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, 30 June 2015

Pantries and Preparedness. Pantry gifts, information and update.

We are in July! So I have reached the half way point of my pantry and cellar challenge. We have come a long way! I have really stocked up our cellar with food, candles, torches, water and necessities. The pantry is much better stocked as well. We also added a spare full gas bottle to our existing one so we always have at least one full bottle so that without power we can still cook for weeks.

All my new (new free secondhand!) jars are now full on the lovely shelf Andy built and I sent photos to the lady who gave them to me. I have room for six more on my shelf (I have 14) so I am collecting!

I added labels that Chloe printed for me onto sticky paper. But you could use contact to stick them on too. This graphic is from The Graphics Fairy.

Yesterday I saw someone selling storage containers and I took a catalogue. To convert your pantry to these containers would have cost a few thousand dollars. I just want to show that you can have good air tight containers for free or really cheaply and spend your money on the food and goods you need instead. 

Since last week I have seen people in the car park of our supermarket with a trolley full of baby formula cans. As there is a four can limit I asked them how did they get so many? The lady had gone into Coles and bought the maximum number and the husband had gone to Woolworth's and bought the maximum number. Then they swapped and she went into Woolworth's and he went into Coles... and thus they had so many cans! And, yes, they were all going to China. There were a few cans left in Coles and hardly any in Woolworth's. I don't see this issue lessening anytime soon. If it got only slightly worse there would be empty shelves as some days there have been only two cans. Kaye told me she had seen a ONE can shelf. I am not being critical of these people. If I was in China I would be desperate to obtain safe baby formula for my baby.  That bit I understand. But I am here and I am keeping an eye on the supply for Harper and anyone here with a baby too.

Also I have tried to find out about prescription drugs and how long would they have them on the shelf in the chemist (pharmacy) in the event of a crisis. I found out our local Chemists place their orders manually which reduces the risk of empty shelves due to a computer glitch. And that locally we have warehouses/suppliers as well. But I do not know how long the supplies last. One Chemist said a week. But they seem vague at best so I am not really satisfied so far. We are trying to get ahead as much as we can and not wait until the last minute to fill scripts. They were however full of information about the on selling of formula and Swisse Vitamins. This chemists cousin, also a chemist, orders in a full pallet of baby formula once a week and never unpacks it... a man arrives with a van and takes the lot to send overseas. They were good on this subject which was interesting. So I found out things but not necessarily what I went in for!

The next pantry related thing to report is that Chloe printed and bound for me Patsy's E Book "Yes, you CAN have a well stocked Pantry" from A Working Pantry.  It looks so nice printed and this is going to be the basis of my gifts for the rest of the year including Christmas presents. I have decided to give pantry themed gifts with the idea of getting people started on their pantries or, for those who already have pantries, to add to them. I figure this is a gift that could potentially be a life changer and possibly make a big difference in someone's life.  You never know, a gift like this, if it got someone going with their pantry, it could affect generations. 

This is a ridiculously inexpensive way to get my gifts going as the E Book is $4 and then I have copied it multiple times and Chloe bound them. You can get this done at office shops, here for about $7 or buy a folder at a news agency. (I sought Patsy's permission about copying it this way).

To this I am adding Bay Leaves (dried from Mum's garden), tea towels (kitchen towels), labels like the ones on my jars and jam making labels etc., small items like Vanilla Essence, recipe cards and recipes, herbs and spices... anything that will build up a pantry and make it look nice as well!

So imagine what you might be able to do... add jars of homemade jam, relish, balsamic vinegar, dried herbs... all kinds of things we could produce from home. Don't underestimate what you might have around you that you can use. The other day in the supermarket I looked at Bay Leaves, wondering how much they actually cost to buy, since I never buy them and have giant bunches continually from Mum's tree. I nearly fell over... they were $3.20 per 2 g which was about 5 leaves! So the three huge bunches drying on my ladder must be worth over $200, at this rate. I never had any idea they were expensive.  Cellophane bags of a dozen Bay Leaves must be a worthwhile addition to pantry gifts. Keep your eyes out for herbs you can dry or give as fresh bunches... take a look at the prices of the bunches in the supermarket!  Also you might have a fruit tree or a neighbor or friend with one and whatever it is you have possibilities for you pantry gifts... Lemon Curd, jam, jelly, candied peel... so many possibilities! 

Our neighbors over the road are Greek and watching the news I think of how would it be to not be able to access any money or shop and not know the next time you might be able to. Of course Greece is not the first place this has happened, it's happened many times. A well stock pantry would be a life saver. And there are so many times that is the case. If you can possibly add to your pantry then do. It is better than money in the bank! It's something to do now not one day. Even a few dollars a week and some creativity will build up your pantry. A saving here or there can become something to add to your shelves and doubled if you choose a useful item on a great special. Doubling your money is also better than the bank!

The last two weeks we had a bonus Thursday post from Helen and these really added lovely thoughts to the week. Tomorrow we are having a bonus post from Teri, adding to this series. I am so looking forward to it as Teri's pantry is something I dream of!

We have sunshine and I am heading off to my Aunts who's garden is full of limes and oranges right now and she has told me she has saved me jars! I think I see a chance to add to my pantry! xxx


  1. Dear Annabel,

    I hope you enjoyed the visit with your aunt and it reaped pantry rewards :). Your posts are always full of interesting information and very pretty too.

    I have spent the past several days focused on my Stocking Up (Preparedness)notebook and our deep pantry inventory. I've had a complete notebook for years for all areas of usage and need within our household, so I felt the notebook needed revamped and brought up to date after our recent move.

    Focusing on the food/water supply first, I did a menu plan for three meals for 365 days for two adults to determine all the ingredients I would need to have on the shelves. Over winter I had reorganized all of my recipes into notebooks by category, so I simply went to each notebook to choose foods to prepare. Then, I calculated the amounts of each ingredient and the total needed for one year. It is a mindboggling project and the totals are truly eye-opening and shocking when one sees them on paper.

    The Mormon calculator is nice for beans, rice, and grains, but unless one absolutely loves beans and rice and can eat it for 730 meals (lunch and dinner) and grains for the other 365 meals, it requires a lot more in-depth work to calculate actual ingredients for meals that are healthy, tasty, and not boring. People who eat the same thing day after day can frequently lose their appetite; not a good thing during a crisis.

    So, now that most of the calculating and listing of items to stock is done (which is four typed pages) I need to review what is in stock and what needs purchased.

    So that has been my preparedness work for the past week; not much adding, but a lot of figuring out what to add, so the food stocked is all used in a rotating manner, according to the menu plans. We rotate our storage all the time, as we use out of it and only buy what we use, but we have let it get a bit lower than our comfort zone the past few months.

    Your crock pot dishes looked wonderful. Sorry I didn't get a comment on them earlier, but hope it's okay to mention them under this post.

    Love and hugs.

    1. Dear Glenda,
      This is a good point... first I do really appreciate the Mormons and their generosity in information sharing and encouragement. But re the beans and grains I just done use many of either. I use a little rice. I guess in a matter of survival I would of course but in order to rotate goods I need to be storing things we always use... so I need to adapt and think how to make it fit with what we eat.
      I need to make up an inventory, now that I have enough stores to keep track of. Then I need to get a rotating system.
      Thank you for your comments. They are really thoughtful and I learn heaps from what you say. It is massive thinking of how many meals we eat in a week, month, year!
      Many thanks, love

  2. Oh Annabel what a lovely post. I love everything about it. Thank you so much for your fantastic ideas and your willingness to share them. I know you have put a lot of work into coming up with new ways to save us money and add to our pantries.

    I cant wait to see Teri's post. You women are so generous with your time and suggestions to help others out in their time of need and to help us prepare for things that are to come.

    The economy is not looking so great anymore, so much unemployment happening, this is not good. And the trouble in Greece, I wonder what the fallout of that is going to be? Our town itself has lost an important landmark and employer in the power house, so there is nothing really left here for anyone anymore. Young ones will have to move away for work. Even my sons job as an apprentice electrician is not looking glad he is still living at home. Worrying times ahead I think...

    Have a great day with your aunt Annabel and I hope you bring home lots of goodies.


    1. Dear Tania, Thank you so much! I really appreciated what you said.
      I am excited for Teri's post too. There are US ladies that are so experienced on this that I am learning daily!
      I saw on TV about the job losses. That is a big blow for any town when it is so many. I knew it wouldnt be your husband but I didnt think of your son and what he does... I hope he keeps his apprenticeship. It is a real concern as apart form the jobs lost it is the shops people shopped in and all the flow on... It is here also and the businesses closing down and large numbers of jobs going with them. But I think it is worse in a country town like where you are. The distances are so great...
      There are so many reasons to work on our pantries! At least we can do something constructive, that always makes me feel better!
      Thanks so much Tania! Love

  3. grrr lost half a post to you Annabel. What i was saying was how true all this is that you are telling us. I'd love to see this taught at school.
    Enjoy your Aunts this afternoon. Fi xx

    1. Practical life skills should be taught. It is a worry that they are not as many parents dont have any either!
      Not exactly the same but the other day a girl was serving me in a shop and I asked for half a dozen of something. She did not know how many that was. I guess she was 20?
      I had a lovely time at my aunts and came home with limes, oranges, flowers, jars... a great load of good things! Plus the garden was beautiful and the day was nice.
      Hope you are having a good week! xxx

  4. Annabel I do a volunteer day at St Vinnies in my area. We often have jars like yours come in. We sell them for $1-$2. I have picked up some great Tupperware for my pantry so cheaply. Yes you do have to be there at the right time but a simple check every now and again and you can get some great storage for a small price. As you're collecting your jars I thought you might like to know this.

    1. Thank you Jane. I will watch in the op shops to finish my set! They are solid jars and the seal is really good. I am very fond of tins too for storage and old fashioned canisters. There are so serious bargains and great things for the pantry. Also I got a whole set of Jamie Oliver saucepans, brand new with tags for $15! I love those pans. I also LOVE pyres and Corrning ware and have collected quite a bit.You would see amazing things I would think! And well done on volunteering. xxx

  5. I think you are so right to use the money we have to prepare our pantry rather than leaving it sit in a bank! We are watching Greece and even Puerto Rico and wondering how this will influence world events. I do not have any say in the world events (let me tell you there would be some heads being banged together if I did!) but I can be prepared for disasters both natural and man made, have my pantries ready and my good habits ingrained so that when it is a necessity rather than a choice I will be there and prepared! Love reading your ideas and hints, you always make it sound so fun!!

  6. Annabel, This post is just wonderful! The jars are beautiful and all the information you have provided for us! Thank you so much for sharing!

    You have really done a great job of adding to your pantry/cellar! The labels you made are beautiful along with the gifts you made from Patsy's book! A "pantry" theme for gifts is just a wonderful idea!

    I will be adding to my pantry this week with veggies from the garden. I'm sure you had a lovely day with your aunt and brought home lots of goodies!

    With the way our economy is going, I'd much rather have a supply of food/water and other necessary things our family needs. You are motivating me to keep going! :) Love, Teri

    1. Dear Teri,
      Thank you so much! You have quietly worked away on this for years and I think its so wise. And as you say the economy and things are not really very confidence inspiring... I think putting efforts into this is a good idea. It cannot hurt but it sure might help! Thats whey I thought pantry themed gifts an idea... apart from all of us who love all this it is good to get others going.
      I did have a lovely afternoon! Apart from a lovely cup of tea with my Aunt and her beautiful garden and some sunshine I came home with oranges and limes, jars and flowers. It was very nice.
      Your turn tomorrow! :)Love Annabel.xxxx

  7. Thank you Annabel for recommending my e-book as a gift idea! I love the items you are adding to it. Hmm freshly dried bay leaves, what a treat!

    1. Dear Patsy, I am thrilled with the book and how it turned out. It is really a great gift to help people. On fb someone said what a good book to give as a wedding present or someone setting up a home. I loved that.
      As I put my presents together I will show you some. Love

  8. Annabel, I was just thinking of getting Patsy's eBook last night. It would be helpful to my daughter who is probably reading this in the middle of the night while feeling little Isaiah who just loves waking up his mum every few hours...probably like Harper is doing as well :-)

    Regarding your labels, what do you do when you need to wash the jars? Do you just wash them very carefully and try not to get the label wet or do you replace them? They are certainly very pretty. I had a look in one of our Woolies to see if there were any restrictions on how many tins of baby food you can buy and the checkout girl said she didn't think there were any and there was nothing written on the shelf at all. Perhaps it depends on the store. I will ask around though and let you know.

    1. Dear Nanna Chel,
      Yes Lucy is doing the night shift too. She has been going ok but just yesterday was over tired. Way overtired! Tonight her sister has gone to sleep there and take care of Harper for the night. (she is close enough to see that help would be a good thing about now...)
      My labels on other jars have lasted a long time. I fill jars with soapy water and wash inside but only wipe over the outside. And wash the lids. I have kept most looking good and clean for years this way. I have some with transfers that need re doing but transfers are pretty delicate.
      In our stores the shelves say nothing about restrictions but the check out staff tell you if you have exceeded the maximum. The chemist doesnt have a maximum at the moment. We have a lot of Chinese students here and they are taking them with them home, I know that is one factor.
      I hope you are having a good week and waving to your daughter if she is reading! Love

  9. That is absolutely crazy about the baby formula! I guess that here in the USA we are not having that issue since it would be cost prohibitive to ship to China.

    You have given me the idea to start drying my very prolific crop of lemon balm for tea gifts. I have many nice jars that could be containers for the gifts.

    1. Dear Lana, I have often found I am good at growing one thing or have a ridiculously huge crop of something and if we can use it to make gifts, barter etc then it is great. Mine are Bay leaves, Rosemary, Basil and Parsley. I only seem to grow these by the truck load.... but they are useful!
      Lemon Balm is lovely, also cellophane bags with lovely labels would work... I think Strangers and Pilgrims on Earth have herb labels that would probably include lemon balm. Or a label with uses would be really lovely!
      We have a lot of Chinese students here. That may be the thing as they go back and forth I think.
      Thanks Lana, I hope your week is going well! xxx

  10. I love your idea of Christmas gifts, so practical and pretty too. In reference to the baby formula, it makes me think perhaps more mothers could be nursing, no cost or shortage for that. I know it may not always be a convenient way to go, but it is free.

    1. Thank you Joy!
      Yes you are right about nursing, it is number one. But formula is needed at times even the hospitals etc. My own Mother was in hospital two weeks after having me and too unwell to feed. In such times formula shortage would be terrible.
      As I make up pantry gifts I will post some photos. I am collecting little baskets for some of them as well. Thank you for commenting! xxx

    2. Joy, it is true that nursing a baby is free. I was unable to nurse any of my children (this was not my choice, just something that my body could not do). Therefore, we had to buy formula. And there are other circumstances, like Annabel mentioned, so it's very important to have a supply of formula. This China shortage of safe formula is scary for moms who rely on it. Teri

  11. Annabel I could picture at your Aunt's place sitting in the garden having a cup of tea and catching up on family gossip.

    My stockpile is going to be changing - we are now being paid under a different system and rather than stick with monthly grocery shops I am going to switch to fortnightly and thus should be able to pick up more bargains.

    Currently I have a small stockpile due to space limitation but I need to grow it and I think that this is the best way for me to do it.

    I was only talking to my husband about the need for another gas bottle other than the one we currently have attached to the BBQ.

    My Kogan order arrived so I have a box of 'C' batteries and a slab of tinned pie apricots.

    I have another order coming from somewhere else with tins of pie peaches. That should arrive soon.

    There are things that I would love to pop into my stockpile but the weather up here is not conducive to it.

    Sounds like Harper is going through a growth spurt.

    Loving your idea for Christmas.


    1. Dear Lynette, You are right! Harper has had a growth spurt for sure and Lucy was wondering what happened to her "routine" which went out the window!
      I shop quite often. I look at it that now I am shopping more as I am building up my pantry. I live really close to the stores and by going often at the right times I get amazing bargains. This is helping me build up supplies. If things are tight or Im not well or whatever then I wont shop at all, I can avoid the shops. Striking at certain times I am getting good specials and savings can go into pantry items.
      My aunt and I did sit outside, she had a table set with flowers and it looked lovely!
      Pie apricots and peaches are wonderful. Good idea on the batteries also.
      Lots of love,

  12. Thank you for your continued reminders that food might not always be available. We've been going through a very lean time so I've had to dip into the pantry and freezer big time. Besides disasters the well-stocked pantry is so helpful in those financial hard times.
    We are so thankful to live in the country as there are lots of wild fruits to chose from! With 8 children, we need lots of fruit. Also it's a fun outing for the kids to pick the berries on or near our property.


    1. Dear Leslie,
      Fruit picking is great fun! Heavenly I think! I am glad you do live in the country.
      It is so true that the pantry gets us through lean times not just a storm or whatever but more. I hope there are chances that come your way for you to build it up again.
      We do take food for granted I think and good times... now I see more that good times are times we should stock up. I wasted some opportunities in the past!
      With love and thanks,


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