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, 18 June 2020

Feather your Nest Friday, 19th June, 2020.

It has been a busy but good week!   Today I think the week has over taken me and I am not keeping up!  So I will try and slow down and look at what WAS achieved. It is good to do this.  Consider how far we came, rather than just look at the list ahead.   Things really do add up even if it is a little each day.  This is how I tackle most big things... a bit each day.

Some of the ways I got ahead this week and built up our home were:

I sorted through the linen cupboard.  I matched up sheet sets and retired some that had suddenly hit the too thin and worn to mend stage!  I also retired two bath towels  (old linen is kept and towels become animal bedding etc) and bought a couple of new towels.  I noticed our store, which is Target, had almost no towels and rows and rows of empty shelves.   The lady in the store told me she doesn't even know when more might come and said they don't know what they will do.

I made Gingerbread biscuits and Pumpkin Scones...

On Monday I went to the local town north of us to meet my friend Wendy and also to see if the op shops were open.  That was a wonderful day.   Wendy had beautiful velvet fabric,  velvet ribbon and two pure wool blankets for me (op shop) and I was thrilled!

At the op shops I found some pure wool yard, soap moulds, space vac bags for $2 and several craft items.  

While in one op shop a lady came in with a box of jars.  They were the good coffee ones with a wonderful glass lid that seals.  But the op shop lady said they had too many jars and didn't want them.  When I went to the car this lady was still parked out the front.  I asked her if I could offer her something for those jars?  She said "no, you can have them"  and handed me the box.  It was a big box of great jars! yay!

On Tuesday I went to the town south of us to pick up six new chickens.   Because chickens are harder to get now I put my name down in two places.  It looks like I might end up with both.  But that is a good thing.    These are at the late teenager scrawny stage.  They will be good laying birds...

Of course while I was there I went to the op shops in this town.  I got a beautiful Sheridan Queen bedspread for $5.  The Australian ladies will know this is a really expensive brand.   It has had a big soak and wash and came up beautifully and it is GORGEOUS.

Also found some childrens classic books.   I buy these for the girls for when they are older.  Heidi,  Anne of Green Gables, Black Beauty...  Plus a bag of pink satin ribbons.   
I found a brand new,  in the box,  Sylvanian Families House.   The girls played with these when they were little and they were just lovely.  I kept the little mice.  So now I have a house!  The girls will love to  play with this here...

What luck! 

I also got some brand new books that were prefect subjects for people on my list.  These went straight into the gift cupboard.  

I took part in Patsy's Pantry Challenge.  Her website is on my side bar... A Working Pantry.     This week the task was to find all the loose change you could in the car, old purses and so on and turn it into items for the pantry.  I found a heap of change and a whole jar I keep.   I found a full purse of change I usually would have used for op shopping but it was building up as the shops had been closed for months.    I managed to convert it into all of this:

After this I still had change.  I counted it up into $5 envelopes.  It got me bags of manure for the raised garden beds!  

All the light bags are manure.  The black ones are full of free shredded paper.  It added a lot to the raised beds!  
So that was a good challenge.

The cottage project continued and we now have a fridge.  Also a pressure cleaned roof that looks like new!   

In the pantry I kept organising to create room.  I also sat a big bucket of honey near the fire for a few days and then poured it into jars so it is much easier to handle.  Look at the colour!  This is honey from here on the farm.  The farm naturally has Manuka growing so our honey is at least in part Manuka honey. 

I made two chocolate cakes. I took one over to Chloe and Luke.   

This gets me to today!   Mum and I are going to see the girls tomorrow.   Scarlett is coming back with us for her turn to stay over.   So I am getting ready!

I hope you had a good week.   We can't say much has settled down around us!  So we do what we can.  In many cases that is a lot extra, maybe home schooling,  maybe isolating and possibly trying to cope with much more expensive groceries and other challenges.   We are not in it alone that is for sure.   There has been loss of life, livelihoods, homes, businesses,  peace and confidence... all around. It really is a time to take stock, watch out for others and do what you can with what you have.   We can think outside the square and see new ways to do things, new things to cook and ways to save.   

I have good news too, Jess from Strangers and Pilgrims on Earth is blogging again.  If you would like encouragement drop in there.  She has endless resources on canning, all things pantry related, crafts and homemaking.  

How did you manage this week?  Were you able to build up your pantry or garden?
Have a good


  1. Annabel you have the best oppies. I have been to one Oppie since the shut down, and that was today. I didnt go looking, I went dropping off. Katie and Jared move into their new home in the next month. She came over today to go through all the plastic crates she has stored here, in my 20' container, since she moved to Hervey Bay four years ago. After every box was opened and the contents gone through, there was a car full of items to be donated and the back of Bluey's cruiser is full of rubbish for the tip. Many plastic crates were emptied and she now has four crates back in the container for when they move to the new house..
    Tilly facetimed me to let me know how much she loves her new beanie. She saw the package arrive today and told her Mum that it was from Granny. She now recognises my writing. Apparently Granny parcels are loved.
    I have been working on getting Tilly's quiet book finished. I am so happy with how it is going. Katie saw it today and has told me when she has babies she wants quiet books for them as she loves it.
    I have been adding to the garden as well as bringing in more. I made up a new ferment this week with the beetroot that I harvested. I picked a huge Chinese cabbage today so think I might make up another ferment of kimchi.
    I've been pruning the trees in the food forest. I have the prunings in a big pile drying off. Over the weekend I will pull my mini mulcher out of the container and will mulch all the prunings up to put back on the garden.
    I'm going to head back up to the sewing room and do a bit more on Tilly's quiet book. Enjoy your time with Scarlett.
    Life is chilly willy good.

    1. Jane, in your opinion which are the best op shops in Hervey Bay?

    2. The Treasure Cove on Elizabeth St is my idea of what an op shop is. They usually have a $3 bag sale every year where you buy a bag and fill it with whatever you want for the $3. Lifeline has a book sale at Maryborough Showgrounds, usually in May, and it is a brilliant sale. Not only books but clothes, fabrics, toys, books and everything else. I usually get the Grandies year of presents there. Last year I got so much I have plenty for their Christmas parcel this year.

    3. Dear Jane,
      The quiet book was looking gorgeous. So much work in these! Sounds like you have orders coming in! Mum started working on Grandchildren knits long before I was pregnant and she stated on Great Grandchildren knits long before Great Grandchildren. Now she has a cupboard... if a baby is coming she can go to it and pull out pretty much anything. So you might as well get working on future babies... (if for some reason you suddenly have more time!)
      How lovely the girls loved their hats and you got a face time call!
      Your garden is going so well. But you put the work into it so it is no wonder. More and more produce coming in though!
      It was a very productive week. I am sorry I took a week to reply! After Scarlett was here I was catching up and the week got away. I hope you have had a good week and I will report mine tomorrow! With love

    4. Thanks Jane, I will check out The Treasure Cove next time I am in HB. I think my husband might tie me up rather than let me go to another Lifeline book sale. He gets too tired carrying all the books that I want to buy and has the strange idea that 10 to 12 books should be enough to buy at one time. But I will try and check it out the next year if they go ahead and hold it.

  2. You had a great week Annabel! Two chocolate cakes - heaven. Thank you so much for the heads up about Jess at Strangers and Pilgrims!

    1. Dear Penny, Sounds like you are a Jess fan too! I am sorry to be so slow to reply the week evaporated on me! I hope it has been a good new week for you! With love

  3. A good, productive week you had. I have to say that I am slightly envious that of your vanilla extract, that is something I cannot find anywhere. My daughter and my nephew (I was his Tuesday mother) loved playing with Sylvanian families too.
    This week has been good for me too.
    My covid test came back negative, as I thought it would. I made elderflower champagne.
    Set up a doorstep milk delivery, now this isn't cheaper, but it's not too dear either, but I am supporting a local farmer who uses returnable glass bottles and I also thought that it ensured a greater chance of milk should anything else happen!
    I made the tastiest soup I have ever made, all from bits leftover, it was a kind of pea and ham but with additional ingredients!
    I found a wooden planter dumped by the roadside. I felt my imagination and skills extended to replacing a few pieces of wood that had rotted on the bottom.
    I swapped a large chive plant for cabbage seedlings.
    Gave my daughter homegrown radish and lettuces.
    Got 11 x 10 litre square and 6 x5 litre round, food safe lidded storage buckets from a local takeaway (you should have seen me bringing them home in the heaviest rain I have ever seen. I had to walk barefooted, because I couldn't keep my flip flops on my feet). I am hoping to be able to get some more, as I have more ideas than buckets!
    Picked a small handful of strawberries most mornings.
    My local charity shop has reopened, so I went in there, oh that was a treat! I got 2 dresses, a sweater and a shirt for 50p each. I also got a little decorative planter, a book and a wicker hamper that now houses my socks.
    Made sunflower seed butter in my nutri bullet. Following last weeks revelation I decided to find out what it could do, and was a little bit stunned. I want to try making tahini next.
    Finally, I turned a liquer bottle into a water bottle for my bedside. I am a clumsy oaf, so this bottle is good because its wider at the base, I used lace as a kind of stencil and sprayed it with glass etch and it looks great.
    So that was my week, I hope everyone's was as good.
    Take care everyone and stay safe

    1. Dear Su!!!!!

      The details of your week, and the way you see them, make a beautiful story! You have made me smile and smile!! ..... This, I think, is called living, and you are living very well!


    2. What a lovely thing to say! Thank you so much. Now I am smiling too.

    3. Dear Su, This is interesting to me about Vanilla Extract! I love it so much. The one I get is thick consistency and very concentrated. I love it in the baked custards etc that I do. I may put away some more as when you get a shortage of something guess who gets it next!? In this way I have been ahead of flour, pasta and all the main shortages.
      I am so happy to hear your covid test was negative and that must have been a relief.
      I also would be grabbing a wooden planter if I saw one! Very good!
      The food safe buckets are fantastic! I got some of these over time in the city. The restaurants were just throwing them away. They are sturdy buckets too. Sounds like you have ideas there but have you seen the three tiered plants people re making with these buckets as the plant pots...? Garden Pat did one. Amazing!
      Also... Vicky has covered her buckets in contact to match her kitchen.
      The nutria bullet is also surprising me. I better look further into this!
      I am sorry for being so slow to reply! With love,

  4. Beautiful, Annabel!

    The basics are building up nicely for you! The manure and the chickens are super exciting!! Haha!!

    I was pleasantly surprised, when visiting a small town that I haven’t been to for a couple of months, to find lovely, healthy broccoli plants for sale at a tiny op shop! I bought a couple of bundles to share with my parents!! ....... I bought a few other special items at this and another op shop, including a bunch of artificial large peony flowers in good condition for two dollars! ...... In front of the mechanic’s shop is now a bookcase of books for people to keep or trade a book or two. I found a twenty year old Rachel Ashwell shabby chic book which I am enjoying reading!

    I have also found that lye water (well, ash in water) is amazing for soaking cloths! Using what I have is a wonderful experience! I am even benefiting from making ‘coffee’ using herbal tinctures in place of real coffee, and the therapy suits beautifully! haha!!

    The fire is on, and the house is cosy and warm, and so am I!!


    1. Dear Rachel, I would be thrilled to find seedlings in an op shop! I thought your Peonies and Shabby Chic books were very lovely finds too!
      I have plenty of ash. So far I am using it in the veggie garden beds and for the chickens. Now I never waste ash.
      Herbal teas and coffee sounds very good. Especially if you can make it at home.
      I have added more manure and getting ready for more chickens in a week! In between rain! The week has flown by. I hope though you are enjoying your projects this week! With love and thanks,

  5. Have a lovely weekend with your granddaughter! What a fun thing to be able to have her come to stay! I am glad you could rescue those jars since they might have just gone in the trash. We have found that the oddest things are just not available now. Things we had always taken for granted we must learn to do without or make a substitution.

    This week we have continued to see more and more homeless on the streets and it is disconcerting when we go out. The last errands we ran we went to a different area just to avoid seeing them. We needed parts for one of our toilets and were thankful to find them in stock. We still have protests in the streets and blocked roads with protesters. We have just decided not to go out after mid afternoon as that is when it starts for the day. Even our very tiny town where our lake house is located has been hit with out of town protesters over a war memorial.

    We had a delightful Tuesday with our closest friends over for lunch for her birthday. It is so good to see and talk to someone besides ourselves!

    We are heading out this morning to try to buy some sale items at the grocery. One store has beef roasts on sale for an incredible $3.99 a pound. Now we will see if they actually have any.

    Have a wonderful weekend!

    1. Dear Lana,
      I think jars are so useful. While not canning jars it doesnt matter they are good for dry goods or even to give baking as gifts etc.
      I had to read what you wrote over... to see more homeless in numbers that is so obvious that is so disturbing and sad. I am disgusted with the bringing down of statues and history. I am fearful they wills tart on churches next.
      A lovely visit on Tuesday sounded very nice!
      Grab those roasts that is a fabulous price! good prices are hard to find now.
      I hope the week has gone well Lana, sorry to be so slow to reply! With love

  6. Dear Annabel,
    You do have the best thrift stores. Here in the U.S. it's not always easy to find something worth having. Many times, yard sales are better.
    The baked treats look delicious, that's the kind of things I make in September and October when our autumn season is here. Now's the time for strawberry shortcake and lemon meringue pie. I picked the first of the strawberries from the garden on Tuesday. Yum!
    That little house will be such fun for Harper and Scarlett to play with. A special thing at grandmother's house. Super finding "Anne of Green Gables" books as well. I loved those as a child and we enjoy the movies and "Road to Avonlea" tv show.
    Great idea to raid the car, purses, and coats searching for spare change to spend on pantry items. I keep the large write on wipe off board we used during homeschooling days in my pantry/ deep freezer room. It makes in very easy to add or subtract items as they are bought or used.
    I had followed Jes on "Strangers & Pilgrims"since sometime in 2013 and was sad when she had to step away for a while. What a delight to see a post in my email the other day when she returned. You both are very encouraging.

    1. Dear Laura, In our cities some of the thrift stores are very high priced. And garage sales and also Facebook buy swap and sell etc can be better. In the country it is heaps better and I am having such luck. I am consistent with it though and some days are no good.
      I think your white board idea is excellent. I lose track easily of what I have in my freezer!
      Thank you for the compliment! I love Jess' blog. I have a short list of musts and hers is one of them! With love

  7. You had a good week! I think even if we think we didn't do much if we count how many times we've washed dishes or loads of laundry, sweeping and cooking, etc. we still do more than what we think we have.
    Scarlett is going to have so much fun your farm looks like such a fun place with animals that love biscuits! And more chickens yay! They are very pretty. I love to watch them go about their work as long as it's not in my garden.
    We planted more this week so the Victory Garden is on it's way. I intend on refilling the cellar, freezing some and doing some dehydrating. I am seeing higher costs here on lots of things especially meat so the extra I put up will help offset costs, but I cook lots of veggies anyway and share the surplus. I am praying it's a good garden year. so far it's going pretty good. I usually cut roasts in halves or even thirds if they are large, but I decided all roasts even small ones will be cut in half and if the pieces end up being a bit too small for a roast meal then they will be used for soup or shredded into gravy to serve over potatoes that's my back up plan.
    This week I've been in a small focus group that will pay me a $50 Amazon gift card, I was sent a CBD cream to review $40, we used gas rewards and saved $36 on gas and got a free 32 count box of pop tarts and the insurance company finally went after the guy that hit the hubby and reimbursed our deductible. I only have a few dollars to go and I'll have the full amount for the flooring. Even if we don't install it until later I still want to get it as soon as we can and keep it on hand. And I will be really excited the day I start ripping out the old carpet!
    I've been able to hang the laundry out again and I just love it, the sun makes everything so white and it smells so fresh. And the chickens and birds are loving the mulberries that are coming on. so free chicken food!
    I've added to my compost and have been picking the strawberries as they ripe and collecting the eggs. There are always good things going on when it's nice out.

    1. Dear Vicky!!

      You have so many victories all at once! It is good to read!


    2. Dear Vicky, The focus groups seem to be very good! I had to wash linen this week and thumb dry. It is not nice. But it rained most of the week. Give me line dried sheets that are crisp and smell of sunshine anyway! I even love to see them on the line.
      You have made great progress on your Victory Garden and you achieved a ton! With much love,

  8. It has been a busy week for us as well.
    My husband split 3 cords of wood this week and now we have to load it into our truck (several trips) and move it to our home and unload and stack it. A lot of work but wood is very expensive where we live and this should keep us warm all next winter after it dries and ages. Except for all the work, it was free as my parents had a large tree cut down on their property.
    Food is getting very expensive and I am trying to stock my pantry before there is another shut down or the shelves are empty again. I wanted to get some olive oil and some mustard and was able to do that today. I wanted to get a stock of paper plates to have on hand for parties (if we are ever allowed those again) and also for power outages but the shelves are still empty of those. I miss seeing pictures of the animals- they always make me smile.
    Take Care to all.

    1. I better have some animal pictures next week! The wood is just fantastic. Also you were probably doing a favour to your parents clearing up the tree! win win! All that wood is just wonderful. I hope you have been able to add the items to your pantry. I think we need to as we can... it looks like the second wave is about here, maybe they will call it something else... either way we need to keep an eye on our supplies! xxx

  9. Your honey looks beautiful it must be so exciting to home it on the farm. Kathy, Brisbane

    1. Thank you! I do really value honey and having bees on the farm is fantastic. We have wild bees too... in huge numbers. Thanks so much. xxx

  10. My goodness you've had a busy week - I always feel like such a sloth next to all you ladies who garden and can! It's just me and I live in a city of 3 million and my little apt. doesn't even have a balcony. Still, I do seem to keep busy.
    This week I went into the office twice and one morning before heading in I took transit down to the lake to meet up with a friend that I haven't seem since lockdown. We had a lovely walk and a chat and it was great to see her in person. We are still in stage one of reopening so not a lot to do as yet except for walking. We hope the city moves to stage two next week but we'll have to see. On my second trip into work I stopped off at a "fancy" shop to pick up some pantry items - I'm now adding sauces & extras that will help change up basic food items.
    I do the "Working Pantry" challenges too - 2 jars of pesto for the "green" challenge, a litre of milk with found change and 4 servings of chicken & chickpea curry with rice for the food into the freezer challenge.
    I also got some laundry done and I've also been updating the linen situation. Some sheets finally wore out so I've been slowly replacing them and I'm now back up to 4 complete sets for my bed. I'm ok for towels but did add some new facecloths and some new tea towels so that is all looking good.

    PS - your honey is an amazing colour!

    1. Dear Margie,
      I am glad you are able to get out and about in Toronto and hope things have stayed good there this week. It was nice to meet up with your friend. I am glad you are in the Pantry class too! I have added quite a bit to my pantry due to the class the last few weeks.
      I added some towels too. I ordered some online as the shops basically had none!
      Thanks so much Margie, with love

  11. Hi Annabel and your baking as usual looks scrumptious and garden beds are filling gradually with all the things you are getting around the home free and buying as well and they will be full before you know it.

    You seem to be a preserving jar magnet so good on you for taking advantage of those opportunities when they arise, love you got all of the chickens and likely more and a good pick up of all the items from the op shop and adding to your pantry with Patsy's challenge :).

    Our Vicky challenge added up to $256.45 in savings last week :) .

    Yes we are also noticing a shortage of sheets and towels here too in many stores so I am glad I put away spare sets when I found them cheaply in stores and online as I have just replaced some worn out ones with these.

    Re price rises the cost of meat and fresh has skyrocketed, dairy such as cheese and milk have gone up as have cereals I have noticed. Dinner rolls available in the stores seem to be doing a disappearing (shrinkflation) act and getting so small they are ridiculous so we are now going to be making our own as even the discounted ones are getting high in price too here. We have a good stock of flour in our stockpile to do this fortunately.

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

    In the home -
    - Concentrated on washing all the new clothing, underwear and socks I had purchased at bargain prices as it arrived in the mail, replaced worn out clothing in my wardrobe and packaged the spares in vacuum seal bags in the storage room.

    Finances -
    - Used our $200 government electricity rebate and banked it along with another $72 that we were under on our electricity usage to replace chainsaws and clothing we purchased in advance due to impending shortages.

    Purchases -
    - Bought 15kg of popping corn from an online party supplies company saving $15.45 over buying it in smaller packages in the supermarkets.
    - By buying our e-gift cards for groceries and fuel from RACQ we saved 5% or $17.50 in total.
    - Purchased 2 new kaftan tops and a casual dress for $3 each saving $111 on usual retail costs.

    In the gardens -
    - Cut another .75 cubic metres of free firewood from our secret property saving us $112.50 over buying it in.

    Have a wonderful week ahead everyone :) .

    Sewingcreations15 (Lorna).

    1. Dear Lorna, The government electricity rebate you got was excellent!
      Now you have good ideas and I had never considered an online party supplier for goods! That was a good way to get pop corn.
      The added wood is great. I think this is an opportunity and you have made the most of it. The total value at the end of this would be something mid blowing! Wood is a form of security too.
      That you for your observations on prices. Shrinkflation... who would have thought this would be a thing and a word! But it is everywhere. Many people dont notice. Sometimes they are clever about it. Same packet same everything but less in there... sometimes the packaging is new and you dont realise the product is less. They are clever about it. I have also noticed bakery items becoming miniature. You couldnt feed a working man or teenager with a bun or roll or whatever that is really now half size.
      I am sorry to be so slow with my reply. I had Scarlett here then a busy week. And here we are it is Thursday! I hope this week has been another good one. It has been for me. We continued to have rain. I think it cant stop now it got going! With love,

    2. Annabel you sound so busy like us here and making the most of all things around you to use :).

      I agree the rolls are half the size and smaller if they wholemeal I noticed :o along with all other bakery items. Next thing they will be the size of our thumb. Seeing lots of items just shrinking and as you say all packaging no content.

      The wood if we added it up in value would be a sheer fortune to buy I do agree and it is security as you say as well.

      Little ones do keep you on your toes so I can understand and never worry about replying as I know we both live similar busy lifestyles.

      Have a great week ahead :).


  12. I have been slowly dehydrating green things from my courtyard garden. Your honey looks so delicious! I have not been brave enough to go to Goodwill (op shop) yet or had time or energy. You find the best bargains. Groceries seem to be going up around here also. Hubby paid $5.79 a lb for 85 percent ground beef today. I was surprised that there were not many towels at Target. I finally got Miracle Spray made up for the first time. Have fun with your granddaughter. Nancy

    1. Dear Nancy, I did have a lovely time with Scarlett. I am still catching up lol which is why I am so slow to reply! Yes meat seems to have gone up everywhere. I found some towels online and ordered some. Now our IKEA is also getting emptied out on top of Target, Kmart etc.
      The dehydrating is a great way to put things away. I have some barely drying near the fire now. It dries fast and keeps nice and green! With love

  13. Annabel, thanks for making me aware that Jes is blogging again as I have her blog in my sidebar and hadn't noticed her new posts. You are always such a busy little vegemite. I hope you get time to relax now that you have so many animals to look after. Have a lovely weekend.

    1. Dear Nana Chel,
      Thank you! Yes things are busy. I go to bed early! I am so glad to have Jess back too! I hope you have had a good week. Mine has gone so fast! With love

  14. Dear Annabel, lovely to see how productive you are as always ? What an amazing bargain on your Sheridan sheet !! And the Sylvanian family set too. When is Lucy's baby due ? I'm wondering if some day you can set up a recipe section on your site here ? I want to make a good bolognaise but I dont know how. I have some pork mince here I want to use up and carrots. Food has noticebly gone up here in NSW. I am shopping the ALDI specials. I go in late at night to Coles and things are marked down. I found my favourite earth friendly Eucalyptus laundry powder for $6 but it will last me three months. My elderly neighbour has a thing about use by dates but I don't ! So she gave me three packs of thick soup . Not much else here. Things have re opened here and all the kids are back in school. Love Sonia

    1. Dear Sonia, Lucy has two weeks to go. If she makes it!
      I do need to do a recipe section. I will help you with the bolongaise sauce. I like to make a big lot as you can go ahead and freeze it into handy batches. This is mine anyway and it tastes good... but if it is technically correct well I doubt it! But I get however much mince I think... and I just use some jars of Dolmios sauces and some cans of tinned tomato... any kind. I do use a lot of tomato to ratio of meat. I like hit to turn out red not brown. So I brown a few chopped onions in some olive oil. When they are looking cooked I add my mince. Lets say a kilo of mince to 2 or three onions? If you want some garlic can go in. When it is browned I add a couple of jars of tomato sauce mix (Dolmios or a passata) and a couple of tins of tomatoes... pepper and a good big spoon of oregano. If I have some veggies like zucchini I will grate and add that. Fresh parsley? Chop that to sprinkle over later. I just add enough tomato that the meat is well covered and it seems like you have more tomato than meat overall. Now let this simmer for at least two hours! This is the key! The oregano and the time. Simmer simmer. At the end you have a delicious sauce. It will make a wonderful lasagne, pasta topping...some times I will serve it with corn chips and cheese. It will go a long long way. I hope this helps somewhat. When you are serving with pasta, cheese etc you need only a small amount for each meal.
      With much love,

  15. I wouldn't mind some of your baking with a nice hot cup of tea as we sit in front of the fire. Doing surveys to help stretch the budget aiming for $10 a week which is very within reach.

    Bought chips and soft drinks half price for a work party next month. Bought cup a soups and tinned soups for $1 each am now well stocked and supplies put back into the stock pile. Got some free things with my store reward card. Realizing Christmas is only 6 months away and starting to get organized.

    Cooking meals and using leftovers to make toasted sandwiches for extra meals. Given a heap of lemons for free so made marmalade and cordial. Ever so blessed to be given a heap of toiletries not wanted and many still unopened. Life is slow but good Have a great weekend everybody Leanne.

    1. Dear Leanne!

      Yes, Annabel, we would all love, I am sure, to have you email a biscuit with each new post, so that we can nibble as we enjoy reading! Haha!

      Leanne, it is amazing what some people do with the persistence of doing surveys! Good on you!

      The little things matter ..... and I love toasted sandwiches! .... Maybe you could email one of those back to Annabel?!


  16. Dear Annabel, I love you op shop finds. What great finds! The doll's house is so cute. I remember playing with them when I was little. I love that you have books for the girls when they are older. I have a few Enid Blighton books for this purpose. I love seeing your new chickens- how wonderful to have so many! We are trying to find some more. I also love the photos of the veggie beds and honey. Scarlett will have a great time visiting you at the farm. How wonderful! I was able to buy a wooden chess set, a puzzle and an easel for $13. I was so happy about that. The chess set was a birthday present for a family member. We have picked cucumbers and cherry tomatoes this week. I made risotto (oven baked- so easy!). Thinking of you all XXX

    1. Dear Bluebird!!

      Your oven baked risotto sounds beeeeautiful! How lovely to have cucumbers and cherry tomatoes from your own garden! I am pretty impressed that you both the wooden chess set, puzzle and easel, too!! You are a good shopper!!

      While you enjoy Annabel’s chickens and honey and veggie beds now, just wait .......! Haha! As times get harder, we will see amazing things!!


  17. Annabel, you had wonderful op shop finds, and that honey is gorgeous! I enjoy hearing about your ways of building up your home each week and all of the other ladies' doings. It's very inspiring and peaceful to me.

    This week my husband finished the queen sized bed and nightstands he built to try selling later this month at an Amish auction. He is now making some smaller pieces. This is planned to help us build a shop/garage with cash as we don't borrow money any longer. Hoping it all sells!

    I watered the garden and picked the first beets. They were delicious! Next year I plan to grow more of those. I had the greens in my smoothies and sauteed with other vegetables. The other plants are growing and flowering but nothing else to pick right now. I sit out in it each day do get my daily doze of Vitamin D to help keep from having more MS flare ups so I get the added benefit of being among the plants :)

    My daughter helped me completely rearrange, organize and clean the pantry and the room I plan to use for more food and household storage (our older daughter's room since she's not moving home again). It looks wonderful and has motivated me to be preparing ahead for our family.

    We also found 2 boxes worth of items we no longer needed to put in the church's fundraiser yard sale in 2 weeks and also organized our fabric and sewing bins so now we can just sit down and do a project on a whim. It was a lovely week full of organizing and cleaning and it soothed my soul!

    1. Jenny, I'm not sure why it appears so far down the page, but I replied to this message.

    2. Dear Jenny, Well done to your husband for his carpentry! I hope his works sells at a great price! It is a good plan to avoid borrowing any money!
      Beets are just lovely! Also yes the leaves are nice! I am sorry you suffer with MS. The sun is good. I can get a bit low on fit D myself and actually crave sun! Usually this will hit me at the end of winter. But in the last years every time it is a bit sunny I am outside and I have been ok. So it makes a difference!
      How nice your daughter helped you with your pantry and storage. I am amazed how much this helps with creating space, knowing what we have and motivation to do more.
      What a good week. Yes it feels good. We cant control so many things but we can do all we can and it feels very satisfying! With much love

  18. The honey is beautiful! That is quite a treasure. Here for a small jar of Manuka honey is around $32.00
    I found out our state is going to be rationing water permanently now. 50 gallons per person per day. I don’t know if they will allow more for animals and irrigation. So I’m on the look out for rain barrels.

    Our Governor just said we must wear mask till 2021 and no gatherings in your homes. This is becoming quite oppressive ~sigh ~ I am expecting to get a lot of projects done since we will not be going anywhere for awhile.

    Your scones look so delicious. Would you share your recipe?

    I have been saving all my cardboard boxes to use in my garden to keep the weeds down. It really works. Not so pretty. I guess I could cover them up with straw or wood chips. If it saves weeding it’s a win.

    Wishing all the Bluebirds a week of peace, prosperity and productivity.


    1. Dear Lynd, Thank you! Well water rationing is serious. Not good. It interests me in how each Governor seems to have thrown take on things and rules. Yes it feels a lot like control on so many issues. You have water and air!
      I was a bad scone maker all my life. Now I am gluten free also. I finally found success ignoring every scone rule. I use about 4 cups of SR flour which can be gf if wanted. 2 cups milk. About 90grams of MELTED butter. I add an egg. This makes them rise better. And I add 1/2 teaspoon baking powder. I made them in the mix master. If this is too sticky add more flour until you have a moist soft dough but not too sticky to handle. Cant out thick like about an inch thick. Bake in hot oven. Brushing them with butter and milk before baking makes them nicer. So this is my solution to scones as nothing else ever worked for me! If I want to add pumpkin, sultanas etc they just go in...
      I have used cardboard boxes this week ... they went into my raised garden beds. So did coffee grounds and hay. We dont waste anything do we!
      Thanks so much Lynd, I hope the new week is going well! With love

  19. I haven't yet been in a thrift store. Mostly because I just haven't been anywhere much. Money is not free and easy at present. Dear husband's apparently 'fully' retired at present and there was nothing extra this month. I'm not mad about it but it is a challenge to make do without the extra.
    I've spent quite a bit overall on groceries this month. I won't be getting coffee or pet foods next month though and that will help a good bit. We seem to be doing well enough on personal care and cleaning items. I am still watching for toilet paper in two major groceries that have NONE and I've no idea why. I have bought a packet or two at Aldi and think I'm just going to go ahead and buy more when I see it as I seem to be on family supply list for most of family.
    This week I did some mending, including a fitted sheet with stretched out elastic. Not sure my fix is going to work but it's got to be better than it was.
    I am contemplating changes I wish to make in my home decor but I have been nowhere to see what I might purchase except into the Walmart fabric section and I noted that it was seriously depleted, with plenty of empty shelves. Don't know if they mean to be make it obsolete as they keep saying or if it's a shortage.
    Sunday I asked husband to stop at a grocery in the next town over so I could buy my monthly turkey sausage. Price was up about 50c a box but it's such a good price there still. I walked down beef counter and was shocked beyond speech. A woman standing near looked at me and nodded and said "I know. I noticed the other day that a less than 2 pound packet of hamburger was over $21.." I will say that I'm not sure why the meat in that store was that high. It appears to NOT be true at Aldi nor any of the other stores advertising but it made me very aware that red meat might well be a bygone thing. I told my husband that this fall he might well have to buy a hunting license and go back to deer hunting.

    All in all it was a week...not exactly unproductive nor highly productive. It's apparent that at present my few little garden pots are going to do nothing. The beans are history and I'll be lucky to get enough tomatoes to pay for one plant. I am seriously thinking of where and how to go about gardening here. It would be a help and I feel confident I can do it despite my abysmal results just now.

    1. Dear Terri!

      There are a number of us learning how to make things grow where we are! Right now, in our Australian winter, my best results are found in growing herbs high up in buckets secured to tall posts.. They can soak in the sunshine, and are safe from animals! ...... This is the time to grow a kitchen garden!


    2. I would give be ecstatic to have all your sunny acres to grow things! I would plant fruit trees and put in raised beds for veggies.

    3. Dear Terri, I am hearing al the craft and sewing areas are depleted. I feel your pain in that the extra you mention from some work is now so needed with the price rises. That is difficult. I am also tending to buy such things as toilet paper incase family run short. Our shelves are stocked back up in the supermarket but now our neighbouring state is back to empty shelves... so I am guessing here we go again on that too.
      I also had work on sheets! I dyed two sets of sheets pale pink. We wash on rain water which gets gum leaves in it. Two sets of good sheets were no longer white white... which just looks dingy to me!
      I am sorry about your plants. It is again a strange season. We had a strange summer also. I am studying the Grand solar minimum. This is shedding light to me on what is going on. It makes growing difficult.. not just for gardeners but for farmers. It is interesting. Also a worry!
      I hope your new week is going well! With much love

  20. Annabelle, I love the way you are filling your raised beds and all the good things you found thrifting! I'm amazed at all the great ideas to be found in this spot! I had a fair week. We are preparing to have some work done in the kitchen (new countertop, new sink, etc.) plus some outside repairs.
    I finished the baby quilt, wipies, burp cloths, blanket and little clothes rack for a shower for our new great grand due in August.
    Used up some old candles by melting and pouring in to two metal pails to make new candles. I only had new short wicks so I used the wicks from the melted down candles.
    I transplanted a small cedar tree hoping that will help screen our ugly propane tank :D.
    I froze several bags of corn from the garden. I left the remaining ears to dry on the stalk and I plan to shell and use those later for chicken feed. That means I will finally be using the antique corn sheller I bought last year at a thrift shop!
    I made bread crumbs/coating from bread we had in the freezer - mostly to free up freezer space. In one of Annabelle's earlier posts she talked about never wasting a bit of bread by making croutons, crumbs, etc. I've been looking back at some of her older posts and there is a wealth of information! Annabelle, you should write a book. Did you ever read Amy Dacyzyn's Tightwad Gazette books? They still have good tips but have become somewhat dated. Just an idea for using your spare time haha. Have a great week everyone.

    1. Hi Pam, I just wanted to say that all the things you've made for your great grand baby sound amazing! Also, I have a copy of The Complete Tightwad Gazette which I bought years ago and love it :)

    2. Hi Annabel,
      I'm glad you got some great bargains at the op-shops! That's what I missed during the lock downs-op-shopping and going picnicking. I also found some great things now that they are open again! love how your grand daughter's take turns to stay over at your house, you are making some beautiful memories that they will cherish! You were quite lucky to get that Sylvanian House, there are many collectors out there and even second hand some items cost a small fortune! I had a bad asthma attack last night which has left me feeling really weak today (Sunday) so it's been a day of rest and I've been catching up reading everyone's blogs xx

    3. Dear pamintexas!

      Isn’t it lovely how the special finds from op shops are starting to come into their own season! I love that you can now use the antique corn sheller!

      I know that the Tightwad Gazette has been mentioned here, and Annabel sure would put together a beautiful, beautiful book ..... we have this blog site instead! Haha!

      Good on you for all of your sewing and making do and transplanting ..... it is very satisfying!!

      Enjoy those beautiful bread crumbs!!


    4. Dear Pam, I love your ideas for the gift especially the little clothes rack! Brilliant! How exciting! Thank you for the compliment Pam! Yes I have read the Tightwad Gazette books but I would like to own them too so I watch out.
      Another I adore is The Encyclopaedia of Country Living by Carla Emery. Not the same but somehow they remind me of each other.
      Bread has so many uses... The bread and butter pudding/cake is sooo delicious... try that someday!
      Thanks Pam, with much love,

    5. Dear Mel, I hope you are feeling better. I didnt realise the Sylvanians are collectable! I guess that makes sense! The little house is a treasure. Yes the girls are very keen on having their turn. They have a special time so it is a blessing to be able to do these things with them. They have their own bedroom here too! With their Mum and Aunties old beds!
      Rest up. With love

    6. Annabel, you mentioned The Encyclopaedia of Country Living by Carla Emery. About the time we moved to our property was when the Y2K scare was happening. Carla was on a tour to promote her book and actually made an appearance in a nearby small town (Shiner, Texas). She was VERY interesting and smart and just a wealth of information. A very fast talker so a lot was packed in to the 2 hour or so program! So I have an autographed copy and I treasure it, especially since she is no longer with us. I'm glad to know you have that book, too! I will have to try that bread and butter pudding/cake you mentioned. I always have extra bread (most of which I buy on sale). I'm so glad you are having the special time with your precious granddaughters. I'm praying for Lucy to have an easy delivery and healthy baby.

  21. Dear Annabel,
    Your week just looks grand with so many bargains to be had at the op shops. The honey is gorgeous. Honey here, with even just a hint of manuka goes for $35 a very small jar. I see that Scout is on the job supervising the raised bed fill (ha ha).

    To say the least it has been another busy week here. Ou car needed to go in for service. Thankfully they were scheduling so that social distancing could be observed and everyone wore masks. I can't say that that was the case on the streets outside the dealership. We made a trip to our farm market that offers curbside pickup. We feel so blessed to have this as most of the groceries are grown there and some freshly picked that morning. The meat, chicken and eggs come from other local farmers who supply this market and are butchered locally, not in a distant processing plant.
    I was gifted with yet another 4 Earthboxes, which increases the ability to grow more vegetables. I now have 10 of these. Four more required a trip to the nursery to get some bags of potting soil and manure to fill the new ones. They have been filled now with soil, shredded paper and manure and will be planted next week. I harvested 2 lbs of chard (silver beet) and froze 1 pound, and harvested radishes. Beets were diced, blanched and frozen. Fathers Day cards were made and mailed saving a bundle on cards. Cleaned and reorganized my craft area. The weather here has been sunny and coolish in the morning so we have been enjoying breakfast on the deck listening to the birds chirp and watching the wild rabbits chase each other around as well as the squirrels and the pesky ground hog who has all but stripped the mulberry tree of berries. Wishing all Bluebirds a good week ahead. Blessings, Cookie

    1. Dear Cookie,
      Pure Manuka here is also extremely expensive. Also I read that now hospitals are using it and it is so well known and sought after there could easily be shortages. So I have plenty stored.
      Yes Scout is ever helpful!
      I am glad you are supporting farmers and this may well turn out to ensure you have produce in the future.
      The earth boxes sound very good, I need to look into these. I am fascinated about ground Hogs! We do not have those! But you had a very good week and lovely things to report. I hope this week is going well also! With love

  22. Jenny, good to see you here. I have missed you on several other blogs for quite awhile and I was concerned about your MS. Just a note that I cannot connect to your blog. Is it still active?

    1. Hi, Max! Had a bit of a trial for a couple months with the MS but am coming out of it and doing better now! I let my site shut down as I was thinking about changing things up so maybe soon I'll have another :) Ready to get back to reading the regular blogs!!

  23. It's been hot for the past 2 weeks. Farmer cut green oats for hay and some grass. He got it all raked and baled but we had several late suppers at 10 p.m. I have been going into the office at 7:30 a.m. to try and get caught up before the phones start ringing.
    Last Sunday we hoed the onions and potatoes. I've found that the deep tilling the guys did twice has helped keep the weeds down. Ds2 mulched most of the tomatoes alleys yesterday and I mulched the rest and the potato rows this morning very early (5:45 a.m.) before it got too hot. All the rain storms have been going around us and the predicted 2-4" turned into maybe .25". I watered heavily last evening just in case that happened.
    I've been noticing that the potted plants seem to be unhappy this year. I've decided it's the cheap potting soil I got. A friend went with me to buy plants and she suggested it. I usually get the kind with fertilizer mixed in and my plants have always been very happy. This year they are just rather sitting there and some dying back.
    However the herbs are HAPPY. I'm using the rosemary,thyme, basil and cilantro as much as possible when cooking but will soon need to make pesto for the freezer.
    Farmer & I agreed again last evening that going out to the restaurants has ceased to be a fun date. After all the eating at home, we've decided my homecooking tastes best and we can just save the money. Last night's bill came to $36 with tip which equal to a bag of groceries -- several meals worth.
    I've been trying to deep clean a few areas, as our ds1 and family are coming home for a visit in July. If anyone has a great home recipe for soap scum remover, I'm all ears. Farmer's shower is horrible.
    And finally, we're eating lighter as the calendar has turned to summer and hot weather. Smoothies and yogurt. Salads and grilling. I need to take some time and prep slow cooker dishes and Instant Pot meals.
    And finally, on the creative side: Granddaugher, Sissy's quilt is in the quilting stage. I need to do some free-motion hearts and some straight lines in the boarders and then I can bind it. Once it's done, I'll start Granddaughter, Navy's. I have the fabric and it will be an easy pattern so I can get it done sooner. I need to get started on Caden's graduation quilt for next May and then work on some throws for the other big grandkids. I'd like to make each of the sons/daughter-in-loves' a big one for their beds. All in time.
    Have a wonderful week.

    1. Kay, Miracle Spray is great on soap scum! I found the recipe on an Aussie blog. You didn't say where you are, but here is the recipe in US measurements--
      1 cup boiling water
      5-1/2 cups water
      2 tablespoons washing soda (Arm & Hammer, detergent aisle)
      1-1/3 cups cheap vinegar
      1/4 cup dish soap, such as Dawn
      5 teaspoons eucalyptus oil

      Dissolve washing soda in boiling water. Add remaining measure of water and vinegar. Gently stir in dish soap, then eucalyptus oil. Makes about 1/2 gallon.

      Miracle Spray smells good and works very well on everything EXCEPT mirrors. Too soapy and leaves a slight oily smear that's very hard to remove.

      If you wish to buy a product, I have cleaned filthy showers in rentals with Ka-boom.

    2. What a big and good week Kay! We feel the same about eating out now. One thing we do is I pack picnics and we kind of incorporate that into an errand or like the days we went to get the wood. This is fun! In ok weather though! This reminds me we need to go back and get those baths!
      I hope your new week is going well! With love,

  24. What great finds and that Sylvanian house in the! I saw that Jess is blogging again, and I'm thrilled as well. You're always full of good news on Fridays, and a joy to read, Annabel. Love, Mimi xxx

    1. Thank you Mimi. Yes I missed Jess! I still was going to her blog for pantry related info and finding new things but I am glad she is back! We had the little Sylvania figures... so they must have been around years and years. I was pleased just to be IN an op shop! Have a good week Mimi. With love

  25. Hi Annabel and Bluebirds

    What a great score on the Sylvanian house Annabel, these are not cheap. We have a few that DD10 loved to play with.

    This week I have been preparing for an upcoming house inspection, going room by room as we are doing our own inspection.

    Cleaned out the craft room (some headed your way)
    Cleaned out DD10's room
    Cleared the front garden of weeds and debris
    Watched a few sewing tutorials and found a small quilt to make with DD10 on the upcoming holidays.

    Up here our Target and Kmart that I visited in the last week are looking a little worse than normal. You can not get kids socks and undies, hardly any girls clothing, no jigsaw puzzles and lots of spaces in the craft section, ladies clothing is hard to get including sleep wear. Many gaps at the moment. There are in other stores some great bargains, so this prompted me to pick up a few small things for Christmas shopping. We are pretty sure we are going to do a road trip instead of flying home as DP thinks this will be a safer option and also have a few stops on the way home to be like a holidays for DD10. We have a car fridge so this will help as I can pack snacks for along the way as well as drinks.

    Hope everyone is well and that you enjoyed having Scarlett

    Take Care
    Aly xxx

    1. Dear Aly,
      I am a bit excited! Now the mail has been really slow but I will be checking my mail box!
      You did a lot in your week! And to be sewing with DD will be great. She is at a good age she will learn just heaps!
      Thanks for saying how things are in your stores. I am hearing this over and over. So it is widespread not just regional.
      A car trip can be quite good as there are things to see and do along the way. I think that is probably a good idea.
      I am sure you passed your inspection with flying colours! With love

  26. So glad you did well with your Pantry challenge. I'm inspired!
    My savings have been piling up after making Wild Violet Jelly; discounted bread from the bakery thrift store (too hot to bake); ground beef and chicken thighs ($80 worth for free)gifted to us for volunteering at a local food pantry. And a kind neighbor gifted us with fresh produce. God is good!

    Blessings to all,

    1. Dear Leslie,
      Wild Violet Jelly sounds just heavenly! What a wonderful week! So much produce! I hope this week is going equally well! With love

  27. Beautiful post!
    Egg drop soup water and bouillon in pot.Bring to a boil wisk eggs in a bowl.Dump eggs into boiling mixture.Garnish with herbs or green onions if you have them.Enjoy!
    Much Much Love,
    Patti from San Diego

    1. Dear Patti,
      Thank you! I always have eggs and herbs! With love,


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