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, 22 August 2017

The Christmas Challenge. Show and Tell for August, part 1.

This morning I woke up to no power and I thought no blog will happen today!  But it just came back on!  So far it has been a busy week and I am working on unpacking many finds from yesterday.  I went south on  a further afield shopping trip and saw my friend for her Birthday at the same time.  It was a really good day!  But more about that on Friday!

I love seeing what you are all making and creating.  Everything is beautiful so far.

First of all we have Suzanne.  She has been making Cherry Jam and look at her beautiful presentation...


This looks so stylish Suzanne and I love the way you did the labels! 

Jane is busy as ever!  She is working on two rugs for her parents new caravan.   These will be christmas presents. 


She has Fathers Day sorted as well as she made her Dad a hat and she found the gloves in her travels...



I really love this!  What a nice present for a man.

And since home from the trip Jane started on writing up new and often used recipes on to recipe cards.  



We got talking about this as I LOVE recipe cards.  Jane sent me a heap of pictures of how she made them and then how she is storing them to use and this is all so beautiful we are going to have a tutorial.  I need to do this. I made a set years ago but now I have so many recipes that are newer so it is time to do them again.  They are equally gorgeous at home or for gifts!

Kelsey made beautiful thank you cards ...


And a relative was having  a baby. Kelsey and her husband combined forces. Her  husband made a wooden box and used horse shoes (from the ranch) to make the handles!  This was all perfect as the new baby is a little boy and the nursery theme is COWBOY.  This melts my heart.   


Kelsey made a baby rug with plaid and horses!  This is just a beautiful gift.  The tags are just perfect too!  

Lucy decorated a light for Harper's room.   The cover was $1 in a cheap shop. Then she stuck on butterflies which Harper loves...


This matches the pin up boards she made earlier. 

We will go on with show and tell next week.  If you would like to share what you have been making please email me at brinkzi21@hotmail.com I really love hearing from you. 

I am printing this while I can as the power went out again when I was about half way through! 

I hope your week is going well!  See you on Friday! xxx





Sunday, 20 August 2017

Pantries and Preparedness. Learning to make pasta with Vicky.


The last weeks have been big learning weeks for me.  Gradually I have eliminated quite a few things from my shopping lists.  Some of them are surprisingly big savings!  Also one thing seems to lead to another i.e. making my own yoghurt has given me lots to play with and so I made my own Tatziki Dip which is something else new. Another thing I no longer will buy!

Before we get started I am going back to an old Laine's Letter.  This is just an excerpt but it is full of motivation to increase your cooking skills to help beat rising prices and get ahead.  It starts with a reader question...

2~ Can you tell us how you are handling the food prices going up? I don't seem to be doing so well in this area. I know you've written about it many times, but I need a pep talk so much.
Yes, I have watched the food prices go up as well in my area. And the gas is higher than this time last year, as well as our electrical and water bills. So I am doing my best to readjust my budget accordingly and continue to save as much as I can. I pray for God's help all the time!
My best advice to give you is to learn how to cook as much as you can from scratch. I am still amazed at how much I save from a continuing learning and growing in this area. I learn from cooking shows, magazines, friends and family, the ladies on this list, and cookbooks from the library. I am constantly trying new recipes to increase my knowledge.
It is so wonderful to know how to make pasta from scratch, as well as egg noodles, muffins, doughnuts, french fries, tortillas, bread, or numerous other things. They really require so few simple ingredients, so it is much cheaper to make them than buy them. Plus it is so much tastier as well. We have so many recipes on our website for you to try. And learning to cook with leftovers is so important, too. So often I look as forward to the leftovers as I do the main meal, because I know what I'll be cooking with them next.
It is also good to buy seasonally when things are on sale. For example, I just bought all my canned pumpkin for the year while it was on sale at Thanksgiving. I did the same with cranberries and froze them for the year as well. I do the same thing during the summer on certain fruits and vegetables. I also used coupons for cream cheese and stocked up on that this past week, as well as many baking goods. With cheese rising in price, it is nice to know how to make it; so I want to increase my knowledge in this area for the future.
And that is really the key, increasing our knowledge in cooking, baking, canning, freezing, growing, and drying food. The more we learn, the more we can save. It is also so important to be ahead of our families in this area. That is why I love to do my cooking in the morning, because then there are good things for them to eat all day. And I know what is coming out of the oven, so there is a plan for dinner when they ask me. Then we don't need to eat out or munch on junk food, which are both costsly and not good for our health.
"She is like the merchant ships, she brings her food from afar, she also rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and a portion for her maidservants." Proverbs 31:15
"The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish pulls it down with her hands." Proverbs 14:1
I think it is a continual learning and growing in our homes. I am constantly asking the LORD to teach and train me!


With those words to get us going now over to Vicky and her pasta demo.   Some of you will already be wonderful at this!  But I have always thought it was to fiddly for me surely!?  Now I am determined to learn.  So I hope this also helps others like me!

Vicky says in this tutorial her pasta isn't thin enough but her husband was hurrying her along and she was taking photos as well!  But to get it thin!  She also said it costs her about 40c to make a small batch of pasta.

She also says that she allows one cup of flour and one egg per person.  But to start off with a small batch to get the hang of it!


Here we go...

Start by sifting 1 cup of All Purpose flour onto the counter in a mountain shape and then make a well into the flour. 



You want 1 whole egg and 1 yolk in the well, but hang onto the second egg white in case your dough is a little dry then you can add it in. And add a dash of salt. 



Using a fork scramble the egg the well and when all scrambled going in circles start pulling the flour into the egg just like you're still scrambling the egg.




When you have mixed enough of the flour in to start forming a dough using your hands, start needing the dough. If it is sticky add flour a little at a time until it isn't sticky and knead until it is firm yet pliable.



 A good way I tell is I wash my hands because they will be messy and then give it another knead or two and if it isn't sticking to my hands I call it good. If it is still sticky add a little more flour and knead some more. 



After you have it all kneaded wrap it in plastic wrap and leave it to rest for 30 minutes. 



Divide your dough into workable pieces and sprinkle the counter with flour and start rolling it thin.



 Once your dough is rolled thin you can start cutting it. A pizza cutter works really good. 



Drop into salted boiling water. They will cook in 1-3 minutes depending on you like them so be ready to take them out not long after you drop them in the boiling water and voila fresh pasta! 


Vicky says that you can make soup noodles, buttered noodles, fettuccine with spaghetti sauce, chicken and noodles or whatever you like!  And that thinner again is Linguini noodles. 
She served her noodles here with butter and parsley. 

Thank you so much Vicky!  You make it look possible! haha! So I promise to get going!


Next week we are studying menu planning with Laine!  She recently got me started on menu planning and it is not what I thought.  My idea of menu planning was a list of my meals for the week.  Well, that is the beginning but there is so much more!  It is new to Laine too and you will see how this can save you so much money and also build up your emergency meals.  Laine who stretches a dollar unlike anyone else I know still has managed to halve her grocery shop with her new menu planning. I find this amazing since she is so frugal already!  But this is the power of menu planning. 
Then we have a Ravioli tutorial from Rachel!  I have so much lined up that I need more Mondays! 

Do you make your own pasta?  What would you really love to learn how to make but have never quite taken the plunge?  I am thinking there will be other tutorials that we can have as we have some great skills between is all!

Have a really productive week!  Be diligent and watchful!  xxx




Thursday, 17 August 2017

Feather your Nest Friday, 18th August, 2017.

What a week!  Overall the week went too fast and my legs couldn't keep up or that is how it feels!
But... two huge things happened.  The first is that we do not need a new air conditioner and it cost $180  all up to be back up and running.  The service guy went over the whole thing throughly and said the last man that serviced it told us a bunch of lies.  This unit should last us at least several more years.  This is like winning the lottery since it would have cost us thousands!  And we also have heating again!

The next big thing is that we have approval for a pay out on our floor insurance and have one form to sign this afternoon before the money is paid into our account.  So I shouldn't count my chickens before they are hatched but the money should be paid then and I can go ahead and book in the new floors!  Since the floors we want are a lot cheaper than the floor we had this means we have money left over to build up our emergency fund as well!  And it means my planned kitchen re organise can happen as we put all the furniture back in after this work is all done.

Both of these things are a big relief and help! So this was a big week that is for sure.

Otherwise... some of the ways I built up my home this week were:

I made a beef casserole from beef on a half price special.  It was really good and the left overs went straight into pies.


I freeze them this way, slightly under browned, so when I put them in to oven next time they will not end up too brown.

I made two more batches of yoghurt.  I decided to compare methods and ingredients.  To make vanilla flavour I added some vanilla paste and some sugar.  I also invested in a yoghurt maker so that the only electricity I need to use is to boil the kettle.  


This came with the one litre container and I have a jar that fits that makes half that.  So I can make either amount.  I am looking for two jars that will sit on top of each other then I can make two containers set in the pot.  I am loving this!  It is a staggering saving too.

I had a few op shop deals.  One was some jars for my pantry.  


There were from 50c to $2.  They will help me set up my spice cabinet when I find it! 

Also I found another teacup set for $5.


Drinking tea from a nice cup is one of my daily lovely things.  So now and then one gets broken.  This is how I get them though.  Some simple pleasures in life are  easy to add to your day.  To me this makes all the difference! 

I also found a large heart shaped baking tin for $2. I thought this would be nice also for heart shaped pies! 

I used up two packets of the spice mix I made to cook Vicky's Enchilada sauce.  Oh my goodness!  It made much more than the three jars I used to buy and saved about $12!  And it tasted beautiful!  
I simmered the chicken for quite a while and reduced the sauce.    Then I made up three trays of enchiladas...


We had them for dinner and also a lunch.  I froze a tray and gave a tray to Lucy for their dinner.  She messaged me to say there were DELICIOUS.  Truly they were miles better than with the jars of sauce.  So this is something else struck from the shopping list. Thank you Vicky! 


I serve the with a green salad and they look so nice! 

I made soup with left over veggies.

Lemons and garden parsley were sent home with Mum when she went back to the farm.



Lamb shanks were made into a curry.  This turned out really good which was lucky as I cooked 6 this way. 

I made 16 Naan Bread which also used up some of the yoghurt I have been making.


I used more yoghurt in a big batch of raita sauce and free mint from the garden.

And I made two loaves of bread which I need to slice up today to freeze.

I think that is about it.  Everything else is the usual stuff!  Yesterday Harper came over for most of the day.  We watched a ballet performance on you tube and she didn't move a muscle. It went ages and ages and at the end she clapped furiously then said "more!!" so we watched it again!

I don't have a clue how much I saved on my Vicky Challenge, I will work it out over the weekend. It was quite a bit though.

I hope you had a good week!  How did you build up your nest, save, get ahead?

This afternoon I have to go and sign this form.  There is a large secondhand shop really close by so I will check it out incase my spice cupboard is in there!
Have a wonderful weekend! xxx


Tuesday, 15 August 2017

The Christmas Challenge. Mid August. 2017.

My Christmas cupboard is looking really healthy!  It is a combination of things I have made, bargains I've found and even some op shop finds.

Yesterday I called into an op shop (thrift store) and came out with another very good basket for making up a hamper gift. I get these when I see them and this was a big one for three dollars. It would hold a big cake, jars of jam, or one of my cleaning gifts with wool wash, miracle spray, cleaning cloths and so on.

These last few weeks I finally made some cards for men.  I watch out for images all the time and I really liked these ones from an English magazine...



Since my family are farmers these are great. I got twelve cards all up.

I finished crocheting wash cloths (or cleaning cloths) to pair with all the soaps I made earlier in the year...


I add these to the cleaning themed baskets as well (along with the soaps) and so these are a handy addition to have a heap of!  And all my crochet cotton is now used up.

As well as the beautiful vintage magazines from Deb I had a parcel from Mimi!  She sent me lovely fine angora wool with a sparkle.  You know I love sparkle! 


I have plans for this. It is going to go into a blanket! 

With my bulk herbs and spices buy up I have made up jars of herbs and also ready made mixes and some of these are going into kitchen themed gifts...



The other day I saw bargain big wooden spoons. I love wooden spoons!  I got some of these as something else to add to kitchen gifts along with my bunches of herbs etc.

I love to be able to give away herbs and this week I gave away parsley and lemons.  Anyone who cooks loves stuff like this as it is so useful.



Something that is helping is my further afield shopping.  I feel if I have travelled further for good deals that I should make the most of the trip and go into the good op shops while I'm there.  This is really working!  I have put away some amazing gifts for 50c to $3 price range. Oh and also lovely containers and baskets to make up hampers. These are so handy to have ready to go.  I have to note... a nice basket makes a whole bunch of odds and ends suddenly look abundant and lovely.  So it might be something I baked, jars of jam, bunches of herbs, some Bay Leaves packaged up etc but all in a basket it looks so nice.  If you want confidence to do this look online at hamper gifts and notice the prices! 

How is your gift cupboard going?  I am at the point now where I am feeling ahead with gifts and in a pinch I could go to my cupboards and find a suitable gift, card and wrap for most people and most occasions.  This is a good feeling!  It is also another thing that is like money in the bank. I do not have to budget for those gifts. 

This afternoon I am going to Aldi and there is a big op shop right around the corner from there as well so I am trying to pair up these shops as a regular trip.   

I hope your week is going well!  We have had heaps of rain but just now the sun is shining and it's lovely.

Next week we will be heading towards the end of the month again so if you would like to be in Show and Tell send me your pics to brinkzi21@hotmail.com   I LOVE seeing what you have been making, your ideas and even your thrift store finds and baking!  Love it all! Thank you! xxx








Monday, 14 August 2017

Pantries and Preparedness. More "Make your own" mixes and money savers.


This week we have some more wonderful money saving mixes to help out your pantry.  Gardenpat has been making some of these mixes for over thirty years!  She has eleven children (grown up) and really knows a thing or two about building a pantry, saving and making the most of what you have!  I will let pictures speak louder than words....


Many of you know Gardenpat from her comments here and her quilts.  She quilts equal her canning! Or maybe more quilts?  She and her husband have a wonderful veggie garden, build things with reclaimed wood... they are so industrious.  I love hearing what they did in a week!  And they keep on learning and recently built a chicken house and got chooks too.

So when Gardenpat asked if I would like some of her mixes that she regularly uses I said yes please!
It is a bonus that I can also show you her pantry and some of her produce!


So over to Gardenpat...

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Feather your Nest Friday. 11th August, 2017.

Thank you so much Vicky! She took over for me on Wednesday and did such a good job.  I have just had a virus I think so it has been a fairly slow week.  Lucky I got a few things done before this set in!

It was a bit of a mixed week as well.  I had some lovely things like a beautiful parcel of sparkly wool from Mimi (I will put this in my next craft post) and a parcel of vintage homemaking magazines from Deb P.   Some of these are from 1958 and they are just gorgeous.  Reading them I have found I like them better than todays magazines.  Some of the tips and recipes are really good!  The images could make amazing cards if I could cut them up but I am not sure about that yet!  Thank you so much Deb!


We are still stuck with a terrible messy floor and the last time I rang the insurance company we were told another two weeks..... which is up today.  I will be back on the phone I guess.  
And our air conditioner is also our heating system.  We know it is old and we know the air conditioner was slow last summer.  The service man said it needed new gas and you can no longer get this type of gas since the government banned it.  So we knew we will be needing a new one soon.  But this week it died completely and now we have no heat either.
The government also banned coal so having electricity at all this summer is a wait and see game!
I guess you can tell I am not thrilled.  Not feeling well and things going wrong are not a good combination! 

Earlier in the week I made lots of ready to use mixes (as shown on Monday).  These have been handy all week! 
First I went to our Greek Wholesaler that lets the public in.  It is a huge store, like a warehouse.  They have  giant bags of herbs and spices that are so fresh and beautiful.  The prices are so cheap compared to the tiny bottles sold in the supermarket. 




This was some of my haul when I came home! 


Then I started making up some of my pre mixes and sealing herbs and spices in jars. 


Yesterday I posted in A Working Pantry Classroom as Patsy is currently really busy.  My subject was how to store and use herbs and spices.  Little bottles don't work for me as I have big ones.  I think I am going to have a small cupboard just dedicated to these.  When my floor is finally done I can set things up in a new way to allow for this.  Then the plan is to make many more things from scratch and my own pre made mixes! 

While laying low I studied!  Gardenpat  sent me some of her best, tried and tested, mixes that she makes.  There is a wonderful list!  Cath helped me with making instant custard powder (in any flavour) and also with how to make my own condensed milk.   I need a recipe book to write all this up in now.   Next week I will post all of these recipes, they are amazing! 

I made two more batches of yoghurt.  One lot I made into something else I just made for the first time from scratch,  Tatziki Dip.  Another use for my yoghurt!  It was so easy and good. 


We had this with lamb last night.   To go with it I made Pitta Bread Chips.  This is where you cut pitta bread into 12 triangles.  Spray them with a little olive oil and sprinkle with what ever you like... I used a tiny bit of garlic powder.  Bake them on baking paper for about ten minutes on each side.  This is a really cheap way to provide chips or crackers to go with dips. 

I made pizzas and used the bargain bacon off cuts I got when shopping with Hilde. There was a lot of bacon and I cooked some up and Andy had this for several breakfasts.  

I made pumpkin soup and added cream of chicken mix I made from one of my jars. That was yum!

Mum gave me some Haloumi and Blueberries.  These got added to the menu plan.

I made two Armenian Nutmeg cakes.  This is a nice winter cake and Lucy had requested one.  So I made one for her and one for us. 


I set up my two little thrift store purses for my grocery budget and for my thrift shopping.  

This one is pale pink on the outside and has all these nifty compartments inside! 


Just perfect! 

I picked up my new glasses  which were free (until you think of the money spent on private health, but still!) 

I wrote $612 into my savings book from all the savings I generated this week.

How did you save, get ahead, build up your home?  I hope it was a good week for you!  
Have a lovely weekend! xxx




Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Beautiful Flower Syrups by Vicky.

Hello Bluebirds,
Annabel is not feeling well so I am sharing for show and tell today. It isn't the usual post full of all of the lovelies we see each week, but I hope everyone enjoys seeing what I have been up to lately. Since I love doing baskets for the holidays and they usually have lots of things I have made in my kitchen and I love doing themes these will fit perfectly! 
I have been making syrups. Flower syrups, but any kind of syrup is pretty easy to make. If you can do a simple syrup then you got it in the bag it is just a matter of choosing your flavors. 
With the help of my mom we picked heaps and heaps of flowers. And here we have made a rose petal syrup, a violet syrup and a lavender syrup. 




I will include a few tips that explains how I got the wonderful colors and the strong fragrance and flavor in each. 
First if you have never made any, a simple syrup is just 2x the water to sugar so if you have 3 cups of water you will need 1 and 1/2 cups of sugar and you boil it until syrupy then let it cool. 
For flower syrups you want very fragrant flowers if you want a strong flavor, but can also make it with things that have health benefits like elder flowers, rose hips, ginger or herbs that you like the flavor of. 
For my rose petal I have a rose called Chrysler Imperial that is red and very, very fragrant so gives a good taste when I have enough of them. Be sure that anything you use has not been sprayed or treated in any way with chemicals. 

For the syrup:
Approximately 12 cups of flower petals
6c. of water 
juice of 1 lemon

Combine the flowers and water in a large saucepan and simmer for 1 hour covered. Remove from heat and allow to steep over night.
Strain over a large bowl to catch the juice and squeeze the liquid from the petals. 
Put juice in a medium saucepan and add 3 cups of sugar. Bring to a boil, stirring often. Reduce heat and simmer until syrup is thickened and add the lemon juice. 
Remove from heat and allow to cool. Pour syrup into a jar and cover and store in the fridge or can be frozen. This makes about a pint. If you want to give them as gifts then water bath for about 15 minutes so the jars seal. 



The lemon juice lightens the color greatly so you can use food color for more vibrant coloring, but my tip is I used kool aid powder just enough that I got the colors I wanted and it doesn't really change the taste. 
This can be used in drinks like tea, on ice cream or cakes or even made into jellies if you like, but my favorite is to add a few teaspoons to iced tea. My son really likes the lavender with ginger ale. 

I hope everyone is having a wonderful prudent and diligent week! 
XOXO
Vicky


Thank you so much Vicky!  These are gorgeous. Imagine them in a bottle as a gift!   So pretty! xxx