The little birds...

If you watch little birds you will see they are busy and happy! Using whatever they can find they create the most gorgeous little nest.
I would be the little bird with some glittery thread in her nest!
We can be like this. Happily working away with the things that are available to us to create a beautiful and happy home.
All the while with a little song in our heart.

Banner by Free Pretty Things for You.

Thursday 23 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


  1. I have been learning to save my own seeds, and use things from the pantry. I experimented with coriander seeds from the pantry and got a good germination rate. I have also saved basil, garlic, pumpkin, rocket and rainbow chard. It sounds like your garden needed that fence!

  2. Those soaps look so lovely - have a lot of allergies so stick to either Pears or Ivory soap. Luckily I'm stocked up as I noticed on my last trip to the supermarket that the price of the 12 pack of Ivory that I usually buy has doubled in price!
    I feel like such a sloth compared to all of you with gardens - I live in a small apt. in a large city so very little to do at the moment other than clean and a bit of work for my office. If I come across any seeds I'm going to buy them and send them to all the gardeners I know in the blog world who can't find any at the moment!

  3. I feel like Proverbs 31:14 "She is like the merchants' ships; she bringeth her food from afar." is fitting for my week. I went to two different grocery stores to get items. At one store I found flour and sugar. At the other store it was toilet paper. I also left my area and drove 30 miles (about 48 km) to a plant farm. I was able to purchase green bean seeds, seed potatoes, cucumber, zucchini, tomato, and pepper seedlings. I was very happy. I also purchased some flowers. With all of this time at home a girl needs something pretty also.

    1. Wendi that is exactly how I feel! I have a load of flower seeds I mean to plant this year. Because 'a girl needs something pretty'!!

  4. Oh, all those lovely pumpkins & squash...I have garden envy right now. My garden isn't big enough to grow those. We have very rocky soil so all the garden is raised beds, cost & work required keeps the garden from getting overly large. I had to smile when you mentioned the dog squashes the seedlings. Lucky for you a fence keeps him out. We have cats & one them will climb the corner post of the garden fence to gain access to all the easy to dig in garden soil. Last spring he dug up about 1/2 of my carrots in one visit! I'm already planning how to keep him out of the areas where seeds are planted, especially carrots & beets. Wish me luck! - Diane from northern Minnesota, USA

  5. Wonderful post as always!
    I am working from home and my husband is working many hours in the grocery, so time is still my most precious commodity.
    My big success this week was being able to resupply a dear friend who is fighting a horribly deadly cancer. She had two surgeries in the last weeks and is justifiably fearful of going out to multiple stores to shop. We were able to get toilet paper, paper towels, peroxide and masks that will last her and her husband for a couple of months. These are all very hard to find in our area, but God provided as he always does. She was thrilled to have that weight off her mind as she begins radiation.
    Keep up the wonderfully informative and encouraging posts.

    1. Patti, praying for healing for your friend and that she not get the virus. How wonderful you were able to get her the things she needed to prevent her or her hubby from going out.
      Mary in San Diego

  6. Thanks for another uplifting and interesting post, Annabel. I always enjoy reading your blog and seeing what you have been doing. I have been using some of your recipes lately since I have been at home more due to a change in my work hours. Your scones look delicious! Thank you for taking the time to share your ideas and skills each week. Best wishes, Alicia.

  7. Hello! Could you please tell me what variety the blue-green pumpkins are? They are lovely! Thanks! Sherri

    1. Annabel said on the FB Group that they are Queensland Blues (as in Queensland, Australia)
      Mary in San Diego

  8. I had 6 apples that were beyond their best by date. I peeled and cored them. The peels and core went into a large jar with some water and sugar. They have been put into the cupboard to ferment up into apple scrap vinegar. The fruit was cut up and went into an apple slice.
    Bluey has been making more lazy Susan's. He has also made me us a white cross to go out the front as part of our ANZAC Day ceremony. I have made poppies on the embroidery machine and these will end up as part of our driveway display to honor our veterans.
    It has been a very busy week with lots happening here.
    I love the ideas of those soaps and think I might just make a few of the small purse size ones myself. We have a useless tiny silicone round mould that would be perfect for this. That will be something for this week.
    Life is busy good.

  9. g'day! thoroughly enjoying your blog; i seed save when i can if the vegies produce flowers, you don't always get true to type but it's still same vegetable, just an older version; also if you mix planted your pumpkins all the seeds will be a cross type next planting;
    there are still some online seed shops that you can buy from too.
    thanx for sharing

  10. Dear Annabel,
    Another busy and productive week! Your pumpkin harvest is amazing and beautiful.

    I have been inventorying my freezers again to try to make the best use of space.. We just have the freezer that is with the refrigerator and a small stand up one. Our small chest freezer had stopped working in the fall. My husband didn't really want to replace it but I felt that we still needed additional freezer space.I am so glad we have it! I've been concentrating on meat and fish thinking that even if it is still available, it is rapidly increasing in price. We have also been gifted some delicious breads that might not keep until we can finish them.

    We have been blessed with wonderful friends and neighbors to share with during these stressful days. One of them was getting ready to get groceries for her family and a couple things for us when I asked if she could use some green onions or tomatoes. She had those very things on her shopping list, and was able to get them from me. Another friend had graciously shared tomatoes and some other vegetables with me and I had given her some green onions. A third friend brought us a dozen eggs, dozen rolls, asparagus and apples. I gave her a few squash, since that was all she needed right then and I had purchased some before I was gifted with more. My green onions are from a few bulbs I got at a seed exchange several years ago. They are multiplier onions which just keep multiplying, I give them away roots and all so they can be planted if desired.

    I haven't ventured out to look for seeds, but between some i bought other years, some I've saved from my plants, volunteer seedlings and established plants such as mint, sweet potatoes, green onions and citrus trees, I feel good about our little garden. Our grape vine and pomegranate tree are blooming and looking the best they ever have. I am praying that we get a little fruit from them this year. We also have quite a variety of flowers to enjoy.

    One of my husband's friends had a baby about a month ago. We wanted to get something for the baby, his big sister and mom. I felt like my gift cupboard had kind of slim pickings, but my daughter pulled out some lovely things she had, which I combined with what I had and made nice gifts that seemed to delight the family.

    Wishing you a lovely weekend!
    Love from Arizona, USA

  11. I am really battling fatigue and I need to do more than I am doing at present. I look after my granddaughter for two ten hour days and I need a day or so to recover. She is wonderful and I enjoy her so much.

    Your posts are an inspiration. Thank you.

    1. Suzan, I often feel worn down after three hours of schooling my 5 year old grandson two days a week! I can just imagine how tired you must feel even if the little girl is wonderful! I give myself grace on those afternoons after I have worked with him and use that time to do easy tasks and quiet work. Then I work hard the other days all morning long and it works for me.

  12. Your little handwashing kits sound very much like what I take to work. I like to have a small tube of hand cream too as my hands are very dry.
    I did some small scale trading! I traded a coffee pod machine for some seeds and cuttings from a bay tree and lent my next door neighbour my loppers in return for some rosemary cuttings.
    My gardens are coming along slowly but surely and after YEARS of procrastination I have decided to get some chickens, if I can. I only have room for 2 or 3 but that will keep me adequately supplied with eggs. I have most of the things I need to make an ark/ tractor, so that will keep me entertained!
    I made soap using the recipe from My Abundant Life that you mentioned Annabel, it took me longer to set up and clear away than it did to make the soap, which is curing on top of my wardrobe.
    We haven't had rain, it's not rained in over a month now, which in an area where rain is the default weather setting is worrying.
    So although I feel that I have been busy just about all week I don't know what I have to show for it! I suppose I am laying the foundations for future things. I can only hope these things work out.
    Your Aunt sounds some kind of woman! Still riding a bike in her 80's, that going some.
    Have a good, productive week everyone. Take care.

  13. Dear Annabel,

    Your pumpkin harvest is commendable! Well done!

    Those soaps turned out really lovely. What a great inclusion for a gift.

    Its been a busy week here and it has flown by. We had a little bit of rain and are hoping for more tomorrow. It freshens everything up and gives me a break from watering.

    I mended Phil's jeans and finished them off with hand sewing the patches on securely. I baked scones after seeing yours on Instagram, also baked an apple slice and made a large pizza. I pulled out tomato plants and will be making green tomato pickles from the leftover tomatoes on Sunday. I picked beans, silver beet, baby spinach, capsicum, kale, tomatoes. I have started pulling out old veggies and planting new ones, have set up new wicking boxes and they are now ready to be planted with seedlings.

    I am enjoying this beautiful autumn weather, I wish it would never end.

    Have a lovely weekend,
    Lots of love Tania xxx

  14. what a beautiful harvest! My mouth is watering looking at all those good yummies.
    My goodness, your Aunt sounds like quite the trooper. Bless her heart!
    Have a great weekend

  15. Dear Annabel,
    I can see why you're so excited. Your pumpkin harvest is so plentiful.

    This week I cleaned and rearranged my craft/sewing room. I found some little gummy molds that are teddy bears that soap could be poured into that young children might like to use. It felt like I had hit the lottery when I found 2 large bottles of alcohol with my painting supplies. There has been no alcohol, toilet paper or any paper products for that matter available in our small town for weeks. I baked a coffee cake and also cooked up extra vegetables that I had and froze them. I saved the seeds from a fresh non-gmo zucchini and acorn squash for planting. I just read an article about different ways to cook purchased frozen vegetables. Instead of steaming them, take them out of the package and roast them as if they were fresh, or completely defrost and drain them and serve them as fresh. I tried both ideas and it turned out great. All in all it's been a productive week. Blessings to all, Cookie

    1. Dear Cookie,
      Oh good find on the alcohol! You can do good things with that i.e. sanitising spray. Or wipes. I am just learning to use frozen veggies. Previously I only really sued frozen peas. But I have found some others good! This is a discovery for me!
      The little moulds could be lovely soaps. Have a great new week Cookie, with love

  16. The pumpkins are as beautiful as delicious. I wonder what variety also? My German Shepherd has Squashed my tomato seedlings. I need to invest in fencing also. It is predicted to be 92 here today. Trying to cut weeds before it is too hot. We are in fire season now. The soap looks amazing too.

    1. The pumpkins are Queensland Blues. The longer smaller ones are Butternuts. The Queensland Blues are my favourite, very good for soup.
      I put off the fence... and it doesnt have to be a big fence... but it is depressing when our efforts are destroyed! xxx

  17. Annabel what a fantastic crop of pumpkins from your vegetable patch and well done :) . What a blessing both those seeds arriving and the blessings of others sending some seeds to you via mail.

    Your baked goods look lovely as do your handbag soaps.

    We spent a lot of time out of the home this week for medical appointments but did get a little done around the home.

    Our Vicky challenge added up to $147.94 in savings last week :) .

    In the kitchen
    - we cooked all meals and bread from scratch.

    Purchases -
    - Purchased a loaf of wholemeal bread on markdown for $1 saving $1 on usual prices.
    - Bought e-gift cards for fuel saving 5% or $12.21 on usual prices.
    - Used my Woolworths rewards card to get 4 c per litre off the fuel we purchased saving $9.86.
    - We filled 10 jerry cans of fuel on a very low price cycle using DH's DVA fuel allowance we saved up saving $124.87 on prices we paid last time we filled up on fuel.

    Cleaning -
    - I deep cleaned the 2 bathrooms and toilet.

    In the gardens -
    - I cleaned up about another 1/3 of the shrub prunings and put them in the wheelie bin to be collected next week.

    Have a great week ahead everyone :).

    Sewingcreations15 (Lorna).

    1. Dear Lorna, We are also filling jerry cans while the price is so low! It is amazing and something I never expected to see! Opportunity!
      It is a good thing we both have our gardens fail established. I keep feeling so glad of everything we did already and now I am glad it is there... from the pantry to the freezer and garden. You must feel the same. As we both moved house I often think of that. It sounds like you had a busy week. Have a lovely weekend! With love

  18. Those are the most beautiful pumpkins! I have apple crisp in ind for the next few days. We are still taking bags of sliced apples out of our freezer form last fall and it is wonderful to have them there to use. I put seeds away in a safe place and now they are nowhere to be found although when we finally find them we will say 'of course that is where we put them'!

    1. Dear Lana, I think I might freeze slices apples as you did. I still have so many!
      I hope you find that safe place. Boy I have done that a few times!! With love

  19. Dear Annabel and Blue birds pumpkin is my favorite vegetable - in fact we are having pumpkin soup for our evening meal tonight. My husband will, no doubt, have a slice of the bread he made from the freezer as well.

    I have spent part of the week knitting, resting my shoulder as much as I can. I have also been busy washing linen and sorting out the linen cupboard, I have 2 piles of linen that I am parting with - hopefully it will find a home via one of the on line selling formats.

    There is still linen to come from storage - mostly single bed which we no longer have. I love linen and have picked up very good brands over the years - Laura Ashley, Rachel Ashwell and of course Sheridan so hopefully they will find a home to go to. Just a small section of the linen cupboard to be sorted through and re homed, mostly some craft items.

    My husband went and picked up a few things from the supermarket this week - we had been talking about Aldi, which will need to be done either this coming week or the next, he decided that he would go there. No good asking him what was there or what wasn't because he just went in and got what he was after then back to the car.

    We have decided that with the fruit and veg shop having an on line shop and changing their boxes that we are better off just going and picking up what we are going to use rather than finding homes for things we cannot use.

    I have a couple of recipes I want to try this weekend - the recipe I tried on Monday would be better when oranges are more in season so there is more flavour.

    My husband has filled his car up to take advantage of the cheaper fuel. Mind you with just popping to the supermarket once a week he didn't need much.

    Banana trees are being removed this weekend - they take up so much space. Planning the back garden can start.

    Have a great weekend everyone


  20. My husband does not care for pumpkin soup but I made a Pumpkin Alfredo sauce over pasta that he thought was wonderful this past winter and wants me to make it again. We also like to cube and roast and eat as a side veg with our meals.
    Your little soaps idea is brilliant and a good use for those who have lots of travel sized soaps that are courtesy gifts at hotels. When my youngest was a baby, I couldn't afford disposable wipes on our budget so when we left home I took a pint jar with water, a couple of washcloths and used those to wipe down messy hands and bottom. It worked brilliant and we still take a jar of water and cloths when we go on picnics.
    I planted four onion root end pieces (green onions) and three tomatoes this week. I was just telling my daughter's partner about my revelation. I get 46 pound bags of dog food in bags similar to your chicken feed bags and I can plant potatoes in those! I found zucchini and bush bean seeds and will plant those and I'm looking at all my foodstuffs now wondering which I might save seed from to plant.
    I shared a baker's dozen of baby basil plants with my daughter in law, planted another dozen in my new planter and put basil around all the tomatoes.
    I discovered the lemon thyme from last year had put out runners and produced two new plants so I divided those up.
    Lovely happy post...I have to say honestly that reading your doings each week and reading your descriptions (lovely, beautiful) make me feel so good inside as though all the work I do too is creating the lovely and beautiful for my home. Hugs to you Anabelle!!

  21. What a nice lot of pumpkins you have! And all the apples look so lovely.

    I am still making face masks. Everyone is required to wear one when they go out so I am getting requests from friends, so making for them as well as for medical workers. I have been also doing quite a bit of organizing. Thought I had that pretty well under control, but I am discovering lots of projects and plenty of things to keep me busy.
    I just heard one of our state universities here in Michigan, US, has already announced they will continue online in the fall, and not open. That kind of threw me wondering how long this is all going to last. I am absolutely not spending anything than what is necessary because we really don't know what the future holds.
    I have been able to share some more yeast with friends. I'm thankful to be able to have something so valuable these days!


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