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.

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Pantries and Preparedness, The Seasons and the Sales.

Yesterday I was planning my week.  It dawned on me that my much different way of grocery shopping could make the post Christmas sales very interesting!

One of the best times of year for my pantry has been after Christmas (and sometimes after New Years Day) the supermarkets put the turkeys on a half price sale.  Sometimes less!  Last year I had no luck. But previous years I got turkey for under $4 a kilo which is great for us here!  I would get several and we would have roast turkey in actual winter!  This would lead to pies, soup and many beautiful meals.

The pictures in this post are from everyone showing their recent cooking and finds! 
Kelsey had a windfall of produce all free! 
Her husband attended a truck accident. The driver was ok but a whole load of fruit and veggies were all over the road. 
The helpers were all allowed to take anything home so Kelsey's husband loaded up boxes! 
She was blessed with so much produce! 
Also if anyone asked her she could truthfully say it came off the back of a truck haha! 

After Christmas sales also have supplied my present cupboard with all sorts of little gifts, it is the time to stock up on gift wrap. Actually my current Christmas tree was $5 in an after Christmas sale!
I have stashed chocolate for cooking, cards, decorations etc as well all for amazing prices!
One year recently I had seem beautiful gift wrap that was embossed.  It was $8 a roll so I admired it and that was all!  After Christmas this was 50c a roll and I needed up with five rolls of it!   It was beautiful in crafts to cover journals and in card making and many things!

One of the things Kelsey made was make zucchini bread.  
She also dried Jalapeños, made salsa, froze peppers...

I do not like crowds and avoid them. So I am not talking about waiting in front of department stores in a human crush to be trampled.  No not at all. I am talking about going in regular hours to the supermarkets and little shops and seeing what they are getting rid of after Christmas.   Usually it is a lot!  This applies to all holidays like Mothers Day, Valentines Day, Easter etc.  The next day a vast amount of stuff is marked down and it will be a mix of foods and small gifts, wrap, cards etc.   It can be a great way to build up your pantry and gift cupboard for very little.

Bluey came home with free capsicums! 
Jane wasted no time getting these cooked up!

This will be the first year of having an Aldi before and after Christmas so this will be interesting!  But it will be the first year where I routinely check many stores far and wide.  Last year I felt defeated on the turkeys and disappointed. But now I realise I only checked a couple of supermarkets!  That was a poor effort!  This year I will check many more and go much further!
And this Wednesday I will start with some research...

Janes preserves ready to go!

On Wednesday I am going to see Hilde for Christmas.  First of all she will know the sales that happen in the supermarkets near her.   We go into a discount food store called Rite Price.  Other states have similar ones too.   I will ask them if they get much Christmas clearance stock, do they get hams? Do they get turkeys?  When would be the best time to take a trip down there?
The giant fruit and veggie market next door sells all kinds of things other than fruit and vegetables.  I will ask there,  when is the best time to come and do they sell boxes of almost past it tomatoes, apricots, cherries etc?  And when is the best time to come?   I will make a plan!

Tanya having a Christmas Cake baking day. They look beautiful.

Christmas is by far our biggest celebration so usually this is when I have found the most amazing things.  It can start the new year off brilliantly to have a freezer full, the gift cupboard started and fruit to cook with.  

I have also seen amazing mark downs more at the last minute BEFORE the event however I am less likely to go then as it can still be rushed and crowded.  Although this year I might even give that a try!

Sue started with some fresh sour dough starter as she also lives in Adelaide!  
This was her first attempt at baking with it so she is going to do very well!

The craft store I usually go to is Spotlight.  They carry a huge Christmas range, fabrics,  decorations etc.  I think I will be making a trip there too.  This is where I would normally buy sheets and most fabrics too...

This is the sight of Jane's Christmas pudding cooking outdoors.  LOVE!

An important part of the plan is having funds after Christmas to invest in some of these great deals.  I am doing pretty well there as Christmas really isn't costing us a lot.  I also keep my "slush fund" which is specifically to spend on amazing sales and good finds.  Just now I am working on setting aside extra so that if I am really lucky I can buy at least several turkeys.

The next is freezer space.  Luckily I can use Mums freezer when I run out of room.  This is really helpful as it is not like you can stuff a turkey into a tiny space!

My next job is to study store closures and public holidays.  Very often going in to a store in the evening before a public holiday is a way to find amazing prices.  It takes a special mission but can be an ideal time to strike.   It takes an extra effort but if you are there at the right time it can be massive!

People ask me all the time how do you know what time does your store do mark downs?  The answer to that is to ask the staff.  Each store will vary.  One time in Woolworths I asked the butcher and he was happy to tell me to try about 2pm or 5pm.  From then on I went at 2 pm and there was someone marking the meat down almost every time.  I got some amazing bargains just changing my shopping time to 2 pm.

Most of us are noticing rising food prices. Some dramatically.  There are lots of ways to beat this and seasonal sales are just one!

Have you found any great deals in after the celebration sales?  If you have any tips on this please share!
Next week we will be talking about Christmas left overs.  I love leftovers!   The possibilities are endless for building up your pantry after Christmas.  The bone broth alone is a whole subject!

Have a wonderful week.  It is going to be busy! xxx

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Feather your Nest Friday, 8th December, 2017.

We were so lucky with a cooler week and even some rain.  Being summer now I am grateful of every week that is NOT hot!

Some of the ways I feathered my nest included:

I made tomato relish as I got some cheap tomatoes.  I used Mimi's recipe for this.

I got 9 big jars, two are already missing in my photo! The recipe is here.  I don't have a food processor so I just chopped the onion finely.

I cut Andy's hair.  He wants to look halfway reasonable for Christmas! 😊

This week I was really lucky with free stuff!   Chloe brought me two and a half dozen fresh eggs.
Also two huge containers of shampoo and conditioner.
I was given seven packets of end of the day bakery items... there were french sticks, finger buns,  small loaves...

Most of this I froze to give to Chloe.  It is harvest and the boys are on shifts 24 hours a day. Chloe takes Luke out food she makes up.  All this will help her.

I picked up free lemons from a house that had them out the front with a sign that said free to take.  I left a thank you note.

In an op shop I found an old fashioned hand egg beater.  I love these they are so good.

I visited my Aunt for Christmas.  Her garden is lovely.  Her trees are covered in developing fruit! 

Her apricots have already finished and she had jars of jam on her counter.  The colour was spectacular.

I made Naan bread.  The girls like this so I make a batch and give them some each for the freezer.

I did some Christmas decorating.  We just have a little tree and it is down low so Harper can enjoy it. I have it covered in little birds...

In the garden we have pink Lillies!  Lots more look set to come out too...

I made flourless biscuits. (cookies)

We had a nice dinner home last night as Chloe was visiting.  I cheated and had little individual pavlovas from Aldi with strawberries and cream.  They were gorgeous! 

Each day I have been writing cards and wrapping presents.  I posted a big lot on Monday.  The last things will be posted this coming Monday.  I am getting there!   Then I will get on to some baking.

Today is a gorgeous day.  I will have a flurry around to get some more done for the week.  I can see next week getting booked up.  I am grateful for everything I already did earlier in the year to make this time much easier!  Getting ahead really pays off!  

How did you save,  build up your home and get ahead this week?
Have a  wonderful weekend! xxx

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

The Christmas Challenge. Show and Tell part 2.

This is our last Show and Tell before Christmas!  I am trying to include as many ideas as I can for last minute gifts!

Also I am at the point of planning what I want to make and learn in 2018.  This year Show and Tell has given me a lot of ideas but also inspiration. Seeing what you all make has been just beautiful.  Between us all we have a lot of skills and talent!

Getting to December with a cupboard full of gifts is really a huge help.  Starting in January with crafting, watching for sales and  collecting things makes this happen.  To be able to wrap gifts without even going shopping is lovely just now.  I do not enjoy the crowds.  And December has enough expenses without many more.  Lots of people go into the new year with Christmas debt.  We don't need to do this!  So I am looking forward to a little rest then to get up and running in January again.

Firstly today we have Kimberly.  She just wrote me the loveliest email.  She makes jewellery from feathers.  This is so exciting as I have feathers!  (we have chooks, parrots, the farm has ducks, cockatoos, eagles... !)

Kimberly these are just divine.  They appeal to me so much!  The other day I was saying you can't beat nature.  This is a good example!  Thank you for the photos!

Jane is enjoying her Grand daughters Christmas visit.  She made her a sun hat...

She looks so cute!  We are doing sprinkler fun with Harper.  This is so much fun!

Jane also makes balloon covers.  This makes ballots great fun as they don't break and cause any tears!

Beautiful Jane!

Barb has been making cards...

She also emailed me some gift ideas, thank you Barb.   One idea is to print or make vouchers of service.  If you have hairdressing skills it could be vouchers for cuts or styling.  They could be for baby sitting,  cooked meals,  any skill can be offered as a great money or time saving gift.   One time I was given a gift which was a voucher to stay a week in someones beach house!  It was the most fantastic gift! 
Great ideas Barb!

Jeanette made a crochet octopus!  This is amazing and was a gift for her daughter who loved it!

Jeanette this is incredibly clever and beyond my capabilities! 

Tanya made jars of peanut brittle and recycled fabric to make top covers...

She also made gift bags...

And is packaging up Christmas cooking...

Beautiful Tanya you are always so productive! 

Maria has been baking!  These are so sweet. I love the smily faces!

These would cheer anyone up!  I love them!

Now I am hoping I haven't missed anyone!   Thank you all!  

So far the week has been busy!  I found tomatoes on a great special yesterday and got the really ripe ones even cheaper.  This afternoon I am making relish.  First I am off to Aldi, then taking Harper to the park and it is a lovely day.   

What are your last minute gifts and what do you bake in the next fortnight?  I usually do a lot of small baked presents but I do them in big batches!   I will get to them next week.

See you on Friday! xxx

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Pantries and Preparedness. The boy who cried wolf.

A few things have happened lately that have reminded me of the old "boy who cried wolf story".  In a nutshell this is someone who cries distress over and over until everyone is tired of hearing about it.  Then when something really does happen now one comes to their aid as everyone has had too many false warnings!

In the last couple of weeks we have watched countless news reports about Australians stuck in Bali.  Most are much the same, tired and distressed people wanting to come home but flights are grounded. This is due to a volcanic eruption that they were warned about for months but still thought it was a good idea to go to this area anyway as SURELY the volcano would not dare to interrupt their holiday.
The warnings have been clear,  well circulated,  there was no way to miss them.  But people grew tired of the warnings and went anyway.  Now they are saying things like "But I have children to get home to!"   Possibly they could have considered this before they left!

Some of GardenPats Pantry! 

Another one has been the on and off baby formula shortages.  People in China still do not trust their own supply of infant formula and love to get it from Australia and New Zealand and I don't blame them one bit.  If I was them I would do the same.  But consequently our shelves are often bare or very low.
Quite often I see formula buyers in the car park at the supermarket.  There is usually a three tin limit so they operate in teams to each go in to one supermarket, get three tins, put them in the car, then swap until the car is full.  I have chatted to them as you know me I have to investigate!  They are pleased to tell me how they are making a great profit with this little business.
Because of understanding this shortage and the reasons for it I have always kept back up formula at my place.  Mum keeps it too.  We covered Harper with spares at all times and now we cover spares for Scarlett.  It is not hard to see the need.
I have told Lucy a thousand times to always keep ahead in formula!
The other day Lucy messaged me.  "Mum.... do you have any formula?"
Why yes I do!
She had ordered three cans of formula (the limit) three times on her grocery order.
And now three times NONE had arrived.
This could be a very scary situation.  But having a Mum and Nan who keep their eyes open Scarlett has formula.
One of my missions today is to try to replenish my reserve supply.

Part of Vicky's Cellar Pantry. 

I have written over and over about the importance of being watchful.  But we all get fatigue. The news is mixed with rubbish, social engineering type stuff that has nothing to do with actual events.
So it can be quite difficult.
We also are weary of hearing the same old thing over and over.
And we are busy. It is December!  

There are a few ways of dealing with this so that you are not caught wondering how you missed the signs and in trouble!
One is to always keep your pantry and preparations in good order and as a matter of habit.   Most of us have been working hard on it and I am now at my three year point as it was this time in 2014 that I got the strongest feeling to do something.  We have come so far since then!
But still being busy, distracted, letting things get a bit low... these all happen easily.

Right now I see a situation that I think is like the volcano.  For years a little fat man has been threatening people and everyone is tired of him.  While everyone tires he uses his time to work on being able to follow through with his threats!  Could this be another case of the boy who cried wolf?
There are angels watching over us even when we are blissfully unaware.

More of GardenPats pantry.

The other day I was reading Frugal Measures Blog.  Becky said the nicest thing.
She had just come home with huge boxes of bargain bananas.  She said "Yes, it will be some work but I always said if Heavenly Father sends food to me, I will work hard to put it up."
You can read that post here. 

How beautiful is that!?
Then I saw that GardenPat had found a huge bargain on tomatoes.  And there she was (even though she was busy already) putting it up!

I think it is really hard to discern the important stuff from the rubbish as far as the media is concerned.  I try and was at least successful with the baby formula!  But I don't want to be like the stranded in Bali where I have ignored every warning and now am stuck somewhere I don't want to be.
It is not living in fear to be watchful.  It is our responsibility to look after our families.  This involves being watchful!

Our Heavenly Father watches over us and we watch over those we care for .
And just as I sign off Lucy has phoned saying there is "out of stock" on formula everywhere and can I try to get more?

Girls.  Be watchful. xxx

Friday, 1 December 2017

Feather your Nest Friday. Late post this week!

This seems like the longest week of all time! It is partly because I have been at the farm so my post is late and partly it was a busy week!

First I will start with the most important thing!  Chloe got engaged a week ago Sunday to farmer Luke!

Yes they got engaged in the paddock on the tractor. I guess you don't get any more down on the farm than that!  He posted this picture and said that all in the rows of hay in the morning he found a ring  and she said yes!  They are both so excited it is a joy to see!  We are excited,  Mum and Dad are excited!

So there is a wedding next year!

Ok back to normal life...

I started wrapping Christmas presents.  I am using up all my odd bits of wrap, ribbon, stickers etc!  I always save ribbons.  My tip is to run them through the hair straightener or curling iron and they look brand new again.

I made crustless cheesecake and peanut butter cookies.

Cookie sent me some glittery foam material.  Some of it I used to make Harper a bath toy.  I cut out flowers, stems and birds...

Thank you Cookie! She loved it! 

At the moment many of the streets in Adelaide look like this:

They are Jacaranda trees.  The footpaths and roads are also purple. As is your car if you park under them!

I pruned all my roses as they have finished the first flowering and they needed a tidy up.  This will get me a second round of flowers soon.

On Wednesday I headed down to the farm.  As always I went to the country op shops.  I found Maggie Beer, Donna Hay, Marie Clare and Stephanie Alexander beautiful cook books.  ($4 each) Also jars, a ballerina tutu for Harper,  brand new baby singlets (undergarments) still in packaging which I will embroider.  

At the farm we had an electrical storm and it started fires!  The minute I got there the phone and CB radio was going crazy as a fire was going and everyone was rushing to get it out.  The evening was spent watching lightening.   Several fires did start but were brought under control and since it has rained thankfully.  It isn't many years since a terrible fire came quite close to Mum and Dads house.  This also was just before Christmas so it was scary! 

Mum had two new lots of ducklings just hatched.  I came home with eggs and lots of honey.

Mum also gave me some beautiful jars of moisturiser/skin care so I am stocked up for months!

I often post photos of the farm.  I notice that decorations are natural things.  This is on Dad's table of things he picks up in his travels...

They are from Red tailed Black Cockatoos in the north.  We have the yellow tailed ones at the farm but not the red. They are really stunning!   You cannot beat nature.   Mum has deer antlers and birds nests, feathers and pine cones and things like these on tables and mantlepieces.  Pinecones, gum nuts and antlers are lovely for Christmas as well.   To me these are far more interesting than most things you can buy! 

I am unpacking, catching up, putting up the Christmas tree, wrapping presents... I feel like I have stuff everywhere!  But there is a lot to do! 
With all this I am behind on emails and a lot of things!  But I will catch up over the next week I hope!

How did you build up your home, save and get ahead for the week?
I hope you are having a lovely weekend.  It is hard to believe we are in December!  Summer. Christmas.  An engagement!  xxx

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

The Christmas Challenge. Show and Tell for November. 2017.

Today I am off to the farm!  I am posting then heading south. It is very warm weather too.  As usual I will op shop on the way!  There are two small towns that have great op shops.  This breaks up the trip which is a three hour drive.  It makes it really fun.  Most of the trip is lovely.  I go along the Coorong. If you live overseas then google that as it is interesting!

Today I will start show and tell for November. We are getting so close to Christmas now!

First of all we have Cookie.  She is waiting on the birth of a very special baby and she made a beautiful quilt which was given at the most fantastic baby shower I have ever heard about!

And she is busy now on burp cloths and all sorts of other baby items!  Anyone would love to have Cookie sewing lovely things for their new baby!

Maria made Angel Wings for her Aunt.  What could be better than angel wings? Ruffled angel wings! 

I have always loved this verse.   I think this is a most beautiful Christmas gift Maria!

Also Maria showed me her packaging for her little fruit cakes and Christmas cooking.

I thought this is bright, cheerful, reusable and sealed.  Very good idea.  I could do with saving up some nice containers to do the same.

Kathy recently mentioned inheriting her husbands Grand Mothers quilts. I said how I would love to see them and she sent me photos!  So here they are:

This is my favourite for the quilted pattens and the colouring. Just divine.

These are just stunning.  I know I would have loved this lady.  What work she put into these.  

What is also wonderful to me is that Kathy really appreciates these quits and they will be valued and cared for.  To me these things in a family are worth more than anything you can buy in some shop.  Just far more.

Kathy also shared an op shop (thrift store) find she was thrilled with...

I can see why, I love cups and saucers.  I watch for them all the time!

Thank you Kathy!  I wonder if I will find any treasures today?

If you have work to show please email me at and I will feature it next week.  Feel free to include cooking for Christmas as well as crafts!  In fact as we go into December if you are cooking and packaging up goodies please share as it seems packaging ideas are something we are all looking for.  I can add these kind of pictures at any time!

I will have to post feather your Nest Friday on the weekend when I get back.  But I think I will have a lot to report and will look forward to hearing about your week which I hope will be a great on!  xxx

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Pantries and Preparedness. Fruit season!

We only have three days of Spring to go.  Summer starts on Friday and wherever I go fruit is setting on trees.  I went walking last night and found a nectarine and a peach tree in a lane that I didn't know about!  All covered in fruit!
Usually I pride myself in knowing every fruit tree around and I didn't know about these!  Even our supermarket has a lemon tree in the car pack. It is amazing how few people pick the lemons and walk right past it to buy lemons in the store.  In fact the whole car park has a hedge of Rosemary and once I saw a lady buying tiny sprigs of Rosemary in a little plastic packet.   I have Rosemary five feet high so I am ok there!

Summer is the hardest month here as we get heatwaves and our power prices are the highest in the world.  And we get blackouts as well.  And we get bushfires.  So mostly I am glad when it is over.  But the fruit and summer vegetables are the best thing! The time to get ready is now!

The Plums were from my Aunts lovely garden. 

Laine always prayed before shopping.  Since I changed my shopping ways and shop many stores I also am in the habit to pray before shopping.  To see the best deals, find the things we need and to have things to build up my pantry.  Well, I do the same with fruit season and produce.

For years I had buckets of apricots from an elderly neighbour plus plums.  Her son put her in a nursing home and pushed down all the trees.   Then I had six years of peaches from neighbours over the back and now they pushed down all three peach trees.  Things are looking grim.  (also what is wrong with people!?)

But there are possibilities everywhere and I am praying that I have lots of fruit come my way.  This is my chance to have a years worth of stewed fruit, pies, jam, relish etc for our household and also for the girls.  This also gives me gifts.  I can make up a hamper of five different jams or a pie with a jar of jam.

Figs from the farm. I can count on these!

The last few years Chloe has picked figs from several trees out on the farm.  I suddenly had to become big on fig recipes!  And I have found so many!  I bake them with chicken, wrap them with prosciutto and fill with cream cheese,  make fig paste and jam,  top a pizza.   Chloe is going to be dehydrating them this year as well.   

Whatever it is that comes your way you can turn it into an asset.  Figs for instance sold for $2 EACH here last summer yet there are trees on farm that no one picks.  How often it is that people have a gold mine in their own backyard and not realise.

Chloe took this picture to show me she had made Lemon Butter plus was using the peels to make vinegar for cleaning! 

I keep a basket in the car just incase of finds!  This year I am watching in some of the out of town fruit and veggie shops for cases of tomatoes.  If I can get any at a great price I will be making relish and sauce.  So I am casting my net further afield. 

I let everyone know I make jam.  I am happy to pick fruit and return with cooking in exchange.  I am willing to knock at a door and ask if I see fruit being wasted.  I have made several friends this way!

Fruit, preserves etc also give you something to barter with.  There is a swap group near us and probably they are everywhere.  Your abundance can be exchanged for something else.  This is full of possibilities!

Teri just sent me pictures of her summers work!  Beautiful.

For now I am busy putting the word out.  Saving containers that I could fill with stewed fruit for the freezer.  Saving jars.  Storing sugar, labels and saving lemons or freezing lemon juice (if you add a little lemon juice to jam you never need to buy pectin) 

I watch for jars everywhere!  I save them and wash them up,  get them from op shops and let everyone know I want jars.  I have about a hundred ready right now.  Also I am saving bottles for tomato sauce, plum sauce and who knows what else!

This week I will be in country op shops again.  So I will be watching for more jars. 

More of Teri's current pantry!

A well stocked pantry is one of the best things you can have.  This is all a great way to add a lot to your shelves for very little.  This is making hay while the sun shines!  Aside of supplies you have the ability to go to the pantry to help someone else,  find a present, take something with you when going to visit someone.

This is Rachel's citrus jam.  Looking gorgeous.

Sometimes I end up with something I am not familiar with.  I still say yes!  This is my chance to learn about something new and find new recipes.  This is when the internet is great.  I just google  "recipes using....." and you get so much information.  

Many times we even overlook things right in front of us.  Until Jes taught me I didn't know how to use rosehips.   If you go to Strangers and Pilgrims on Earth you can find information on how to use everything from your apple peels and cores to your orange skins.   They are all resources!

More preserving by Teri.

My Nan always knew every fruit tree (especially lemon tree) in a fifty mile radius.  She loved produce!  I inherited it from her I think.  Recently Allie my niece told me how she just loves picking fruit.  It turned out she knew nothing of her Great Grandmother.  So I let her know she comes from a long line of industrious cooks!  

This year I would also love to do sun dried tomatoes.  I am asking Andy to build me an outdoor drying rack.  Might as well use the scorching heat for something good!  We have dry heat which is ideal.   So I will be learning something new! 

So I hope this summer will be busy with produce.  I am ready!  

Have a good week!  It will be busy here.  And next weekend I will be putting up the Christmas tree! xxx