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 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


  1. I discovered YouTube tutorials in recent months and watch them on our big TV in the lounge room (much better viewing than on the computer). Lately I've been learning how to care for and propagate indoor plants, grow vegies as well as restore furniture. I find it all far more entertaining than the actual TV!

    1. Dear Happy Hammy Campers, Hi R! Well I feel the same! I love to watch things like this and learn and enjoy. It is so good and there is just so much choice. I dont like many tv shows so this is much better for me. The only thing I wish I could watch is the tennis but we cant get it here! With love

  2. This year I have taken the Vicky Challenge and have changed it up a little. I am also looking at some costs and taking them off the savings made. For example my sewing machine is currently at the sewing machine mechanics. I will take the cost of repairs off the savings that I have made through items I have sewn.
    When I get my cuttings and seedlings up and going I will take the cost of purchasing such items as my savings. I will then take away the costs of potting the seedlings up, such as potting mix and fertilisers and pots if required.
    The cost of purchasing roving will be taken off the what it would cost to purchase home spun yarn. The amount left is the savings I have made.
    For me this will give me a more realistic idea of my savings per year. For me this balances the books just a little better.

    1. Dear Jane, Your method makes sense. Even with saving there are expenses. I also condor what I spent and take that from the savings... and the savings are still so good. Now and then I have worked out some courses would be too expensive and not work out so they usually get abandoned. Sometimes I have to do something once or twice to get a true picture of the actual amount saved overall. I have finally got back to sewing today and I am realising how many supplies I have to use up! Ill be busy all year lets put it that way! With love

    2. Jane, I like and agree with your way of figuring savings. So often I see that someone has made a meal for free since they had the items on hand but I disagree with that since the food was purchased and paid for at some point and was not free.

    3. Ladies I always deduct my costs from any savings. I went back to the very first post and I did indeed mention it I thought I had been remiss. I will count something like the cost of a meal out or pizza minus my ingredients cost if I am really close to caving and ordering a pizza or getting fast food, at one time I would have just hopped in the truck to go get it. I also have savings in my book which is the how much we've saved by whatever means and a earnings part in my book which is things like gift cards I earned, money from scrap metal, any cash I might have made by earning or selling something, found money and anything that equals cash in hand. And the same with saving it doesn't matter if it's big or small, but I like to see how we do.

  3. Yay you for fixing the dishwasher! You Tube has saved us so much over the years for similar situations. Recently our disposal started making an awful racket so my husband poured several pots of boiling water into it and it cleared so it must have just been gunked up.

    I really miss having others into our home but since my husband's brain injury it is difficult for him. If we meet friends out we can get up and leave when he has had enough but at home he is stuck until our visitors choose to leave and I can see him just spiraling downward. We do choose cheaper places and here in the USA many places have cheaper coffee for those of us over 55. I get cash for these outings each month and give it to him so it is planned and when the money is gone it is gone.

    Things we did to save this week were-
    -closing curtains and blinds to hold the heat because it was very cold
    -peeling and cooking 5 pounds of potatoes that were sprouting to use in meals through out the week
    -making a menu and shopping from a list of only what we needed at Aldi
    -prepping veggies and fruits and putting them away in produce keepers when we arrived home from the store-this really keeps us from wasting produce since it is ready to eat
    -removing old caulk and recaulking the bathroom sinks to avoid water damage to the counter tops
    -baking our bread at 40 cents a loaf
    -filling up our gas tank when we saw prices had dropped 20 cents a gallon
    -apple crisp made from apples in the freezer that were frozen when apples were inexpensive last fall
    -doing some research and ordering the needed supplements for a health issue which solved the problem without visiting our alternative practitioner
    -choosing slower shipping when I order from Amazon to earn digital credit so that I use that for ebooks and music-this week a free ebook that I wanted to read
    -Swagbucks has netted a $25 Amazon card

    Love this post and looking forward to them every week!

    1. Dear Lana, You definitely have to work with what you have health wise etc. I do not like crowds or noise. So I have been never able to work out why people like food halls and crowded places. So I can imagine for your husband.
      I think you just gave me a good subject. How to make produce last longer and how to avoid kitchen waste! Gosh this is a costly one for most people.
      I like your tip about doing some research with health issues. Sometimes I am shocked at a result from doing this. You saved in many good ways. I appreciate you posting your list as what is usual to us may be a total new idea to someone else. With love

    2. Bread at 40 cents a loaf is an amazing price. I made bread this week and I was not impressed with my efforts. I am out of practice. Well done you on the measures you have taken to preserve your food. Last year I bought some containers that were not cheap but when celery is around $5 a bunch it makes sense to try and preserve it.

  4. Annabel ... what a week! Well done you for youtubing and finding out how to repair the dishwasher. Our son did the same for the frontload washing machine when the door broke ... it was fixed with the plastic tag from a loaf of bread ... must have saved us heaps! I'm not good at propagating like you and that's where the Vicky Challenge will be difficult for me ... I LOVE to buy plants. This morning I fried up the last of the tomatoes and some herbs and onions which I will can for a good quick meal on toast. I also made the laundry liquid and did a quick tidy of the undersink cupboard to find some room to store it! Thank you for your kind words about my stitching/craft group. We did have the occasional Bible study here but I attend one in our church hall now ... no cups of tea but that is good because sometimes the "cuppa" can become the focus of a get together and not the Word that we study. I would encourage others to invite people into their homes ... something I had wanted to do for a long time but kept putting off. I was worried about my untidy house, whether we had enough room, would people like me etc, etc. We have been meeting weekly for four years now with a short break every now and then. It is a comfortable group and we are very supportive of each other after those first tentative meetings. Love your blog posts, the energy and positivity of how you go about planning. I have learned so much already from the blog and the Tuesday Afternoon Club. Have a wonderful week.

    1. Dear Margaret!

      It is a wonderful opportunity for us all to see a little of your work at home! It is beautiful, in fact, and your hesitation in sending out your original invitations only shows how much you care! You are remarkable in your work!!

      I hope that we can see more of your home industry!

      Thank you from us all!


  5. I decided a few years ago to always try repairing stuff myself, my theory being 'it's broken, I can't make it any worse'. It doesn't always work, but it's surprising how often it does. On a much smaller scale than yours I repaired underwear this week, so I don't need to buy new.
    Having to chip in for gifts at work drives me MAD! Someone sets a donation level and even though my wage is less than half of the next lowest paid I am still expected to put in that amount, I get a hard enough time at work, so I just have to grit my teeth and hope that I don't get asked too often.
    I saved a little on groceries this week, walked instead of getting the bus and made dusters and handkerchiefs from a flannelette sheet given to me by my daughter. My biggest saving however was homemade dog food and there's enough in the freezer for another week. My savings were not huge, I knew they wouldn't be, but added up over the course of the year it will be.
    Coffee and cake? Hmmn well, I'm a savoury person so I 'd much sooner have a slice of buttered toast and I can't drink coffee because of migraine, I never drink tea out because I have never found anywhere that can actually make a decent pot!

    1. Su,
      Every little bit helps the savings don't have to be huge sometimes we just stay on an even keel and that's good! I have been making our dog food it seems like forever and it is a big savings over time. I put the word out that I do and if someone is cleaning out their freezer or pantry they are happy to give me what they would be throwing out for doggie stew. And it is amazing what people get rid of many times there is still good food!

  6. I use Rakuten when I shop online and get money back from that. I also have a credit card that I use because it pays me cash back and since I pay it off every month, it doesn't cost me anything. At home I have a clothesline, but here at my dad's, he only has a dryer. I bought a wooden rack to hang laundry on and stopped using the dryer. I also wanted a new rug for my bathroom at home, so I watched a YouTube video and made one - turned out gorgeous and I love it!! We rarely eat anything I haven't made because of my dad's diet restrictions, so I know I'm saving money there. I miss having a garden and may try to do at least a container garden here. I love all the hints and tips from you and your other readers.

    1. Dear Farm Quilter!

      It is amazing what we can find to do to save when we are not in our usual environment! You are doing well to be doing all that cooking, plus coming up with a way of air drying your clothes!! You are a clever shopper, and your rug for your bathroom at home sounds lovely!
      Thank you!


  7. Dear Annabel,

    I really liked how you priced out things as it made it clearer about the savings you had made. It gives a better idea to how the Vicky Challenge works. I know how much you would be saving by not going to the hair dressers. It costs me $48aud for just a hair cut the last time! I nearly fainted! So now I have opted to only have it cut a few times a year, thus saving money. A friend told me it costs nearly $300 a month to have her hair done, and she is a pensioner! I am glad that I don't dye my hair anymore. In the past I used to buy bulk dye online and Phil use to put it in for me. He didn't mind at all...bless him. Sadly in this world today there will always be controversy regarding anything one might do.

    I love how Margaret hosts craft and bible studies. Her table settings are so lovely and I can imagine myself sitting there with friends. I used to do that kind of thing when my girls were young, but since moving here I haven't found any such group to join in with.

    Looking forward to the future episodes of Vicky's challenge.

    Have a wonderful weekend.

    Lots of love,
    Tania xxx

    1. Dear Tania!

      I agree with you - the Vicky Challenge episodes are exciting!! (Good on you, ladies!)

      What a shock about your hairdressing bill! It’s worth the effort of learning to do things ourselves with prices like that! Phew!!

      Margaret’s beautiful catering for her craft and bible study groups leaves us with an inviting picture that is now a rarity!!

      Thank you!

      P.S. Our heat is now being calmed with some soothing rain!

  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. It’s nice to see that you stopped by, tealady!


  9. Annabel you have done so well with your baking and especially your dishwasher repair which would save a lot compared to calling out a repairman to do it for you :).

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

    - We said yes to a lovely friend who had propogated too many fig trees and she gave us 3 saving $68.94 over purchasing them. I was about to go out and buy some :).
    - DH and I gave him a haircut, which we usually do so I won't count this as a saving as we usually do this.
    - Purchased a wish gift card from RACQ for groceries saving 5% or $7.28 on usual prices.
    - Took advantage of a supermarket promotion for $15 off a certain purchase at Woolworths saving $15.
    - With advertised specials on groceries we ordered we saved another $3.39 on usual prices.
    - We picked lettuce and cherry tomatoes multiple times from the gardens for meals saving $8.50 over purchasing them.

    Have a wonderful frugal week ahead everyone :).

    Sewingcreations15 (Lorna).
    - Listed 11 items on an eBay free listing promotion saving $18.15 on usual listing fees.

    1. Dear Lorna, You faithfully stuck with the challenge even when I needed time off! You managed it through moving too! If I could only have counted our moving savings! We had some big ones. I know we saved so much the first year here. I am enjoying being back to it... I think it is that bit extra motivation.
      Many thanks! With love

  10. I love knowing what I didn't spend and how much I saved each week - it seriously makes me grin like a lunatic sometimes. You mentioned sausage - try $4.80 each! at a local bakery. And Thomas, our sausage roll loving son tells me they're flavourless and greasy. It doesn't cost me that much to make a dozen, although in a couple of batches it may as sausage mince has doubled in price to $3.99/kg. I'm used to buying up when it was $2/kg, so I'm hoping for a sale soon. I've just posted in response to Margaret's post about starting a craft group. Our group you mentioned started on 1st August 2014 and we have met every month since then, even December and January. Nowadays we meet for the day once a month, from 10am - 5pm (or thereabouts, sometime we start earlier and sometimes we go longer). We need lots of time to chat and catch up in person, and drink tea or coffee and eat all the yummy things everyone brings to share. And make cards! Card day is set in concrete in my diary and my family knows to not accept invitations for that day or to plan anything that involves me on card day :) Ladies, Annabel mentioned bible study - that is the perfect group to start with; perhaps invite a few friends to join you to make a dishcloth or shortbread or cards (I have a gazillion ideas if you need them) or quilting or even homemaking. I've been talking to my daughter and she's been talking to her young friends about homemaking and setting up a home, not a house - these young women are begging for information because they've never been taught or shown. I made microwave jam on Thursday night because I was asked to teach jam making - next week I'll do it on the stovetop. If you have a few like-minded friends and friends-in-waiting, get together with them and see what happens. We have CWA here in Australia and it's pretty much a group of women sharing ideas, their skills and knowledge and teaching what they know about raising families and homemaking.That's all you need to do to start a small group, and you'll end up sharing hints and tips and ideas, form friendships, and have a group of like-minded women who will understand what you're doing and why you're doing it.

    1. Dear Cath, I would love to be able to come to your card making days! I bet it is so much fun. It is a day off, fellowship, getting ideas, I know you do some swaps too... productive and fun. Perfect really! I hope to find the spinning group like this. I will see how that goes and then go from there. I used to go to embroidery classes in a ladies home... it was a similar thing. Everyone sat around a huge table and chatted and embroidered. It was bliss.
      Thank you for the sausage toll prices... boy making these is a saving! With love,

  11. I love reading your blog here in England. It certainly motivates me.

  12. I loved reading about your week and the savings you have made. I am trying to be stricter with our groceries. I have told my mother that I am not racing off to buy things just because they are low. It can wait until my usual shopping day.

    I have taken stock of all the craft stuff I have and I should not have to buy much for a very long time. Now to use it constructively. My tomato plants are taking off but my herbs are not so great. I will keep working on the plants. My passion fruit vine is fruiting and I have been able to pick some.

    1. Dear Suzan!

      Your passionfruit are a blessing! This gives one of the most beautiful flavours to be had in the world! It’s a good time for tomatoes, too!

      I hope you inspire yourself with what can be achieved from your own craft stash, and your own methods of organisation!! Well done!


  13. Annabel I really like the idea of you focusing on a different aspect each week. And I couldn't agree more about the pressure to go out to cafes, I would far rather invite people over so that our children can play freely rather trying to make sure they sit still and quiet the whole time! And people are always so appreciative of home baking, even when we ourselves think it's nothing special.

    When you first started recording your savings it took me a while to get my head around what counts as savings. I've asked Cath about the way she does it as well. And I think it really comes down to the individual. For example, this week I made gingerbread men with my kids. Had we each bought one at a bakery it would have been around $20 (including a gluten free one). We have talked about this before, the 'savings' might not necessarily be money in the bank, but it might be doing something for your family that you wouldn't have been able to do if you'd had to spend the money for someone else to do it. Some people would choose to add in the amount saved, in this case $20. Others wouldn't because they wouldn't have gone to the bakery and bought them so it's not a true saving. I think you just have to decide how you are going to record things in a way that is meaningful to you. And as you say, based on the prices where you live. I hope that perspective might be useful to someone.

    I did some investigating of prices of daycare where we live and holiday programmes for my school aged children, and I was pretty pleased with the savings I make by being at home with them instead!

    This series is going to be very inspiring I think!

    Jen (NZ)

    1. Dear Jen!

      It is a real blessing to have Annabel, Vicky and Margaret supplying this savings topic this week! The subject of eating out, and the pressures involved, are real, and Margaret’s encouragement offers a lovely alternative!

      I think that, just because we don’t get paid for our work at home, we shouldn’t be valued any less than someone who works professionally. We can learn to upgrade our skills to professional levels, or find that what we do is worth much more than can be found in the marketplace! Your childcare falls in the latter!!


  14. I'm in!
    Love the idea of saving more.
    Plus seeing how everyday activities save.
    I made a somewhat apple crisp, used apples that were getting to old in frig and some leftover crumb topping from a coffeecake I made the previous week. Buying it at the grocer would have ran me over $20.
    We ordered our vitamins from Sam's Club when they had instant savings on them. Also saving us gas as we had them delivered.
    My Chiropractor told me it would run over $120 a week if I had someone come into clean house for me, so I saved that amount by doing it myself, my neighbor informed me it runs her $150.
    Instead of going out for Chinese take out we made beef and broccoli stir fry at home.
    We did go out for Chicken Parmesan night at our favorite restaurant, it ran us $8.99 each and included salad and bread along with pasta. We had enough leftovers for 4 more meals for us. So it came out to $3.60 for each 5 dinners for us.
    So our once a month dinner out was a savings in a way.
    Cleaning closets also has given me material to make other projects with. I am excited over the prospective of sewing up some great things this year.
    Love, Rosanne

    1. Dear Rosanne!

      We’re so glad that you’re in on the famous Vicky Challenge!

      I like that your saving made you apple crisp! Here, we would think of apple crumble!

      It will be interesting to see how different people save money, and value their work! It is a fine incentive, I think!


  15. Dear Annabel,
    I loved reading everyone's post and seeing the pictures of Margaret's get togethers. Just beautiful!! Like you, we love Youtube. I always wanted to learn how to do decorative painting and I learned how on Youtube at the time saving me hundreds of dollars in lessons. I also learned how to make grub roses which decorated many Christmas gifts.
    Just this week we used it again to fix a freezer that was making strange noises, thus saving us a $250 service call and a new clothes dryer, another $100 just for the repairman to come out from another town and then who knows what for parts.

    Gasoline has hit a new high where we live at $2.79 per gallon. Our car holds 15.5 gallons making a fill-up $43.24. We are making an effort to only use 1 tank a week. This week we used a little less than 1/2 a tank saving approximately $22 as we most likely will not have to purchase gas until the end of next week.

    In the cooking area 3 dozen 3 ingredient peanut butter cookies were baked. At the gluten free bakery they are $5 a dozen plus gas to get there. $15 saved. 4 mini gluten free blueberry tea breads at $6 a loaf after the deduction of ingredients about $3.00, $21 saved. I also made gluten free crackers which got for $5 a box here, 6 2 ingredient scones, scones being $3 apiece here for a savings of $21. We had some popcorn kernels that my husband said were past their prime so I ground them into cornmeal and will make cornbread out of them. The grocery store closest to us sell English Muffins for $2.99 a bag of six, and while we were out we went to Aldi's and got them for 99 cents for a bag of six. We purchased 10 bags, saving $20.

    Have a wonderful week ahead everyone. Blessings, Cookie

    1. Dear Cookie!!

      We might catch up with replies, yet!!

      As I write, the rain is hitting the roof, after just a bit too much summer heat! I have a wet cloth around my neck, since I haven’t made any cool ties yet!

      I am so glad that you were able to divert needing to pay for those appliance repairs! This is such a relief, even to hear! The Almighty prepares the way for His sheep.
      You are certainly saving with your baking, and fuel conservation.
      Wasn’t it lovely to see Margaret’s morning teas!! Isn’t it lovely to see your beautiful one-stroke painting on glass jars and cards, and my paints and paintbrushes are patiently waiting!! You have brought richness to many!

      Thank you,

  16. Several years ago a friend and I use to get together every week for an afternoon of scrapbooking. She always hosted it and it was so much fun. Reading your post reminded me how much I miss that. My friend and I now live 10 hours apart so the get togethers are no longer possible. You've brought back some special memories! I'm looking forward to your saving series!

    1. Dear Patsy, Scrap booking would be lovely to do with a friend. Thanks so much I hope the series gives you lots of new ideas! With love

  17. It has amazed me again at how little things that we do routinely can add up to huge total savings!!
    We responded to a credit card offer from a big bank here in U.S. because they offered $200 cash to you,if you charged a certain total amount in the first 3 months as well as “rewards” cash. We got the card, used it for already budgeted purchases and, because of that, were able to pay it off in full when the bill came! So no interest to pay, $212 paid to us in a check and the credit card now has a zero balance and is tucked away in a file box!
    Even though I have been doing a pantry challenge this month to eat all meals/snacks from foods we have on hand, I did, however, spend money when I came across some amazing clearance prices on staples that I use regularly and like to keep in my pantry. This way I am rarely buying groceries at the regular non-sale prices and because of stocking up, I can wait until the next time I find it on sale! In this case, it was tinned pumpkin purée- 40 cents instead of $1.99 each and dehydrated Refried beans for $3 each for big #10 cans commercially vacuum sealed. The savings just on those 2 things was over $130!!
    I made batches of muffins from my diy muffin mix (2 dozen muffins plus muffin batter I froze that will make another 2 dozen!) I will just take the frozen batter out the night before to thaw and scoop it into my reuseable silicone muffin holders (which save me from buying muffin paper wrappers!). So I saved the cost of 4 dozen muffins!
    Dave replaced a wall of bottom kitchen cabinets (that were made from upper cabinets our son gave us years ago) with new cabinets he built that are much deeper to fit in the same footprint! He used materials he had stored in his workshop with the exception of about $30 he spent on additional materials ! I’m thinking $30 for a walk of open kitchen cabinets, including a new top is definitely a savings!!!
    Using the free phone app, GasBuddy, when we visited our daughter about 90 minutes away from us, we were able to find gas about 1/2 mile from her house for $2.12/gallon while most others were $2.59/gallon!! That was worth the trip out to visit them!!!
    The biggest savings came because Wednesday was the day our February direct deposit came in, so I “zero out “ our checking account balance and use whatever the “excess” was I put part into savings and part to make additional mortgage principal payments. This time I had enough for 4 additional payments! In the past 6 months since Dave retired, we have made 27 mortgage payments- that is 21 “extra” ones ! We have taken over 2 years off our mortgage length and if we do 27 payments each YEAR (instead of 6 months), our mortgage will be paid off in just 4 years! But, wait! Maybe we could do it in even less time!!!
    Little savings really DO add up! We wouldn’t have this “excess” every month if we weren’t being careful with our spending and saving! And we don’t feel deprived at all as we drive our paid for “new to us” 14 year old car! We feel secure.

    1. Pat you and your husband do such a great job! When we decided to pay off debt the first year we paid off $16 thousand and just kept going.

  18. Annabel I love the simple things too. Line dried linens,growing veggies and picking berries.
    Margaret your tea table is so lovely and how nice it is to have fellowship!
    Winter is a slower time for us as far as saving, but we are still diligent.
    This week was a mix. My carpets needed cleaned badly doing it by hand just didn't cut it. I had a coupon for a carpet cleaning service and was going to use it. Instead the hubby found a carpet machine for less than the cost of the service.
    The boy loves donuts from a certain place that sends out a truck to sell them. They cost $13 a dozen. He asked if I could make them. So I did and now I have something I no longer have to buy at the stores even if we only get them a few times a year and also would make great gifts. I don't know why I didn't think of it before.
    Our ladies gave us 6 dozen eggs. $12
    I got a free pouch of baby food to review. $1.25
    We haven't filled the fuel oil tank for heating this saves us $600 a month.
    I was sent a full sized face cleanser plus some other samples and I looked up the cost of the face cleanser and it costs $20.
    Only getting out once a month has equaled lots of no spend days and using what I have on hand.
    We received 3 grocery bags of newspaper and I pulled out all of the coupons that are not expired. To others this may seem silly, but we no longer pay for newspapers and besides the coupons we use them in the wood burner if needed, the chicken coop to cut back on the amount of straw and make cleaning what I call the poop boards under the roost easy peasy, then it goes to the garden for fertilizer and paper breaks down into nitrogen which the plants need, also shredded paper in the garden if we are having a bit of a drought to help keep the soil moist.
    Rick also brought home 6 pallets. $12 they sell for $2 each here so getting them free is a savings. We use them for many things.

    1. Dear Vicky,
      It is thanks to you we have The Vicky Challenge! Do you know six dozen eggs here would be worth at least $30 but because of free range more like $40.
      I have not bought a newspaper in many years so if I did coupons I would be doing what you are!
      Pallets are handy for many projects! They will be useful! I hope this week your savings have been good! With love

  19. Hello Annabel from a cold England, a friend and I used to run a cross stitch club from my house, we used to run competitions and give little prizes, this morphed into full blown embroidery classes including silk ribbon, sometimes I would design for the girls. It was great fun. I would love to go to Margaret's tea and craft or Bible study groups. I miss it all so much. I have not made many close friends here, since we moved from South Africa. The main reason is my health, I've almost become a shut-in, I can't walk far nowadays and we don't have our car on the road at the moment as my hubby is working on it. As we live on a limited income I don't think we can make much more savings than we do already. But I would love to start a container garden in our postage stamp sized paved back yard, it's got to be built high enough so I don't have to bend too much. I'm particularly interested in herbs and veggies. I love your blog and am certainly getting new ideas from your Vicki Challenge. Thank you very much. Regards Mandy xx

    1. Dear Mandy, It was so hot here today and there you are in the cold! Hard to even imagine! How I would enjoy your stitch club and I love that you had competitions and prizes!!
      Mandy the internet is so wonderful for when you cant get out much! True good friendships still can form online. You can join in with challenges and groups. If you could grow your herbs even that would be beautiful. I did this at my old hose with four pots stacked on top of each other... large one on the bottom and going up in smaller and smaller pots. This tower grew the most amazing amount! I got all the pots from the side of the road too!
      Thank you for joining in Mandy, consider us your friends here. With love

  20. Annabelle, you did great with that washing machine repair. Youtube is just a wonderful source of knowledge when it comes to home repairs. I also use it to listen to my favorite music which gets me moving in the morning :D. Here are a few ways I saved money this past week:
    1. Finished sewing replacement pillow protectors using an extra sheet I had on hand plus the zippers from the old protectors...$24
    2. Altered 4 tops that were too large.........................$20
    3. Used spot cleaner and a hand steamer to "dry-clean" several
    items instead of using our local dry cleaners..................$24
    4. Bought a large container of mixed greens for salads, etc.,
    as it was 50% off. It was more than we could use so I
    dehydrated the extra for healthy powder to use in soups, etc...$ 3
    5. I baked pumpkin bread for our quilting group (there are
    only three of us) instead of buying donuts or other bakery
    goods. (can of pumpkin .50 cents & free pecans)...............$ 3
    6. Extra savings on groceries according to my receipts
    (the first thing I do when I begin shopping is check out
    the sales racks for mark-downs, discontinued items, etc).......$11
    I also re-potted an orchid which may or may not survive.
    Prices on potted plants have also gone up here and so have
    plant containers so I'm looking to do some recycling in that
    department. I don't use my dehydrator as often as I should
    just because it is stored in an inconvenient spot (out in
    our shop). I am on a "no waste" quest when it comes to fresh veggies. So I plan to clear out a spot in the pantry where I
    can use it any time. There is an outlet already there so it's
    just a matter of re-arranging.
    Love everyone's good tips and Margaret, your table settings and
    food are incredible!

    1. Dear Pam, You had lots of great savings! With plants and potting up especially for gifts etc I have seen so many ideas I like like old teapots and tureens and so on. Some of these look just beautiful! So now I am on continuous look out for plants, cuttings etc and things to use as planters.
      My pantry could do with a re arrange... I think if I do this I can fit more in there. A no waste challenge is a very good idea! I hope the week has been good for you! With much love

  21. Good morning Annabel and Bluebirds
    We have had hot humid weather for over a week now with no let up at night. I do not do well in this sort of weather. I did, however, venture out to a garden club meeting - my first. Not sure if it is for me because it seemed a bit ad hock and no information about anything. I did meet an older lady who has only been living here a few months who has kindly offered me some Leopard Lilies when I am ready.

    This lady has a good knowledge of what grows up here (I am use to what grows down south) and seemed quite nice so I am thinking of cultivating this and growing a friendship.

    We have a holiday house next door that belongs to a lady in her 80's that has become a real mess since her grandson and family left (he was supposed to be maintaining the yard). He planted bananas and lemon grass, both of which, if they are not kept on top of will take over. He also left a lemon tree in a pot. We are going to rescue the lemon tree and my husband is going to go in later with the whipper snipper and cut back the overgrown grass and have a good look at what else needs to be done. It is a real shame because the owner has no idea of just how bad things are. Because we get snakes around here it is an issue as well.

    The lady I work with at Montville has also offered me cuttings once I start on the garden so my garden will be grown from cuttings unless it is something that I cannot obtain this way like fruit trees.

    My husband takes his lunch to work every day bar one - he has gone from ham and cheese sandwiches to ham and cheese bread rolls. I found that the Queensland owned supermarket has hamburger rolls that look like regular rolls at a good price and they stand up to being taken to work in a brown paper bag in a back pack.

    I have a busy couple of weeks coming up, I did a top up shop so that I wasn't racing in to pick up a couple of items and walking out with more than intended.

    I have hair that is hard to cut so there is no way that I can do it myself - I keep it short or I end up overheating. My hairdresser gives me the 'seniors discount' it saves a few dollars which over the course of the year adds up.

    I don't colour my hair so I have no idea of how much she would charge for anything like that. I do know that her prices for haircuts are not over the top, she is always busy and people come from miles away so she must be good.

    I have a group of older lady friends - we meet up for a chat and a coffee on the first Tuesday of the month. I am the baby of the group. We have discussed so many things such as moving into a retirement village, fees and extras, moving a family member from one nursing home to another and if I should sell up because my daughter wants me to, to where the best bargains are and everything in between. It sure keeps the grey matter working.

    I have found that the majority of my friends these days are much older than me, they have a wealth of information and they are willing to share.

    We are finally able to start putting heavy items on the floors so this weekend it begins. The fridges and freezer are being moved today now that the painting where they need to go has been done by my husband. (I would hate to cost out how much his doing the painting has saved us over the years). I use to use a system where the fortnight's food would be in the freezer on top of the 'fridge and there was no need to delve into the large freezer. This system worked well but over the past 8 years my husband has decided that it isn't how he wants things to work and it has created absolute mayhem with me not knowing where anything was let alone what I had to cook with. Having the freezer was to save trips to the shop and money but it just hasn't been so.

    Time to get serious.

    Looking forward to the next weeks information.


    1. Dear Lynette, Meeting someone local with good gardening knowledge could be such a help to you. Also getting cuttings for friends will be such a help. It is exciting to be thinking about these plans now!
      I have always had a lot of older friends. I have been the younger one asking so many questions! Now I am also getting to be the older woman so some of the younger ones!
      I hope you have continued on with your putting back together projects! This is exciting too after all the stops you have been through! Enjoy! With much love

  22. Annabelle,
    Please let me thank you again for doing the Vicky Challenge. I'm probably forgetting a few things along the way and I can't be as frugal as I'd like because then Farmer feels "pinched." But I'm doing what I can and recording the great deals and savings.
    So far this month I've recorded almost $600.00 (USD) alone!! This week's savings that made me especially smile were 75% off spring bulbs at the farm store. I recorded $15 for the 2 bags I got. I hope the poor things survive. It's mid-winter here in Nebraska with 4 inches of snow on the ground. Some of the bulbs are starting to sprout so I'm going to find a way to plant them in a pots for early spring blossoms. Daffodils are my favorite!
    And at the same farm store, they had their holiday toys on clearance. Farmer got a tractor & hay wagon (just like he used to have) for his collection. Marked down $30.00
    I found a Lazar Tag-type game for also $30 off for a young friend's birthday later this year.
    On top of these great deals, we had a rewards promotion of an extra 10% off.
    I found my cardboard seed cells for when I start my bedding plants in a couple of months. I also want to try milk jug seed starting.
    Final savings at the best price (FREE) are having plants in my office and big west-facing windows. My $5.00 clearance-priced Orchid from a few years ago is going to bloom for the 3rd time. My boss' wife has all her plants from home there. They are BIG plants. They clean the air and make me happy. I have a big pot of the plants I got for my dad's funeral 3 years ago. They are happily growing. And recently she brought in another plant that needs some TLC. I moved it closer to the sunny door, talk to it alot and send loving thoughts to it. Corny yes, but I figure if they have documented a plant "feels" when someone cuts it, it may "feel" loving gestures as well. Who knows. LOL

    1. Dear Kay,
      Well done on greats savings! I am a big believer in plants inside and how they clear the air. And they do! NASA has a wonderful article on it. You found some great deals! I hope you are able to get your seeds started successfully. We are coming to the end of our planting season... I have added a few last minute things! Well done on a good week! With love

  23. Well done on the dishwasher repair! It feels great, doesn't it? I love all the pictures of Margaret's teas and the stories around the gatherings. We all seem to be much less social than previous generations used to be...we're all chattering online, but not as much "face to face" least, that's how it is here. I think you're right, though...if you want a group like that, may as well start it up yourself! :) I think I reported most stuff on Friday, so will wait for the next report next weekend. I have lots of laundry and some crafting to do, today, while hubby bottles a batch of beer. And it's sunny!! Life is good.

    xx Jen in NS

    1. Dear Jen,
      I hope you hd your crafting time. I am seeing quite a lot of knitting and crochet groups forming both online and in real life! I think in a Church group a knitting group and learn to knit group would be so nice... but I know you are so busy already. Seriously though so many would benefit from learning to can, grow things, mend... I could think of a long list. I love sharing and friendship online so much and I am challenging myself to expand my "on the ground" network too! I am glad you had some sunshine! With love

  24. So blessed by this post! Blessings to all the Bluebirds. I don't always have a chance to comment but God is challenging to have a tea time for the ladies in my church. I treasure this site.

    (had my b-day on the 9th- Happy late Birthday wishes, Annabel)

    1. Dear Lesley, Thank you so much! Oh I hope you have your tea time! I think this could be a very valuable form of ministry! With love


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