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, 29 October 2015

Feather your Nest Friday, 30 October, 2015.

The last post for October! On the weekend I will get out all the Christmas presents I've made all year long and see what I have. This is a self imposed rule... I am allowed to haul it all out once its November. Our other rule is the Christmas tree goes up in the first of December.  Do you have funny little rules about when you do things?  I find this really exciting! I can't wait to see everything I've made and decide who is getting what! The ultimate is a surplus. Then I can give to more people and towards all the birthdays we have in January. Everyone was born in January apparently!

This week was good. I don't think quite as big as last week but still good.

Some of the ways I saved money were:

I turned some ordinary little jars into something nicer with a little paint and stickers...

And I painted some baby formula tins. Now I have another set of six canisters for free.

In the mail I got a letter that I could convert Flyby points to grocery shopping dollars and that I had $40 if I did. This is a scheme where shopping earns points you can redeem for stuff. I was surprised! So I did that and decided I would add $40 worth of goods to my pantry this way, for free. To do it I did a special trip and studied the specials catalogue first. I bought all half price or under specials so I got $80 worth of stuff for that $40. (this is another rule! Always double the value of gift cards by shopping for specials or waiting for a big sale!)
I had a great time and ended up with so much stuff including dish washing detergent, laundry liquid, bleach, toilet cleaner, toilet paper, canned goods, pasta, rice, flour etc all useful basics to add to my cellar. I lined it all up to show Andy what I had got fro free. He was amazed!

So now I think I will be more dedicated to collect these points as I had been casual about it.  On that note I took a leaf out of Rhonda's book ("If you do stuff, stuff gets done" blog. On my side bar)
We do not generally have coupons. But this is similar and I was spurred on by my $40 free groceries. As a promotion I was sent a sheet of vouchers to earn more points to get me another voucher. So I took ten minutes and got out my diary. I clipped these and stuck each voucher to the pages in my planner. There is a voucher a week and they must be used in the correct week. They go through to the end of January.  Already I used one yesterday and earned 500 flyby points. I purchased things I need on half price specials to do it. Yay! I'm organized and will make the most of this. Thanks Rhonda!

If all this clipping and sticking earns me another $40 voucher I will be very happy!

I have had it on my mind that I would love to get Bantams. They are basically little chooks. I love them. Andy also used to keep them.  I have a little yard for them but I also need somewhere I can lock them up and they can nest. I put in my "order" a couple of months ago. This means I prayed something would come my way and started watching for something I can use on the side of the road and asked Andy to watch out too. Usually when I put my order in I find things fast. But a few days ago I was thinking where is my chook pen? I had been talking with Tania about finding these bantams too assuring her I am ready!
Then on Wednesday on our own street, a few doors up voila!!! There it was!

Tania if you are reading... these are the ones I love. Pekin Bantams...

Or Wyandott Bantams...

Or something similar or mixed. Its the sweet plump shape of them and pretty colours that I just love! I thought if I find them impossible to get maybe I could get Quail? But I really want Bantams... Also if not I could get Silkies?

Or if anyone in SA knows where I could get some please let me know.

I made two birthday gifts for my sister in laws.

 These will grow a little before I give them and send up flowers. I added little signs instead of a card. To give I will add cellophane and a ribbon, copying how the florist does it.

I did our chemist shopping at the discount chemist. I have really noticed the difference since I started doing this. Many times it is a $50 saving.

Andy fixed my good broom for me.
He also trimmed the hedge. He always does this but I notice all our neighbors pay professionals to trim theirs. I should find out how much they pay so I know how much we save each time.

I got a beautiful classic perfume for $5 because it had a few sprays out of it as it was used on a display. It was a $200 perfume!

I used up getting soft apples in a roast with pork. They were beautiful.

Some ways I built up our home were:

Building up the pantry with all these free things plus several other really good specials. In fact I think this is the biggest amount I ever added in one week.

We did quite a bit of gardening, Andy trimming the hedge made a big difference. I've been bringing roses inside and we have enjoyed meals outside.

In the next couple of weeks I am doing a freezer challenge. Kaye got me going on this. It is full. If I find a great special that needs freezing I can't buy it! And I remembered... after Christmas and New Year I have been able to buy turkeys at an amazing price. Under $4 a kilo, sometimes $3. If I don't make room I won't be able to get them.  So the plan is to do exactly what Wendy said in her blog about managing your economy. (I linked to that on Wednesday). I will largely make meals from ingredients in the freezer for two weeks. So I will spend less on food for our meals. The money saved will go in a fund for the turkeys and also after that into my pantry building. So it is a win/win!

Going through all the gifts I have made is the same as this. All the money I save this way can go into areas that really need it. Saving money in one area to bolster up another area is a great challenge and it is amazing what can be done sometimes. Plus it's motivating!

I hope you had a good week! It is wonderful to see all the little things add up and see progress. It is also good to feel your hard work has achieved something and to notice all the blessings you have.

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

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Pantries and Preparedness. When it is just so hard to get ahead.

Last week Marie asked how to get ahead with the pantry when all the funds are tied up and emergencies come up to top it off! Well,  we have all been there. On Friday (Feather your Nest Friday) a number of lovely ladies made wonderful comments on this subject, much of it from experiencing the same thing. Thank you to everyone who replied.

This is a good subject... how to get ahead when it seems like an impossible task. When groceries run out before pay day. When other things have eaten into the finances and we still have people to feed... all those times.

Getting ahead is a buffer against emergencies. There is only one thing worse than running out of money before pay day and not having enough food in the house. That is this happening when you have a child.

This is where your emergency pantry supplies are a God send.

Some of the best stuff of my blog is what happens in the comments. The replies on this are so good. Cath suggested... the basic pantry ingredients that make a lot of different things are a really good place to start with, amongst lots of other things (I suggest reading the whole thing)
Mimi had been through such times and learned a tricky little method to set food aside. (this I thought was one of Mimis loveliest comments ever!)
Wendy added how she does this and she is very good on this subject!
Jen added how she has made progress in this area from her own experiences. Also Caths book, Eat Well, Save More, which I can also recommend.

It was all so heartwarming and helpful.

On Monday Wendy wrote a post that is just perfect. Her method of saving in one area of the budget to help another area...  you have to read this, it could revolutionise how you think of your budget...Creating your own mini economy. This fits in so well.
Wendy and I think alike. This is how I do everything. It is saving in one area and benefiting another.
And that is how I get ahead in the pantry, or one of the main ways.

Wendy's system relies on you knowing how much you have for different categories in your budget. This is crucial.
If you need help making your budget or maybe updating it then there is a good series I am following on budgeting that might be useful at A Chat over Coffee How to Budget.
Knowing your budget helps so much.  All year I have used the savings in different areas to grow my pantry and supplies. I have stocked a cellar this way. This was my priority and it has come togehter in hundreds of small ways and small steps.

Some of the areas we saved in included...
We did not have a weekend away that we usually have.
We are saving on prescription drugs. This will equal over $600 over twelve months.
I have made almost all of my Christmas presents and cards.
I didn't buy clothes most of the year.
Reward points from the supermarket all went to pantry items...
Each of these savings has been used to add to the pantry/cellar. That was my goal for the year.

Some of the things Ive done to stock the pantry are little by little things. ie I haven't bought any coffees out which I once did. Each time I buy a pantry item instead.
It all adds up!

Giving up a bad habit or unhealthy thing and using the money to build up your pantry is a win/win. I would be jumping with joy if I heard someone saying they gave up gambling or smoking and used the money to buy chickens. Can you imagine that!? There may be something that can go and is better off gone. And that money could go into something that grows more and more savings like fruit trees, or a compost bin or a canning kit!

A garage sale might clear out useless stuff that takes up space and simultaneously give you room for shelves and the funds to fill them.

Having said all of that there are still times that there is nothing to sell, swap or change and there is no room to move. Only free food is going to increase the pantry. But it is possible to get a lot of free food!

There are two posts dedicated to free food...

Stocking your pantry for free.

Free food continued.

Vicky also replied to Marie  here...

How do we stock a pantry when we are on limited grocery dollars, but would like to increase the pantry?
I have had several ladies over the years ask me this because they are tired of being out of food by the end of the week or had to allocate the grocery money for another bill or emergency and really want to have a lot more food in the cupboards.
First everyone's pantries are different as we all know, but one thing does need to be taken into account when it comes to pantry stocking although we would like to think so not everyone cooks or bakes! No kidding I know ladies that can't cook or bake at all and that's ok I am not eating their cooking. Besides we always say store what you eat and eat what you store. So if you want to get ahead in the pantry area just a little, but are unsure how to approach doing it maybe these suggestions will help give you an idea! And please remember these are suggestions not a given as we all eat differently.
If your pantry is low or you are just starting out:
First take stock of what ingredients you do have, that includes cupboards, fridge and freezer.
How much of these ingredients do you have? example: half a bag of beans, 2 cans of soup, a pound of hamburger or a pack of hot dogs
What do you make with these ingredients you do have and how often do you use them. example: has that half bag of beans been in the cupboard for a long time or is it from last week and you eat beans once a week? Don't spend grocery dollars now on something you don't use very often instead buy something you do.
With the ingredients you do have or have left can you use them this week to make a meal with? example: beans and bread or hamburger gravy?
If so that will be at least one meal planned for the week that you will not be buying items at the store for and can get something else to add to the pantry. A meal ahead if you will.
Next you want to stock your most economical ingredients first even if you have to change your meals for a little while and serve some of the same things. Price being the biggest factor. example: don't buy a 15 dollar bottle of olive oil if you are trying to get ahead or don't spend 6 dollars on a bag of chocolate chips wait for a good sale.
How many meals do you get out of your ingredients? example: if a frozen pizza is 5 dollars on sale, but would only feed your family once can you forgo it and buy 5 dollars worth of sale items that will either be more than one meal or part of more than one meal. example: say frozen veggies are on sale and you can get 5 bags of those for the cost of 1 frozen pizza or 5 boxes of pasta. You are farther ahead. You are adding to the pantry.
What kind of meals are you serving that can be changed or tweaked? Can you reduce the ingredients to get more bang for your buck at mealtimes? example: let's say you bought chicken breast on sale great job! But most chicken breasts are a good size and if you can cook 1 and shred it and make something like creamed chicken over biscuits or chicken and noodles you have chicken in the freezer for other meals thus stretching the grocery dollars.
If your family likes simple foods don't try to wow them every night. If they like grilled cheese and tomato soup or hot dogs and macaroni then serve it. If you have baking cocoa, sugar, butter, oats and peanut butter make a batch of no bake cookies or bars and skip the store bought cookies. Use what you have first.
If your family likes fruit, but doesn't eat it all when you buy it don't feel obligated to buy a whole bag of apples or a bunch of bananas on sale or not, buy just a few pieces of each so your money is not wasted. If they like breakfast foods and they are cheaper that week serve eggs or pancakes for dinner.
So let's say you stretched your meat the first week and have some left for other meals and you skipped the convenience pizza and bought frozen veggies or canned items or even 2 dozen eggs for what you would have spent on that pizza now you are ahead. You do this for at least a month and you will start seeing a difference in your pantry. If you have some of your budgeted food dollars left stick them back and wait until the next sale. Get a different cut of meat that's on sale or buy extra of something else. An extra bag of flour or cheese or butter if it's on sale. The biggest thing is to not serve the meals that require expensive ingredients when there are tasty and affordable alternatives.
This all just basic as there are a multitude of ways to save when it comes to the pantry, just a different way to look at it so I hope there is some information here that helps.

Thank you so much Vicky and everyone who replied. Plenty of experience on this and such kindness and willingness to help someone else.

Most of us have built up supplies very gradually and using a whole variety of methods and utilising every opportunity! And when you hear of situations where there is no spare food (or worse) we are reminded of why we do this! It is a good reminder.

I  wanted to share with you some of the pictures I have received.  Everyone has been busy!
Vicky was harvesting cabbages. And not just a few!

As Autumn sets in she has been harvesting and busy.

Glenda as been picking berries.

The work involved in picking these reminds me of picking Mulberries only worse! But Glenda freezes them and then deals with them in batches.

I love seeing how you are building up your supplies! 

So over to you. How do you manage to add to your pantry for tough weeks when money is already tight? 

Thank you to everyone! xxx

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Inexpensive Christmas Part 4. Wrapping.

Thank you to the ladies who posted such helpful comments to Marie on Friday. I am sure these will also be helpful to anyone having the same issues of getting ahead with the pantry when money is tight. We have all been there. Thank you. I am going to make this a subject on Wednesday.

This week I am adding wrappings to our ways to save money and still have a gorgeous Christmas.
Have you ever noticed how easy it is to spend $10 on cards and gift wrap? Here, at least, if you went to the news agent to buy a gift wrap, a ribbon and a card you would be already up to about $15. Holy cow, that is more than the present!
Don't mention what it would cost to buy a gift box or gift bag or anything extra!

Please never do this! I have covered lots of ways to make cards and tags. I won't repeat much of that here. These are so easy and to me a lovely card can be 50c or so and gift tags more like 10c. But gift wraps are a worthy subject as I haven't mentioned them much recently.  They can be much cheaper than the main stores but I also love everything to look beautiful. To me making a gift look lovely is part of giving. It builds excitement and it makes the gift more special. So I am a big wrapper!  And if there are several items in a parcel I wrap each one individuality. I think it makes it more special and we are no different to children... it is fun to have lots of things to unwrap!  The trouble you went to says something.

I love Christmas and presents under the tree. And I love being able to give gifts to people I think might not have any or many... so something is under their tree. With making things yourself and keeping costs way down you can do that.

I really love good old brown paper and string. It is a classic. It looks lovely. Rolls of brown paper can be very inexpensive. I have added gum leaves, pine cones, stamped images and all sorts of things. This is lovely stuff.

As always I am very big on using what you have. If you have a Holly bush or one nearby pick Holly! I have access to gum nuts, pine cones and deer antlers. I have used them all time and time again, plain, spray painted, glittered ... all as Christmas decoration, table centre pieces and parcel decorations.

If you love lace the cheapest is buying a lace curtain from the op shop. Wash it up and cut it into strips. I once counted that this got me over 100 meters of lace "ribbon" for less than $4.

As I crochet I use that. I crochet flowers in glittery threads and left over yarn. These must work out a few cents each at the most.

If you can buy tulle by the meter this is usually really cheap. BUT it is still cheaper if you buy net curtains and cut them up (from the op shop) or from IKEA where huge panels of lovely soft tulle (sold as curtains) are about $6. This, cut up, makes the most heavenly bows and wrap. It softly gathers and is gorgeous. I love it. It makes the purchase of expensive ribbons seem crazy! Don't get me wrong I love ribbons, especially velvet ribbon... but this will get you hundreds of ribbons for the price of a meter of velvet.
Cut it generously. I might cut it 30cm/12 inches wide to get a soft bow like this...

Imagine this on a wedding gift... or in pale pink for a little girl... but I am getting away from Christmas!
One year I used black tulle and white parcels. I really liked it. However it is more economical to use white as this is how you are most likely to get large quantities cheaply.

If you buy tulle curtains you will have miles to use up. It makes the most sensational garlands...

The easiest way to cut it into strips is cut it while folded neatly and then you are cutting through layers and not great lengths. Speed stitch down the middle... if you adjust the tension on the sewing machine it will self gather. This looks gorgeous! I did this in palest blue for Chloe one year.  I love this stuff. You could also do this with lace curtains.

Another is to rip up pretty fabrics into "shabby chic" style ribbons. Here I added a stamp and then dots of glitter. These looked really pretty around parcels and cost a few cents each. Pretty old sheets are great. I love anything that looks vintage and floral but even calico will look great like this.

Thinner strips of fabric make lovely ties for your gift tags. Sometimes I have run a glitter glue edging along the raw edges. Other times I just embrace the frayed look...

I love tissue paper. It is usually inexpensive and comes in such lovely colours. It looks soft and heavenly to me. So that is a basic I use a lot. When I have lots of small things to wrap I find that really good. And pretty.

As far as paper goes keep your eye out for things that would make good wraps. I love old sheet music and at times have bought great amounts for $1 or so. I have even found Christmas carols! This means you can wrap a gift with lovely words like Joy to the World across it (with some careful placement!)

Other ideas are things suitable for someone ie posters for teenagers, cross word puzzles for enthusiasts  and so on. I have found free movie posters and used those.

For small gifts the luxurious pages of lovely magazines make great wrap! Again pick your subjects. I once wrapped a small gift in a page of gorgeous designer shoes for a friend who loves beautiful shoes. She loved it!  This wrap makes me think of Mimi...

I also recycle paper, ribbons, bows, gift bags that come my way. Sometimes after Christmas in the sales I have bought rolls of luxury wrap for 50c a roll. THEN I will use normal wrap!

Last week I showed my latest gift bags. I just save the gift bags from stores... usually they have the store logo across the front. But sometimes the bags are really good. Also all sizes. I use a card or image of some kind to glue over the logo. Then add a ribbon or glitter or something... and they become free gift bags. You can ask people to save these for you as people throw them away (horror!)

All year I save boxes and collect nice tins and baskets. For a small basket my price limit is around 50c. Really ugly tins can be spray painted! And I usually paint baskets also. Sometimes I have used spray paint and had a mass painting session...  in silver or white... other times like this year I have used up left over paint with a brush. It works but it is much more time consuming! These are really good for little hamper type gifts and food gifts. I really love having nice little baskets on hand.

Alternatives for a basket might be a pretty tray or even a bowl or planter.

It is really amazing if you look in stores or online at the prices of hamper gifts. Just incredible. We can do these things ourselves for a fraction of the price. They are great to look at though as you get a lot of really good ideas!

One year I used brown paper for parcels and brown paper bags for food gifts. I used wooden pegs to hold the paper bags shut. I added little birds to them and glitter... I still have some of these that I use to hold all kinds of packets shut...

Sometimes I have a theme and do all my parcels the same. Other times I have a use it up year and truly use up my supplies and do every parcel differently! I think this year will be one of those years as I have lots of ribbons and trims and different papers.

 Wrapping and presentation are important to me but this is an area you can save a huge amount in. Use what you have! Look around at what you can make the most of. If you have a massive fabric stash maybe sew drawstring bags instead of using gift wrap.

What are some ways you have saved on wraps and presentation? 

I hope this will help you to find some really inexpensive ways to make things look special. I hope it saves you a fortune over the next few years! xxx

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Feather your Nest Friday, 23 October, 2015.

It seems more like a year than a week since last Friday!  It has been a really long week but in a good way. It is a case of just as well I write stuff down or I would have forgotten most of it.

There was a lot of nest feathering and nest cleaning. I started spring cleaning at the beginning of the month and kept going in dribs and drabs. But it has really added up! That combined with all the flowers coming out in the garden due to the time of year has made things look and feel lovely.

When we moved here there was a very neat and tidy garden with white roses across the front. I have just gradually added flowers and added more and more as I like flowers so much... and at last it all seems to be paying off! On Saturday the sun was out. It was a beautiful day. And just like that roses came out and we had a flush of flowers. Andy took photos out the front for me.

There is a jasmine flowering at the front door and I keep that door open most of the time as there is a screen. The whole house smells lovely!

Saturday we had a working around the house day. I had some old blinds that I had tried to clean a million times and were still dingy. Andy took them down for me then I scrubbed all the woodwork and washed all the windows inside and out. There are twenty windows out the back alone! I was up and down a ladder so much I could hardly walk the next day. BUT it was worth it! The whole house looks bright and sparkly!

I love it when things are sparkly!

I added new roses last year and they are out and still coming out. 

All the household water goes onto the garden. ie all the washing machine rinse water and most of the washing up water. We have wanted to put in a rainwater tank or rain barrels to catch water in winter.
This week at work Andy was offered large barrels for free. He came home with two large ones. They are being installed under down pipes at the back of the shed. I have looked at barrels this size at the hardware store and they were over $100 each.
The man who gave them to us asked would we like anything bigger? We have room down the side so we said yes.... wondering what he had. It turned out to be a rain water tank! For free. I don't know the liters but it is 6 feet x 4 feet in size. And that will fit fine!
Andy knows how to install things like this so no expense there either!
What a bonus!

Then in another bit of amazing luck... the carpet in our room is not good. I have dreams of getting rid of it. In our hallway there are beautiful old polished floorboards. I love them. Anyway this carpet is impossible to move to peek under so I asked Andy to lift a bit.... and underneath is the same floorboards as the hall. Not only that but they are already polished! Exactly the same as the hallway. I feel like I have won the lottery! So you know where this is going and what is an upcoming project...

We also saved money as there was a leak in a water pipe out the front and Andy fixed that himself.
If we do need a plumber though we call Kato so all good!

I cut Andy's hair.

Andy fixed the letterbox as it had broken.

I planted out self sewn tomato seedlings.

Then on Monday I cleaned the fridge top to bottom. Some IKEA place mats I had fitted the shelves perfectly. (You could cut them to fit though). It was a big job and I had a serious re arrange and felt so proud of it that I took a photo.

Aside of being nice a well organized fridge saves you a lot of money. No lost and forgotten items, science experiments and wasted produce. Before you shop you know what you have and what needs using up. I just find my fridge needs cleaning and organising often. 

I froze some strawberries that were getting away from me.

In the mail I got a Flybuys update and am converting points into a $40 Coles gift card! I will use this to get things for Christmas cooking. Bonus!

Also at a store I was given a $15 voucher for my next purchase. This will get me something nice as it's a gorgeous store.

Mum gave me two flowering plants for the garden.

Down the side of the house we have a climbing yellow rose. I cut big bunches and brought them in...

So the house looks nice with roses inside and out. I am really happy when I have roses.

I have been recovering store gift bags... the ones that come with a logo on them...  so now I have a supply of gift bags for Christmas...

I have nine so far. They will be handy.

I hope you had a good week! I feel we had lots of wonderful things happen and got heaps done. I think Spring is a bit like that, like a surge of energy.

How did you feather your nest or save money this week?

On Monday I am posting the next in the save money at Christmas series. This one will be super cheap ways to make parcels look spectacular, packaging, wrapping etc.

Have a wonderful weekend! xxxx

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Pantry and Preparedness. Skills that save money and get you through hard times.

Recently I was reading about skills that people used to get through such times as the war years and the Great Depression.  My Grandparents lived through this time and I knew a little through them. More recently I watched Wartime Farm a series on You Tube and that was so interesting! Another one I love on You Tube is Cooking with Clara. Clara lived through the depression and shows what she cooked. She is a delight. She passed away since I started watching her but her great advice lives on!

When I was a teenager we holidayed in a farm house a long way from a town. There was no electricity. We didn't mind and it never occurred to us to mind. Mum and Dad has a big book called The Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla Emery. It was thicker than a phone book but with no TV I was undaunted.  I LOVED that book. I must have read it cover to cover many times. It covers everything from butchering chickens to soap making, how to grow everything, how to can anything and pretty much anything you can think of. 
So kind of by accident I was learning a lot!  At the farm this book is still in the lounge room just as it always has been so I have little revision sessions. If you are interested in preparedness and self reliance etc. see if the library has it as you will love it! Actually just owning a book like this means you at least have on hand the practical instructions for an awful lot of things.

Skills are such a big part of preparedness. Recently something on TV prompted Mum to say how people did not have any practical skills to know how to get through a crisis. They don't even have a shovel she said in disgust! 

Whether we are talking about really hard times or personal hard times skills help you get through. Some of the skills are general ones like the ability to adapt and the ability to make do. Others need some practice like learning to mend, light a fire, cook a meal with what's on hand... cook on a fire... 

Even in ordinary and good times skills are a huge asset. They save money, enhance your life and entertain as well. They can also be used as a currency as skills can be traded or sold. Your skills can be a back up plan when you need extra income. New skills are worth learning and current skills are worth polishing up and improving on.

Apart from what we know already we probably have skills that we could sharpen up and others that we could learn that will save us a lot of money and help our families.  They say when you are ready to learn something the teacher comes along... I have found this so true!

When I was little Mum and Nan taught me to knit and crochet. I was pretty good at four too, lol, if you can imagine! Mum had to "turn the corners" for me on my knitting. I learned to sew too although I got banned from sewing in bed at one time due to consequences of that! (rolling on needles in my sleep etc)

This is Mum and Chloe taken last year and I had my work with me too...

Mum would never sit down and not work on something.

Later I have used You Tube to greatly add to my skills and learn a heap of new stitches. You Tube is the best thing for adding to your skills!

When Chloe was a baby my neighbor over the road was called Dorrie. She was wonderful. She taught me stretch sewing. I would get up to a point and run over for Dorrie to show me how to add banding to a cuff or some such thing then run home again with Chloe under one arm and the sewing in a basket.  Little by little I learned the basics. 

I lovely lady taught me embroidery and over several years I expanded on that and this became an income too for me for a few years. Later I learned heirloom sewing, pintucks, insertion laces and so on.

It is hard to think of all the things I've had a go at over the years! Over time I think we learn things as we need them ie learn to make baby food when you have a baby up to that stage. Learning to make curtains when I found my windows were not standard size...

I learned to color my own hair when I got fed up with it at one stage and the hairdresser charged like a wounded bull AND messed it up. I learned to cut it after the same scenario only that took me longer. The girls learned to do each others hair as they went a long and still do. (saving a huge amount per year) This extends to Dad (their Grandpa) insisting they cut his hair when they are at the farm.

(He 's still working as they cut his hair but looks like he's kind of enjoying it!)

I think just cooking all our meals is one of the biggest savings and being able to use what we have to make something.

Crock pot cooking is a great help to me.
Making my own stock and soups is a skill I am so glad that I have. Making soup is a great one, you can always feed your family well and inexpensively if you are a good soup maker.

The same goes for pie making. Left overs become pies and frozen soups and pies are always on hand. How much has this saved me over the years?

Jam making, how to make preserves has meant so much fruit that comes my way is never wasted. 

Baking.. I don't do anything complicated but cakes, biscuits, scones etc are all so cheap to make and make good gifts as well.

Growing some herbs and vegies, washing something that says "dry clean only", bread making, raising chickens, mending, taking up jeans... goodness there are just so many things that you can do yourself rather than pay someone to do.

Last year I learned to plaster a wall. Andy built me a new kitchen (good skills!) and we removed cupboards first. Then we needed two walls re plastered.  I decided to learn. The man at the hardware store told me I couln't and would need to hire a professional. Pfft.  Thanks to You Tube I did a pretty ok job of re plastering two walls!

What to learn next?
All year I have been wanting to learn more on modern day preparedness and I have had great teachers come along!  I look at this year as one of the years I have learned more than any other. It has been really fun too. 
Some things I would like to learn now are fermented foods including sour dough bread.
Re acquainting myself with soap making. 
New crochet patterns.
And cake decorating.

If you have teachers don't waste them. If you are lucky enough still to have your Grandmother get her to teach you skills you can use in your life. Listen and learn, she will not be around forever. You might know someone with the skills you would like to learn. Most people are delighted if you ask to be taught!
Then there are on line tutoirals, books, the library, courses, You Tube...lots of ways to leanr what you want to know. All skills take practice! I am amazed that i hear peole say they are terrible as something they tried once!  I've had to bury my first goes at most things lol

Deciding what to learn next might be a case of opportunity decides for you, so take it! Otherwise thinking about what is costing you a lot that maybe you could learn to do yourself is a great way to decide.
If takeaway meals are costing a lot then maybe learn to make great pizzas or learn to use a crock pot.
If birthday cakes are a big expense maybe learn cake decorating. Mimi does this and makes cakes for her Grand daughters and special occasions saving her family hundreds. Many people pay huge prices for cakes!

Set goals to learn new skills. I noticed Wendy set a gaol to learn soap making this year which she recently achieved. (with great success too!)

In hard times or a crisis you might need to mend and make do, make a meal from what you have... make gifts from materials on hand... all your skills are going to be very handy! The more we can do the more we save, are less dependent on the shops, have skills we could sell or barter with, can help others and improvise.

Skills are worth a lot. If you work on them the benefits are huge.  "Do you see a person skilled at their work? They will stand before Kings." (Prov. 22:29)

What skills help you in our life right now? What new ones could save your family a lot of money and add something wonderful?  What skills could help you in a crisis or provide an income should you need it? To top it off it is a wonderful feeling to be able to do things yourself. A feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction. Take every opportunity to learn new skills!

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Inexpensive Christmas Presents part 3.

This week is a super easy one! Lots of times people say that they are not crafty or not a good cook. I think you don't have to be either to make good gifts as there are simple things that you can put together or copy and get really great results. And to have a go as you might be very surprised. Like Wendy who said to me she was not crafty and now is the card making Queen and teaching others!

This post could be good for those starting out and not overly confident in making things from scratch. It is really just taking a basic item and fancying it up. The results though can be amazing! Good packaging is what makes many things appealing and glamorous.

This can be really economical too. Something like buying a bulk pack of lovely candles then dividing them up into pairs and elegantly packing and decorating them.

Some things I have shown before fall into this category. Simply wrapping and decorating nice soaps ...

I added these to my earlier pink and silver ones. Mimi gave me the little cameo's which are perfect!

Other things I have "fancied up" are little note books...

I have decorated plant pots by painting them with chalkboard paint or transfers,
Added trims to pillowcases and tea towels.

Added glitter to votives for candles.
Re wrapped all kind of boxed things... I have these bon bons ready to give...

Another idea is to put names on each bon bon and tie a little trinket to each one. Then re pack and fancy up the box. That is a lovely family gift.

A couple of weeks ago I did this with a box of mixed candles which I have ready...

There are so many ready made things that can be re worked somehow. ie buying large packs of different flavored teas and using cellophane bags to divide them up. That way you would make little baskets of six different teas and add some homemade biscuits or a pretty cup and saucer. Think of all the things that could be purchased in bulk then divided up. A few years ago I only made Christmas cakes and Coconut Ice. So I bought giant packs of our local grocery store homemade style biscuits. The bakery makes them. I got four varieties and re packaged them into cellophane bags. This way each person got a little cake, coconut ice and four little bags of biscuits. It all looked lovely and it saved me that year!  Last year I did this with Christmas lollies. I bought two huge packs and made them up into about 20 small pretty packs. These went into a lot of gifts and added some colour and variety.

Presentation is everything. A survey of a beautiful home wares store yesterday was a good demonstration. Chloe and I looked at each other and left to the local cheap store where we copied some of the ideas and in one case with IDENTICAL items for about one fifth the price.
For the South Australian ladies Neds has the nicest range of glass jars I have ever seen plus little brown paper bags with cellophane windows for homemade treats. Just amazing!

To craft gifts you don't have to make things from scratch. There are so many possibilities and ways to re work things, add, pretty up and re package. This can be a great help and very economical.

Last week Maria made the Christmas cakes! She sent me these pictures and it looks like they turned out wonderfully...

Maria used muffin liners to make small gift ones...

And she put bling on each pack! Respect.

Thank you Maria! They look great!

And also Sue asked for a printable mason tag image to make labels and tags. Lovely Sharla gave her a perfect link which was.... Clip Art Best. Thank you Sharla!

I also found this one which is the Blue Ball Jars, the same as Helen gave me! I just think they are lovely...

The link is Sweetly Scrapped. Hope that helps Sue and anyone who would like to make tags.

I hope you have a great week! 

If you have easy ideas on re packaging, making up easy gifts etc. please tell me! We need easy, economical and fast thing things that look lovely! Many thanks! xxx

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Feather your Nest Friday, 16th October, 2015.

I hope you had good week!

One of the main reasons I write down the things I got done is because it encourages me. I have a friend who works so hard and does so much. Her correspondence with me means I could write up a list of all she achieved in a week, or at least some that I know about! Often though, she will say she doesn't think she got so much done. I am telling her to write it down as she did so much but she has forgotten! You feel better when you look and see just how much you did! The glass looks fuller! Well, this is how my brain seems to work and I feel encouraged seeing that I got somewhere. (usually!)

This is how I feel about the weekly review. But there is a bigger picture. Our work and attitude do a lot to create the atmosphere in the home.  That is a big one.
Our work has a massive impact on the budget and savings.
And a huge impact on all the things that go with meals. Food is a lot of things. Comfort, togetherness, a welcome home and on our health. We are nourishing our family and building up their health. This has huge consequences!
All of this is a lot and just a fraction of the picture.

The bigger picture still ... and I have understood this for a little while now. Laine actually helped me to understand it and I am really lucky that this happened when the girls were very little.
That is that our work impacts the generations.  Many generations.

Last week someone that I follow on facebook  posted something that was right along these lines.  This is one of my favorite teachers on You Tube for crochet, Yolanda Soto Lopez. She has taught me a lot of crochet! All for free I might add.
This is what she said ...

"The thing that keeps me going each day is knowing that I am building something to leave my family when I am gone. I'm not just talking about money as a legacy. A legacy of love, faith and hopefully some material luxuries. Something tangible that my children and grandchildren will be able to enjoy".

Yes! I was blessed a lot by that.

That's what I have to say today. Your work affects the generations!

Here's how I saved money this week:

I found quite a few great bargains. It seemed like my lucky week with these.

About fifty cherry tomato plants came up from a couple of icky cherry tomatoes that I planted. Now I am busy planting them out.

My herbs and potted tomatoes have grown and grown...

I finished two more Christmas presents.

The Christmas cakes are all wrapped and some are ready to give as gifts...

We had a meal that just used up left overs.

I made a big curry that fed us twice and I gave the girls some.

The usual things, used grey water on garden, made all meals and packed lunches etc.

Some ways I built up our home:

I had a big bunch of free pink roses on the table.

Also blossoms from our tree out the front which is covered in palest pink blossom...

I cleaned and cleaned and cleaned. Or that's what it felt like!

Also I added to the pantry and cellar.

How was your week and how did you save money or fluff up your nest!?

Yesterday was quite hot here and today is cool and beautiful. I have the house opened up with a cool breeze flowing though which is lovely. I am about to clean out the fridge with a giant empty everything out and wash the shelves and complete overhaul! I'll be glad when that's done!

Have a wonderful weekend! xxx