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 6 August 2020

Feather your Nest Friday, 7th August, 2020.

I can give a better report than last week!  That is something!
My Dad is doing better, thank you to everyone who has prayed for him.

There is so much going on it is hard to keep track of.  Everyone in Australia knows and anyone from overseas might have seen the Victorian situation in the news.   Things have pretty much got a bit worse daily.  This is our neighbouring state and my daughter lives just over the border.

We cannot go to Lucy's home, however, we could meet in her nearest town and so that is what we did. Chloe and I headed off loaded up with cooking and all kinds of things for the girls and the baby.
We had a little lunch together and made it seem like a little party for the girls.
I took cup cakes as usual!

Sidney is now a month old. Already!

So this was a good and beautiful day.

I went to Aldi but there was not much on the shelves.... 

We had news headlines forecasting likely food shortages nation wide.  Since they rarely admit such things this was interesting.   And you can see why.  The port of Melbourne is where most imports enter Australia.  The meat processing plants are operating at reduced rates and many industries are closed down altogether. 

I went into town to do a stock up.  I did things like fill every prescription,  buy Vitamin C, Zinc, cough medicine and so on.   One supermarket was quite well stocked.  The other was very low on meat and quite a lot of empty shelves.  

This town is around 20 minutes from the border.   I heard several reports of cars with Victorian number plates being attacked, scratched and notes left on them.  Now people are afraid of anyone coming over the border.   This is a pretty sleepy, nice little town normally.   It frightens me to see how quickly people become agitated and this becomes aggression.... actually it is a shock.   And a warning really as if things go too much further south then honestly you do not want to be out and about, you need to be home.

My stock up was considerable and I have still been putting away things this morning.  I think I have finally done it!  

For ladies in other states... the decline with Victoria been just a disaster to watch.  Things can happen quickly.  So please be very watchful.

I found some beautiful jars in the op shop plus brand new canning lids!  I will take some photos when I get the jars all washed up.

All week I have had the fire going... it is cold here!  At all times I have had something dehydrating.  Thanks to Patsy I joined an Instagram challenge called #everybitcountschallenge  and I have been dehydrating and storing up fresh things, things from the garden and frozen veggies as I need to clear some freezer room.  I have been learning a lot about dehydrating from Heidi at  Rain Country on You tube.  She is very helpful.  And inspiring! 

I have onions going today in one tray and peas in two others.   Then I will be slicing about some capsicum to do next.  I am amazed at the fresh bright colours and the small amount of space things reduce down to.   I write on each jar "one whole head of celery" so I remember as it looks like a small amount but to put it back in use I would use a small amount to add to a chicken soup.  

There have been times this week I felt a sense of panic and worry.  I try to reel that in but it isn't always easy.  However I have seen some answers to prayer and been very blessed. 
Sometimes you feel too upset and wonky to feel like you can pray.  Or that your wonky prayers are not good enough.  These are good times to ask someone to pray for you.  But just as it doesn't matter what language you pray in I don't think it matters if prayers are disjointed,  confused or all over the place.  Sometimes we don't even know WHAT to pray for.  We just know we need help.  Lord please help me is a perfectly fine prayer...
Anyway,  some of my prayers have been answered in wonderful ways.  This has made me feel so much better and reminded me to just keep praying!

On the weekend my brother rang me up and asked if I would be home and if I would like some good soil for my garden?   He turned up with his truck...

This is volcanic black soil with broken down manure mixed in.  It is beautiful!  It was the best gift ever.  I was so excited!   I have the raised garden beds to finish filling, bathtubs coming,  my pumpkin patches to build up,  the whole herb and veggie patch can get a few inches of this on top.  All the fruit trees and have some of this around them to form a little water holding moat and they will get the nutrients as I water.  I have begun moving it one barrow at a time!

I hope my Aunt is reading this.  She will be thrilled!

I was given more bags of shredded paper.  These went into chicken nesting boxes for nice fresh bedding.

I used two large pumpkins (from the pumpkins I grew) to make a big pot of soup.

In the sewing room I continued making bibs.  This second batch are larger ones...

We really really need rain.  It is meant to be on the way.  I really hope so. 

How did you manage to keep going,  add to your pantry, preparedness or garden?  I managed to do some work in all three of these areas.   There are the first signs Spring is not too far way.  I want my garden beds ready to plant by then! 

If you would like further reading this is a good article from Brandy at The Prudent Homemaker.  I like to read things that give you constructive things to do rather than just information to worry about.

I am hoping for a rainy weekend, warm meals (as the slow cooker is on) crochet and sewing.   We need some time to rest and plan.  Some time to think.  I think as well... now is a good time to put your health first and build up your families health.  Stress is really draining.  We probably need extra nutrition and good sleep.  These things are valuable


  1. I cannot believe that Sidney is a month old already!
    Don went to fill his prescription on Monday and when he went to pick it up he was told it could not be filled due to a supply shortage. He tried the other chemist in town and was told the same thing. He hasn't run out of his medication but like you we are aware that there could be problems with supply.
    I noticed in our Woolies on Monday they had run out of long life milk and were low on toilet paper and liquid hand soap. I didn't think to check the meat section as we buy most of ours in bulk from a local farmer.
    I hope you receive some rain soon. It has been raining here gently for about 3 hours - we have had about 12mm so far.
    I think we are all feeling a bit wonky and worried about how things are going, and there seems to be so many things happening all over. I have set my alarm at 7:30pm to remind me to pray for those who have asked for prayer and for our world in general. I did hear myself repeating "Lord I am so tired" a few times last evening. But it is a wearying time. We can easily find ourselves weighed down and we are the ones who know to cast the burden! Just imagine how others are feeling at this time! There must be terrible hopelessness and fear abroad.
    Your huge load of soil looks great.
    Keeping a supply of pet food is on my mind at the moment. I am just uncomfortable with the amount we are currently keeping on hand.
    It was good to read that your Dad is doing better.

    1. Dear Sherri,
      We have a good chemist who will post to us (from Adelaide it is a ChemistKing) so if locally something was unavailable I would try them. They let us post the prescriptions. Andy could not get Ventolin at one stage and the script is for 2 packs but they then began to give us one... as a form of rationing. Ok so now we are trying to stay ahead as far as possible. Not good! We did get some rain! Now I think a couple of clear days then more is forecast. I hope we get that too!
      It is a weary time. Even today I had cause to say sarcastically "2020 the year that keeps on giving" as stuff just keeps happening!
      I did stock up on dry dog food. I used it as a a back up. Also lamb and calf formulas... just in case too! Thanks so much Sherri, with love

  2. Annabel and Bluebirds, this week has been awful. If ever there's a point to keeping a stocked pantry, this is it. One person per household is allowed out for 1 hour a day for shopping/banking/post office, and it must be done within 5km of home. Curfew from 8pm - 5am (doesn't bother me, I'm in bed ;) ) I shop once a year, except this year I started as soon as the first state of emergency was announced to restock and keep the pantry stocked. It took some creative shopping, I think most of us have become adept at shopping outside the box this year. Shelves were bare at the butcher. The greengrocer was so expensive, I passed on most things. Then yesterday I had a phone call from my specialist, he needed to see me immediately - so two hours later I was in his office, mask on, gloves on, hand sanitiser in my handbag. Some tests I had a couple of weeks ago, before this round of stay at homes was ordered came back and need more investigation. Yeah, no, not going near a hospital at the moment. Asked if it is life-threatening and decided they can wait until later on, when things are safer. He wasn't thrilled but did understand. Just means a weekly phone consultation, I can live with that. This week I've dried 3 bunches celery, 3kg carrots, 1kg capsicum, a big bunch of parsley from the garden. I was able to get potatoes at a reasonable price (40c/kg) and brown onions for 80c/kg - about double what I paid last time. Over the weekend I'll can the potatoes and start drying the onions. And I gave Wayne a surprise, a new pillow. Don't laugh! He is terrible with pillows and hates getting a new one, but the old one was almost flat, stained even though it gets washed regularly. Oh, and made marmalade with the oranges off the tree. There are some in the fruit bowl that I may end up drying. We are expecting a very wet weekend, so I have the rain barrels and spare buckets and tubs our to catch as much free water as I can. Summer is still aways off, but I may as well catch free water whilst I can. Have a nice weekend everyone. xxx Cath

    1. Dear Cath, You really are in the thick of it. I know you are well prepared though. But there is a tension and stress that goes with all this too...
      I think you are wise to weigh up whether going to the hospital just now, if you can avoid it, is a good idea.
      You have the dehydrating bug also! I am still going. Capsicums on right now!
      A new pillow is nice. Pillows do loose their oomph even when washed and looked after. I feel anything to do with sleep and rest... mattress, pillows, linen... are all so important.
      I hope you catch lots of water. We had some rain today which was very welcome and we hope for more.
      I hope you can get some weekend rest. We hold our breath to see what next week is like! With love

  3. Hello Annabel, sounds like many lovely things happened this week. What lovely news about your father. I was given a trial of an app called Calm as I was quite stressed and fragile. It has been wonderful and I am more than happy to be a paying customer. It would be a rare person who does not have some anxiety at this time. The negative news is relentless and many of us are not allowed to see our families or friends. We really do have to look after ourselves more than ever. Can I ask what brand of dehydrator you use? Barb

    1. Dear Barb, I have heard of this Calm app. Sometimes I have serious trouble sleeping. I am ok if I get to sleep.... but getting there is awful sometimes so maybe I should investigate this. Yes I think most people would be affected stress wise to some extent. Many who have sick relieves or friends and who have jobs and businesses also must be really suffering.
      Currently my dehydrator is my fireplace (combustion stove) in the lounge room. I fill shallow baskets with my herbs or veggies and they are done within a day then I start again. Chloe has an electric one... not sure of the brand. I lend it for use in summer when I have no fire. For herbs I will air dry. If you are using a heater this time of year you can set baskets near by and it will work! With love

    2. Hi Barb,
      I use an Excaliber dehydrator that I've had for probably 20+ years. I hadn't used it much the past few years, but plan to very soon. I think it has nine trays, so a lot of drying room.
      Blessings, Laura

    3. Thank you Laura I will investigate.

  4. Annabel I knew you would find a way to see Lucy, the girls and Sidney and what a wonderful solution :) . Good to hear your Dad is on the mend and doing well too.

    What a blessing was that soil delivered from your brother for the gardens and fruit trees. You have been productive with dehydrating and adding to your pantry with grocery purchases, sewing, gardening and baking too.

    Thank you for keeping DH in your prayers too we are heading down on Wednesday for the more detailed angiogram for him.

    It is a worry with nationwide shortages due to heavy transport border restrictions, decreased working capacity in abattoirs and factories as well. We too have just topped on everything we have used and increased our food storage as well with a recent grocery shop.

    Never have I been so thankful for good food storage that we have built up over time and very productive vegetable gardens and fruit trees in our home. We have received rain glorious rain today and our rainwater tanks are all full again and our yard storm water drainage is working perfectly :).

    We have had a truly blessed week here this week despite me also having a bit of panic and worry but praying has truly helped calm my mind along with being productive around the home and gardens.

    Our Vicky challenge added up to $36.77 in savings last week :) .

    In the kitchen -
    - Baked 2 loaves of bread using ingredients we had in our food storage saving $5.18 over buying them locally.
    - Cooked all meals from scratch.

    In the gardens -
    - Harvested 2kg of capsicums and 200g of cherry tomatoes from the gardens saving $20.60 over purchasing them. We blanched and or froze them in meal sized portions in the freezer.

    Side gigs -
    - DH and I had been doing volunteer cleaning work for a local RSL sub branch club and they have now insisted since it is a big job to pay us to do it. They will pay us in a grocery e-gift card so I will bank the amount we are getting paid from our grocery budget into our 6 monthly living expenses emergency fund account to build that up quicker.

    Finances -
    - Paid an extra part payment off our mortgage.
    - Deposited extra money into our home maintenance fund bringing us to 36.6% of the way to our goal.
    - Deposited more money into our 6 month living expenses emergency fund bringing us to 51% of our goal.
    - We put in our yearly tax with an accountant and asked if there were any more deductions we could get and there was as DH being on a white card does not have to pay a medicare levy and only has to pay for me instead. The accountant sent us an email with forms to amend last years tax for the medicare levy and we questioned about whether our donations were put in and it turns out they weren't so she amended that too. All up by asking a few questions we will get and extra $1848.50 back from last and this years tax on top of our normal tax refund cheque.

    It certainly pays to ask questions to see if there is more tax deductions you could get too for your family :) .

    Have a great week ahead everyone :) .

    Sewingcreations15 (Lorna).

    1. Dear Lorna, I will write Wednesday in my planner. I will be praying. And awaiting to hear how things go as this will be a stressful day for you both. Well I understand how you feel as far as feeling like having a bit of panic and it coming on... and praying. I have felt "on the edge" of panic kind of if that makes sense. And logically I do think well no wonder!
      We were both blessed to move and really have a good opportunity to get well set up before this all hit. Your pantry room now and the gardens are really so wonderful. You used every week well since the day you got there! I feel like we both worked away like ants as if we knew the rain was coming. Which I think we did. I felt it. Anyone can say that is mad but I wrote it over and over and at least I can prove I have been saying it for several years!
      It is a very nice added bonus about the grocery gift card!
      Absolutely amazing about the tax refund! The amendments really paid off. Gosh it pays to check everything. This is reminding me to do my tax!
      Very nice produce is coming in from the garden too. A good week. Now I do hope the new week goes well. Praying here. With love

  5. Today we have welcomed the rain. I love in Queensland and sadly there was little stock of tissues and toilet paper again. I have horrible nose problems and I use tissues. I know they are not the most eco friendly option but I go through at least two big boxes each week. Tomorrow I will be looking for some more.

    I hope that everyone stays safe and well. Little Sidney is beautiful.

    When I do not know what to pray I repeat the Lord's Prayer over and over.

    God bless.

    1. Dear Suzan, Toilet paper and tissues both flew off our shelves too. I keep a supply of pretty old sheets and tear them up for sick times tissues... they are so very soft.
      I love your suggestion to go to The Lords Prayer and repeat that. Now you said it I realise I have done that too... like I am speechless or fearful and begin to pray that. Amen to that as a good idea!
      Have a good new week. With much love,

  6. Dear Annabel,
    Lovely picture of Sidney :)
    I am glad you can still meet up with Lucy, although not ideal, a blessing nonetheless I am sure.
    It is surreal hearing your situation where you live as things seem pretty normal here in my part of the UK. No mandatory masks (yet) and shelves not too bad. The children go back to school soon though and I am not sure what that will bring. Personally, I don't have to worry about sending my children back into this dystopian scenario but my soul feels heavy for those that have to make this decision.
    It was my first time this year to plant everything from seed- veg and flowers. I was always unsure about growing my own flowers (apart from sweet peas & Sunflowers!)from seed. It was a success :)
    Wishing you a lovely weekend!
    Love, Heidi xx

    1. Dear Heidi, This is true, still being able to see each other is a beeping.
      I am glad things are good there. It is good to hear from you about your seed success. I have gradually tried more seeds over seedlings and feeling better with it. It is a huge difference money wise! I hope to get better and better at it! I hope it was a good week for you. Tomorrow I will be writing the weeks changes here... many more restrictions and it is getting very hard. With love

  7. What a beautiful little boy Sidney is. He looks very content. So lovely that you were able to see him this week. We in NSW are holding our breath, hoping we can contain the outbreak up here. We are on the south coast and as yet have not had any cases down here. My dehydrator has apples in it as I write this. My freezers are full so I’m dehydrating what I can. I have done onions and celery as well this week. I have been given lots O’Donohue lemons and lovely oranges this week and also a friend gave us strawberry plants to put in. We now have a smaller home on a small block however our back yard has 8 raised bed garden full of veggies and we have planted fruit trees near the fence and will espalier them onto wire as they grow. Joe planted two dwarf apple trees today. Grandma Donna’s blog was very interesting today and she mentioned she makes dumplings often to stretch her meals. I enjoyed dumplings often when I was growing up and visiting my grandparents. They had lived through both wars and the depression. My grand mother was very thrifty and I often think of how tasty her simple meals were. Usually very little meat, lots of homegrown veggies and a few mixed herbs. She would bulk out her rissoles with bread and always saved the dripping in a can for later use. I’m so pleased your Dad is feeling better. Ah! the power of prayer. 🙏🏻
    Have a lovely week and I hope you get some rain for your tanks and gardens.
    Blessings Gail.

    1. Dear Gail, Thank you! Ok it is Thursday now and there have been a fair few developments there in NSW during the week. For is the border situation has changed too and things are getting much harder.
      I am glad you are dehydrating too! I am finding it so good.
      The raised garden beds can be so predictive! You are using your space brilliantly! Actually you have given me ideas as we have the tall fence of the tennis court and I am working on what to do with that.
      Grandma Donna is really good. I am sure my Na used soup, dumping, deserts and many tricks to make meals go further. I feel the same about her delicious meals.
      We did get some rain! Thank you so much! With love,

  8. Sorry things have gotten so bad there. The whole situation is just plain scary. The baby is so darn cute.
    My goodness that dirt looks beautiful.
    I have been trying to fill all the holes in my stocks as well. Keep on working hard and keep the faith.
    Praying for all.

    1. Dear Cheryl, Thank you. It has gone from bad to worse this last couple of days. We do have to keep going, keep the faith and do what we can. That is what I am trying to do. I hope it has been a good week there for you. With much love,

  9. Hello Annabel and Bluebirds! So thankful to hear of your dad's improvement and that you were able to see your daughter and family! I haven't watched the news or looked up any online in almost 3 months so I'm actually not up on the state of the pandemic across the world so I'm very saddened to hear of the issues you all are facing in Australia. We are very fortunate that we haven't been overwhelmingly affected, partly because we are located so rural here in the midwest US so low population and low occurrence of the virus but also with things like staying home (we already did that) and homeschooling (started that last year). We are still in prayer for the entire world over this!

    I do plan on doing a bit of a stock up tomorrow when DH and I go to town. Oddly I have a neurology appointment on a Saturday. This one is for the disability determination and I was surprised they do it on a weekend, but I'd like to get it over with. Thankfully it's in our "nearby" shopping town so I can grocery shop too! Hoping the shelves are well stocked. We'll also be getting items for our older daughter to take back to school as she heads back to campus in 2 weeks for her last year of undergrad schooling.

    I had a lovely week putting compost into garden beds and planting seeds for a fall garden. I didn't go buy any new seeds so am only using up what I had from the spring. My summer garden didn't do well so I'm hoping fall is better.

    I also participated in the #everybitcountschallenge this week and was able to put away 3 quarts of refrigerator pickles, 2 quart bags of zucchini (frozen), 1 quart bag each spinach and kale (freezer), 1 gallon and 1 quart bag of onions (freezer), and 5 half pints of canned apricot jam. Most of the produce for this was given to me so it was an especially sweet blessing to be able to put some by for future meals.

    Our younger daughter started her homeschool 9th grade courses this week and also got her first job at a local small restaurant and will start there tonight. She's very excited for both :) My husband was able to work an extra job into his workload by tiling a very nice new bathroom shower and tub so he had extra income this week which we are using to purchase parts for the backhoe so we don't have to take it out of our household budget.

    Thank you for hosting this lovely space, Annabel!

    1. Dear Jenny, I am so glad you are rural and things are good there. Things have gone further south here... sadly. I hope you were able to stock up and I have to say thing change fast so good idea.
      Well done on the challenge!! I have been trying to do something every day. You did well!
      It is an exciting time for your daughter. A first job is a big thing! This is really good. The extra income for your household was fantastic too! A good week! With love,

  10. Hi Annabel,Sidney is so cute,:)yep things are not good at the moment things change so quickly here over nite i had to down load a work permit just so I can go to work i make sure i top up on things that I need on my way home once home then i stay till following morning,it's my dad's 80th Birthday next Tuesday & I managed to send him a card with a gift card in side
    Take care & have a good weekend x

    1. Dear Melissa, Theres over night changes are really getting us now. I hope you are still able to work. It has not be easy. I hope your dear Dad had a beautiful birthday! With much love

  11. Annabel,
    What wonderful news about Dad and Sidney just melts ones heart he is so precious. My you have had a full week.
    Victoria has been in my prayers as are Lucy and Family.

    It is so surreal the times we are living in. Going to the grocery store alone is definitely a new experience to what we lived with last year.
    We are and have been experiencing shortages, from drugs to food and cleaning supplies, empty shelves.

    My week was full, We were able to take my Son and Grandchildren to see their Great Grandfather for his 94th birthday, 5 1/2 hours one way with good traffic. My father was in tears seeing his Great Grandchildren, he was so happy. It melted my heart.

    I finished one section of shelving in my basement, big project as things needed to be combined, all put into glass and sealed. I finally finished that project and felt so good to know what I had and what I needed, I did take inventory and make a spreadsheet.
    We had insulation added to our attic, where I live they recommend an R50 rating, well we were only at a R25, I had to move all my clothes out of our closet for the workers to set up a ladder to get up to attic through this small hole. That gave me the opportunity to clean out some clothes and re-organize the shelves. Best part is we will be warmer this winter.

    I try to add something more to our pantry every time we go out. I needed a bucket for cleaning, was tired of going up and downstairs with one. It was work finding what i wanted, I have a Rubbermaid bucket that is over 30 years old and still going strong, I wanted the same, Amazon wanted $20 as did Walmart, I finally found it at Home Depot for a little over $5, so I purchased 2, never realized they had a 25 year warranty.

    We did grocery shopping and hit a few bargains. 3 -24 cases of spring water for $5, toothpaste for $0.75, shampoo and conditioner for $0.50 after coupons and the best was a whole pork loin for $1.69 pound, we spent $17 on it and had it cut into 3 roasts and wrapped for the freezer. We found many other deals and I felt so blessed to add to my depleted freezer stock and some of my pantry.

    On the way to the grocery store i saw the wild elderberry bushes were ready for picking, someone had torn down my favorite patch but we were still able to get 2 gas worth, that filled one bowl after 3 hours work and 3 dehydrator trays, which means I can make my elderberry elixir for this winter. God is Good!

    I truly had a blessed week.

    My Love and Prayers are with you.

    1. Dear Rosanne,
      Your Dads birthday was the highlight! That was really special. You achieved a lot! Things just continue to change day by day. Tonight (13th August) the news is warning of food shortages and price spikes. And we can see why... even our farms are in trouble as far as getting food to the market... it is all in jeopardy now. This is bad. We need to do everything we can! With love

  12. Dear Annabel,

    There is so much to worry about right now, but we must stay grounded and try not to stress. We are going to need good health to get through what is to come. Keeping busy is good!

    Oooh Sidney looks so much like Harper. Such a cutie pie.

    Glad to hear your dad is doing better, and that you and Chloe got to see Lucy, girls and the new bubba,{who is growing like a mushroom by the way}. One month already...where did that time go?

    We only had 7mm of rain, it was far too cold to rain! It never got above 10C for a couple of days with snow falling in the nearby Flinder's Ranges! Can you believe it? SNOW!

    I have been slyly stocking up again, getting a little bit extra every time I go to the shops. I still have a lot on hand and could go about three months with what I have, so I am not too concerned about that. We will be making sure the cars and generator are fueled and the gas bottles filled, just in case.

    Our girls are laying eggs again, so plenty of eggs. Plenty of citrus left on the trees and I plan to make marmalade this coming week. The fruit are so nice and sweet right now. The veggie garden is growing food and ready for spring plantings.

    I have been busy cleaning up and sorting my huge "junk room". I want to organise it to use as an all purpose room for crafting, making soap etc, also for setting up the dehydrator, vacola and honey spinner so they are ready to go when needed. Will use it for extra storage of goods as well.

    At the moment I am getting mending done and out the way {mostly patching Phil's jeans} so I can make more masks in readiness if we should need them. Will also make some for other family members.

    Take care dear friend, and enjoy your weekend.
    Lots of love, Tania xxx

    1. Dear Tania, I think Sidney looks a lot like Harper too. I saw the scans... in them I said this baby looks like Harper! Probably everyone thought I was mad, but he does!
      I hope you have had rain since. We have had some... ind ribs and drops. I just hope it keeps coming.
      I do agree how the stress is getting to everyone. The garden and nature our my outlets! Thank goodness we have much to do and these are good and helpful things. Tania the week has gone one and more difficult here for our near border situation. We need to take one day at a time! With much love

  13. Hi Annabel and everyone,

    Annabel, I can't believe how Sidney has grown already! He is beautiful. So are your baking and bibs, and I envy that beautiful garden soil! I am so happy to hear that your dad is doing better. Also, a huge thank you to you and Vicky for the crisis fatigue post - stress and anxiety have been my sidekicks throughout this pandemic, and you both helped a lot.

    This week, we had our property fence replaced as it was damaged in the most recent wind storm. We went with a local company (father and son) who came out and did a contactless estimate, and when we set up the appointment, said they had enough hand-built cedar fencing to do our fence if we would like, at no extra cost. Such a wonderful and kind surprise! The new fence looks beautiful and they even took care with my zinnias and other plants as best they could. I am definitely counting this as investing in our home as it is a very sturdy fence and the damaged gate was not at all secure - so we are safer, too!

    I've been struggling a little this week, but did lots of baking (chocolate chip muffins, waffles, challah bread, sandwich bread, and oatmeal cranberry cookies) and planted some seeds for our fall garden. Two of them have germinated already, so that was a nice surprise. We harvested more peas and radishes, which we like for healthy snacks right out of the garden (and washed off, lol). I also added extra pasta, cat food, and dishwashing liquid to our pantry.

    To promote relaxation, I've been reading some old favorites (Little House on the Prairie series) and some cozy mysteries, and knitting on some easy sock patterns. I've noticed that lighting a nice-smelling candle and sharing tea or cocoa in nice china is a fun way to relax and chat with my husband; we've taken to doing this in the evenings and it helps a lot. Kind of like a date at home!

    I hope everyone has a good weekend.

    1. Thanks so much Kathy. It is great about your nice new fence. They sound like lovely workers and this is a big bonus!
      I am sorry you are struggling. To be honest where we find ourself at the end of the week I am struggling also...
      I love Little House on the Prairie! Beautiful reading. We need happy and calming reading that is for sure.
      Handiwork helps me. We try to make evenings relaxing and I have a soak in the bath. Things ARE stressful. We really need to look after ourselves. I hope your week has gone well and it has gone fast! With much love,

  14. Dear Annabel and Bluebirds,
    So glad that your Dad is doing better, Annabel. Prayer answered, Praise God.
    Your week has been very productive. I saw the challenge, also, on another blog, but didn't 'formally,' join. I am doing it privately anyway. Each day I purpose to preserve something in the food line.
    I have been cutting garden greens, such as Kale, Beet Greens, and Broccoli greens and dehydrating them to powder to add to soups, casseroles and smoothies this winter. I will add Spinach to this mixture, from the garden, once it is ready.
    One day this week, I took several packages of frozen vegetables out of the freezer and dehydrated those. My intention is to do the rest of the frozen vegetables this upcoming week. Dehydrating is my preference for carrots, peas, and frozen spinach. Since frozen vegetables have already been blanched the process is so simple. They store for years if they have been thoroughly dehydrated and vacuumed sealed in canning jars. I usually dehydrate them until they are hard and dry, then leave them in a bowl out for another three days with cheesecloth covering the bowl. That is an overly cautious way to make sure no moisture is left at all. Then I put them in a jar and vacuum seal them.
    Our food storage room is a consistent 65 F to 70 F year around. It is totally dark with no windows and completely dry as it is in the basement on a concrete floor. We were blessed to have such a room when we moved here as we had so much food to move. Sadly, I only have 40% of the space we had in the previous house, but I am finding creative ways to add more space. There is another small room with the same conditions as mentioned above that can be emptied and used as well. An upcoming project :).
    Our temperatures, in Wyoming, have been in the 90's, so some things that got a late start bolted as babies. We still have time to replant short term produce, so next week we will do that. Our growing season is short: June 1 through September 29, at the latest, before we get night frosts. We have about 120 days to grow our food. We can grow cool weather crops under hoop houses and my husband made hoops and purchased material in the Spring of this year. He made holders on our fences for all the beds hoops, so they take up no yard or storage space.
    We did plant quite a lot of our greens in very large pots this year and I like the way that works. They have been quite prolific and it is easier for me to go out every couple of days and cut of leaves and put them in the dehydrator. Basil is one of our favorite culinary herbs and John started @ 30 plants of Basil this year, so I am thrilled to have so much fresh Basil to dehydrate. The Tarragon needs cut and hung again, as it does better drying in the air on a line than in the dehydrator. It works both ways, but it just seems to dry better by hanging bunches.
    Due to our daughter and grandson living with us until the end of this month, I didn't have space to put my big herb drying rack up in the kitchen, so my husband put hooks in the ceiling and tied string between them. It works very well and looks nice when filled with hanging herbs. I, actually, prefer this to the huge drying rack.
    Have a blessed week, dear Bluebirds.

    1. Dear Glenda, I know you are working constantly to build up your pantry and you know ever bit counts. We are both working away and you encourage me to do it too!
      Your food storage room sounds fantastic and perfect! Wonderful to have this!
      It is harder with this short growing season. We have a more flexible growing season which is a bonus for sure.
      I would love to see those bunches of herbs drying. And smell them! They sound beautiful. I am following in your footsteps as best I can! With thanks and love,

  15. Annabel,
    That is such good news about your dad. And little Sidney is so adorable! I am amazed by the soil what a fantastic addition to your garden.
    I did get to do a shop and added to the pantry. I went to several stores, but managed to get quite a bit, plus I've added freebies that I got as samples or products to review. That alone was a savings of over $100.
    I've been canning green beans which I will add up the savings from the garden at the end of the season. We've also been eating fresh zucchini, cucumbers,a few tomatoes and peppers. I'm still battling getting the morning glories out of my strawberry bed so everyday I go out and pull more.
    We also put up a fence around the tomatoes. The chickens find them tasty!
    I cannot imagine what chaos would break out here if the restrictions you have were put in place. There is already civil unrest.
    I will still start my day with finding something that I am grateful for and trying not to let the world overwhelm or stress me. Each day is a new day and filled with opportunities for us even if they are mostly at home.

    1. Dear Vicky,
      Thank you! I love little Sidney and I love this soil!
      Your green beans have been amazing!! I know you'll be on to tomatoes too soon~
      The restrictions have got worse this week, as you know. It has reached a pretty desperate place. I am praying we get out of this.
      We also have seen a lot about the civil unrest which looks just terrifying. I do know we both have worked hard this week so we will have a lot to report tomorrow! With love,

  16. Dear Annabel,
    How wonderful that you were all able to visit even if you can't go to Lucy's home. I'm sure the girls were thrilled with the cupcake treats.Sidney is such a sweet baby. he looks so happy and contented. Dehydrating things is a super idea. I have a dehydrator and have done tomatoes, apples etc. I will turn to that if I am running out of room in my deep freeze.
    I also made a shopping trip this morning to stock up. You do feel the urge to re-stock while you can if something is low. Since our store is very close, I choose to do shopping bursts where I run in and buy as fast as I can. It's sad, but no one stops and chats anymore or delays. Our town is very friendly and it wasn't unusual to strike up a conversation with a stranger. Now if you see a friend you wave and smile under your mask and keep going. Chatting is by phone now.
    Your garden soil looks beautiful.
    God's blessings, Laura

    1. Dear Laura,
      It is a bit sad about how it is harder to chat and be friendly to people. Once wearing a mask this is even harder as we cant even smile at someone!
      I hope you have had a good new week. It has gone so fast! With love,

  17. So glad that you got to see your family and that your dad is improving. The baby looks so alert - his big sisters must adore him.
    Things aren't doing too badly here - for the 5th day in a row Ontario's infection rate has been under 100. We are in stage 3 of reopening where all shops are open, we can eat inside a restaurant and gatherings have been increased. However, many restaurants are sticking to patios only and will continue to do so as long as weather permits - not too many people are eager to move indoors as yet and there are many restrictions.
    I travel via public transit a few times per week as I go into the office 2 or 3 times, earlier in the week I'd say that 90% of people were adhering to the mask rule but today things were a bit worse - I also made the mistake of going to a grocery store on the way home - never again on a Friday! Honestly, after 5 months you'd think people would have the whole arrow thing down pat - NOT. I felt as though I was surrounded by idiots - of all ages! I'm staying home this weekend so that my nerves can recover.
    Our next big test will be schools opening in about a month and Toronto (with 3 million people) will be the real test. They've got all sorts of rules and regs in place, the govt. has bought PPE for all the teachers and staff and hundred's of new nurses will be in place but parents are still hesitant. An online alternative for younger students will be offered and High School students will go to 4 semesters instead of 2 and school days will be for half days with the other half online at home. A classroom will hold 15 pupils max so students will go at alternate times. Masks are mandatory for students grade 4 (about 9 years) and up and younger ones will be encouraged to wear them as much as possible. We'll just have to wait and see.

    Grocery stores are pretty much stocked (although we get odd shortages for a short period of time) but dept. stores are a bit bare. I managed to get undies, socks and winter slippers this past week but not much choice available. Overseas deliveries have not arrived - I've checked with my favourite shoe store twice already and still no winter shoes in stock. Shoes are the one item that I really need so I'll just have to keep checking.
    I hope things stabilize soon in Australia - stay safe.

    1. Margie it sounds like things are going well in Ontario. This is good! I think masks on public tensor a good idea wherever we are. Ahh... supermarkets... I too try to go when it is quiet but I have been caught in a rush and it is not great and people are kind of aggravated.
      It really seems we are all facing the same things just with variations, timing wise especially.
      I am hearing a lot about goods from freezers to shoes and hardware type items being hard to get. For this reason I am keeping an eye out and trying to get the girls and Sidney some next size up basic clothing. Thanks so much Margie! With love

  18. Dear Annabel,so happy to hear your Dad is on the mend. I expected you and Lucy would find a way to get together you both come from resiliant stock. Having read almost all of youraunts books of her adventures in life and gardening I'd keep a lookout in your driveway she is likely to appear on her three wheeler looking for her share if the soil. Stay safe and keep on inspiring us all. Love Kate

    1. Dear Kate,
      Haha you know my aunt pretty well. Good soil, manure... any of these things are valuable. We also share a mutual love of lemon trees and fruit and harvesting!
      Thanks so much Kate, with love

  19. Annabel,
    Thank you so much for taking the time to keep us posted on what is happening in your part of the world. I am keeping a close watch as I fear we might experience the same thing as we enter into our fall and winter seasons.
    Yesterday, I harvested dill from my garden and dehydrated it so I should have almost a year's supply now. I use it on fish mostly. I picked enough apples off our tree to make 2 apple pies which is good since our trees didn't really produce this year.
    I like your idea of drying the celery so I think I will do the same.
    I do believe prayer is the answer to our worry and concern right now although I certainly understand the difficulty in focusing on creative prayer and think God understands our cry for help and strength.

    1. Thank you! It is interesting ... yes we are in winter still... I wonder if things will be better in the water months? I hope so!
      Two apple pies are wonderful! The celery really dries beautifully. I will do more but last week celery was $8 a head!! I will see this week and what deals I might be able to find. Thank you so

  20. So glad to hear your dad is better and that you were able to see the girls and Sidney! I haven't been to the grocery yet...I kept planning to go this week but between husband and youngest grandboy, I never made it into the store. Baby boy was sick, so no nursery for him so Gramma was on call. As for husband, he was just up in the air over his own plans so never would confirm with me our plans. So no shopping. Sometimes it's very hard living with someone who wants to be spontaneous and unplanned, lol.

    I managed to take an inventory of our meats/proteins on hand and was pleasantly surprised. I canned my cucumbers and tomatoes. I got one pint each of pickle relish and one of salsa. And I harvested two handfuls of cherry tomatoes from my plant.
    For all that the week was taken up, I got a few things accomplished. All I can do is keep trying.

    1. Dear Terri,
      I hope your little Grandson is feeling better. Terri Andy tends to change his plans all over the place. I am kind of used to this so what I do is set my plans and that is what I do. If it is regards a trip into town I have my own car. This has overcome the hold ups and frustrating changes. (and indecision) I get really frustrated it I cant get on with things. However the other side is when there is sickness et all plans change! With love

  21. Glad to read your father is better. Little Sidney is adorable! Our great grandson arrived this week. His name is Camden and he weighed 8 pounds and 7 ounces and was 21 inches long. We get to go see him this Sunday! I have one Nesco Dehydrator and a small courtyard garden and dehydrate all I can plus buy some frozen veggies to do. I like Rain's videos too. She is so generous to give directions how to make some of the things she sells. That soil looks wonderful. We do go to a compost place and get it for free not far from here and people can drop off their trees, leaves, etc. there. I just received my new Green Stalk garden today. It is a five tier and with a small courtyard garden I hope I like it. Thank you for sharing. Nancy

    1. Dear Nancy,
      Congratulations! That is wonderful news! I think you will love the Green Stalk planter... I know if it from Deep South Homestead on you tube which is another channel I love! Very very peace efficient! How good! With much love

  22. Sidney is so precious. So glad your dad is better. Family is so important, now more than ever!

    That soil is Black Gold I am told. What a nice gift.

    We are still in lockdown also. Churches are closed, only outside services and all the social distancing required and no singing. People are becoming very upset. Our death rate is low but our governor is very strict. 1000 people met at the beach to have an outdoor church service. They sang, no masks, no distancing local officials were outraged.

    Things seem to be hit or miss in the stores. Rationing meat and paper goods, cleaning products still. I able to find Dove soap for a great buy so I bought 20 bars to add to my inventory.

    We have been saving up for a new sofa and loveseat. We went to our local furniture store and the owner told us everything is back ordered to October. She personally had to wait 2 1/2 months for a freezer. So many factories have been shut down or operating on few hours.

    I have been waking up a lot during the nights, my mind heavy with all the things going on. I remember Elizabeth Elliot saying when she couldn’t pray she would just recite over and over till she fell asleep “ Lord Jesus have mercy on me” I have been praying that too” Have Mercy on our family, our country our world”
    I am thankful for this group. It is nice to learn from others and see what is going on in other parts of the world. Praying for blessings, peace and prosperity and health for all of you.

    1. Dear Lynd, Thank you so much!
      What you are saying about your lockdown is similar to our neighbour state. They are much keener to lock down churches than protests for instance. When things aren't fair and even people are going to grow resentful and upset. I am just nothing some serious contractions in some of our rules..
      The Dove soap is a lovely buy. The beauty of soap is it keeps so well and just improves!
      It is also the same here with freezers, many appliances and goods... and also cars.
      Thank you for reminding me of Elizabeth Elliot. I love her saying "do the next thing" and live by that in hard times. This is very helpful too thank you!
      Thank you for your prayers. Have a very good new week. With love

  23. Dear Annabel,
    I was glad to read that you were able to see Lucy and the girls and Sidney. Also happy to hear that your Dad is feeling better. What a blessing to receive the soil for your gardens.

    We, too, are busy preserving our garden produce and amending soil to have a fall garden. This week I planted a dozen broccoli seedlings and planted seeds for a fall crop of beets. To get ahead I made two dozen pumpkin chocolate chip muffins using the wacky depression era cake recipe, scones, 48 gluten free pot stickers using little bits of leftovers for the filling and turkey sausage patties. Wishing everyone a healthy and safe week ahead. Blessings

    1. Dear Cookie,
      Your getting ahead with the cooking sessions sound delicious. It is so good to have frozen muffins and things like that. Being GF also I am always taking food places with me. It is so handy to be able to grab something.
      I hope you have a very good new week and things run smoothly! With love,

  24. Dear Annabel,
    Thank you for your encouraging and beautiful blog! I am so happy that your dad is doing better and that you were able to visit with Lucy and the little ones. Sidney is such a cutie! The dehydrated food is beautiful! I love the bibs. That soil will be such a help.

    We are continuing adding to our pantry. Our neighbor who shares the excess from what she gets at the food pantry continues to bless us and other neighbors. We never know what there will be and sometimes use the internet to help come up with new recipes. Some of the perishables have to be used quickly. Because I know there are things they don't get, such as cleaning supplies, tissues,hand lotion, etc., I get some of those things and share with them, as well as giving them things like half of a melon or a couple avocados that I know they will enjoy. I found someone who lives near us and posts on Facebook when he has extra things people can come get for free with no qualifying, Last week he had loads of milk and boxes of produce--cantaloupe, potatoes, apples, onions and oranges. We stopped by and got a a box for ourselves and 3 for other neighbors. We were urged to take more and take all we could use. I found out later that they were leftover from food pantry distribution. I am amazed that the food pantries are so generous and there is such an abundance left over, especially perishables that can't be stored. I am thankful that my friends are having their needs met and thankful to receive some of the excess that we can use, share and keep from going to waste.

    I am still getting groceries by pick-up rather than going in the store. Last week was senior discount day so I got 10% off and was also able to get some sale items and use some digital coupons. When the gentleman who brought my groceries out told me there were a few substitutions, but I got everything I ordered, I was pleasantly surprised. I even got toilet bowl cleaner. I told him I had ordered the limit of 2 every time I ordered, but this was the first time I got it, he told me that was how they did it and they never knew if they would get it, either.

    Although it's a good problem to have, since I added so much (canned goods, pasta, dried fruit, nuts etc) from my friend, my pantry was getting overloaded and disorganized. I'm working on getting it back in shape and updating my inventory.

    My garden is struggling in the heat. Sweet potatoes, onions,mint, swiss chard, basil and some flowers are still growing. I'm continuing to work on getting soil ready for fall planting. Still saving seeds from our plants and grocery produce.
    A friend gifted me 3 lovely masks she made and even made one for my husband. It looks like masks are going to be part of our lives for some time. I've only made a couple myself, but have been trying some different patterns and fabric and other supplies to make more.

    Have a lovely week and stay safe during these difficult days.
    With love from Arizona,

    1. Dear Elaine, I love how your friends are all sharing the food around and helping each other! This is wonderful. Also it is like an exciting challenge working out what to do with each thing! Like one of those cooking shows! I think you are wise to use it and preserve all you can for later. This seems like a golden opportunity. And doing this my own pantry has had to have many rearranging sessions! In fact today was one of them!
      I am getting the feeling face masks are the new normal too. I started making some again yesterday. I think good idea and also they make good and helpful gifts.
      Have a very good new week Elaine! With love,

  25. I am so glad to hear you Dad is better!

  26. I sense that we are ALL tired of the Covid restrictions! Lately I have been feeling frustrated, but can't really pinpoint why. Covid may be the reason!

    The restrictions in Victoria sound truly awful! I'm glad you found a way to visit your daughter and grandchildren. Sidney is a real cutie! Our son and daughter-in-law will be here in about 10 days, and I'm really looking forward to seeing them. Nothing like family! They live 525 miles from us and we see them a couple of times a year.

    So, this was my week--
    I have now had two pickings of green beans from my tiny garden. I canned 3 more pints = 6 so far. But I've also come to the conclusion this is not going to be a very productive gardening year for me. Too much rain throughout June and not enough sun! I am also picking orange cherry tomatoes. They were supposed to be yellow, and aren't as sweet. My one hill of zucchini has bloomed prolifically, but has just set its first zuke. I should be able to pick it in a few days.

    This was stain removal week! I got a set-in dirt stain out of an almost-new white top, bacon grease out of another top, and red Crystal Lite out of a tablecloth. I pre-treated the spots with Dawn, washed the tablecloth and white top in hot water with bleach, and all of the stains came out!

    I re-stitched the zipper on my daughter's favorite tote bag.

    I made two hanging dish towels from one towel (cut in half) and fabric scraps. I used the embroidered kangaroo motif from a T-shirt from a long-ago vacation in Sydney to make a padded hot pad/trivet. Originally, it was going to be a pot holder, but the embroidery was really too big. I needed a hot pad, anyway. I made the back and binding with two different scraps from my stash.

    I bought two Duracell battery deals at Office Max for a 100% rebate in Rewards = about $34 worth of free batts!

    Two days later, my husband bought a computer monitor online from Office Max. It was on sale for $149--a $100 saving. We were able to apply the $34 in Rewards from the battery deal, plus Honey came up with a $13+ saving if we bought and used an Office Max gift card. Which, of course, we did!

    A neighbor dropped off a bag of plums. They are small, with big pits, so I think she has a flowering plum that forgot it wasn't supposed to bear fruit. The plums weren't worth the effort of processing, but they are delicious to eat fresh.

    Building up my pantry--I got about 10 lbs. of boneless pork loin for $1.59 lb. (half cut into chops, the rest into two small roasts), plus vitamins, a 12-roll pack of TP and a big jar of chopped garlic.

    Hope you have all had a wonderful week. I am definitely going to look into Calm!

    1. Maxine, I think partly we are all bad newsed out. Like the whole year has been stressful. So it has to affect us eventually. You had a busy week with lots of savings! I somehow find it really satisfying to her stains out. I treat it as a kind of challenge. If anyone cant get a stain out they give it to me. I would love some plums. My Aunt has a tree that is just amazing. For us that would be January I think.
      Have a very good new week. With love,

  27. Hi Annabel and Bluebirds

    Well how quick did that month go. Sidney is just such a handsome little guy.

    So glad that even under the circumstances that you got to be able to spend time with the family. It would have been very devastating for the girls if they could not see you.

    Hope your Dad is on the mend.

    Did some sewing last week of the 2 quilts gifted to me and hope to fit in a little more time sewing this week, but not sure it will happen.

    Had some rain here late last week and early on the weekend, but sun is once again shining and warming up.

    Lot's of cooking being done (due to the course) lots of changes in what we will be buying from now on. The cooking tastes just as good if not better. Learning lots but taking a fair bit to get my head around.

    Thinking of all those that are still in lockdown. Lot's of things still missing in our shops be it the supermarket or other department stores.

    Take Care
    Aly xxx

    1. Dear Aly, The quilts will be lovely to have. I am glad you are enjoying the course. It all benefit your whole family. I heard the PM say today he would be surprised if lockdowns are lifted before Christmas! So oh boy we could have a long way to go. I can only thing one week at a time. Thanks so much Aly, with love

  28. Dear Annabel,

    I am so glad to hear about your dad and that you got to see Lucy and the kids! Some very good advice, here, about preparedness and prayer. Things are very busy here as we are in the thick of garden season. I am so thankful for such a productive garden this year! I am preserving everything I possibly can and it is go, go, go from morning to night! Keeps me busy and then I don't worry. :)

    Lots of love,

    Jen in NS

    1. Dear Jen,
      I am so glad your garden is doing so well! I am happy you are preserving, preserving too! You will be exhausted but so glad of it later. Well done Jen. With much love

  29. Here in my area of TX, it's business as usual it seems like. We have to mask up but everything seems to be open and the stores are stocked (except for Lysol and disinfectant wipes). No curfew, nothing. There are not supposed to be big gatherings, but if you watch the news or go out anywhere, nobody is adhering to that. Schools start this week (Some already started), with a hybrid sort of deal - some classroom, some at home online. I'm glad my kids are grown - I don't think I have it in me to homeschool. I feel sorry for those single parents or both parents who have to work who don't have the luxury to stay home to facilitate the schooling. What a complete mess this all is. And I think for those who it hasn't affected, it's like they've gone blind and deaf to it all because it's non-stop everywhere, with so much new information and disinformation everywhere you look. its disheartening for sure.


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