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.

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


  1. Great find on the bag of cotton...I was at Spotlight and picked up a cotton reel and took it to the cashier and she said $21 - I nearly choked so I promptly put it back - it was just a normal size reel not like 5 times the could it be $21 - took it back and got a $7 one.

    1. Dear Kathy!

      The stories from real life can be incredible! Cotton reels are not cheap, either way!!


  2. The little girls are adorable! I am going to look up your nutmeg cake as it has me curious. We had a mulberry tree when I was a child and when they were ripe we sat up in the tree and ate them right there. I am not sure any ever made it into the house.

    It was so cold this week that we pretty much just stayed inside and cooked good meals and read books. That is a cozy winter week and we have enjoyed it.

    1. Dear Lana!

      It’s lovely to hear of your cozy winters! I think they would take us some getting used to!!

      When my Dad was little, they used to pick mulberries from a huge old tree, and sell them door to door!

      That nutmeg cake sounds wonderful!


  3. I read all of your posts from my email and you are such an inspiration to prepare and just enjoy home life. Sorry I never thought to make a comment but I bet there are many of us silent readers who really appreciate the work you do. Thank you so much. Mindy Ashley

    1. Dear Mindy!

      Thank you very much for your appreciative comment! You say it so well - that this blog is “such an inspiration to prepare and just enjoy home life”.



  4. Annabel, scrunch up green mulberries and rub over the stains. It removes them magically. Certainly on skin but try cloth as well. Love Mulberries. Bless, Linda.

    1. Dear Linda!

      Isn’t life full of marvels - like using unripe mulberries to remove stains! It is enriching to have these tips shared! Thank you very much!!


  5. Annabel we had some rain too. About 2 inches I think. Some areas got much more and I believe some of our farmers out west got some so that was wonderful. It was patchy though and some properties missed out but hopefully there is more to come as it is very muggy in SW Qld at present. Yes the cooler days are much nicer to cope with and it is easier to get things done. Your granddaughters must be such a delight.

    1. Dear Nanna Chel!

      As always, you have some useful facts to share! By now, I think you are ready for more rain, and more cooler weather! .... I hear raindrops just starting now!

      Thank you!


  6. hi annabel. i love the mulberry jam. its great on ice-cream too. but i wondered if you had an easy and not too messy way to remove the stalks. look forward to fridays to read about your week . love ann

    1. Dear Ann!

      Between life and signal difficulties, replies are slow coming through the pipelines!

      Your question on removing the mulberry stalks is an interesting one for Annabel. I know that some women snip them off with scissors, while others prefer to leave them on. The latter option would be least messy! Ha ha!

      Thank you for your comment!


  7. As a long time reader... and if my memory serves me correct, it was also YOUR birthday earlier this month too. Happy belated birthday lovely Annabel.

    Thank you for all you share with us. I adore reading your weekly musings.

    Have a lovely weekend xxx

    1. Dear Kim!

      Thank you for your comment, on behalf of Annabel! It means a lot to know that people out there find this blog so helpful, and interesting!


  8. Dear Annabel and Bluebirds!!

    All the activity really adds up! Rain, produce, pavlova, op shopping and MORE JARS! Ha ha!! The jars are wonderful!! Annabel, your granddaughters are blessed to have you! My parents get that kind of snow, too!

    Here in Queensland, we have been having good rain, but the ground underneath is still dry. Nevertheless, the grasses have shot up, and other plants are taking off! It is truly wonderful to see the transition after the bushfires.

    I’m looking forward to the Vicky Challenge episode tomorrow!


  9. So many adorable photos of your darlings. I love reading about your ways to save money and tread lightly on our earth.

    This week I was pleased to see my tomato plants have taken off. I have saved a pineapple top and tried a new way of setting the tops and have roots for the first time. My herbs aren't great. I am working hard at using every last bit of every bit of food I buy.

    1. Dear Suzan!

      Annabel certainly has photos, and helpful ways, to keep us coming back for more!!

      I love that you are growing pineapple tops. I have some growing, too. My Dad picked a delicious pineapple grown on his plant! I hope you do well with this! ... Good on you for taking interest in using the food you have.


  10. Annabel, Oh what a lovely week you have had.
    The girls are growing so fast. If I could I would send some of our snow down to you. I do have enough to share.
    Because of you I am going to try to make a pavlova!

    I chose January to be my Winter Clean Month. When I moved into the house last year I had one week to get 2 levels family ready as we were having a baby shower. Well lets say if it was a sheet, blanket, coverlet it got tossed into one closet, when that was full I went onto the next.
    Well now I am going through every closet and reorganizing, cleaning, purging. You wouldn't believe how much room there is in each closet now. It has been a miraculous transformation to say the least. Plus now all the right linen is in the proper closet. Well worth the time and effort.
    After finishing the 4 closets I proceeded to the toiletry closet. I keep all the toiletries together in there, hair care, shaving, oral care, though bottom of the closet has an extra pack of paper towels and all of the tissue boxes, personal wipes, plus vinegar, since I ran out of room in laundry room for it.
    Now down to one more closet and my closet, which only needs a little tidying up.
    It feels good to be ahead of cleaning. Also we need to go to thrift store to donate, the back of my SUV is full.

    Oh, I do want to say I love the mulberry jam!!
    Love, Rosanne

    1. Dear Rosanne!

      I really think we could use some of your snow here! It would be refreshing! Isn’t there some way? Ha ha!

      Well done on all that sorting and cleaning, and the trip to your thrift store, which is likely well behind you by now! You must feel relieved to have so much good work behind you!!

      I have heard that a little balsamic vinegar makes a mulberry pie come to life. I wonder if mulberry jam would react the same?


  11. Dear Annabel,

    I am excited to hear all about your adventures in spinning! This is a skill I've always wanted to learn, but never have. That pavlova looks divine...Happy Birthday to everyone there!

    This has been a very busy week. I edged (in fabric) and embroidered a tea towel for my Mom's birthday...lavender flowers to match a cork-backed tea trivet with a picture of a bucket of lavender on it...I found the trivet, brand new in it's package at the thrift shop...and knitted a dishcloth to go with it to round out the set. Everything was on hand, so will be able to pop it in the mail next week. Also realized it was my sister-in-law's birthday coming up, so dug around and found a beautiful cream llama/wool yarn in my stash and am currently knitting a cable and lace scarf for her. This will be late by the time I get it blocked and off in the mail, but she won't mind! :) Probably I will send her a set of cards made by me, too. This is all a huge savings, as I am using from my stash...most of these supplies were accounted for years ago, so I always count the cost of these gifts as $0, compared to me buying a new gift. I do have to pay for postage, but these types of gifts fit in envelopes, vs. parcels, so they go for a reasonable price.

    I am also back to painting in the house. Got one coat done on the upstairs bathroom door. It will need another coat, and the door frame/trim all needs to be done, too, but I will do that on other days, as otherwise it is a very looong day of painting!

    Last week my hubby made a stellar repair/clean on the dryer. I had saved up and bought some sheets for our bed...grown in the U.S. cotton 500 count sheets with a 10 year warranty...beautiful sheets that I hope will last for at least the 10 years. Washed them to get rid of the sizing, put them in the dryer, and they came out all marked up. Well, the dryer has been doing this occasionally for some time, now, but not this badly...and all these dark brown/rust stains all over the sheets! I was worried about a fire hazard with the dryer, thinking these were scorch marks. So my husband went down and cleaned out the venting, etc., etc. Meanwhile I am trying hydrogen peroxide and a hot iron, cold water soaks, vinegar and a hot iron, etc., trying to fade the stains, to no avail. Finally I'm looking online about getting rid of dryer scorch marks, and I happen upon a YouTube video about getting rid of these nasty marks by CLEANING THE GASKET OF THE DRUM. Whoa. Lightbulb moment. These aren't scorch marks, they're dirt!!! Well, my hubby watched the video and took things apart, we took the drum outside in the very cold below zero weather and washed and scrubbed the gasket...which was DISGUSTINGLY dirty...and then brought it in by the fire to dry up, then put it all back together again. The stains on the sheets came out after a few days of soaking with stain remover, thank goodness, and nary a new mark on any of the other loads of laundry!! Not only did he save us the cost of ruined clothes, he saved us peace of mind (thinking our dryer was getting ridiculously hot to scorch the laundry), the price of a new gasket at the very least, and the price of an appliance repairman at the very most!! Now I'm busy getting ready to embroider the pillowcases. I cut off some lace from a thrifted bedskirt that wouldn't fit any of our beds and sewed some around the borders of the pillowcases and have stamped them to embroider in white and cream. May as well try to have some luxury once in awhile, especially when you can have it on a dime! :)

    Those are my biggest projects that I can think of that saved $$, or that got us ahead. I must write them down so I can think of them when I'm at the computer!

    Hope everyone has a lovely weekend, and am so glad to hear about your rain!

    xx Jen in NS

    1. Dear Jen!

      It’s reply catch up mode here!!

      It’s wonderful that your clothes dryer story ended up so well!! Ha ha!! There is always so much to learn, and your quality sheets were saved! Phew!

      Your giftmaking is still accomplished and beautiful! I can tell, even though we haven’t seen pictures! Your knitted scarf, when it is complete, could easily be worth a couple of hundred dollars in a boutique shop here!

      We’re waiting for more rain here. It is hot!


  12. You do so well at the op shops. When I am mobile again I have a list of things I'll be looking for.
    Your jam is so pretty. I don't know who wouldn't love a jar. And oh my the girls are so pretty. I just love Scarlett's dark hair!
    Our savings are slow in the winter, but normal saving on the home front continues. Besides burning wood Rick picked up some free pallets they sell for $2 each or more here. He won't let me have any yet, but cuts them up for kindling or to burn in the shed.
    Todd stopped at a donut truck and come home and asked if I could make them instead they are $13 a dozen and even at our stores I don't care for the prices so I made donuts he was pleased.
    I'm using what I have on hand to craft a few things, but time wise has been difficult to finish.
    I canned some beans with leftover ham for a quick soup starter or side dish and Rick has been on a green bean binge and has been wanting them with dinner each night. Its nice to just grab a quart off of the shelf.
    I'm scrubbing my own carpets instead of hiring someone so that is my biggest savings for the week.

    1. Dear Vicky, Scarlett's hair is also getting long! Both have the prettiest hair.
      You are saving a lot on the donuts! They would be so nice too!
      It is good you have so many beans on the shelf. I am hoping next season you get really good crops so you are able to can a lot more.
      Carpet cleaning is pretty pricy from a professional so you are probably saving a lot! Have a very good new week! With love

  13. Hello Annabel,

    What a lovely photo of the girls playing in the grass!

    My week has flown by in a flurry of activity, I can’t believe it’s been a week since your last post!

    Some ways I built up my home and got ahead were, I made 2 loaves of banana bread to use up some old bananas. One was eaten, the other was sliced and frozen ready for the kids to take to school when they go back.

    I sold one of the kids toys on marketplace for $30 and have another pending sale for another $30 on another item. (I’m saving for a pressure canner 😁)

    I made 11 big jars of mandarine marmalade from frozen mandarine pulp (I made up when my tree was fruiting last April)

    I made a big batch of hummus from scratch, some for eating now, some went in the freezer for later.

    My daughter got her P’s license this week! It was nerve wracking both the exam and after when she went for a drive! I don’t think I’ll ever stop worrying! That incurred extra costs in the form of payment for her licence and extra insurance premiums on the car. I tried to offset the costs by cooking everything from scratch and using up things from the freezer, so our weekly food budget was low this week $173, for 4 of us (hubby has been away) We’ve only got a week until school resumes, so it will be another busy week coming up with all that that brings!

    1. Dear Cheryl,
      Thank you! Some weeks go by so fast! I think slicing up a loaf is such a good idea. One slice thaws quickly too. Very good for lunch boxes.
      Having a goal to get a pressure canner is a great goal! I am still getting into waterbath canning but I can see the value in pressure canning.
      Congratulations to your daughter. It is worrying but my thought is if we can teach them to be good responsible drivers then this is better than them getting a ride with someone who is not.
      I hope your new week goes very well! Well done on your savings! With love

  14. your grand daughters are beautiful and precious. I began to wonder, perhaps you could add 'Professional Photographer' to your list of talents? And charge, of course.

    1. Dear Joy, Thank you so much! I do love photos, particularly of the girls. I have a camera for long distance shots, but otherwise I just use my phone! Thank you! Love

  15. Dear Annabel!

    The critters here ate my gazania cuttings, helped the fire and drought conditions kill my daisies, and even ate the leaves off the geranium cuttings! However, edible purslane has come up with the sheep manure, and the white and yellow crocuses are happy with the rain! My first crocus flower is out right now! (Apparently peonies are critter safe, too, and love frost!). So there! ..... The rain has brought up other edible greens, too, so I am very, very pleased!


    1. Dear Rachel, Well we will battle fires and old animals and so much more but we persist and SOME things survive! I would love to grow peonies but guarantee they would not survive here! I am glad for you on the edible greens! With love

  16. Greetings to all from northern Idaho, USA. So happy to learn about the rain in Oz. I hope it had a good effect on the fires, too.

    I have never done well with houseplants, until a friend gave me aloe vera and spider plant starts. They have really gone to town! Yesterday I divided the aloe and made 5 smaller plants, potted up two pots of baby spiders and planted the mama spider in a bigger pot. I already had all of the pots and potting soil. I planted one of the aloes in a nicer pot and I plan to give it to my daughter-in-law for her birthday.

    I bought a Christmas cactus two years ago for $3 and it's the one plant I've managed to keep alive. Each year after it has bloomed, I give it a dose of long-acting houseplant fertilizer, and it puts out new leaves. I water well, but only every other week, since it likes to be dry. I've re-potted it twice (it likes to be pot-bound). In the summer, I move it outside, and it blooms a few weeks after after I bring it inside in the fall (not at Christmas, but it's pretty anytime).

    1. I really need to get some spider plants! I do have Aloe. And I also have some baby ones to pot up. They are good gifts because of their medical properties.
      I think the Christmas Cactus would be stunning! Well done! xxx

  17. Hi Annabel, what a gorgeous pavlova! Are they expensive in Australia? They are very expensive here, and people seem to think they are impossible to make at home!

    The girls are looking so big, I love that they are playing in the 'snow' lol. I suppose when you are obsessed with Frozen you have to get creative!

    We are loving our new house, I've hardly used my car since we moved. We've been here for a month now, and spent today rearranging some things that aren't really working. There is more of this to do once the kids have gone back to school!

    It's been a week of baking this week, including your gingerbread recipe. Ages ago I bought giant gingerbread man tins so we made them and they were a hit. One was a zombie, another seemed to just be an opportunity to use as many sprinkles and chocolate chips as possible lol.

    I hope you have a lovely weekend
    Jen (NZ)

    1. Dear Jen, You could so easily make a pavlova! Use the Nigella Lawson meringues recipe... for the pav I changed the cooking time to 1 hr. Same temperatures as meringue recipe. Then you leave it to cook in the oven. Very easy. A decorated pav. runs around $30. I guess mine cost under $2!
      You have done well to move and still be able to report in! I am really pleased you love it. I hope the kids will settle very well into the new school.
      Giant gingerbread men... this is an idea! It could be instead of a cake too!
      When school goes back you will get lots done. The first days of school back I used to have the most massive housework sessions!
      I am so happy things are going so well. With love

  18. Well done Annabel on your lovely baking picking up those lovely fabrics and sewing cottons so cheaply and also foraging and making those lovely jams :) .

    Our Vicky challenge added up to $121.26 in savings last week.

    Gifts - We said yes to a friend who offered us 3 fig trees she had propogated as she had too many saving us $68.94 over purchasing them.

    Gift cards and supermarket purchase savings -
    - Bought a Wish e-gift card from RACQ for groceries saving 5% or $7.28 on usual prices.
    - Took advantage of a $15 off $160 purchase at Woolworths for groceries saving $15.
    - Saved a further $3.39 from buying specials when we ordered our groceries.

    Finances and listings -
    - Took advantage of a free listing promotion on eBay and listed 11 items saving $18.15 on usual listing fees.
    - Banked more money into our 3 month living expenses emergency
    fund bringing us up t 28.8% of the way there.

    Pantry stocking -
    - With the $22.28 in savings above we stocked our pantry for free with - 1 x bic 4 colour pen, 2 x 2lts of laundry liquid, 3 x 6 pack of scourer sponges, 1 x 80 pk of freezer bags, and 7 tins of mango slices.

    In the kitchen -
    - Cooked all meals and bread from scratch.

    Home deep cleaning -
    - Using excess rainwater saved in our tank swimming pool I damp dusted and deep cleaned the downstairs bathroom, rumpus room, upstairs bathroom, cleaned the outside of the double sliding glass doors and screen and another rumpus room window and cleaned siding down one side of the home that had mould growing on it from the last lot of heavy rains we had.

    In the gardens -
    - With potting mix and garden pots we had we repotted into larger pots 3 bonsai apple trees, a valencia orange and a mandarin tree.
    - We weeded the lettuce garden bed.
    - Picked both lettuce and cherry tomatoes for multiple meals saving $7.50 over buying them.
    - DH and I dug a trench around one mature mandarin, and two mulberry trees in the paddock and put the remaining wood chips back in to mulch it.

    Have a wonderful week ahead everyone :).

    Sewingcreations15 (Lorna).

    1. Dear Lorna, It is great about the fig trees! I hope they grow well and they should. They seem to be able to take dry conditions too. And figs themselves cost a fortune to buy! Can you believe you have EXCESS RAINWATER!? How good is that!?
      To be harvesting lettuce and tomatoes is great. They are bot things that can so easily be used daily.
      That was a very good week. We have a forecast that shows some more possible rain coming but only after two days in the 40s! I will be happy when summer is over to be honest.
      Have a very good weekend and new week! With love,

    2. Thank you for your encouragement Annabel.

      Yes the rain bucketed down here over a couple of days (one day with 26.4mm of rain) and not only are our 3 household rainwater tanks full, our rainwater tank swimming pool full but our seasonal creek at our back property boundary is running too :).

      We saved rainwater off our tank stand shed and our swimming pool is over full as well. We used that water to deep clean so far and it rained again filling all the containers and pool back up again too.

      Now we have more excess rainwater to deep clean the rest of the inside of the home with too :).

      Have a great week ahead :).

      Sewingcreations15 (Lorna).

  19. This is our last full pay period before my husband retires. If ever there were a time I was appreciative of being debt free it's now! I figured up what we'd need to push through the gap between full time pay and retirement coming in and it was so ridiculously low that I couldn't help but see the wisdom of how we live!

    Another wisdom see very well is that of wearing an apron. I splattered my shirt yesterday which wouldn't have happened as badly had I had on an apron. I'd said I'd wear one this week and I've got to make it a habit. I don't know yet if the stains will all come out of the shirt and even though it's just a shirt I'd wear at home it was nice and unspotted until now.
    I stumbled upon a load (and I do mean a LOAD) of embroidery threads in a box of my mom's crafting stuff that I've been taking time to organize. She must have purchased at least one skein of every color ever made. My husband suggested I was wasting my time in sorting it and organizing it but I've been meaning to take up embroidery once more and this is all a mini gold mine (along with a dozen hoops of various sizes) towards that goal. Now way am I going to toss it!
    I also made a huge lasagna and a much smaller two person sized one. We'll have two meals from the huge one then freeze leftovers. The two person one is already in the freezer. I like having convenient meals in my freezer in various portion sizes to serve all kinds of needs.
    I made a trip into our local grocery and found cake mixes for $1 each. I haven't found a good chocolate cake recipe that is a keeper yet so I bought only chocolate mixes. I realize this is no savings over the cost of making my own but it is a savings over what a cake mix typically costs so it's a small savings until I do find my keeper recipe.
    Next week brings a whole new set of opportunities to save!

    1. Dear Terri!

      I love how you appreciate the value in being home and making the place work!

      It is, indeed, surprising, how it is not how much money we have, but how we spend it, isn’t it?! Well done on making the transition from full time pay so well!!

      I, too, have a bundle of embroidery threads. I bought my stash for two dollars, and the colours are beautiful and refreshing! They offer so much opportunity for us to make and give (or sell!!).

      I like the wisdom of your apron, and of your lasagnas. Enjoy your chocolate cakes, and new opportunities to make life beautiful!!


  20. My mum made my now 32 year old daughter cot sheets in that bear fabric!

    1. Dear Barb!

      It’s a small world! How lovely for your daughter to have sheets sewn by your Mum!



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