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.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

The Christmas Challenge. Make your own tea chest.

Kelley has saved me again this week! I had been in hospital three mornings this week and am finally back to oral antibiotics. I think we are getting somewhere now.
But my crafts and gifts are not getting somewhere at all!

So it is with gratitude I share with you another one of Kelley's crafts that she sent me.  I just love this and many of us could use it for ourselves or for a gorgeous gift!  I hope you enjoy it as much as me!

Over to Kelley....

I bought this old jewelry box at a thrift store several years ago for a couple dollars.  I planned to store sewing notions in it when we lived in the Philippines because the sun there was murder on anything in my Inspiration Station.  Honestly, it sat empty for five years.  (That’s not a very dutiful handmaiden is it, Laine?)




We moved to Guam last year, and in reorganizing my crafts, etc. for about 30 minutes this gutted old gem sat in the Give Away pile.  If she wasn’t going to perform any duties around here, out she goes...



…or on the other hand? I got the brilliant idea to repurpose it as a tea chest.  You know, those fancy tea chests that are brought to your five-star restaurant table when you want to order a cup of hot tea with your $40 dessert?  *chuckle*

So, with a a hot glue gun and some lovely tropical fabric scraps from my stash, the tea chest was outfitted with a refreshing new lining.  A cotton trim hid all the bar spots and cut edges and covered the old hinges.  Snips of ribbon and thumbtacks serve to keep the lid open.




I cut the stiff cardboard from the back of a large yellow steno pad to fashion tea chest dividers.  Complementary teal lace was hot glued to the top of the dividers’s cut edges.




I was practically giddy, filling the tea chest with a variety of delightful teabags!  As you can see, the new tea chest holds a lot of teabags, and I couldn’t get over how perfect the dimensions were for this project.

The exterior of the tea chest got a facelift, too.  Using a hot glue gun, the lid was embellished very simply with rectangles of fabric and batting and cotton lace trim.


Wouldn’t this make an ideal gift for the tea lover in your life?  We do lots of entertaining, and perching this happy little handmaiden out on the tea/coffee station at our dinner parties gives me such joy!  All the tea lovers, male and female alike, appreciate the variety of teabag offerings, but the ladies are especially delighted by the tea chest!  You’re going to be like them, aren’t you?  On the lookout for an old jewelry box!  Maybe you already own a special, sentimental one that used to be your mother’s or grandmother’s.  This would be a special way to put that little beauty to work as a beloved handmaiden in your home.

*hugs*
Kelley~

This all is just perfect! Turning something about to be thrown out into something lovely! And kind of luxurious too!  Any tea drinker would love this.  Thank you Kelley!  Your post last week attracted so many comments!  This is the sort of inspiration we need. Use something up... many of us are on "use it up" challenges. 

How is your gift making going?  I have a really good list of projects I am wanting to work on. For us soon it will be autumn and this is a great time to get into some crochet and sewing.  Usually I get so much done then. So I will make up for lost time! xxx


Sunday, 19 February 2017

Pantries and Preparedness. Paying off debt as preparedness.

Last week preparedness was in our news again! That is three weeks running and most unusual. This time the subject was rising household debt, rising national debt and a host of things that do not look good.  Nothing we don't already know but there it was in black and white and it ended with "pay off your mortgages, stock up on canned goods..."
For anyone interested the article was called "Apocalyptic warning for Australian Families".
Now not that all these kinds are articles are true and no one knows the future. But there are signs around us that are enough to cause concern!

In my week I took out all the first aid supplies I have build up over the last couple of years and went through them. I had too much in a small space making it hard to find anything quickly.
I bought a small cupboard to become a first aid station.  It was inexpensive at the cheap shop. This was probably because it came in 30,000 small pieces with virtually no instructions!
Andy came to the rescue and after a lot of muttering we had a really nice cupboard. It is about 1 meter/yard high.


On the right there is a smaller one, just the drawers. This was for my writing paper and stationary! That's another story!

As I stocked this I checked the dates on everything and was pretty shocked how many things were out of date.  I was then making a list of what I need to replace.  I made the top drawer cleaning and antiseptics, cotton etc. All things to clean up a wound.

The second drawer is bandaids of different sizes.



The third drawer is creams, ointments etc.
The bottom drawer is kind of this and that, heat patches and so on.
The side cupboard is large bandages, my super soft hankies, dressings etc.
Medicines are kept elsewhere in the kitchen. 

I showed it to Andy so he knows where everything is kept and can find things fast.  
So it is much better. I hope to add to it weekly.
This week my aim is to go through the car first aid kits and update those.

Now to our article from Vicky.  As our news story mentioned getting out of debt as far as possible is a real form of being prepared.  Paying down debt, resisting more debt...  all of this helps you weather any future storms.  I do not want to discourage anyone who feels overwhelmed by debt.  We are doing what we can, with what we have and as we can!   But I notice all the time people adding to their debt rather than reducing it.  Someone on our street already double mortgaged their home to pay for something big and unnecessary.  Things were really bad for them. Then last year they took out a loan for $30,000 to have a party! We were scratching our heads.  Last month they were forced to give up their home.  
 This is also a subject in the news/media a lot. Recently it was about Smashed Avocado and the cafe lifestyle. People were saying life isn't worth living unless you can eat out at the cafes and travel every year.  Apparently its $20 to have someone squish and avocado onto some toast for you.  By travel they don't mean down the coast for an ice cream they mean world travel. But they also want a house! The credit cards are maxed out and so it goes...
Sometimes we have choices.  Along these lines I really loved this article by Jes... relevant to use as we need to do something about our bathroom!
Many times we can apply this in different ways!


Over to Vicky!


 Debt Free!!!....... Now what? 

As most of you know last year we paid off half of the mortgage and already paid off most of the other debts we had and now this year we paid off the second half of the mortgage and are 100% debt free. First we paid it by halves so that it would be in two different tax years thus saving us thousands in taxes. Second by making the decision to pay it off now versus later we have saved what would equal the cost of another small house in interest alone. Forty thousand to be exact. 
It has been a long journey for us over the years to say the least! And although we have gotten a lot of flack for our decision we stuck to our plans and achieved our goal. Maybe not in the way others would agree with, but it's done. 
It started with learning to save on groceries. Then starting the snowball effect by paying off smaller debts first and rolling the money from that payment to another payment to start paying off something else. Then came stockpiling and preparedness efforts. And having an emergency fund. All the while we learned we could actually live better and manage things much easier and be able to take care of ourselves through many circumstances. 
The opinions vary from we are stupid to oh boy now you can party all of the time you have no worries, Yeah...no we still have insurances and property taxes and electric, etc. We still have to rebuild the emergency fund and have the funds for repairs on the home and vehicles if needed and doctors and dentists. All on what the Mr. is able to make and his lovely wife being the frugal gal she is. 
So what is our plan for now? Well our first plan is to continue as we have since we seem to do well and both enjoy our lifestyle. We will continue to save in all of the ways we have before that won't change and with the Vicky Challenge if there is extra to bank we will do so. We need to tear down and replace an old garage and pay cash to replace it that is what we are currently saving for. I have seen too many people that when circumstances get a little better they quit saving or quit being frugal and go right back to a lifestyle they can't afford a vicious cycle that never ends. Slow and steady wins the race! We need to learn from the things we do and continue learning. 
To be honest we have had discussions on the matter of wouldn't it be nice to do this or that, but in the long term those are only fleeting moments of instant gratification, we want a life time of it. 
So to end this I will say that in the long run the wonderful friendships we have made and the support we have been given by people who many don't know us in person or us them has given us the enjoyment and encouragement to just keep our lives as they are. Thank you Blue Birds! 
XOXO
Vicky

Thank you Vicky!  I am so happy your place is now all paid for and you do not have anymore payments! This is a great achievement and security!

A couple of weeks ago I had a bad bite and was really unwell with it. We put it down to a spider as it became infected almost straight away.
I blamed the peach tree as I had been rummaging through that!  But on Thursday I had another one. I had been in the garden as usual but I could have got it anywhere. It was in the exact same spot on my other arm.  We have turned up the house, sprayed, used bug bombs and never found one bug. Outside Andy sprayed with a professional spray kit (and I hate sprays!)  
This bite acted exactly the same and became infected in a few hours. This time I knew what was ahead of me and got to the Doctor the same day.  I had antibiotics again but still the pain is awful and throbbing and hot. Not much sleep.   Yesterday it got worse instead of better and more of my arm looked bad and I ended up in hospital on a drip.  By then I was glad to be there. I was allowed to come home for the night and have to go back in this morning. 
They are great but only interested in fixing the infection. So far no one is interested in identifying what is biting me i.e. is it a spider or have I developed some huge reaction to a Mosquito bite or something (which is apparently possible).
I have never been prone to bites and never had a severe reaction. 
To me my problem is that I feel panicked that I will get another one. I feel sick at the thought.  
I need prayers for a solution!  

Have a good week!  Keep working on your preparedness! xxx


This was taken by Rachel's Dad. A Kangaroo at his place! 







Thursday, 16 February 2017

Feather your Nest Friday, 17 February 2017.

We had a really busy week to the extent that I am amazed I have anything much to report as far as nest building goes.  But I jot things down and I still got some cooking done and made some progress!
I feel better about the week now that I have looked back over it!

Nest wise the best news is baby Scarlett is doing well and gained weight and her big sister loves her! This is Harper saying goodnight that was just a little moment Lucy snapped and I just love!


So this was the best part of the week by far!

How I built up my home this week:

I did some re arranging and tidying up. I prettied up the front hallway with flowers...


I did a big shop at Aldi and on the way home went to a fruit and veggie shop that is kind of out of the way for me. But it was a big success! They have good prices but that day was amazing. I think maybe because the weather was really hot there were hardly any people around. Anyway I got the best prices I have seen in a long time. My car was full of baskets of tomatoes, cucumbers, you name it. I was thrilled.  

Due to requests I made fruit and nut balls...


We kept half and the rest walked out the door! :)

We picked apples from our tree. It is only the second year so pretty good!


I made all the work lunches.

Andy cleaned the air conditioner filters and the whole yard.

I made a big batch of spaghetti sauce. This gave us two meals,  some went into the freezer and some went to the girls as well.


I made bread and focaccia.


For Valentines Day I made a double batch of Chocolate Brownies as my present to Andy (and a card). I tied it up with a ribbon.  He loved it! 


I got pink orchids! These are so lovely and I hope I can keep them going!


I improved our preparedness too by sorting out our first aid supplies and getting a special cupboard set up for it all. Now we can find everything easily. Much better. 

I also set up a little cupboard for my writing paper and pens etc. I love it! At least all in one place!

Because my week has been a bit interesting I haven't worked out my Vicky Challenge totals yet. I have my list so I will get to it on the weekend.  It should be pretty reasonable this week!

I hope you had a good week! How did you get ahead, save or build up your home?  
Next  I am making a cake covered in plums inspired by Janine's.  I have some dough coming along for some pizzas.    Have a good weekend! xxx





Tuesday, 14 February 2017

The Christmas Challenge. A guest post by Kelley.

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Pantries and Preparedness. Encouragement.

I think in everything a little encouragement goes a long way.  That is what this post is about.  Making progress in any area just means sticking to it and even in tiny bits it all adds up!
When I first started on being more prepared there was no encouragement on the subject around me except for what I found online.  I had some basics from my Mum and Nan's. Without them there was nothing!
But now things have changed. Preparedness is suddenly in our media in one way or another everyday. It is not presented positively but it is there in mostly dire warnings and grim scenarios. Still that is a kind of motivation!
Last week I mentioned how even members of parliament were saying we need to go out and buy generators.
Since then there have been widespread heatwaves. In Adelaide we had it pretty hot (about 41, almost 106)  and at night the coolest was about 30 (86) and this is plenty hot enough but still short of what we often get which is 43 and 44 and the odd 45 or 46!  None the less this was all too much for our electricity supply.  This time rather than have the entire state crash "they" (no one knows who they are as there is still argument who is responsible) decided to just turn off the power to 90,000 homes. With no warning.
So the news has been taken up with all of this, the heat, the electricity problems and so on. In a backwards kind of way it is all motivation to be prepared. And another big supplier of electricity is a plant over the border in Victoria. And it is being shut down entirely in March. This means the shortage we have now is nothing to the shortage we have coming. Yet nothing is done. A crucial bit of infrastructure can be sold and then closed and the government do not stop it.   We have such unreliable power that we rely on Victoria and we import it. However a large chunk of their own supply is about to end. So you don't have to be Einstein to know what is ahead.
Yep that's motivation!

We were very lucky. In the heatwave we only lost power for three hours. And Lucy's home with the new baby did not lose power at all. That was my main concern.  But we have a fair bit of summer left and we could get an actual higher temperature heatwave easily. I am confident there would be no power as they didn't manage what we had!

When I started out I found a lot of encouragement online. This was huge! It meant I could learn, research and have some support and truly this helped me so much in that first year and last year the second year.
Then a couple of weeks ago Vicky wrote me the nicest email!
Contained here is a verse I had never considered!  You will see... it is so so true!


I think we all have a person who we maybe tend to give more time and effort than they do, the ones who always have some kind of problem or drama and we have to do the right thing and lend an ear? Well I have one like that! I patiently listen to her problems and offer what advice I can. I have tried to include her or get her involved in many things including joining in the reading of The Blue Birds Are Nesting and the Christmas Challenge. She's like Oh yeah just a blog. 
I thought about that? Just a blog? And it weighed on my mind for a few hours. And I thought about it. 
Then I called her back and told her no some are not just a blog, it's a community, many friends, fellowship, encouragement, sisterhood! 

Luke 15:8. Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it?
And when she has found it, she calls her friends and neighbours together, saying, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found the piece which I lost!'

I read her this verse to her and tried to explain to her that although most of us are far apart that like the woman in this verse we call upon each other to rejoice. Rejoice in our savings like the lost coin, putting forth the time and effort into our pantries and preparedness and organization. Rejoicing in new skills learned or old ones shared with others. Sharing prayers for those who need them and lifting each other up. Encouraging one another to be our best no matter what our best might be? Putting a value as we should to our work and ways. And feeling good about it!

It just goes to show that if we but look we can find exactly what we need. Sometimes a little encouragement really can make a difference in our world or finding that common bond that we have lacked before. There is such joy to be had in life especially from the simple things that it helps take some of the bite out things that are not going so well. 
Oh I know there will always be those who thrive on having to have some kind of problem or another, but we can take comfort in knowing that we have our own little retreat from it in the form of "just a blog!" 

XOXO
Vicky

I loved this so much!  I have found so much encouragement from your company and that's what we do! We have a place to share and rejoice our progress and good news!  I have found several places that I can do this including with Patsy, Jes and Wendy (and others) on their blogs. This makes a big difference to me. I have family too that will celebrate with me. 
We can easily know no one in person that thinks we are anything but mad trying to build up our households and pantries etc.
Mind you, I notice, anyone who thought buying a generator was ridiculous doesnt think so anymore they are more likely asking where did we get it, how does it work and so on. (While wishing they had bought one in time.)  haha! 

In life there are people who will support and encourage you and there are those who will tear you down. The effects are dramatic. I think it can take five minutes for someone to suck you dry of happiness and enthusiasm! But also five minutes of building up can make a world of difference!  The beautiful verse Vicky has pointed out shows we are meant to be able to rejoice together!  I also love the one thats says "...encourage one another and build each other up" (1 Thes. 5:11)  We need that.  

It is my hope that by doing this it will help us get much further as the year goes on.  Vicky said not to feel overwhelmed with trying to get ahead and get prepared.  Just try to do something every week. With a bit of encouragement we can have fun doing it too!


Maria made the cake I posted on Friday's post!  


She used sewed nectarines. Also she served it with cream as a desert. It made her husband very happy!


Janine also made it! She had free plums!   I love free fruit! 



How beautiful these look! That is encouragement to me! Seeing my cake pop up in other kitchens! 

Have a good week!  Do you have plans to increase your preparedness?  I am re organising my first aid supplies for one as they have grown and now it is hard to find what we want in a hurry. So a big overhaul is happening! xxx




Thursday, 9 February 2017

Feather your Nest Friday, 10th February, 2017.

It has been a very hot week here!  And very busy!
Baby Scarlet was a week old yesterday and has gained weight. All going well!

My nest feathering and savings included:

Lucy needed extra baby linen and burp cloths. I was able to go to the cupboard and grab things from my supply. I have been putting away things for future babies for years!


Some of these I made over ten years ago. How is that for getting ahead! 



I reviewed what I have at the same time.  Whatever she needs I have a dozen of them! 

I used up the last of the peaches.  To finish them off I made peach cake using this recipe here which is ideal to use up stone fruit and it also uses up left over yoghurt (which I always freeze).


I made the recipe x 3 which was 18 eggs!  This got me two huge slabs in my biggest baking pan plus a heart shaped cake for a gift.


This cake is nice served warm as a desert.


The rest was sliced up into portions and frozen.  Everyone got some!  So the last peaches live on for some time yet. They were wonderful!

On the side of the road there was a broken old table. I could see it was cedar. So I grabbed the biggest bit of the table top which was pretty big.  Andy confirmed it is cedar and he was wanting wood to make two side table tops!  It would be worth at least $50. I think there is enough to make some chopping boards as well.

I made a tray of Chicken Enchiladas. They turned out great and so easy. I haven't made them before. I think they would freeze well also.

Andy went fishing with his son.  They returned with a whole Eski full of crabs...



I sent them off as usual with a big picnic. They had a wonderful time which was evident by the smiling faces showing me the catch!  They divided them up and this gave Andy two dinners this week which he loved. 

 I made two trays of scrolls. One of ham and cheese and another of vegemite and cheese. That took care of lunch boxes. The fishing picnic was actually slacks of the peach cake and scrolls. 


Andy picked up some extra work which he will do over the weekend. He is happy about that.

So not a bad week. It just all adds up doesn't it!  


For my Vicky Challenge I counted:
2 kilos of crabs and free meals $50.
2 trays of scrolls   $70
The fishing day picnic $50
The weeks lunches $100
The cedar $50
All the cake slices in the freezer $50

I wrote $370 into my savings book for this week.

How was your week? How did you save and get ahead this week?
I need to shop today so am off to Aldi. I love going there!   With Andy working over the weekend I think I will do some cooking provided the weather cools down a bit.  
Have a lovely weekend! xxx








Tuesday, 7 February 2017

The Christmas Challenge. Show and Tell from January, Part 2.

I am so impressed by how much everyone achieved in January!  After last week I wondered if there would be much more but there sure is!

I hope you find both ideas and inspiration!

Our first pictures are from Kelley.

First of all she has been stitching greeting cards. What an idea! How special, personal and lovely!



Seeing this I wondered why on earth I never thought of it! Thank you Kelley this is an idea I can use for sure!  I won't be the only one thinking this!



And another idea...  Kelley had a purchased embroidery floss holder. Using that as a template she used a tissue box to get started on cutting out more.


And she kept going until she organised all her embroidery floss!


She also made some cards suitable for Valentines Day...


Thank you Kelley you have managed to combine card making and embroider, inexpensive and lovely plus recycling! 

Next we have Cookie. Remember the beautiful jars that Cookie painted? Previously we have had fabric baskets and a variety of other things ... she also quilts!

                                                                                                         
This year she is having a "use it up" challenge and she used bigger bits in this quilt and smaller bits in this one...



Beautiful. An enormous amount of work to have achieved so early in the year!  I was trying to use x ray vision to see Cookie... if that is her behind these quilts!  You have used your winter really well Cookie!

Jane sent me more photos. She featured last week as well.  This is wonderful to see!
She made bath bombs...


They look so professional. They are so expensive in the stores!

She also made Lavender Salve and re useable make up wipes...



The makeup wipes are something I really need to make. Brilliant idea.

And Frangipani Bath Bombs...  Frangipani to me is so beautiful. Amazing work Jane. Plus I'm guessing you had a lot of fun working on all of this!


Leigh made wrist warmers for her daughter....



And Lip Balm. These look lovely. 



For more information see her blog at A Chat over Coffee.   Thank you Leigh these are beautiful.

Jan world a beautiful edging which she sewed onto a towel...



I love edgings.  This is a stunning one!

If you didn't find any ideas from everyones efforts I am going to throw in the towel! haha not really but there are wonderful things that make me want to try more things and get crafting as the last couple of weeks I have mainly been cooking.

I hope I haven't forgotten anyone. It has been a really busy week.  Lucy and Scarlett are home from hospital and I got to help bath her last night! Oh my goodness she is so cute!
Today and tomorrow are  41 degrees ( about 106) which I don't love!

Kelley has asked for prayers for her precious Mum who is 77 and had just been diagnosed with
cancer.   She could really do with some lifting up at this time.  We didn't get the nickname "crafty prayer warriors" for nothing so lets get to it!

See you on Friday! xxx