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 August 2016

The Christmas Challenge. August Show and Tell.

Welcome to a wrap up of what everyone made in August!  Thank you to everyone who wrote and send in photos! There is a lovely diversity and lots of ideas!

As usual this is going to take two weeks! They are in no particular order and something from everyone.

First we have Pat. She made a quilt as a wedding gift for her nephew. Truly stunning and what a wonderful gift that will be kept forever!

Rachel sent in a picture of the pink tablecloth that we heard about a little while ago. I said I wanted to see this gorgeous op shop find so here it is! The very soft pink is lovely.

Plus her Dad's citrus jam...

Look at the colour! Since there were quite a few comments and questions on this I am enclosing the recipe that Rachel posted in comments...

Now, regarding the 'citrus jam', this could be quite interesting!

Firstly, I am thinking that the original Coles 'Taste Magazine' recipe is at the following link

Secondly, Dad wrote ..... 

"Our jam session has 2 grapefruit(large), 2lemons ,2lemonades,2mandarines,
2 red oranges and 3 or 4 small oranges 🤔or what ever is on the farm.
It varies every time 🕑,another batch has just come off the line."

The above citrus fruit (the whole fruit, cut up) were soaked overnight (12 hours) in enough water to cover them, without the fruit pieces floating. One kilogram of sugar was used, but may need to be adjusted to obtain the desired taste and consistency/thickness.

So, you see, I can only pass on estimates. However, I found the resulting citrus jam, kept in the fridge, refreshing, luscious and fruity! See what you think!!

Cookie has been making amazing fabric and cord baskets...

And quilts!  Cookie is extremely creative I have discovered as she has sent me some links and photos that have given me some big ideas! 

Cookie uses almost all salvaged and recycled fabrics in her work. 

Jo has made appliquéd towels... 

She wanted to learn how to do Grub Roses and did as I suggested going to You Tube for instructions and practicing. Well done Jo you have done an amazing job.

She also makes the Banana Cake and says it is a favourite at her place!

This is a link to the recipe Annabels Banana Cake.

Jo also went to You Tube to learn this bobble stitch I use so much.  And look what she made! 

This is beautiful and turned out so well. It is really a big encouragement to see all of this and know that you can decide to learn something totally new and be producing gifts from your new skill in no time! This is so much fun too.

Chloe made biscuits. She had several occasions to feed people who were helping her and she treated them to fancy biscuits. She said how grown men act like little boys over being made cute biscuits! 

Rosanne has a son who is a massive Dr. Who fan. She made him a Dr. Who scarf! It is 23 and a half feet long! He is going to go crazy over this!

This is the most amazing gift idea for a Dr. Who fan!

I really appreciate the emails and willingness to share what you have been doing! It's really uplifting actually. And each month I end up with a list of totally new ideas.
Best of all I think seeing what others are doing encourages me to learn something new. We might all have a specialty but learning a new skill or even new stitch is so much fun and so exciting. And you never know the new thing might become your new specialty!

Some skills are useful beyond gifts i.e. soap making fills your own cupboard with soap supplies, sewing skills mean you can mend and alter things. Rachel wrote to me and was saying how she does mending and alterations for her parents as her Mother's eyesight isn't so good anymore. She also might see something suitable for one of them in an op shop and make it over for them in some way.  All these skills can be a huge blessing and used in many ways! Building up your skills is a good thing.

I hope your week is going well! I have a lot to report on my 100 day challenge! Once you start spring cleaning and moving things it is never ending! It seems to have a domino effect. And we won't talk about the dust under and behind moved furniture. Eek.

I am working on pale blue towels with matching crochet edgings in cotton. They are looking lovely and are so much fun to do. I get about an hour in the evenings where we watch something on TV and some crochet time on the weekends when we watch football! Projects grow then!

See you on Friday! xxx

Sunday, 28 August 2016

The Vicky Challenge. Planning ahead.

Last weeks Vicky Challenge was much better than the week before! Getting back to painting has helped as hiring someone to paint is very expensive. 

I counted:
Andy cleaned the house and shed gutters saving about $150 (going by what we were charged one year when we paid someone)
I made 41 small and 12 medium banana cakes. Based on local prices and taking off my costs this saved a whopping $150! 

Painting and preparation etc each day of the week I think saved around $500.

I had a turkish bread bargain with two for 90c each saving about $8.

Also at the end of each month I count my hair savings which according to the two nearest salons = $240. At that rate I couldn't afford to have hair! 
I feel like if your hair looks nice you feel good. Nothing makes you feel and look either lovely or terrible like your hair! And hair can be something that makes such a difference. We have all seen people look drastically younger or older according to their hair. 
A while ago we were all looking through old family photos. the girls noticed how my Mum looks younger now than at one stage about thirty years ago. How is this possible? All the difference was hair colour! And its true, in those photos Mum seems to have aged in reverse! Miraculous!  But hair is something that you can save a fortune on and have looking lovely!

Anyway my total to write in my savings book is $1033
That makes up for last week! 

I should have called this the Vicky Series. This weeks savings are well timed as I think when we are at the change of seasons some planning ahead is a big help.  Mind you planning ahead is always a good idea in many ways.

Over to Vicky:

The Pantry and Planning Ahead:

So I have the big gardens and I am canning and freezing away all of the juicy goodness that comes from it. Well summer is a good time to take advantage of meat sales since most of the time it's a lot cheaper at this time of year. By eating the fresh things we grow and not purchasing them I can use those funds to stock meat. I plan ahead. I will be canning sauerkraut soon so I got a huge pork loin and cut it into 5 roasts for pork and kraut or a roast with veggies. 

I will be using ground pork, ground beef and chicken and I got it all for less than $2.00 a pound. I precook about 5 pounds of the ground beef and freeze it for nights when I am in a hurry. I take more of it and mix up meat loaf and meatball mix while I'm stuffing peppers and making cabbage rolls. So I have a plan and now know what other deals I need to look for. And I have planned out part of my winter menu as well!  For example chili is a winter staple here, and hot soups, green bean casserole as a side dish, baked chicken with stuffing, or a very simple dumpling soup that only requires a nice stock or broth, so when any items I need happen to be a great price I be sure to try and think ahead of what I will be using. 

Why besides cheaper prices? Well if you live where winter can be really bad or the heating bills get high you have security. Or if your like me and just prefer to be at home and enjoy winter from the windows. Or when I used to work outside of the home the last thing I wanted to do was grocery shop and slip and slide in the snow and freeze my fingers off pushing a cart to my vehicle and loading groceries when I had already worked a full week. 

You can just go to the pantry and freezer and part of the meal planning is already done.

I had to ask Vicky recently what is a Peck and what is a Bushel? 

So sent me this picture as these explain... the box is the size of a Peck. The smaller basket is about half a Bushel and the larger one about the size of a Bushel. Now I've got it. I thought other Aussie girls might find this interesting.

I sent Vicky some labels for her pantry. They all say Vicky's Victory Pantry!  I got them made up here. I love this name for her pantry so much. Maybe she needs a sign on her garden gate or somewhere that says Vicky's Victory Garden!

And this is Vicky's yellow watermelon! I have never seen this!

That that was a little bit of this and that! 

How did your challenge go? I hope you have had great savings and can see the amazing value of your cooking, management, gift making and all the things that you do.  
Have a great week! I am up to day 8 of my 100 day challenge! I can see progress! 

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Feather your Nest Friday, 26 August, 2016.

I am very ready to have a sit down and look back at my week. Mainly because of the sitting down! I am tired!

Some of the ways I saved this week included:

I made three and a half dozen little banana cakes in muffin trays and another dozen giant sized ones.  I gave both the girls a tray of these and we all froze a supply.

Andy cleaned the gutters around the house plus the shed which was almost a whole days work.

I made trays of mornay,  two were gifts of help.

My herb stacks needed an end of winter refresh. I pulled lots of things that were past it out and added soil. Now they look bare...

I retained a few things. And planted seeds. First I put in radishes, sage and chives.

The radishes are up first...

Then I added basil as well. When this is fully producing it is amazing. I will show an updated picture when it is all growing. It is right at the back door and near the kitchen. I use so many herbs especially in summer. I water it with the water from the kitchen and the bathroom when we are waiting for hot water to run I fill jugs. Also left over water from cooking and from the teapot etc.

Our weather has been quite spring like although we have a few days of winter left. So it has been warm enough to plant.

I got some Turkish Bread for 90c marked down from about $5. They went into the freezer.

Also Andy made a new window as a window frame had damaged wood. I did the undercoat and top coats ready for it to go back in.

And I painted, sanded, cleaned and washed all week!
I have started a 100 day challenge!  The aim is to get the front of the house, bedroom, lounge room, the woodwork around our bay windows out the back and a mile of latticework inside out back fence painted.  This will take me to the beginning of summer and December. I don't want to be painting in December... it is a busy time already.
Along with painting you have to clean and wash surfaces etc so it fits in with spring cleaning very well. So it is my Painting and Spring Cleaning Challenge!
Each day I have to do something towards both. I am up to day 5!
I started on the front of the house and now there is enough paint to really see how it is going to look. This house has lovely wrought iron lace work and plaster mouldings. But they were a cacky colour and didn't stand out. Now as I paint them white they do stand out! It is so pretty!
To add to the challenge I figure that going up and down a ladder hundreds of times over the next months won't do my legs any harm so I might as well count it as a fitness and health challenge as well! So I am on a mission there too!
I can't wait to see what I can achieve in 100 days!  In this time there are other big things going on...  hopefully our bathroom is being pulled out and we are getting our solar installed.
There are going to be times it is a big mess and disaster.  But these are all things I have wanted for so long and I am so excited about!  Today is day five... and it is quite a nice day so I will be painting a bit more out the front this afternoon....

I got ahead by adding easy things to the freezer. (plus all the little cakes)

My pantry grew mainly in the first aid section and hygiene.  Each week I add something.

Chickie got the hang of laying eggs in an appropriate place!

How did you build up your home this week? A lot of us are in that end of the season time and this changes what we are working on and need to do.

Little bits really do add up! I felt I have some really daunting tasks but dividing into little steps makes it look possible. 
Looking back over this year and last year I can see that by working at things week by week you really make so much progress! Be encouraged that all the small steps or small savings really add up to something staggering! 

Have a lovely weekend! xxx

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

The Christmas Challenge. A tutorial...

My Christmas cupboard is full! Now I am storing things underneath and on top! This is a good feeling. Last year when I finally went through everything at the end of November I had my presents,  things for charity gifts and things to get me through the busy December and January birthdays that our family has. It was really good. So I think I am on track for a repeat of that!
I have been still working on crochet around towel sets and bathmats.

Last week I got a lot of questions on crochet edgings. So this week I am going to go on with that and I hope it helps!

Firstly go here to a post I wrote a couple of years ago. It shows some things you can add edgings to plus a basic tutorial on how to do a simple edge and how to get that foundation row done.

Since then I have seen so many new things with a crochet ending including tablecloths, napkins,  bath mats, pretty bibs (burp cloths) curtains, skirts, scarves and many more!

For the basics start with my old post and what I say here will be in a addition.

Firstly there are extra ways of working your foundation row. The main thing is finding something that will make holes easily through your material. Some things are much easier than others. Towels are usually easy as they are soft. If you want to do an edge around thick cotton or denim you are going to need a super fine hook, skewer, darning needle or something like that.
After I wrote this Glenda told me there is a device you can buy that makes the holes for you! Vicky also suggested to run things through the sewing machine with no thread to make your holes and regular spaces.

Rosanne and Vicky both work their edging and sew it all on afterwards meaning they don't need to do the foundation row. So there are many options and you can do what you think is easiest.

Most times I let how something is made dictate where that first row will go and how wide it is. If there is a hem or border then I work my holes just under that line where there is a single layer of fabric as you don't want to be trying to get a hole through layers. Hems and borders helpfully give you a lovely straight line to follow too.  Some ladies mark out their holes/stitches by measuring and placing dots. I don't I just go by my eye. So thats up to you.

When Mel was here we were studying a bathmat that my sister in law gave me with a beautiful crochet edge.  We decided it looked easy enough to copy so I am going to share that here.

As with all patterns it is going to look finer and lacier with a fine cotton and chunkier and thicker with a thick cotton. This is the bathmat I am copying:

I had a towelling bath mat and 5 ply cotton so thats what I've used.

The first row I just did a basic double crochet into my hole, one chain then a DC into the towelling and worked that all around. I used my really fine crochet hook for this row.
I just choose one that will go through and also pick up the cotton ok.

The next row I changed up to a medium crochet hook. On this round I worked one double crochet into the first chain of the foundation row. Then three chain and skipping three chain spaces I worked a double crochet into the fourth space. So it formed bridges and pillars like this:

Easy! The next row I worked three double crochet into each "bridge" and one chain  between each set...

The next row...

This ones a bit different. I worked three double crochet, one chain and three more double crochet into the first "bridge" then one chain and skipping one whole bridge and going over to the alternating one repeat the there double crochet, one chain and three double crochet into that space... and work around doing this skipping a space each time...

So now you are starting to get a scallop edge. You could even finish it there if you are fed up by now!

The final row really makes it though! 

This time work five double crochet, one chain and five more double crochet into the very top chain space of you last row of arches.  It is one arch on top of another. Then work one single crochet in between each set to secure your arch in place. And repeat. . This gives you a very big scallop to finish.

I really love the result and can see it on pillowcases, sheets and kitchen towels!
It is really just a series of easy rows. And possibly not even correct but what I could make of the bathmat edging by looking at it closely.

I think it was Mark Twain who said "the more you explain it to me the less I understand it". lol
If this applies please try you tube or find some tutorials as if edgings appeal to you they are easy and fun.
I have imaginings now of making covers for food with these edges and gingham curtains with this along the bottom! It costs very little to really add a lot to something!

Also remember when women ran a row of lace along their pantry shelves? Imagine working crochet edgings for this!

Vickie from Vickie's Kitchen and Garden did this. I love it! She had plain metal shelves and take a look at what she did!

Thank you for letting me share this Vickie! Her blog is really good to follow as amongst other things one of her regular features is current listings of wonderful free ebooks. I follow on Facebook and then never miss the books I want to add to my collection. They are amazing!

So there are many ideas for your crochet trims and lacy edgings. As usual it is a case of too many ideas and things I want to do and not enough hours!

What are you working on and adding to your gift cupboard? I hope the week is going well! xxx

PS next week we will start Show and Tell again! Thank you for the photos already! Please feel free to post pictures on the Bluebirds Facebook page or email me at
I love to see what you're working on! xxx

Sunday, 21 August 2016

The Vicky Challenge. The Victory Garden and Pantry.

I had a fairly quiet week as far as the Vicky Challenge goes. It was a busy enough week but I am not sure I saved a lot of extra money!

The main things were the work lunches and coffees which I count as $100 saved plus making my Uncles Birthday present which was boxed up shortbread biscuits. I will say $25 for that. 
I invested in some things such as seedlings and seeds but they have to produce before I can count those! 
I might be having brain fade otherwise it is the lowest amount I have written in my saving book all year! 
However I do know what I am averaging per month and my yearly total is looking amazing! 

This weeks saving subject is very motivating!  Vicky has been working away and she told me that she had started her garden with a name which is "The Victory Garden".  Just like in the war years when they had the "Dig for Victory" champaign. I just love that. With a name like that how could you not want to be working in your garden!  
And to add to that she had called her new pantry and cellar "The Victory Pantry" which of course I love too.
In out chats I get updates on how things are going in the Victory Garden and Pantry.  A fortnight ago you saw how she had a freshly painted cellar and new shelves so here you will see an update. 

I asked Vicky to explain her idea for the Victory Garden and Pantry so over to her...

The Victory Garden and Pantry:

Why did I decide to call them this?  I believe that the history of the women who came before us and the things they did to make a home or support their families or pave the way for us is a true testament to the strength and resilience we all have or can choose to have and I find such inspiration from these women that I don't want to just say it I want to live it. During WWII women showed great strength and creativity. They did a beautiful job with rationing, getting creative and did their part in every way. They were encouraged to grow a garden and home can and that is what they did. They grew Victory Gardens as part of the war effort. 
Not getting into politics here, but some things are just not good and I don't like the direction things could go. When we started planning our garden we decided that 2 would be 3 and 3 became 4 and we need a strawberry bed and some blackberries and blue berries for the grandkids and so and so on. 

Some of the days harvest in the kitchen! 

While I was out weeding one day after we had planted a neighbour stopped by to chat and was telling us he had lost his job also and wasn't quite sure what his family would do? 
We have planted so much and there will be lots extra so I thought to myself this year will be my Victory Garden and Pantry! Like the ladies before me I will grow and grow more and can and can some more and add and add some more until my Victory Pantry is filled with the bounty I harvest and add to it each week. 

Taking inspiration from a time when people helped one another I will have plenty to help someone who has a need from circumstances they cannot help. The older couple on a fixed income who can't stretch the money any tighter, the family that lost their sole income or the homeless gentleman who would like something fresh for a change and a nice warm blanket, or the older woman who can no longer garden, but still wants to be in her kitchen working with fresh produce. To be able to help others and bring them joy even in small and humble ways is a real victory to me! 

This is the start of a vegetable sauce Vicky makes up.

I think if you have a mission in mind (plus a plan) then you can really achieve great things. The savings for Vicky's family here are huge. But then you add the other benefits... helping others, bartering, getting ahead, healthy meals full of fresh produce, filled pantry shelves and freezer and on it goes!

Vicky's cellar shelves are starting to fill! 

Just to inspire you even more I am going to show you Jen's garden. (This is Jen in NS) Just take a look at these! 

Jen has her own Victory garden that is just glorious. I loved seeing this as each week she mentions making jam, harvesting and baking and now I can picture her out in this garden. Thank you Jen this is a credit to you and your family.

We can all have our own Victory Pantries and plans. Working towards your goals and overcoming the obstacles along the way is a victory!

This week I am back to painting. I am kind of daunted by what I have to do!  I want to get it all done by Christmas and be finished for when Lucy is very pregnant and the baby arrives. I have the whole front of the house to do, two more rooms inside, outside woodwork around windows plus a big area of latticework inside the back fence. And a dodgy arm. I worked out by the time I am done it would be a saving of over $20,000 this year in painting alone! And I am more than half way. So here goes..! 
Motivation is such a big part of achieving our goals and saving!  I know we will look back on this year having achieved a lot! 

How was your Vicky Challenge last week?
I hope this week is full of progress and good things! xxx

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Feather your Next Friday 19th August 2016

This week was a bit of this and a bit of that!

Yesterday Mel S came over to work on crochet edgings! She lives in Adelaide and I have met her before!  This was really fun as we had a lot of ideas to share. She is a beautiful knitter and her cross stitch is amazing!

There were a lot of ideas exchanged and it was so nice to chat about what we are doing. Mel has been putting in a lot of fruit trees and a lot of things around her home. As you can imagine we would never run out of things to talk about!

Mel also gave me two sets of floral sheets in the softest cotton! Thank you so much!

Some of the ways I saved money this week included:

It was my Uncle's Birthday. I baked him Shortbread biscuits and boxed them up. He loved this! 

This also gave us biscuits for the week.

I planted seeds into my herb towers and refreshed then with extra soil etc. I planted chives, coriander and radishes.  Also I added thyme seedlings as I use a lot of thyme.

There are lots of baby succulents and I divided them and got about thirty new plants.

I kept on working on hand towels and bath mats etc. I have one white bathmat to go then I am on to blue.

I got ahead with gifts made and by adding some grocery items to my holiday gift basket.

Overall I have been trying to get on top of everything so that I can start painting next week. When the weather is nice I am going to be working on the front of the house. And otherwise I have two rooms inside to finish.

The nursery room is finished except for decorating... I am working on that!

I got four large flattish plastic storage tubs. They will go under the bed when the bed is higher from the ground. (that project is on the list)

Our chicken that is super friendly and follows you around will often sit on the back door step. If she wants something she sits there and chatters. Usually I give her a piece of cheese then she goes off happily. But she knows she's not allowed to come inside.
On Wednesday it was lovely weather so I had the door wide open. I heard a funny noise in the kitchen... a scratchy scratchy noise.... so I went hunting.  On the other side of the kitchen bench I keep a row of baskets under a shelf.  And there was Chickie in one of my baskets!

She has never done this before! And she wouldn't get out either! So I had to just carry the whole basket outside!

Talk about cheeky!  Later on she was sitting in my herb garden! She never normally does this either. I decided she was going crazy. Then I saw she had laid an egg! This is her first egg! 
Now I think it is sweet she wanted to come inside to lay her egg but I booted her out! 
So we have made her several new nesting boxes hoping she will like one and use it instead of setting up camp is crazy places!

How was your week? How did you feather your nest, get ahead and save?
We had lots of rain last night. Things are soaked! It is lovely. I have cooking planned for tomorrow.... a big lot of banana muffins and we will see what else!
I am off to the shops and to run a few errands.  Have a lovely weekend! xxx

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

The Christmas Challenge. Crochet edgings.

We have lots of signs of spring! Today is just beautiful! It is so bright and beautiful I instantly feel more energetic.

I have added quite a lot to my present cupboard. Some things I've made plus some bargains.  I have got to the point where I am getting excited to get it all out and be wrapping! But I need to hold off for a few months yet!

Over winter I did a lot of crochet and many rugs. I hope to give some of these to charity at the beginning of next winter plus several are baby presents for babies on the way. During the challenge I had a couple of people say that they have no one to give their handmade work to. So give to charity and the needy is my answer to that.

Now I am changing to working edges on towels, bathmats, hand towels and face washers.  We are working towards a new bathroom so some are my new bathroom glory box items!  Lots will be gifts.
Tomorrow I am having a friend come over for the afternoon as she is wanting to learn edgings and can already crochet. This is so easy to do and transforms things.

I would like to do across the fold down of a sheet. Lots of times I have worked around the edge of pillowcases. So much to do... not enough days!

This is just a good way to take regular things and make them over. Like the old tablecloth Rosanne cut up into kitchen towels and worked a crochet edge on. So inexpensive and such an amazing result. Other possibilities are hankies, serviettes, tablecloths, scarves, blankets, baby socks ...  curtains!

Here I have added embroidery in one corner. I did a muslim face cloth (could also be a baby wash cloth), a hand towel and a face washer. As I have soap in my present cupboard I will match soap up to these. I also made powered puffs so these all kind of go together which is good!

I did whole sets so there is a bathmat as well...

I have a few white sets to go then I have a pale blue set with blue cotton.  Watching the Olympic Games has meant I have got quite a bit of crochet done!

These are good sized projects to take away on holidays, do in the car etc.  Kitchen towels are lovely as well. If you know someones bathroom or kitchen colours you are set!

I might try and do a tutorial but it would be the blind leading the blind since I don't read patterns or speak crochet language!  To get a frill I work three double crochet into each chain space... if that is any help!

Grub roses are the handiest skill to know and very easy to learn. That is fiddly to show but if you like them please promise to learn. Try you tube. Once you have done one you can churn them out as they only take a few minutes each! Plus once you know you can use the same stitches to make little bees, bunnies and various other things. It is so much fun to learn and so handy!  I had to brush up my skills again to start embroidering for the baby. But it didn't take long to get back into it.

Which leads me too...

Lucy is expecting another baby! Our whole family is so excited! My fingers will be worn to the bone from embroidery now!
If anyone would pray for her as she is suffering terrible migraines to the extent that finally the Doctor sent her to a neurologist. He thinks he can help her but not while she is pregnant as none of the drugs are safe for pregnancy. She is having two migraines a week and only one or two days a week without a headache.  I used to be like it and so was my Mum. We both have improved with age and get less. When the girls were little the local Doctor would come to my house after the surgery closed to give me an injection. It was terrible! So it makes me feel sick as I know what it is like.  She had a couple of good weeks and this week has migraines again.
Thank you.

I hope your week is going well! I want to soak up some of this sunshine. Each day I am doing a few things in the garden.

What are you working on for your gift cupboard and current presents?  Do you change crafts as the season changes?
As the year goes on all this work is really adding up! xxx