato relish as well and this went beautifully with the sausage rolls.

And Harper's favourite Peanut Butter biscuits.

We had beautiful peaches and have been living on them but I also made a peach crumble which is the most beautiful thing ever. 

Lucy gave me a box of Lux Flakes.  I love these.  If you are not in Australia these are pure soap flakes.

On the way home from our trip to see the girls we stopped in town and I went very quickly into the op shop. I had so much luck!  I found flannelette sheets with big pink roses and soft flannel pillowcases to line my joey pouch (that I am crocheting) plus a bag of sewing cottons, beautiful fabrics and so much more.  Even a toy bunny for Scout.   It was fantastic.     I will show everything in The Tuesday Afternoon Club next week.   It is so good to find supplies this way.

During the week Mignon came over with MORE JARS!
Dad came by with venison. Lots of fillet all packed beautifully.

One night we had toasted sandwiches for dinner and just used stuff up. I need to re introduce toastie night weekly.

The pumpkin patch is growing...

There are lots of little pumpkins forming...

I now have a little chicken coop for my little bantams.  This is because I want them to have chicks.  

I also get to talk to them while I water the garden.

Finally...  I made up some Liqueurs.  Here I have Coffee, Baileys and White Chocolate liqueur.  Some of these are gifts.   They are are delicious.  I love my collection of bottles too!

So that was my week!  I like to see my relish lined up and food in my freezer.  The garden is coming on and I have new things coming up to fill any spaces I still had. 

I hope you had a wonderful week.  How did you get ahead, save, add to your preparedness?   There are so many little things we can do and they all add up!

Over the weekend I am going to re launch the Vicky Challenge for 2020.   So there will be a weekend post.   This is a very motivating challenge and really works for me.   

Now I am off to feed the chooks and collect the eggs.  We are so lucky it is not hot, just nice. If all goes well I plan some sewing over the weekend! xxx

Friday 10 January 2020

Feather Your Nest Friday, 10th January, 2020.

What a week we had!  Truthfully I have lots track of what happened and on what day.  But after having to evacuate  (due to the fires)  each day was still a bit of a worry as it was a big fire ground and much of it was smouldering.  So every time the wind came up there were firefighters here and farmers attending to everything so the fire would not start up or get away again.   Some days we had so much smoke. It was thick. Visibility was low and it smelled so bad.  Today is the first day I can say the fire is out for good.  We had some rain!
On Sunday Dad came to see me.  We had a cup of tea and talked over all that had happened.  We both concluded we were so lucky.  No one was killed, even Dad was amazed by this.  We all have our homes.  Our animals were ok.  We were so very lucky.

During the week we went on as normal as much as we could.   Some of the ways we caught up, got ahead, added to the pantry etc included:

I began harvesting parsley seed.  I have so much parsley that has gone to seed and it is so heavy with seeds it is bent over.  They are dry now and ready to collect.  I snip them off and bring them inside to dry a little bit more.  Then each head of parsley which contains a couple of hundred seeds goes into a little paper envelope.  I have stamped a bee on each go these.  This gives me little gifts I can share and they fit in a regular envelope in the post.   I have made up about 50 envelopes so far.
I also planted a lot of the seeds to establish new rows of parsley.  I cannot have too much.  It gives me a gift,  something to trade, something fresh each day for the ducks, chickens, cows and sheep.  And to use in the kitchen of course!  I can also dry it for gifts as well.

I planted a lot of the succulents I had last week into spots in the garden. They filled a few empty areas.

I made an Impossible Pie to take to the girls (and to use up a few eggs!)

This week I finally made Meringues from scratch.  I am sorry to say I have never made them before and they were so easy.  I am trying to add new ways to utilise all the eggs.  I use a lot of eggs in baking.  I keep Mum and Lucy in eggs.  I give some to my neighbour and some to a charity.  Scout eats eggs a few meals a week...    Anyway I thought meringues and pavlovas would make great gifts and contributions to meals when we are asked out etc.   I took a big tin of them to the girls and they fell in love with them.   

I started a fresh batch of Coffee Liqueur.  Between the meringues and the coffee liqueur my popularity seems to be rising.  haha.

I planted a lot more sunflowers, plus 2 types of beans and filled up my garden some more.

With three bananas that needed to be used up I made a couple of dozen little cakes.

Tomorrow is a big day. Paddy, Chloe's Alpaca,  Blossom and all the lambs are being shorn.  Tonight Luke came to get my sheep.  They were loaded onto his trailer which was pretty easy.  A packet of biscuits and they will do anything.   My "lambs" are not really lambs anymore! 

The sight of a packet of biscuits causes a near riot as Eddie wants some and the calves come running too.  Now when Laffie runs towards me she is pretty big and she is strong.  Sometime soon their love and affection is going to get very heavy! 

In the op shop I found some nice drinking glasses and got them to start the cottage glory box.  If I collect things as I find them I will have all that is needed when the cottage restoration project is over. 

Our local supermarket was not directly affected by fires... the road was not cut off and there were no fires near the town.  None the less the shelves were bare.

All around the store there were signs to explain the lack...

I think very much about all the towns with closed roads.  I heard one town finally got food today as the army got it there.  If your supermarket was closed for over a week and the roads were closed would your family have plenty of supplies?  

Tomorrow is exciting as it is shearing day.  I will have lambs wool and Alpaca!  Soon I will be ready to begin spinning.   After shearing they will all get biscuits.  Like a jelly bean after going to the doctor... only for sheep.

I hope you had a good week and were not impacted by fires.  How did you increase your pantry and preparedness, add to your savings and build up your home? 
When something goes wrong you are so grateful for all the times you stored away supplies and things that would be helpful when the power goes out.  I am still thankful to have had a battery operated fan to keep cool with.  Now we are adding other things that would have been good and I now have emergency bags packed in case we have to leave at a moments notice again. Lesson learned. 

Have a wonderful weekend! xxx