The little birds...

If you watch little birds you will see they are busy and happy! Using whatever they can find they create the most gorgeous little nest.
I would be the little bird with some glittery thread in her nest!
We can be like this. Happily working away with the things that are available to us to create a beautiful and happy home.
All the while with a little song in our heart.

Banner by Free Pretty Things for You.

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Feather your Nest Friday, 31st July, 2015.

The last day of July! So there goes another month! While it is nice to look back over the week and see what we achieved it is lovely too to think about what we did during the month. I also love a new month! What goals to set for August? Here August is the last month of winter. I know one thing to aim for and that is getting some more Christmas presents made. Finish all pruning in the garden... enjoy the last month of wintery cooking... use the cold dark nights for crochet and crafts... and I will have to think about the rest!

This week flew by and attempts to have a slower week didn't really work. But I am happy that I achieved a few things and worked through my various lists!

So this week I saved money by:

I finished a couple more presents. Some of them are just working an edge around really huge french themed tea towels (kitchen towels). They are giant sized with french images and french script.

I was given MORE lemons! This was my third bucketful. It filled two big baskets.

With these I made more lemon butter. Some for gifts and some to give back to the lady who gave me the lemons. On one I tied a tag with the recipe and easy way to make it. 

Next I will juice a lot of them and freeze the juice in ice cube trays for summer drinks. Also I made up two batches of Miracle Cleaner. In place of the Eucalyptus oil I used lemon juice. I also steeped the lemon skins in it for a day and then strained it. It worked! I thought it would as lemon juice smells good and so fresh, cuts through grease etc.  The only thing I am not sure about is if it will keep. Once I've established that I will post the recipe. I hope it keeps as I love it. It makes the house smell beautiful and I made a ton of it!

Another thing I want to try is adding a cup of lemon juice to a white only wash. I have white sheets and white doona cover so I will try this. It is meant to have a strong whitening power.

I collected all kinds of containers from around the place, Mum gave me some and one from an op shop (thrift store) for my future potting up day to make little succulent gardens.  Also got beautiful little pebbles for this at $2 a bag.

This is one that I started growing about two months ago. This is a blatant copy-the-idea-from-the-florist-craft. I have posted about their ideas and prices lots of times... well, this one I started for myself (the next ones are for gifts) and it has grown a lovely little flower! it looks so sweet and cheerful on my table... 

For this I had used a bowl I had, dirt from the garden, pinched succulents from Mum's garden and $2 of baby pebbles. So total cost is $2. It is a really big bowl and looks nice I think. It is three times the size of the florists anyway, that are $49 each.
Now the plan is to do a dozen or so smaller ones for gifts.

I found a beautiful doona cover in the op shop that is pale pink with big pink roses. I bought it to cut up and make tea towels.  Doona covers, sheets, curtains, are all good ways to get vast amounts of fabric very cheaply. I love this fabric and it is so pretty! I will make the print the front and use a plain cotton to make the back... this makes it thick enough to use as a kitchen towel. I will get a fair few as it is huge.

I sourced other fabric from the op shop. I needed lace so I bought a single lace curtain, washed it and cut it up. For $5 I got about 6 square meters of lace.

I went to the Chemist warehouse for Andy's scripts and saved a lot. When I say a lot I filled 6 scripts. The saving was over $60. I have decided each time I do this to save some of it and use some of it to build up my pantry. They also have the cheapest dish washing liquid, bleach, hand soap etc so I grab a few of those with my savings and add to my pantry. For the South Australian ladies this is Chemist King. 

Some ways I built up my home...

I added to the emergency pantry. 

We added a little to our emergency fund.

I have been pruning roses and working in the garden when the weather is good enough.

I cooked a meal for everyone, packaged it and delivered it so that everyone had help on Wednesday and a good meal.

And I learned some new things!  Thanks to some wonderful ladies who write to me with their pantry tips and experiences I am learning loads. New skills and knowledge can save a lot of money.

I hope you had a wonderful week and month! How did you build up your home and save money this week? 
Each week I add a little to my pantry. I am amazed by the results of this. Patsy is having a $5 a week pantry challenge at A Working Pantry. She has a face book group too which is very chatty and ladies share how far they made their five dollars go. I really love this. With smart shopping some ladies have got so much for their $5! I always say it but little bits really do add up!

Have a lovely

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Pantries and Preparedness. This is a REAL job.

Today is a pantry post about things I have been thinking about. Over time we have touched on this many times. Working in the home, caring for children, caring for the family, budgetting, cooking and nourishing a family, laundry, decorating and all the bits and pieces that go into building up and protcting your home... ALL of it is a REAL job.

It's so important and beyond anything else. Yet there can be a lot of opposition to this. When the girls were little I was constantly advised that my time could be better spent elsewhere... running a shop was the usual suggestion. While in some cases it was meant to be a compliment my reply was I would rather care for my children, thanks.

At school was the same. I don't think I ever actaully DARED tell the truth and say that really my hopes and goals were to have a family and care for them. I always knew that I could bring in income from sewing, flower arranging, embrodiery, cooking etc. but only as a way to support what I really wanted to do which was have children.
You could not say this. Well, I never felt I could.

When the girls were born I was in my element. I was really lucky with family support and it wasnt long and I found Laines Letters which really encouraged me in the belief that THIS was my job and to do it with all my efforts.

I also loved CS Lewis and kept his works close to my heart... "Children are not a distraction from more important work. They are the most important work."

Most people it seemed to me though of children as the distraction. Or worse.
In fact I soon noted that people were terribly fussy about who could drive their car. They would never let a stranger drive their car! But handing the kids over to strangers... no problem. (I found that one so bizarre.)

I had it in my head I had a limited time and I better make the most of it.

Not that I considered it but mathematically it never made sense to put the kids in day care. I had a friend who did and she only made about $2 an hour after expenses and all the problems it gave her life. I knew I could save or make more than that and still be with my children and still pcik them up from school and be there in shcool holidays and all of those things.

Mimi frequently talks about this. She has seen the same. On her blog she often will add up the dollar value of what she achieved during the week and it will amount to some enourmous number. I do it too sometimes. I know on Monday by having time to shop around I saved almost $100 in the moring on a necessary expense. I know my baking in the afternoon had a $80 value. Even not counting anything else I did I know this saved us almost $200. I would be hard pressed to earn that outside the home. Then I would have to pay tax out of it and cover expenses... 

I don't care really what other people think. I felt clear on my mission and still do. And I kept my mission statement on the fridge decorated with rose stickerss, no less. Now I keep it close to me and pretty much know it by heart.

(This printout is available from Keepers of the Faith blog, in her printables section)

This whole subject is always on my mind. I see Mothers picked on all the time for wanting to stay home. It infuriates me.

I have had letters too expressing this same thing. That you are wasitng your time at home, that surely you must be bored and need entertaining, that surely you must have so much free time on your hands you need to be given work to do for someone else and usually the person talking to you. That every committee and fund raiser assumes you lay on the lounge all day and surely would feel rescued by their offer to put you in charge. 

Well no! 

Actually I learned to think of this verse "her feet do not remain at home" from Proverbs where a not ideal woman is described. This is a bad thing!

Here are parts of two letters from Teri and Vicky recently (with their permission!)

I really think you could do a great post about how we are always busy and actually a homemaker is a JOB!!  I want to tell you a couple experiences I went through raising our kids. First off I was the "odd one out" by being a sahm.  My family, sisters-in-law, neighbors, etc. told me to my face "how could I stay home and raise my kids, you need to have a job!"  I always responded I have a job, just not a paycheck!!  :) You are so right about being asked to do stuff (like PTA mom/president, volunteer for EVERYTHING etc.) because I was always home doing "nothing"!  lol  Well, it took me years to learn to say no, but I finally did.  I was taking care of our home, children, sewing most of their clothes plus some of mine, cooking from scratch, learning new skills, gardening/canning, and making many crafts/gifts.  Yea, I was bored lol HAHA!!!

We didn't take trips to Disneyland, fancy cruises, etc., we went camping, took picnics, spent time with our kids.  We saved money to rent a few days away (places with kitchens in them), nothing fancy, just a small get-away.  I've never been to Disneyland nor do I want to go there.  It's ok that others do that, it's just not important to me.  I worked hard each summer to garden, can, stock up for winter, things like that.  My kids could tell lots of canning stories, picking bushels of peas and lots of walks around the neighborhood ( we always teased that our stroller logged 100,000 miles)! lol

One day, I read a newspaper article in the food section written by the food editor.  She made fun of moms that stayed home and "ate bon bons" and watched TV all day! That made me so mad and upset, I called and complained.  She apologized and asked if they could feature our family and share recipes in the newspaper, no less!.  She even retracted her statement about stay at home moms!  :)  Well, that was all years ago.  I did try to make a little money from time to time (selling my crafts, making gift baskets) but then I wasn't getting other important things done. 


Im happy to help people, but it was really getting out of hand. Because I do not work people were calling and asking me for favors all of the time "because they knew I had the time" and I was scrubbing other people's carpets, taking care of their kids and animals, cleaning, weeding flower beds and giving rides here and there with my gas. I was working hard for others with no return so I just got to the point where if it was the chronic can you do me a favorers calling I just said sure, but I will need this or that. They stopped asking for favors all the time if they thought a couple of bags of potatoes or having to give me gas money was asking too much. Gas is one of those things that I budget for the month and if I run out that is it until the next month. I try to do all of my errands in as little trips as possible. Vicky.

(Thank you Teri and Vicky once again.)

Haha! Boy do I relate! 
I remember one classic example. The girls were in primary school and I had just taken them to school so 9 am the door bell rang. A local lady had turned up at 9am! I must have looked surprised and she announced she had come "to keep me company for the day"  (THE DAY!) Luckily I had grown used to this kind of thing and I told her I was sorry but I had work today and a really busy day planned. I told her if she wold like to return at 2 pm I would have afternoon tea with her and take an hour off. I was by then through with this idea that you sat around for the day doing nothing. 

So how does all this relate to our pantries? 
Knowing our job and mission statement leaves no doubt that the Proverbs womam was not afraid of the winter as she was prepared!  It is part of the job. It is part of looking after the family. As Teri said this isn't achieved by laying on the lounge eating bon bons for the day. lol

Recently I was reading some sound advice. We have been discussing the fact that so many people now are building up their pantries and about wise and safe investments. So I ended up reading about King Solomon. He had investing totally worked out. 

His advice was "divide your portion to seven, or even eight, for you do not know what misfortune may occur on the earth" (Ecclesiastes 11.2)

The opposite basically of the "don't put all your eggs in one basket" concept.

I am surprised even today of the number of people I know who have most of their eggs in one basket.

We have previously covered other scripture on this and on being like ants! We thought about King Solomon's advice and as usual this advice has not aged. It is exactly right today as it was then. I now consider my pantry and cellar to be one of our portions, one of the seven or eight. 
It is a tangible. It is not a bit of paper that might be worthless tomorrow! Solid things that are useful. This is a worthy investment.

So I hope someone else can relate. We are doing something important. Don't take any notice of anyone who tells you otherwise. Don't let anyone hijack your time or plans. Get on with your work with a happy heart and know that it is important. Have confidence in the value of what you are doing. Be diligent and prudent with your time and resources. You will not be sorry. xxx

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Crock pot cooking. Vegies and sides.

In the summer we have a lot of BBQ's, in fact often every night. It keeps the heat out of the house if I want to cook something. I also use the crock pot lots. I am just not going to turn the oven on in the heat!

One handy use of the crock pot especially when I am having visitors is to fill it with potatoes and let them go all day on low. Then in the evening they can be served with whatever is on the BBQ or made into a quick potato salad. I love warm potato salad so this only means throwing over a handful of chopped onion, some mayo and herbs. It looks wonderful too. This has a lot of food ready to go and is really filling.

Other possibilities are filling the crock pot with corn on the cob. At serving time I just put them all into a serving dish, add dobs of butter and sprinkle with pepper. It is yum and so very easy.

If I have a pie thawing for dinner or meat to cook I might put a mix of vegies in the crock pot to be ready when I need them.  Mainly to make the evening easy if I know I will be in late. It is just done!

Other really good crock pot vegies are potato bake. The easiest one I do is Hilde's recipe. Grease the crock pot. Fill with sliced potato, sprinkle with dried french onion soup mix (about half a packet for a large potato bake) and pour over a small carton of cream or half a tin of evaporated milk. Let cook all afternoon. This is yummy.

Another is to cook a whole cauliflower. If it won't fit then cut it up into big bits. I sprinkle it with grated cheese and pepper in the last hour or so.

In all of these vegie dishes I would put about two tablespoons of water in the crock pot first. That's it.

However you could fill your crock pot with carrots and pour over some honey for honey glazed carrots.
Or fill it with baby onions. Or half baby butternuts and serve them along side a roast. Or fill with carrots and parsnips and drizzle with a balsamic glaze. It is just endless! When you are feeding a crowd a big serving of something like this just makes it so easy.
For the family a crock pot full of vegies will make you meat portions go a long way. Any left over vegies could become a soup. Left over onion, pumpkin, sweet potato etc become pizza topping.

BBQ nights are really easy nights! If Andy cooks the meat I will bring out corn on the cob, potatoes, honey carrots etc that have all been cooking and there is basically nothing to do but serve them in the evening. I really like those days!

So think of any side dish that you really love and seldom actually do. Pop it into the crock pot in the morning instead!  Growing up my favorite vegetable dishes were bakes ie Nan's tomato bake, scalloped potatoes, cauliflower cheese, baked baby onions.... all of these are perfect for crock pot cooking and they produce so much good food!

This is just another way my crock pot is wonderful. Winter or summer it is a help. So many times I have something that is a potential meal (ie a meat pie from the freezer) and I will think to put on some potatoes and carrots or something to go with it. This turns my little meal into a big healthy feast usually for very little.

Writing this up has made me think of making some kind of vegetable bake for tonight as it is cold and wintery! I will see what is on special as I am shopping this morning. I would say cauliflower cheese but cauli's have been almost $8 each. So it might be Hilde's Potato Bake.

Here we are in a new week! The last few days of July! I am heading out to get as much done as possible and get my week going.  I try to run most of my errands on a Monday all at once so that I can mostly stay home later in the week. My number one enemy for getting things done is being out too much. This week I want to get some sewing done. I have a lovely little project (easy sewing) that I will feature next Monday as it is something useful and something that would make lovely gifts. Also it costs a few cents each to make!

Have a wonderful week! xxx

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Feather your Nest Friday,24 july, 2015.

We had a really cold week! The garden is soaked and the only pops of color are my climbing yellow roses. It is the weather for keeping warm inside and working on craft projects!
Yesterday the sun shone for several hours and it was windy.  I had the towels and sheets all out on the line and they dried. At about 4.30 it started to rain. I did a mad dash and got them all in just in time.
Today I am finishing off the week with a stay in and catch up day. I love these days!

Some ways I saved money this week:

By using up some of the lemons and limes my aunt gave me I made five jars of lemon butter. This is so quick and easy to make. The recipe is here.

I used a jar as a gift. Often I fill a sponge with this and whipped cream. This time I filled little tart cases and added strawberries and cream. They were beautiful! Two of theses were a gift as well.

Hilde visited and she has lemons for me in a couple of weeks so I can do this again and make a sponge next time! I love lemons, there is so much you can make and when I have them I drink the juice of a lemon in water every morning. It is so good for you and is a burst of goodness.

I completed a Christmas present and started another. So I am up to number four! Also Hilde went "oohh and ahh" over something I was working on so I know what to give her too!

We had pizza, I made dough Wednesday morning and in the evening it was ready and waiting. This made several pizzas so that was dinner, work lunch for the rest of the week, a pizza for Chloe when she gets home tomorrow from a trip... and I used up all kinds of left overs.

I found marked down turkish breads and packs of focaccia breads for 99c. Straight into the freezer for emergency easy meals.

While Hilde was here we snooped in the local florist shop. She was amazed by the little jars filled with succulents and the prices. They didn't have any of the jar terrariums left so I will show her photo's of those. We decided we both have succulents in our gardens and many are the petite flower ones that are right for this. So we are going to have an afternoon where we share and swap and pot up session. This will be so much fun! Now to save interesting containers (I have some) suitable jars, soil, pebbles etc. Plus I will make labels with string ahead of time to add to them. I bet we can make some for our own tables plus a heap of presents each. I also thought of making up a tray of small potted succulents as a gift so that the gift is a dozen different varieties all presented nicely.

At the florist these ones are $25 each... I better point out they are small, tiny little individual succulents. (picture looks bigger!)

And these are $49 each...

So this is totally doable for probably $1 each and we will have a great fun day! I will show you the results. I can think of three birthdays I have coming up that I will make these for. I LOVE ideas that can be easily "borrowed" and to have an afternoon with a friend making gifts or something for the house is just a wonderful.  Looking in lovely nurseries, florists, home ware stores can be so inspiring and give you so many ideas!

Otherwise I did all the usual things... made all meals, made all packed lunches, line dried everything, used laundry water on the garden, hunted for bargains, used up left overs, worked on Christmas presents and worked in the garden anytime it was a bit sunny!

Some ways I feathered my nest:

I made so many roses in the process of making Monday's tutorial! So they house is full of roses which I love.

Even though it is winter I cleaned windows. It makes things look a lot brighter.

I continued my freshen up and re arranging.

I hung three sets of IKEA $6 net curtains. Yes, curtains for six dollars. IKEA amazes me. These are fine net tulle. They just look heavenly! For $18 the bay windows in our bedroom look like something out of a wedding! I LOVE it.

Following what I am learning from Teri I added a tin of powdered milk to my pantry. I keep it in my emergency supplies, I just have to keep rotating it. But I am using it much more now and in all my cooking that requires milk.

Learning new things adds to our building up.
Marge posted that a website called Ripe near Me. It is a rescource for free fruit, herbs and vegies which may be on public land, private properties and the owners are giving it away for free. Thank you Marge! I went on and around me there were so many entires! I am stil exploiring this but it is amazing. Plus you can add your own produce if you have anything going to waste. I think checking this at least weekly would be well worth it. I am not sure if the US has anything similar but this is fantastic for Australia. I found some amazing things. You can also check it before heading off anywhere. I was traveling several suburbs away so I looked along the roads I was going and was amazed how many entires there were. This is going to be good!

I hope you had a great week. How did you save money or build up your nest?
Have a wonderful weekend! xxx

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Pantries and Preparedness. Powdered milk in your pantry.

Today I want to talk about powdered milk as a staple. The number one thing I know people run out to the shops for is milk. It is also one of the first things we run out of when the shops are shut or for some reason we can't get to the store. It is also the base of so many recipes and things I rely on like milk in my cup of tea!  Powdered milk as part of our pantry and storage just makes sense. But we might not think about what a good idea it is until we need it and then it is often one of the first things to be sold out. Here it is often sold out anyway for the same reason the baby formula is in low stocks. Powdered milk is given as a gift in some countries it is so valuable.

I have kept powdered milk on hand for emergencies. But I have not had much experience using it otherwise. Once upon a time I did use it to stretch fresh milk. I would mix half made up powdered milk with half fresh milk in a jug. No one could tell the difference when I did this.
I asked Teri about this subject and how she used powdered milk in cooking etc. She replied...

 "When I am baking, I just add the dry milk to the dry ingredients and the amount of water to the liquid ingredients.  When I am making a white sauce or scrambling eggs, I use the milk reconstituted.  If I want to use milk in my smoothie, I will often put dry milk in and just add a bit more juice/water/yogurt.  It just adds a bit more nutrition, I think."

I could see Teri knew all about this so I asked her to share and she has kindly written up information for us.
So over to Teri....

I started using powdered milk years ago. It was hard
at first but I needed to learn this skill because it would
help with the budget, our kids were young and
growing and I wanted a way to have shelf-stable milk
since running to a supermarket (big or small) wasn’t
always an option. I was also looking for a way to
have long-term storage. So, today, I would like to
share some ways I have found to use powdered milk.
1. To have “fresh” milk on hand, I mix up a quart of
milk at one time. My powdered milk is noninstant,
so I use . Cup of powder to one quart of
warm water. I stir this with a whisk, adding 1
teaspoon of sugar and store in the refrigerator. I
use this in my coffee, with cooked oatmeal or
granola, stir a bit into eggs when scrambling, I
make white sauce and gravy, etc.
2. During winter, I drink a lot of hot cocoa
(sometimes just stirring some into my coffee). So, I
make my own using powdered milk, sugar,
unsweetened cocoa powder, salt and a small
amount of powdered vanilla. I store it in a reused
#10 can and then fill my pantry jar from
that. It tastes much better than the packets from
the store and costs much less. (I also buy my
unsweetened cocoa in bulk or in a large
container from Costco).

3. When our kids were home, I would mix half
regular milk and half reconstituted powdered
milk, then put it all in the jug from the store and
they never knew until they were grown! Lol If I
need half and half for a recipe or to pour over a
fruit crumble or cobbler, I mix a small container of
heavy cream with some reconstituted powdered
milk and use that. Works great!
4. We have talked a bit about making our own
mixes. This is just one more way to use powdered
milk, cut expenses and stay out of the store for
just one item.
5. I love using my SOS mix for condensed soup but
here’s a recipe I use when I have lots of extra
chicken broth. I make a BIG batch of
homemade condensed cream of chicken soup,
using reconstituted powdered milk. This recipe
makes approximately 2 cans worth (that’s why I
3x or 4x the recipe, storing extra in the freezer).
1 1/2 Cups chicken broth, . 1/4 teaspoon onion
powder, .1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, . 1/4teaspoon
salt, 1/8 teaspoon pepper, 1 teaspoon dried
parsley (any other seasonings you would like
depending on what you made your chicken
broth with). Bring this all to a boil. Meanwhile,
mix 1 1/2 cups milk with 3/4 cup flour. Whisk well.
Add to broth, stirring constantly with a whisk and
cook until thickened. I use this as is but you could
add some leftover cooked chicken. Also, if you
would like to use fresh mushrooms and/or fresh
onions and garlic, just chop and add to the broth
to cook a bit before thickening. This stores well in
the freezer and is so convenient!
6. One of the items Brandy (The Prudent
Homemaker) mentioned she was buying this
month was powdered cheese. I shared my
Cheese sauce recipe in the comments of her
post but thought I would share it here, since you
make the mix with powdered milk. (This makes a
lot so I cut the recipe in half when I made it a few
years back. I still need to get some cheese
powder). Mix together 4 1/2 cups cheese powder,
2 2/3 cups powdered milk (this is the non-instant
kind, more if using instant), 2 2/3 cups butter
powder (this is optional-I just use a pat of butter
when making the sauce as the butter powder is
hard for me to find sometimes and expensive),
2 2/3 cups flour and 2 teaspoons onion powder.
Store in an air tight container. (Other
herbs/spices could be added if desired). To
make the sauce: combine 1 cup water and a half
cup cheese sauce mix. Bring to a boil stirring with
a whisk; cook a couple minutes to thicken. If
desired, sprinkle a little dried parsley on top for
color. (If cooking in the microwave, watch to
make sure it doesn’t boil over and stir a couple
times! That’s because I have had the pleasure of
cleaning my microwave! HA!)
7. I make my own sweetened condensed milk and
evaporated milk from my powdered milk. The
sweetened condensed milk can be frozen, so I
make several batches at a time and freeze the

SWEETENED CONDENSED MILK:  (makes a 14 oz. can) 
1/2 cup hot water         1 cup dry powdered milk
1 cup sugar        1 Tablespoon butter
Blend very well in a blender or processor.  It thickens after being in refrig. for awhile.

EVAPORATED MILK:  (makes a 12 oz. can)
1 1/2 cups water   1/2 cup+ 1 Tablespoon dry powdered milk
Blend very well in a blender.  A whisk works too as that's what I have done.

8. When baking muffins, cookies, breads, etc. and
your recipe calls for milk, just add the powdered
milk dry to the dry ingredients and the water to
the liquid ingredients. If I need buttermilk (I don’t
buy the powdered buttermilk cans), I just add
vinegar or lemon juice to the liquid ingredients
with the water.
9. (here) has tons of information,
conversion charts and mix recipes all using
powdered milk, powdered eggs, whole wheat
and other shelf stable food. I use Crystal’s
pancake mix which is way better than store
bought and gleaned lots of information on food
storage from her.
10. Having `our pantries full of food/supplies that
we use on a regular basis is so convenient. I save
trips to the store plus make my own mixes, which
saves money. When you invest your time in
making your own “boxed/packaged” items, you
will save yourself a lot of time by just pulling things
off your pantry shelf and making an easy meal,
lunch treat or yummy dessert!
One thing that I wanted to mention is the
measurements are different for non-instant/instant
powdered milk. Crystal explains this on her blog, if
you are interested in knowing this.
I hope this helps you get started/continue using
powdered milk. Rotation is so important with all our
pantry staples, so try using your powdered milk! Start
by baking a batch of oatmeal cookies! No one will
be the wiser!  Teri

Thank you so much Teri! I am going to use much more powdered milk now especially in cooking and save myself so much lugging around heavy containers as well. Milk also looks lovely made up in a jug in the fridge or on the table. 

How have you added to your pantry this week? I have reached the stage I need to spend some time organising and labeling in the cellar. But I have made progress!
Like little ants if we keep at it we will make amazing progress! xxx

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Rose Making Tutorial. Part 2.

Continuing on from part one...

If you use all of the petals from your one section of paper it will be about right. But you might want to use more or less depending on the look you want. There are no rules!

When you feel your rose looks complete wrap your cotton around and secure it well.
Now your florist tape will secure it further and finish it off. This stuff is slightly sticky and stretchy. As you work squish and stretch, squish and stretch. It will hold firm. Begin with several tight rounds first firmly at the base of your rose.

Then stretch and wind to cover all your petals and all the way down the stem.

You are finished! They look lovely massed in a vase, wrapped as a bouquet or on top of a gift or cake.

You will find each rose is unique. No two will ever turn out the same. And imperfections are a good thing.

I do not make leaves. You could just as easily but I have never been happy with my leaves. I use a few fake ones from a stem of fake roses or I use fresh greenery from the garden to mix in.

Here I have used fresh rose leaves from the garden. I like this best. It looks really nice and they last ages. Also mixing real and imitation confuses the eye and makes things more believable!

When you start out on this you really need to treat your first few roses as your practice ones. Soon they become so quick and easy. They are a joy to make as you are taking that original packet of paper and you end up with roses! It is such a transformation!  You can fill your home with beautiful blooms for so little and have a great fun time.

If you wanted to expand on this there are people who sell handmade flowers on Etsy and their own websites and many are quite expensive. They are popular as people love flowers and for parties, weddings etc large quantities are needed. So that is also a possibility.

I hope this tutorial is useful to someone! Half way through it I wondered WHAT am I doing!!? It is not something simple to show! But really after a few this is easy! 

Paper crafts are like baking. You take a few really cheap components and can make amazing and valuable things! This always amazes me.  I have been making about four roses every evening while I watch our favorite cooking show. I never sit there doing nothing, I work on something in the evenings. In this one hour or so a day it is amazing how that adds to my craft time and my Christmas present stash too. 

There is great joy in creating. Allow yourself to learn and experiment and have a lovely time!

Rose Making Tutorial. Part 1.

Years ago I saw a picture of a woman surrounded by buckets of the most beautiful roses. They were just glorious. And then I saw she had made them. Not one was real. They truly had me fooled!

I love roses above any other flower. It is always so sad that the most gorgeous bunch is temporary and I have often taken photos to remember various roses I have had. If only they would last.

So I was determined to learn how to make these roses and looked into who this lady was and any instructions she shared and began to experiment. This was almost thirty years ago! I have made so many roses since then.

I considered posting the method on my blog ages ago but it has taken me forever  to get these instructions and photos finished! 

These can be made for pure pleasure for your home. A rose is well under a dollar to make. You can fill your house with roses in the colour of your choice. But they are also wonderful for gifts, decorations for weddings, parties, toppings for a parcel, fabulous table settings and just so many things.

There are a series of steps involved. I tend to make a heap at one time and do each step in batches so that I don't have to repeat the steps so often. Despite the steps they are actually very simple to do and every single rose will be individual. Truly no two are identical, just as with real roses.

Firstly the things you need...

Crepe paper. Mostly this is under $2 a packet and you will get about 4 roses from one packet.

Florist wire. You want a decent thickness that is strong enough to hold your flower up. Mine here is between 18 and 22 gauge. Thinner wire just makes droopy roses!

Alternatively you can cut wire from a roll of hardware shop wire. If you do cut them about 40cm or 14 inches long.

Florist tape. You want green. This comes in an either plastic or paper type tape, either way it is stretchy stuff. I will get to how to use it later. You can find this at Spotlight, craft stores, florist suppliers. 

Cotton. Just some thread.

Dyes. Food coloring. Coffee. Tea. These are to colour the crepe paper to what colour you want. You only need small quantities. Spotlight sell a large variety of colours. They come as a powder and you only need a sprinkle.

I buy white crepe paper and dye it myself. This makes really realistic roses. It makes all the difference and takes minutes. BUT you can skip this whole step. In white especially they can still look really good. In colors they will look pretty however not so realistic. But still lovely for things like party decorations, topping parcels or cakes etc.

I choose soft colours and I aim for an antique look that is very soft. That is just because these are the roses I love. Full bloom generous David Austin type roses and old fashioned ones like Blue Moon. My very favourite are coffee creams...  to make an antique lilac I mix coffee ( a tiny amount, blue and pink food color).

To get creams you can just use tea or coffee. Both of these give a great effect. For a really antique soft pink I use coffee with a little bit of pink food coloring or dye mixed in. Or tea and pink dye. To make mixes like this just experiment in bowls of warm water and see how they turn out. Test your result with a cotton bud or scrap of crepe paper first.

I start by cutting my crepe paper into four. I cut it in half then cut these each in half. No measuring, roughly right is fine! Each quarter will make one rose.

In a couple of bowls I mix my colours. I do this because its good to do two versions of your colour, one a little lighter than the other or some variation. Use warm water and add a little bit of what you have chosen. For soft colours you dont need much. I use a bit of crepe paper or a cotton bud to dip in the water and see how it is looking. If its too light add more colour and keep testing until you like it. If its too dark add more water. 

Tea or coffee is very easy to work with. Food coloring is also easy. This is your choice. For deeper shades you will probably need dye. Dye is intense and hard to remove! Be careful, wear gloves or use tongs, protect your surfaces! Inside the laundry sink is a good place to work.

When you like your colour dip in your section of crepe paper. Dip it in for about one second!  Don't leave it too long.  I do this somewhere like the laundry sink and drape the dyed sections over something so they can drip dry. You do not want these sections to unfold, try and keep them together and neat.

It is good to remember wet colours usually look slightly darker than dry. So they will fade a little as they dry. Also it is good to know when the crepe paper is dry if you don't like the colour you can re dye them... but it will only work if you go darker or maybe soften a colour by adding coffee or tea over it. But you have some flexibility.

Once they have drip dried a bit I transfer them to my clothes horse to dry... I do this inside and lay paper towel on the floor. You could use a bathroom rail or dry outside... but don't use pegs to hold them on the line... the pegs leave indentations you cannot remove and ruin them. Depending on the weather they will take a couple of days to dry. And they need to be 100% dry before you go onto the next step.

When my crepe paper is dry I just store all these sections in a basket or box. Each section is going to create a flower.  I am obsessed with soft colors and antique looking colors so mostly I go for softness. Imperfections and inconsistencies in the color will overall make for more realistic roses.

Now for the fun part! 

I will start with a basic easy rose. 

The first rose is something you just need to mess around with, make, take apart and play with as you get the hang of handing crepe paper. After you make a couple you will be unstoppable!

Firstly, we are cutting out our petals. This is my basic petal which you can trace if you want. A rough copy will be fine. I like to use the whole length of the section of crepe paper and cut them out many at a time. To do this draw your petal shape onto your crepe paper. The top and bottoms of the petal are the CUT top and bottom edges like this...

You get more petal by doing them this way up and one down.

Your shape is not that important. I just sketch it on in a second and no two are probably ever the same! You just need a petal shape at the top with a handle at the bottom.

It is easiest of you do one section at a time or you will soon be drowning in petals.

Now to shape your rose petals. Each petal is a double thickness of paper. Two. Peel the petals away into a pile of double thickness petals. 

Now you need a medium sized knitting needle. You are curling the top of each petal backwards to form that curl of a rose. Just roll your paper with the needle. Now at the same time stretch slightly the paper outwards as you roll. You will notice the paper is quite stretchy. At first it is ok to break a few until you get the hang of how much to roll and how much to stretch! thats ok! Crepe paper stretches one way only and that is why we have cut our paper this way, so that the stretch is across the width of the petal.
Once your petal has a roll use your fingers to lightly stretch the middle section under that to make a dip. Describing this could take forever... look at the shape you are aiming for... 

Once you have a pile of these you are ready to make a rose.

To being assembling your first flower tie some cotton to your florist wire. You need a length of about the length of your arm. 
Now place your wire into the middle (almost) of a petal and wrap and roll that petal to form a tube... coax it into a roll like in the centre of a flower. Wrap your cotton around the base to hold it. 

Please ignore that I had more than one wire... I was using up some wire I had found too thin. Normally I would use one wire.

Next add a second petal. You are going to gently work around so you are overlapping each time, rather than lining up. Roll it up but a little less tightly than the last one. As you go up you want the petal to roll and the roll to turn outwards from the centre. Look at it from the top so you can see how the petals are looking. But honestly on your first one don't be too fussy....  look at it this way... the first few are an experiment and you are trying to get the hang of how it works!

Gradually add in petals. Over lap and fill in gaps. Look at it as a rose as you go and see it forming. You will soon see that as you start the petals are tightly wrapped and as you work outwards they are just placed where you want them.

Now you are seeing your rose start to bloom!

I am going to break here and go to Part 2. See you there! x