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 30 April 2020

Feather your Nest Friday, 1st May, 2020.

Welcome to May!  This year is going fast with so many things happening.  It was a really good week. The more I am home the better.   I get so much more done and can think and plan much better.   Today I do have to go to town but I had the whole week home otherwise and it has been lovely.

We have had lots of rain.  Everything outside is done quickly between showers.  I see a gap in the clouds and I run and feed the chooks.  Another gap and I move the goat and this is how it goes...

Our state has had no new Corona Virus cases reported in a week.  This is so good.  I will find out today how the shops are...

I did some bartering this week.  Increasing my bartering has been a gaol and we have a lot going on!
My niece came over and she cleaned the house gutters and cleaned the flue on our fireplace.   This was just hours before the rain hit!   I lit the fire and it is so cozy and lovely.   I paid my niece in Lasagne and Chocolate cake and we had lunch together.   This was wonderful.  Lasagne is her "currency" and she had at least four dinners worth.   While I was at it I made four.   One made meals for us,  one for Allie,  one for Lucy's family and one for the freezer.   I am all for extra meals ready to go in the freezer.   This is one way to get ahead.

I started seeds in little pots and egg cartons.   I have trays of seeds in my sunroom which is kind of a closed in porch.   To my amazement the Broccoli came up in two days!  

I also have Rainbow Chard and Spinach up.   I never thought I was great at growing from seeds.  I have usually purchased seedlings.   But now I am determined to get good at this!  And it is fun and going well.   While it is cold outside now this room gets some warmth if the sun is out at all or if the tumble drier is on. 

In the supermarket we were allowed to buy as much bread as we wanted and they had a heap out marketed down for 39c!!!  I got 8 and left a whole load still for others.

Still working on apples... I made apple puree... both girls love it and so I keep two daughters in apple and I made three apple crumble (crisps) but I make them gluten free.  They are yum and I froze some.

The weather is cool enough for soup and I made my first batch using pumpkins I picked last week.  I roast a tray of pumpkin, an onion, an apple and some garlic. Then it goes into stock and is blended.  This is Matt Preston's recipe,  more or less. I make it really thick. Well, it is so good!

Before the rain I took this photo of Scout guarding everything (in comfort of course) and watching me at the same time.  This was such a normal day photo complete with my soap hardening in the lounge room.

Another photo of normal life was this one taken yesterday.  I was in Andy's ute.  The gang are like "does anyone have any biscuits?"  

The sheep put their feet on the kick board fully willing to get in the car and we say no no!  haha!

Last week I showed I had made small soaps with the idea for them to go in little tins in our handbags.  As I cut them out cookie cutter style I had left over soap in odd shapes.  I put it into a pot of water and boiled it and blended. Then I added some germ busting essential oils.  
I didn't add too much water at first and let it cool.  It was a bit too thick so I added more water and blended again.  Then I got a good thick nice consistency and filled my household pump soap packs.  It is soo nice!  It smells good, feels good and does a good job.  I then filled any bottles I had ...

It is also pretty, lustrous and pearlescent which was a complete fluke.

With so much rain I was able to do more indoors and I sat near the fire and made cards.  I made lots!  Mostly I put crafts on The Tuesday Afternoon Club.  Here is a sample... these are zero skill involved cards.... just an image from an old book slapped onto a card!  However every time you do this you save around $8 to $10! 

I also made up some laundry liquid. I love to make this and it smells beautiful.  After the soap I am running low on bottles!    

This recipe is for 10 litres.  I love to get out my soap making pot. It has had a work out lately! 

The recipe is here.  This is an earlier post on beating costs like Nana did.

My seedlings sprouting has me planning.  I have spaces to plant them and those areas are mulched.  I am finding myself planning ahead more and have started building up the soil where the pumpkin patch was.  First mulch then manure and whatever I can add to build it back up. Chook poo is next as there is plenty of that.  I am on the watch out for things I might be able to use for raised garden beds and things to fill them.     By Spring I hope to have expanded my spaces for herbs and veggies.   The soil here is quite sandy.  Now I look at everything and think of how I might use it to improve the garden.   I had some garlic starting to shoot so this has been planted. 

I hope you had a good week.  How did you build up your home or get ahead in any way?  How are things in your area and are you experiencing shortages or rationing?   Have you seen any major price rises?  I have a Pantries and Preparedness Post coming up on ways to manage some of these issues.  Meanwhile my shopping today will be interesting, I have no idea what to expect!   

Have a lovely weekend! xxx

Friday 24 April 2020

Pantries and Preparedness, Victory in the veggie garden.

As the weeks pass by we are all noticing different shortages or items that are either limited/rationed or not on the shelves at all.  Not much has changed at our local supermarkets, the same things apply with limits of one or two items in so many categories.  But now the limits and hard to get items have extended to the plant nursery.   I found this at our local nursery and they said three companies that supply them say they will have no seeds for the rest of the year and the fourth company doesn't even answer the phone anymore.    And seedlings were not much better.  I placed my name on a waiting list however and this led to some success!   Like finding  flour I was over the moon excited to get seedlings!

Now we have many seed savers in the group (and too many to mention) but SewingCreations and Jane have both inspired me to save seeds.  And when you have gardening friends seeds are a good gift!  Like soap and face masks seeds are now worth more than gold!

Many things will grow from a cutting, some things propagate themselves.  I once had a Lavender bush that had babies come up all around it year after year.  I dug them up and potted them continually!   So now we can think of ways to get some food growing in any way we can.

Vicky and I were talking about how to creatively get around the seed issue and she wrote....

Food shortages, seed shortages and basic supplies being hard to find or sold out before we get to them makes it stressful right now, but again if we look at what we have on hand or even what someone else may be tossing we may just be able to eek along and add to our pantry or meal table or save a little when prices are increasing. In lean times even just a handful of this or that can be so satisfying. From just adding a bit of flavor to possibly becoming an actual harvest it really is time to take a second look at things.
I have heard that some places are having seed shortages right now. If you have bought produce then you more than likely have a resource right at your fingertips you can use. Most have seeds in them or can be regrown easily. Instead of tossing them out consider saving the seeds and drying them until it's time for you to start them or if it's time to plant in your area get them sprouting to plant. After having talks with the produce managers at the stores I have found that many of the veggies I buy are actually heirloom, but not advertised as such. For example California Wonder peppers which most stores sell here are actually an heirloom veggie. I have started many things from store bought veggies just to see what they would be and I have not so far had any that didn't produce something. And something is better than nothing. 
Celery and lettuce root ends will continue to grow and produce new, onions and potatoes, garlic and carrot tops that sprout can be planted to regrow. Just don't hurry them along. 
Dried beans from store bought bags I've planted before by soaking them overnight first. You need to look at the bag though to see if it says irradiated. That is done so they will not sprout. Bags of sprouty beans on a store shelf wouldn't be wonderful. 
And the beauty of this is other than some time we are out nothing really. Looking at food differently helps too. Someone else may look and see a few small potatoes that grew I look and see what I can actually make with those few small potatoes! It is all a matter of perspective. 
I am currently starting celery which I will put in pots in a few weeks. I have tomatoes starting from a store bought tomato that wasn't good when the hubby brought it home, onions that are sprouting which I will trim and plant and potatoes that are sprouting.  
So don't get discouraged use what you may have on hand or can get someone to save for you this is another example of using our resources to our advantage!

We have all had plants come up when we didn't expect them too, especially if you put things in the compost or garden.   This does prove many store bought veggies and herbs do still produce viable seeds.   I certainly have had tomatoes grow and produce this way.     I now save any sprouting potatoes and plant them.  Suddenly I look at everything for potential!

My own garden right now is pretty much starting over.  I did get a lot of tomatoes, spinach, parsley, zucchini and basil over summer.  But things are quiet now and I am rebuilding.

My make shift fence to keep the dog out is so far working!

I have some things on my side... access to sheep and chicken poo,  good water (we have a bore)  a fairly sheltered spot that is protected from the wind,  space for other gardens if I want to extend...   this space gave me somewhere I could just let pumpkins sprawl everywhere and I am so happy I planted them!

We have only been here a year and a half.  It seems like much longer!   So everything with the garden is trial and error.   I would dearly love to add some raised garden beds.   

I am admiring how many people share garden spaces or have an allotment like in England where you garden a patch in a big garden,  I presume you rent or lease this plot.   And the good use of space in a tiny garden where everything is growing upwards.   Up is the way to go when space is short.    I have been reading how in the war years and depression people formed clubs.   There were things like chicken clubs and pig clubs... where one person might house them on their property but the feeding and caring for them was a group task... at the end the produce was shared.   We have had a lesser version of this when others saved their household scraps for our chickens and we return the favour with fresh eggs.  
Two families could agree that one will raise chickens and another will garden and eggs will be swapped for veggies.  We don't have to do everything we need some things that we can produce to be self sufficient in and able to sell or barter with.  Something is better than nothing!   Because of this I grow a lot of the things that grow well.  I had about thirty feet of lush Parsley and none was wasted.  I was able to use, dry, give away bunches and feed chickens, cows and sheep with it.   Then I harvested the seeds and packaged them.  I got so much from it!   So now I have a huge amount planted again and it is just coming up.

I want to do more and I want to do better.  If you have suggestions for how to multiply and propagate, save seeds, grow from cuttings and any tips at all please share them!   There is so much to learn.   One of my newer discoveries is how in Europe many use all kinds of things to fill a raised garden bed... including fallen logs.  They will after all break down eventually.   What a saving this would be!   You do not need to purchase heaps of expensive soil as most of your garden beds can be filled with found and salvaged things.  If this is interesting to you look up Hugelkultur method for raised beds.  Amazing!  One thing we have is plenty of fallen logs!  
Another is to look at potential containers for raised beds.   I have my eye on some large wooden boxes that the farm has had pumps arrive in... they look like garden beds to me! 

Each year Vicky calls her garden The Victory Garden.  So then her pantry became Vicky's Victory Pantry.   I love this!   The less we depend on the store the more victorious I feel.   
My niece has been here cleaning our gutters.... now I have some more compost material for the garden!  So I am off to spread this around and water my

Thursday 23 April 2020

Feather your Nest Friday, 24th April, 2020.

This was a pretty good week and we had rain!  It is beautiful and we can see green shooting up in the paddocks and the garden looks good!   Next week we will begin having some bon fries and burn the big heaps of sticks and branches we have been heaping up since Spring last year.  We are really getting somewhere now with tidying up, removal of dead things and the area around the house looks nice.

I beat the rain and picked my pumpkin patch.  I have been waiting for the leaves to die off and the stems to dry.   I have looked forward to this so much!  I was so excited just to have a pumpkin patch!  And it went pretty well!   I took the wheelbarrow and picked each one.  Large and small!

I love pumpkin and the girls both love pumpkin soup.  This will give us many roast meals and giant pots of soup on top of the wood fire.  Also I plan to make up baby food and freeze batches.

Chloe gave me an old table.  I adore it.   When I was little and at school my very favourite thing was the nature table.  We all brought interesting things we found to contribute to it.   There were usually little nests, cocoons and silk worms,  shells and all kinds of bits and pieces.  I took a small lizard once which got away in the classroom lol

Well, the old table has become something that reminds me of the nature table.  I have my pumpkins there and on a shelf underneath.  I see them every time I got outside as they are under the porch to keep them dry.

I am so pleased and already planning how to have an even bigger and better pumpkin patch in Spring.

My veggie patch has been grim... the main patch is just outside the kitchen door.  I decided to take drastic action.  I pulled out everything that was sad and hopeless.  Then I began to bring down some hay each day in the wheelbarrow to add a layer of mulch.   This took all week doing a big load a day. I added chook poop too. I am basically adding anything I can think of.
This was all an act of faith as I had heard there were no seeds or seedlings to buy.    I confirmed this when I went to the nursery.   No seedlings or seeds to be found.  I am a regular customer there and we all chat.  So I got the low down on the situation and they said the four seed companies they buy from we all saying there will be no seeds for the rest of the year.   The staff did say to me they could call me if any seedlings did arrive.  So I said yes please!  Oh it pays to chat as the next morning I got a call!  I was able to ask what came in and the lady listed each thing and I was able to say what I needed.  This all went into a box for me to pick up!  
On top of this a large envelope arrived in the mail.   It contained several sheets like this...

Thank you Carol this made my day.  I have planted some into seedling trays and they are in my warm room.   The rest I sorted into planting times so some are ready for spring.   Rachel then also sent me some seeds!  Thank you Rachel!   And so I think I acted in faith and prepared the garden and the plants and seeds arrived!  Literally everything I needed was provided. 

I realised the great value I now had and feel the importance of increasing the garden.   My biggest hazard is Scout who wanders around and squashes seedlings.    So I decided if you want something done you have to do it yourself and I put a fence around the veggie patch.  Now it is no great wall of China but it keeps the dog out.  It took me most of Tuesday.  Then I planted everything I had.  Tuesday night my legs ached and I had a hot pack!   I felt very accomplished though! 

I cut Andy's hair.

I made scones as I desperately felt like them...

Still working on apples I made more apple puree. 

To make this I fill the pot with apples and not too much water.  When this cooks down I blend it. Then I add more apples and let those cook down.  Then blend that.... it might take three lots of apples before I decide it is thick enough.  I add a little sugar if it needs it.  It is smooth like velvet! 

I also made apple crumble.   It was so nice.  I am planning on making a heap of these tomorrow to share.

Comfort food.  Don't forget it is Autumn here too.  

I made cakes for the girls and three impossible quiches that included Spinach from the garden. 

I wanted to make soaps that are small and suitable to take with you in your handbag.  This was my first attempt and I like them!  They are just drying...

The round ones are about the size of a coin...  I ordered really little tins to put them in and use as gifts since we now all need soap with us as if we are out and there is often no soap.  I am very pleased and it was fun.  I will share the recipe and more photos in The Tuesday Afternoon Club    I thought a small towel could also go with them so there is a whole kit right there to wash and dry your hands.
The left overs were made into liquid hand soap to fill my pump packs.  I added On Guard to this and it smells so good!    I got about three litres of liquid soap.  (a little over 3 Quarts)

Now I look at it I feel very happy with the week.  I have noticed how these times have us thrilled over small things... getting some flour or seedlings,  giving someone a homemade face mask or soap... the prospect of soup from my pumpkins and a pretty letter in the mail.  
Mail is taking longer to arrive but when it does it is a potential boost to someone.  I had sent my Aunt  some masks and a note.  I used a large envelope to avoid a parcel and they fitted!  

My Aunt is in her 80s, I think 84.  She has been staying in to avoid the virus.  She told me she wore a mask and rode her bike as she had a Doctor appointment.  She rode 9 kilometres there then home again...  (18 kilometres is over 11 miles) and this is how she shops also.   We had a wonderful chat and a few laughs.   But my point is there can be so much joy over small and inexpensive things...

I have a Pantries and Preparedness post coming.  This one is about how to garden when seeds and seedlings are in short supply!  And there are many ways! 

How did you keep things going, get ahead, put food on the table or add to your pantry this week?
Have a lovely weekend! xxx

Tuesday 21 April 2020

Pantries and Preparedness. Ingredients that keep you able to clean and wash anything.

Last week our subject was about log lasting things to keep in your pantry.  They will not "expire" for many years so they make a good investment.  This week I want to do the same thing in the area of cleaning and laundry.  

I ventured back into town yesterday. It was very interesting.  In the bigger of the two supermarkets there was music playing and every five minutes  a recording played.  It went  "we are aware there are many things missing from the shelves right now due to unprecedented times but we want you to KEEP CALM."  It sort of had the opposite effect on me.  It wasn't calming.

Anything to do with cleaning, washing, sterilising and sanitising was either unavailable or limited. This included hand soap, body wash,  hard soaps ...  dish washing soap or tablets where you could have one item... disinfecting sprays were two items but there were none there anyway... and so on.

I am so glad I learned to make soap!  While it would take up a ton of space (and money) to stock up years ahead on laundry soap and all the different soaps we use it is pretty simple and inexpensive to store away items that will always let you make just about anything you want!
Apart from cleanliness and sanitation keeping things clean affects morale.  I am starting to get why soap was such a valuable item during the war and depression years.  Especially something that smells good!

Soap making is really easy.   I am going to link to some of my soap making tutorials and recipes.  Here you will find Rachel's homemade laundry soap recipe.  Laundry soap is a great way to get soap making!  You will also find a recipe that does not need caustic soda (which intimidates a lot of people but shouldn't!) as you use soap flakes.   However this makes beautiful soap.
Soap Making Part 1.   So we will start off with Soap Flakes.... in Australia the best is Lux Pure Soap flakes.  If you keep this on hand you are going to be able to make hand soap, laundry soap, wool mix... basically anything.  In the US I believe Ivory has a pure soap flake.   You are looking for pure grated soap.  Of course you could find a pure gentle soap and grate it yourself.

To enable you to clean windows, make gentle Wool Wash and many more items Methylated Spirits  
 is an  excellent thing to keep.     The Wool Mix recipe is a wonderful introduction  into soap making as it sets in a jar as a hard soap which you dissolve in hot water to use.  It is the most divine smelling mix...   Wool Mix   It contained  Eucalyptus Oil which is another item to keep on hand.   If you prefer you could use Lavender Oil.   Both scent things beautifully and both have antiseptic and strong cleaning properties.

This link is to another favourite soap I make that is so smooth.  It is a good soap for gifts.   Beautiful gift soap.    So I need to add Lye/Caustic Soda to the list of things to have in your cupboard plus Coconut oil.    Olive Oil is another thing I like to have on hand for soap making.

This post has the laundry liquid recipe that I use.  Laundry Liquid recipe.     So now I add Borax and Washing Soda/Lectric Soda  to my list of items.   The beautiful of most of these things is one packet is going to go a long way.   And most have many other uses!     If you use this recipe in a stronger concentration you have a laundry soaker.

I find that saving jars, buckets, items that could be used as soap moulds and an old cooking pot are all handy.   I have my soap making pot and whenever I am mixing something up out if comes!  

Epsom Salts is a wonderful versatile cleaner.  So is Vinegar.   Epsom salts can be added to your wash for a softening effect. You can clean your teeth with it and use it as a mildly abrasive sink and surface clearer.   Vinegar is an ingredient in Miracle Cleaner (see below) and mixed with a simple dish soap it will clean the shower screen. 

Hydrogen Peroxide is a multi purpose cleaning item.    Prepsteader on You Tube has a whole video on the uses of this.  I use it to soak the toothbrushes if anyone has been unwell.   It also makes a great laundry treatment/ spot remover.    

It is very easy to make liquid hand soaps as it is really just a runny version of any soap.  You can find many recipes for using soap scraps to make liquid hand soap.   Re filling your pump containers with soap you made yourself is pretty satisfying especially now they are hard to get!  I like to add a few drops of essential oil like Eucalyptus or a Germ Fighting blend. 

The best all round cleaner I know of is Miracle Cleaner.   This smells amazing, kills germs and you can make it up from ingredients already mentioned.  Miracle Cleaner.  If you clean with this your house always smells fresh too. 

In Australia we have Sunlight Soap or Velvet soap which are basic all purpose old fashioned soaps.  Many of us probably had our hair washed with Velvet soap at some stage.  You can wash your dishes or your laundry.  Vicky sent me some Zote soap from the US.  It made wonderful laundry liquid!     You will never be sorry if you line a few drawers with some bars of good all round useful soaps.  They take up very little space and they harden further over time which makes them last a long time when you do use them.   Some luxury beautifully scented soaps make your linen cupboard smell nice (and your linens) but in a shortage there you have your supply!  

My last tip is that if you purchase soap flakes to transfer them into a container rather than leave them in the cardboard box.   They retain the scent and stay better long term in a large jar or tin.  

Right now soaps are a great gift. Heike made tiny soaps and popped them into little tins to carry in your purse.   This was a nice idea for anyone!  Thoughtful!   My next experiment is to make soap leaves by thinly slicing freshly made soap into single use soaps.   I will report back on that! xxx

Thursday 16 April 2020

Feather your Nest Friday, 17th April, 2020.

Time for a little Friday review.   I need this!   I have noticed how distracted I am.  Normally I just love Autumn so much (and I still do) but so many things I associate with this time of year are not as they usually are!

Because it is cooling down so much I began to collect kindling.  When I walk around doing anything I pick up sticks and pinecones and fill baskets.

My freezer has been filling.  The big freezer we got mid last year was filled with bottles of water so that it would stay frozen longer should the power go off.   Now I dug all those bottles out and re arranged everything and made a whole lot more room!   I have also been freezing any rice or flours I manage to get and I found some of those!  So my freezer is better and I have more space.

Our stores are still having shortages and there are many restrictions.  So if I can buy flour or basics I do.   My beautiful large sized Fowlers Vacola jars  (this is an Australian Brand of reserving jar) have turned out to be lovely for storing these.   Each holds exactly 1 kilo or rice or sugar.  (That is 2.2 lbs)   I have endlessly re arranged my pantry and also my jars have spilled out into the living area.  But I don't care I think they are beautiful!

I continued to work through apples.   I made applesauce,  apple cake and dried apples...

I still had the figs that Scarlett helped me pick.   I cooked them down to make Fig Paste.  Next week I can show how it turned out.  I need to slice it and wrap it next.  

I had some milk that needed to be used up so I made a stack of pancakes and a baked custard.

Dad gave us two dressed rabbits.  I cooked one and froze one.

I swapped some masks for some fabric.

For Chloe and Luke I made a chocolate cake over the Easter weekend.

My brother had a shipment arrive in a very large wooden box.   He asked if I would like it to make a cubby house  (kids play house) and I said YES!  
He wasn't kidding about the size and it is really heavy!  But I can do something wonderful with it!

Stage one will be cutting doors and windows which Andy will do.
Stage two I will paint it with an all weather undercoat of paint.   
After that the fun will begin!  

So it was an ok week but nothing spectacular!  I have been very conscious of the pantry and what I use and how I use things.  Of using up everything!   If I have something that needs to be used up or incorporated into a meal I try and be right on to it.   I feel I want to keep my pantry at the best level I can.

Over the weekend I hope to write another Pantries and Preparedness Post.  Thank you to everyone who contributed to the long term foods one.   This time the subject is multipurpose and lasting items that will keep you in washing powder or liquid for both the laundry and kitchen, soaps and cleaning items.   I still see that any kind of soap is out of stock or very low at our stores.  If you can get it then you are allowed to buy two items.  This included a bar of soap or a pump soap or body wash.    Being able to make all these items easily at home is a very good idea!

How was your week?  How did you keep some normality, keep ahead,  add to your pantry or garden? Oh this is another subject!!  We will have to cover this but seeds and seedlings are almost impossible to get now.   But we can find ways around this too, right!?
There is so much we can do.  We are keeping the home fires burning!  xxx

Saturday 11 April 2020

Pantries and Preparedness 2020. Foods that last years and years.

Things have been calmer here in the last week but I know this certainly is not the case everywhere.  And things have evolved.  Shortages and rationing have changed somewhat too. I would love to hear your observations in your location but here the new sought after goods are chickens, seeds, seedlings...  I am seeing also canning jars, lids etc.   All the same stuff as before as well, toilet paper, soaps, hand sanitisers, flour, sugar, pasta...  and so on.
In the wider picture I am seeing meat processing plants closing down specially in the US.   I am also seeing massive price rises!   So by keeping our eyes open we can see what things we might need to be doing to be ahead.

One of the things I hear a lot is about the worry of increasing food supplies only for it to be wasted.  People worry about expiry and best before dates.   We need to get ourselves educated on this.  For instance I see honey has a date on the lid!   Yet honey will keep forever.  I have Himalayan Pink Salt in my pantry. It took hundreds of thousands of years for someone to package it but it expires in June.   Seriously!    We are taken for idiots!

Today I am going to share some foods that you can store for many years.   We can never really hope to stock everything.  But in this time I have seen that if you have good supplies of some things you can trade and help others.   And the things I have noticed people chasing most of all are basics such as flour and sugar.     Many basics also have a whole lot of uses.  If you stock them you have the beginnings of so many recipes and some medical and cleaning applications as well.    Next week I am going to cover the ingredients and items that keep for years that will allow you to make all your cleaning and washing supplies.  Today we will stick to edibles.

My first long term item is Alcohol.  You do not need to be a drinker for this one.   This Pandemic has shown if everyone had a high alcohol Vodka,  Everclear or similar in their storage they could have made a great amount of hand sanitiser, surface spray and cleaner.   Alcohol over 60% proof kills germs and viruses.   If you have Vodka you can make extracts and tinctures that also will last years.  You can also make Alcohol wipes for many purposes.   This is a very valuable thing to have.

Some of the foods that will keep years if stored properly include:
Rice.  White rice keeps years longer than brown rice.   I freeze if for a few days first.  Then store properly... in each case you want air tight, rodent and bug proof containers.  I use glass jars or glass canning jars with rings and clips.   Then rice should last 30 years!!   Imagine how many things you can do with rice.

Dry beans.   So many types of beans.  Filling and versatile.   Many will last a good 30 years also!

Pasta.  This will last years and years.  30 years even!  Plus you can vary the shapes and types for variety.

Salt.   I am not much of a salt user.  However it is a preservative and I keep Himalayan Salt as part of my medical pantry as you need it to make Electrolytes which can be life saving.

Vanilla Extract.   This basically lasts forever and in tight times some heavenly flavour would be so nice!

Bullion cubes.   They last a long time packaged well.  Flavour is a good thing!

Vinegar.   Lasts and lasts.   Useful to preserve and also in cleaning!

Wheat.   Well sealed it will last years and so will many other grains.  If you have a grinder you are set.

Sugar.    White sugar will last years and years.   So will castor sugar.

Cornflour.   This lasts a long time too.

Potato Flakes.  Stored properly they will last YEARS.

Honey.   So many uses that this is something I keep large supplies of.

Maple Syrup.   Will keep indefinitely!

Baking soda.   Another thing with so many uses.  It can be stored indefinitely.  Getting it out of a box into a glass jar will greatly help.    In a pinch you can clean your teeth with baking soda and clean the dish washer!    Very useful thing to have.

Cocoa Power.   It will last a few years at least.

Molasses.   Full of vitamins and minerals too!

For Australians... Golden Syrup and Vegemite.  Both useful and lasting!

Powdered Milk.  So useful.  Stored well it lasts many years.  It needs to be kept in a cool dark place.   Sealed well.   But it will last long after the date on the packet.

You will never go wrong storing these long lasting items.   There are more as I believe many freeze dried items are very long lasting.    If you can think of others please add them!    I think spices such as pepper probably do last a surprisingly long time.    Tea leaves also sealed up well will last a fair while.  They will not go off... just lose some oomph.   When desperate for a cup of tea I would still be trying it!  Dried fruit lasts a long time... I am just unsure how long!?

I am quite happy to keep some of my pantry over flow in random cupboards and even in plain sight.  To me jars are a beautiful thing!   These are in my lounge room... they are salt and sugar mainly so I am not too concerned about them getting some light.

One thing I am sure of is the situation with rationing and shortages will be around for a while.   It might change to different items and we need to keep an eye on that.  But supply chains are broken in many places.  Currently it takes one person coming down with the virus in a warehouse or factory and the whole thing is closed down.  So this is a pretty volatile situation.  While some things might be made in our own countries  some items to make them might be imported.  It is surprising and the most interesting things are harder to get... my brother purchased a generator and it was a circus to get it as parts come mostly from China... 

Being able to stay in and feed  your family is a huge accomplishment.  Being able to help others is also!  We are not helpless and afraid, in fact we are not afraid of the winter as we prepare!  
I want to wish you all a very blessed Easter.   We are having a quiet day.  The sun is shining.  I have eggs to collect and seedlings to water.  We have faith and hope and many blessings!xxx

Thursday 9 April 2020

Feather your Nest Friday, 10th April, 2020.

Welcome to Good Friday.  I find this a quiet and reflective day and it always hits me how the world went dark after the death of Jesus.  Everyone knew at that moment who they had killed.  There was no more denying it.   I guess that was a sobering moment for many!

This was a better week in that the mood improved... there was less panic in the air,  at least with those I spoke to and saw.  This had changed more to practical issues of homeschooling,  job losses and dealing with day to day life.   I know things will depend on where you live.  This week some places were in a terrible way which would be terrifying.
I hope that wherever you are you and your family are safe and well.   Now is the time more than ever that we need to do what we can to create a little world within our walls that is calm and homely, especially for children.  But as adults we need that too.  The bigger the storm outside the more our home is important.

I had Scarlett come to stay.  She is three.  She loves to work and help!

We went to Chloe's place and picked figs.  She loved this. I taught her to twist the figs to pick them.  She was a champion at it.

She would have happily picked figs all day.

Scarlett loved Paddy!!  She wanted to feed him over and over.  He probably had a belly ache later!

We fed the cows and sheep biscuits over and over too...

Most of all Scarlett played with Scout.  She learned to say "drop the ball" and Scout would put it down next to her then run and hide behind a tree until Scarlett threw it again.  Scarlett achieved the feat of wearing out the dog.   This is some kind of record.

Boy these two had a good time!

Somewhere in between I made a batch of Fig Paste and put it into little containers.  This is something we use with cheese and crackers and it is delicious.

On apples.... I dehydrated about 30 apples.  And I made an apple crumble which was beautiful!

On the way past the apple tree I picked another dozen big apples.  I think this will be the last of them now.   Each week I make apple puree.  Lucy loves this for breakfast.  It agrees with her pregnant tummy!

I made Peanut Butter biscuits for the girls...

Scarlett and I made chocolate cake.  She made the icing (this reminds me, I need to wash the tablecloth...) and then she was in charge of putting the eggs on top.   We found a little bird that is actually a salt shaker and added that!

She was so proud of this cake!!  When we went home Scarlett was just so excited to show everyone the cake and it got a suitable reception!  

I made and gave away ten face masks this week.  I posted three to my Aunt.  A face mask easily fits in regular mail making it something lovely to post in a card. 

I went to Mum and Dads. Mum gave me a big bag of scraps for the chickens and I picked Rosemary and Bay Leaves. 

 Lorraine H sent me a huge amount of beautiful Hollyhock seeds which I am planting today!   I am thrilled as my garden has some gaps to fill.

Our local tavern is trying to stay afloat by changing business to selling goods such as frozen veggies and flour etc that they can obtain  from their catering suppliers.   We all placed an order.  Well, we all got flour and toilet paper!    And the frozen products are so much better than you can get in the supermarket.  They are beautiful.  Getting a box of staple items is actually so exciting!    If you are having trouble getting items see if you know anyone who owns a cafe, restaurant, hotel... and see if they are able to obtain items.

With all the canning jars my neighbour gave me I have many very large jars. They are the types with rings, lids and clips.   I realised this big size would be fine for storing dry goods.  So I am using a lot of these to store sugars,  flour, rice and pasta.  I have almost 100 of these jars!  Think the size of a spaghetti jar but wider.  This leaves me another 100 smaller jars to actually use for canning.

So that was my week.   I am having a catch up day.  It has cooled very much.  We will need to light the fire soon.  

I am planning a Pantries and Preparedness post on the weekend.  After preparing for several years this is now a steep learning curve.  I know many people are really experiencing very tough times.   Even big families are rationed to one flour, one bag of sugar etc in many stores.   We need to help each other.

How did you build up your home and help your pantry this week? xxx

Saturday 4 April 2020

Pantries and Preparedness 2020. Bartering part two and little bits of information.

My last post was about bartering and how now more than ever this is so helpful.  Since, I have had a realisation...  nothing is normal and you cannot assume anything!   Someone I know who has a highly paid job and one would (wrongly assume)  have everything they need could not get masks, hand sanitiser and several grocery basics.  She was just doing without.  And so I realised... money now cannot buy many things people want.  This is why we prepare and why money in the bank is not always the number one wise way to save.  What if you have money but it will not buy you the things you need?  At times like these money might not help if the availability isn't there.    We need to diversify and not have all our eggs in one basket!
So if we have chickens, a garden, we can sew, we can cook, we have useful skills.... we might be able to provide things that money cannot buy!

So I sat and sewed some more masks and gathered some eggs for my friend.  I might as well have given her gold!   It is as though all the normal things we get excited about are out the window!  Now a bag of flour... rolls of toilet paper and antibacterial wipes get the reaction once reserved for much fancier stuff!    This gives us a lot of ways to help others and in a significant way.

This applies in other ways too.  I think it has always been lovely to send someone a hand written letter or card.  But now it could mean so much to someone isolated.  Many quite ordinary things are bigger now.  We thanked our Pharmacist in writing for his help to us and this also got a reaction that was way more than I would have guessed.  People seem to be so thirsty for some kindness and gratitude.  This might come because I have heard the chemists are abused when they cannot supply goods in shortage... and that doctors, nurses and ambulance officers are being abused too.  They could so with some kindness and a show of thanks.

Now I want to share something Rachel wrote to me.   She bartered her way though a whole day quite miraculously.  And I think this is inspiring and lovely!


        Yesterday was an amazing day for me! I had been up early, and had travelled to town for the mechanic to do further testing on my car. It was losing large quantities of water, and the idea was to test another alternative method for repair, instead of having to replace a $250 part.
It was Dad who mentioned, in good humour, that I was there to clean the windows (as I now do window cleaning for income), and the mechanic said to go right ahead whenever it suited me! Since the supermarkets were not yet open, the mechanic shop’s windows, tracks and sills were treated to a rare cleaning! The mechanic was pleased.

        Dad chauffeured me through the day. We visited several supermarkets so that I could buy basics. It was good to see that most stock was on the shelf. There was even flour in one shop, although I didn’t buy any because I grind wheat at home using an electric mill, and find this very satisfying!

        I had shops to call back to regarding window cleaning. At the new little picker’s shop   (selling antiques and modern items of interest), I was prepared. Another window cleaner had underquoted me, so I was ready to match his lower price and get the job back! As per prior arrangements, I took the owner a set of six tiny Italian, gold-plated coffee cups with saucers. He sat down to review the price that we would agree on. He had previously suggested bartering when he had seen that I was interested in a pair of easy-moving old sheep shears that would suit my hands when cutting greens for my chooks. When the owner said that he could not afford the window cleaning that day, with everything being so quiet, I made a suggestion, and he was very interested to carry it through! So, I contributed the gold coffee cups and saucers, which I had no use for, and I cleaned his shop windows. In return, I took home a very useful pair of shears and a kitchen tool which cuts a potato into chips!! Inside the bag, too, he had added a couple of chocolate bars for my Dad and I to eat on the way home!!

Back at the mechanic’s, to pick up the car, the apprentice gave us a message that my costs would be covered by my window cleaning. The boss had to bring my car keys back, and he confirmed the message. He said that, if I was happy, he was happy, and we called it even! The car was fixed, saving a huge bill, and the miracle is that it cost me nothing but my window cleaning!

I know that we can’t just make bartering happen, just as I don’t find window cleaning jobs just jumping out at me! Ha ha! What we can do, however, is to be prepared, and realise that money is not what matters most. If I do my bit, and people see that I am genuinely trying and doing a good job, then, somehow, there are some people who respond  out of the goodness of their heart.

We bartered, and it was an amazing day!!

I love this, thank you Rachel!  💕

So we might not need goods to barter with but skills and acts of help or service.  I am considering more what assets I have.   Whether to barter with or to give to help someone.   I have lots of pretty cards and writing paper.   I can send mail.

My eyes have opened to more things I could barter with and gift.   I made a short list in the last post.  I knew eggs are good!   I listed herbs and Bay Leaves.  But each day I have realised how many more things I have!  I can make laundry liquid and I have the ingredients to make loads.

I can make soap!  What was I thinking!?  Everyone needs soap and I have everything on hand.  I am thinking to make little sized soaps and putting them in little tins so where ever you go a small soap is with you.  In The Tuesday Club Heike did this and I thought just now that is the nicest gift ever! 

So be encouraged, be productive and creative with what you can lay your hands on and what you have.   If you want to make masks and have no sewing machine then hand stitch.  If you have no fabric then cut up an old pillowcase.  Be resourceful.   Let everyone know what you are needing... people have all kinds of things in the back of the cupboard!  It is ok to ask.    I am about to ask for help with a few things I cannot do and I will be offering cooking as my trade.  I have apples to dehydrate so bags of dried apple will be added to my list.  Last year I did trade those to get the gutters cleaned out!

So wish me luck and I wish you every success as we realise our skills and many ordinary things are now worth more than gold! xxx