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.

Sunday, 28 February 2016

The Vicky Challenge. The Pre Emptive Strike.

In an effort to get ahead in as many ways as possible this week I am talking about what I call the pre emptive strike... that is to anticipate what is going to happen next!
Lets face it, mostly, we have things that are patterns and repeats. If you know yours you can plan ahead.
They usually are things like knowing you have a long day coming up and that in all likelihood you will be too exhausted to cook dinner.
Or that you have several birthdays coming up all close together...
That kind of thing.
If we let them go we also know what will happen next i.e.
We will pick take away up on the way home.
We will spend too much on the birthdays as we will run out of time!

So yes we know whats coming and we know what normally happens as a result. The pre emptive strike is to do something while you can about it and change how it turns out. This can be a big sanity saver and money saver.

I truly do so much better if I use my diary, look ahead and plan. It might be the biggest money saver of all.
This week I can see I have two days that will be busy and I will probably be tired. So today I am cooking up a big batch of spaghetti and meat sauce. Tonight we will have that with pasta. While I'm at it I will assemble a lasagne and set some sauce aside for Tacos another night. So I know I will not have to cook those nights and I will have a spare meal in the freezer as well.

Another example is we have a little holiday coming up. We head off to a beach side town. For starters there is 12 hours driving (round trip) and I make sure I have a crochet project ready as I won't want to waste an opportunity to crochet for 12 hours plus while on holidays.
Next I know that on the way we will go past expensive and not very nice road houses and they will be the food choices. A stop at one of these plus two lunches and drinks would be thirty dollars or more. So I plan ahead and pack a picnic and make up rolls and a thermo of tea and one of coffee etc.
It is much nicer and saves a lot of money! It is just planning ahead.

Then while away in a country town the fact is that prices of everything are really high, from milk to anything at all. It is easy to turn an inexpensive holiday into an expensive one just eating. So I have baskets that I add specials to each week and we take our tea, coffee, milk, several meals, treats etc
with us. I know this saves so much money.

So these are my pre emptive strikes!

Then there are the things you can't see coming. They are a whole new ball game except that you can to some extent cater for them by always having spare meals in the freezer and on the pantry shelf. Always having a well stocked pantry. Having first aid and medicines and having a good gift cupboard  with paper and cards on hand. These cover a lot of situations.

What are some of the things that you can see coming or that regularly cause you to overspend? Can you think of ways to head that situation off at the pass and change how it usually turns out?
This can be a big saver. I think of it as a game and a challenge. We cannot predict everything but we can see a lot of things coming and dodge them! I always say if you see a train coming get off the tracks!

Last week was very good for my Vicky Challenge. And to finish up February!

I did a lot of painting, I will say $300 saved.

I made balls of ribbon yarn towards floor rugs I want to make and from free fabric. I looked for this yarn as I wanted to copy something I had seen. I found it at $20 a ball. So far I have made 8 which is $160!

$4 was saved on turkish bread.

I gave Andy a haircut. This locally is $45 which seems ridiculous, most of that must be a search fee!

We had "Fridge Night" I am naming this eat up left overs night Fridge Night as Sue told me the other day that once a week they have Fridge Pie, Fridge Pizza or Fridge Frittata. These means they use up lots of left over bits and pieces into one of these meals. So we had Fridge Pizzas.  I used up left over pesto on one base, let over figs on two, left over cheeses, ham, tomatoes, salami, olives... all kinds of things and got four pizzas all up. They were yum! And guess who has pizza in his lunch box today?
Left overs night or fridge night is a big saver and Sue's version is really good! I will say left over nights and all my pizzas saved $20.

Due to postage going up and up, especially parcels, I am getting tricky at keeping parcels small and looking for alternatives. I found I could send a parcel with someone going through a town interstate where a friend lives. So I could make my parcel big and heavy as I like! This saved me around $100!

Sue gave me all those tins and baskets. Even at op shop prices these would have cost $100 and I will make so much more of them that that by the time I have finished!

Andy is an Aldi convert! For ages he has wanted and saved for guitar stands and microphones ... he is a music nut and has a whole music room. He also rarely spends money on himself. The Aldi catalogue arrived and it had all this musical stuff so I showed him. He basically didn't believe the prices in that he couldn't see HOW these things were such a fraction of the price he knew was normal.
However he got up early Saturday morning and headed off! He got everything he had been wanting at a fraction of the price. I told him there was no risk as you can retune anything if not happy.
But boy was he happy!
Also he needed two new pairs of glasses. He had it all worked out and the price. I said to him go compare around and online. He did! This little exercise saved $440.
His combined savings with glasses and Aldi were $744!
He still can hardly believe it. I added it up as we went through each thing and he told me what he expected to pay and what he actually paid. Talk about a big week for him!

I used soaps as a gift. Saving $30

This is a whopping $1503 which is the biggest week by miles so far.

I still need to add in my monthly $225 which I save doing my own hair.  I add that in at the end of each month.

So I am amazed by this. And encouraged.

How was your Vicky Challenge? And how could you do the pre emptive strike and save by dodging the predictable blow outs that happen regularly? There is often a pattern to this. At one time Friday nights were a blow out for us. Changing one thing made a big difference in our budget.  It helps so much to think ahead. I know that from what I cook today I have two nights off later in the week and cooking more tonight will be worth it!

Have a great week! Tomorrow is Autumn! I am so happy about that I just love Autumn! xxx

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Feather your Nest Friday, 26th February, 2016.

We are nearly at the end of the month already! I am pretty happy with the things I have managed so far. An extra burst over the weekend maybe so I can look back and say I got heaps done and lots of painting!

The ways I saved money this week included:

I saved $4 on a bag of turkish bread that is now in the freezer for an emergency meal. (was 99c)

I have been painting a lot this week. There are french doors at the back of the house and we use these the most to go in and out to the car etc. Of all the paining this was the most worn area. Painting the doors, frame, around the windows etc  has been like a miracle! It looks beautiful! I love it! This took some sanding, puttying and much fiddling around but I did it! It has actually transformed the living area too it looks so nice! I am glad to get this done it was a big job.

My friend Sue asked me if I would like some baskets and tins. She reads my blog so she knows I will make SOMETHING with them! So obviously I said yes please!
We had coffee together and she had the baskets in the car.... When we got to the car I discovered they were not the gift type baskets I imagined but big old style sturdy baskets and a car laid of them!
I have big plans for these!

There were also tins... old and new! Plus some glass containers suitable for candles ala Mimi style or maybe powered and powder puffs?

Some of the old style tins I will use when I make my Dad a fruit cake or biscuits I will give them in a tin as he loves tins and will keep them.

I also might paint some to use in the kitchen and add a rose decal or something like that.

I was really thrilled with all of this! (Thanks Sue!)

Before Christmas I was given bags of stretch knit fabrics. I sorted it into fabric to sew and then was left with a large amount of plain white. I have wanted to make rag rugs for ages. I decided I will crochet them. One lady on Etsy makes the most gorgeous rugs and she uses t shirt yarn.  I googled this and it is quite expensive but you can make your own. So every evening I have been cutting this fabric up and making yarn. This is where I am up to! (I have a long way to go!)

Some ways I built up our home:

I pruned the Hydrangeas, this is toward lots of good flowers next year. I did quite a few bits and pieces in the garden.

The Quince tree is so heavy with fruit it is leaning over and I can pick Quinces even from the highest branches without a ladder. They are huge and so heavy...

I am planning to make Quince paste and some could come with us on our holiday.. with cheese and crackers Quince paste is just beautiful. That's the plan.

The cellar is basically full. I got a set of eight plastic containers that slide under the bed to continue my supply gathering...

I started them off with ten packages of toothpaste on a super good special.

I think that's it!

Oh, no it's not...  Ways I got ahead!

Adding quite a bit to the present cupboard.

I also added frozen vegetables to the freezer. I realised I should keep some as now and then I run low on veggies and these are good back up.

And I put more items in our holiday basket. This included fig jam, crackers and balsamic vinegar.

I hope you had a good week.

Thank you to everyone who has sent photos for the February Show and Tell! I love the photos but it also gives me a chance to get to know some of you much better. You are welcome to send photos of anything you are working on, even if not complete. Progress reports are good too. Just imagine how far we would have come even by mid year!

Have a lovely weekend. Be proud of all your work and looking after your

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

The Christmas Challenge. Soap Making part 2.

Last week I covered the first soaps I made including the Lux Flakes method that I really loved. Before moving on I want to update this method. I made it again with pink colour and I love this so much!

Also Patsy made this soap and as Lux Flakes are not available in the US she grated pure Castile Soap and it worked perfectly. You can see how they look and how she did it on her blog post here.

Leigh made it by grating Ivory soap with great success which can be seen on her link I will post in the Melt and Pour soap section in a minute...

Having grated soap before I will say that jobs like these go much faster if you are watching tv or chatting to someone and suddenly it is all done!

Making this again I found some new things. Last time I melted it and blended it with the stick bender until smooth then poured. This time I dissolved my colour which is a pigment into some of the second lot of milk that goes in. Then I added that until I was happy with the shade of pink. This meant I blended again and overall much longer than my first batch. The mix became silky and glossy with a high shine...

It was heavenly! So now I know to keep blending and it is only better. It is gorgeous! It is really like working with chocolate as it sets quickly and you need to pour into moulds asap.

I highly recommend this soap (the recipe is in Part one last week and the first photos) If you want to make soap and are worried about caustic soda and chemicals then this is wonderful. I now prefer it and will never bother with caustic soda again. However it is personal preference.

Originally I was inspired to start soap making again by Nanna Chel. She has a lot on her blog about soap making and different methods. This is a good post to start with "What soap recipe do you use?"

There are many methods!

For my birthday Helen had given me rose shaped soap moulds and a large amount of solid Glycerine Melt and Pour soap. This is available from soap making supplies.  Mine was clear and I added a small amount of pink pigment to it. Directions come with the purchase of melt and pour soap, it really is simply of melting it gently and pouring it into moulds.

I made heart shapes with rose buds in the centre (dried rose buds from the garden) for Valentines day...

And rose shaped soaps for gifts later in the year.

This was really easy and fun. Leigh just used this method and brilliantly put toys inside the soap for children. Known as motivation to wash! Have a look what she did...

Soap Opera.  This is really good! I have also seen soap with a little rubber duck in the middle or dinosaurs! But the sky is the limit here! What great gifts!

Finally I made actual cold pressed soap which is using caustic soda. It is not hard at all. I mix the water and caustic soda outside and let it cool down a bit then bring it in. 

For this soap I followed this recipe/tutorial...

How to make cold process soap.

My batch turned out speckly as I should have blended the pigment into some oil then added it but I put it in directly. I have just pretended it should be speckly. Mind you this would be great to do on purpose to make speckle eggs! I would love to do that.

This is a good recipe and was easy. I am glad I made this and tried a few methods.

All this has given me heaps of soaps for gifts. Sometime soon I will also show packaging ideas.

It has given me great supplies to keep on hand as well. I have loved it. I think I will make it an annual event.

Overall let your soap mature for as long as possible. It will get harder and harder and last longer in use that way. I really hope if you have been thinking of soap making you will give it a go.

So for February I have added rolled hem hankies, laundry soap, wool wash, heart and rose soaps and a few bargains such as the heart shaped cake tins to my present cupboard. I am very happy!

Next week is Show and Tell for February!  Thank you to everyone who has already sent me pictures! Last Show and Tell resulted in so many ideas, so much inspiration and several things that helped me greatly such as Rachel's laundry liquid recipe.

Please join in even if you have incomplete projects a photo of progress is still welcome. Email me at and next week we will see what everyone has been up to!

We are two months into the year now. Imagine how much we will have made by December! Believe me, reaching Christmas with a cupboard full of gifts is wonderful. It is so much fun when you get it all out! It is like Christmas! And I have always forgotten much of what I made by then and that is funny and surprising. The rewards of starting early are huge.

I hope you are having a good week. I had a painting afternoon coming up! xxx

Sunday, 21 February 2016

The Vicky Challenge. Bartering.

My added extra ways to save today is bartering. I was talking to Vicky about this. When I lived at the beach I was given a lot of crayfish. I always said "yes thank you" even though I do not eat them. (Allergic to shellfish sadly...)
I learned to cook crayfish and freeze them. Over the years I traded them for so many things including services like the electrician fixing wiring! I cannot fathom turning down something so valuable.
Similarly when something comes your way that you cannot use I think of how it can still be an asset to your household...
So we were talking about this and I had said how I hear all the time of people turning down goods or wasting goods and I think its crazy! Why wouldn't people trade it instead?  Worse I have heard of people not using a gift card as there was nothing they wanted in the store! So the gift card was wasted!! Why wouldn't they use it for a present for the gift cupboard or an item to trade or sell? I just cannot fathom it!  I will share with you Vicky's reply....

bartering-exchange goods or services for other goods or services without using money
Bartering? Why barter? Bartering can be a helpful tool in our endeavours to save and not having to have cash of any kind is what makes it such a great tool. 
We have bartered for many things over the years and ultimately it is a win win situation. Thinking outside the box helps. We have all been given items that we will never use, but they can become worth something to us! Instead of just getting rid of those items trade them with someone else! It doesn't have to be worth the exact same amount or be the same size as long as both parties are happy with the deal that is all that matters. And it saves money. There are so many things that can be bartered, just about anything really. And in days of old it was a way of life. 
Here are a few examples of how bartering has benefited our household:
My husband traded his time of cutting a small tree that the person couldn't afford to pay for having it cut down and my husband got the wood from the tree.

A big box of shelled sunflower seeds for my chickens that cost me 2 quarts of tomato juice that I canned.

All of this crochet cotton cost me a few items that I got for free with coupons.

The possibilities are many! A neighbour that I used to walk with was moving and gave me a big L.L. bean rug that was not my style, but I hung onto it and then a friend of mine needed that rug and traded me a food saver that was given to her. So we both got something we needed and it didn't cost either of us any money out of pocket! And I used that food saver for about 10 years before I had to replace it so not bad for the price of an ugly rug. 

Thanks Vicky. Plus you always make me laugh. i.e. how you got a food saver for ten years out of an ugly rug! I call that a bargain! This also reminds me of another Vicky story. She had an old ring she also thought was (also) ugly. So recently she headed off to the jeweller with it and found out it was worth quite a few hundred dollars. So she sold it and turned that ugly ring into pantry stock and has been stocking up since. So that was an at home trade.... old ring for a well stocked pantry! 

The other day Helen had the chance to get two free very good wooden beds.  She immediately sold them on EBay and made a LOT of money from them! I know other people who would say no thanks I don't need a bed. 

So that is my tip for the week. Think of how you can trade/barter. See what you can turn into something else that you do need. Excess fruit can be gifts, sold, traded.... Skills can be wonderful commodities to trade. This is an area that can really lead to big savings. Don't look a gift horse in the mouth. Trade it!

Ok so my savings for the week were:

More jam making. $30

More meals that used up figs! I will say I saved $30 on groceries.

More soap making! (ok I have finished soap making for the year now!) $40 worth of gifts I think here.

More painting. Also sanding, undercoating, washing and scrubbing.  I will say $200 at least saved there.

Packed all work lunches. $100.

Bargains... the four heart shaped cake tins. Three into the gift cupboard. They were $40 I paid $10 saving $30.

I was about to buy seedlings when my friend Karen sent me Coriander seeds. I also planted parsley seeds and saved the money which would have been about $8.

That's $438 all up.

I hope you had a good week. Sharing how you saved gives ideas and inspiration to others and to me!

Also what do you have that is an underutilised asset that could be traded or sold? Keep your eyes out for such things as they can be a real injection of help to your household. 

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Feather your Nest Friday, 19th February, 2016.

It has been a good week! I have to say doing some painting every week adds to how fast the week goes and makes things busier. But I am making progress even if it's slowly.

Some of the ways I saved money this week are:

I made another batch of soap. This time it's the Lux soap with pink colour. I love it. I will add this next Wednesday as I found that by continuing to blend this soap it becomes shiny and silky and amazing.  And I love the pink!

I used up the last figs. The figs were a big and daily job. But what a bonus they were. I made many jars of jam...

And I used the lovely labels Chloe gave me...

Some of these are going to be gifts. My Dad loves this jam.

Also I used left overs from Valentines Day which were rocket, goats cheese and prosciutto and made this into pizzas. The pizza bases were from Aldi and the nicest purchased pizza bases I have ever had. They were really rustic and good. So I used these things and drizzled over balsamic glaze...

When cooked it was beautiful. Best ever left overs dinner and new use (for me) of figs.

I had left over rocket and pear and made a salad with that and it was a great dinner. Left over pizza went in Andy's lunch box as well.

Oh, and left over Brownies went in the lunch box all week too.

My friend Karen gave me Coriander seeds and I planted those straight away as I had a space and I have good success planting this time of year.

My neighbour gave me cuttings from his garden.

I got petrol for 99c a litre and filled up.

At Woolworths I looked at the Valentines Day clearances. Everything was marked down massively. (on Monday). I got heart shaped baking tins for $2.50. I bought all they had left which was 4.

I am keeping one and three are in my gift cupboard.

Some of the ways I built up our home:

I cleaned out the kitchen pantry, re arranged and put forward things that need to be used.

The laundry cupboard got a clean out too and major re arrange. This was inspired but the need to make room for all that laundry soap!

I painted two more doors and some skirting boards and door frames. I have one inside door to go. It has added up to enough that inside is looking fresher and brighter and I love that!

Also I decided my cellar is full. Seriously if I put any more down there I won't be able to get in and find things. So that mission is accomplished. I have covered lighting, batteries, medicines, canned goods, dry goods, cleaning, water, treats, pet food, sanitary and hygiene ...  it is pretty much a shop
with spare everything.
But I still feel to add. I thought about this. Do I stop and maintain and rotate or do I keep building it up?
All along I felt strongly to do this. I still do. So I am continuing. In my life anytime I had a strong feeling about something and didn't act on it, well, things didn't turn out well! So I am not stopping this.  But where do I store now?
Basically I thought what would Vicky do? What would Patsy do? And I had an answer. I have nothing under the bed at all and I bought flat lidded plastic storage boxes. They slide in under and cannot be seen. I have eight of these and can store pretty much anything. So off I go on new storage!

Today I have the front gate and two doors to sand before I can paint them. So that is my goal before the day is out!

I hope you had a great week. How did you build up your home and savings?

Have a wonderful weekend! xxx

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

The Christmas Challenge. Soap making part 1.

I basically had a fortnight making different kinds of soap. Firstly I made Wool Wash and this gave me a big supply for my laundry as well as gifts. I love this!

The recipe was on this  Feather your Nest Friday post. I packaged the gift giving ones nicely so they looked suitable for my gift cupboard.

Next I made laundry liquid. When we had show and tell Rachel had posted this picture and how she had made this liquid...

I loved the sound of this and also this photo! So I asked Rachel for the recipe which follows (thank you very much Rachel!) :

The recipe I use comes from "Molly Dye's Homemade Lotions & Potions", purchased from a newsagent, & printed by Griffin Paperbacks, Adelaide (published by Nationwide News, Canberra). Its name here is "Washing Machine Liquid" (page 64).

I will write the original version, with my own variation in brackets for you, as follows:

"You will need 3 x 9-litre buckets (I use a plastic 30 plus litre laundry tub that can hold boiling water) and a number of clean bottles with corks or caps to store your detergent.

                       125g pure soap (I use a 100g cake of IGA basic white soap, less fragrance than                                 Coles, & I prefer white soap for laundry)
                        1 cup washing soda (I use a little under a cup of Lectric Washing Soda - the non hydrated kind)

Grate soap, put in an old saucepan, cover with 1.5 litres (6 cups) water and bring to the boil. Break up any lumps with a potato masher (Once hot, a quick whisk works fine). In a bucket (or boiling water-resistant tub), dissolve 1 cup of washing soda in 1 litre of boiling water. Stir, add soap solution, stir (or whisk!) until well mixed. Divide this solution into 3 buckets (or tub); then slowly add cold water to fill the buckets, stirring with a wooden spoon (or whisk) to keep the mixture smooth. Bottle in plastic containers with caps and label (Leave plenty of room for shaking the liquid, particularly for cooler weather; a funnel helps!). Use 2 to 3 cups per load of washing (I use this flexibly, & even use it for soaking work clothes. It works well for us.)

I set about making this. As I had Lux flakes already I used those in place of grating the soap.
I also tried making it two ways, as a solid like the wool mix is and as a liquid. If you do not have room for so much liquid reduce it down and don't use the buckets of water. Then its a solid that sets in a jar. I would use a small scoop and dissolve it in hot water then put in your wash. However blending it to smooth could be an issue so maybe the liquid is easier to manage overall. But I had to try both! I also added Eucalyptus Oil as I did in the Wool Wash. If you like no scent leave it out, if you like a scent this is good.

I ended up with a gel and a liquid. I think I have a years supply and I also packaged up some as gifts. I am thinking laundry themed gift baskets and of painting pegs pale pink and pale blue to add into this!

I also tried three methods of making hard soap. They included melt and pour glycerine soap which I tinted pink.

Then cold pressed soap which is the caustic soda and oils method. (These are the speckle ones!)

 And then a rematched soap made of lux flakes and milk. In Australia Lux Flakes are in supermarkets but overseas this won't be so easy... Lux flakes are pure soap flakes and they are fine like little flakes. They are white. Hopefully something like that is available and also that it would work the same.

Counting in results, method, cost etc of the methods I tried I liked the Lux flakes soap the best. I will make a pink batch next! Firstly it was very easy. Secondly there was no weighing or fumes or anything. And thirdly the result was so good.

I must mention that I doubled the recipe. This got me 14 soaps.
This is going to be a personal preference. Overall I would say try some different methods and enjoy it as when you try one you will want to try others!
The main thing is if you have ever wanted to try soap making do it! It is so much fun and you end up with soaps for gifts and for home. Soon I will do a post on packaging but I am waiting for my soap to harden more first.

The Lux recipe is here on Cath's Blog Simple Soap. I followed this and used Goats Milk milk powder. I melted it very gradually and on low temperature. When it was a liquid I used my stick blender to get it perfectly smooth. Also I would suggest using a spatular/cake mix scraper to get it all into the smooth mix and be patient with this. Perfectly smooth is what you want.

At first it looked like this....

Later it looked like this...

If you had too high a heat it would catch on the bottom. So slow and steady!

With all the soaps I think having moulds you love is a key thing. I have found Ebay to be a source of really cheap moulds as in $1 to $4 price range. Also cake moulds in the cheap shops. I was given some as lovely gifts and now I am adding some to my collection including hand soap sized...

The main thing is you use non metal moulds. You can use a milk carton then slice them into bars, many things make good moulds. Actually you start looking at everything as potential soap moulds!

This has been so much fun and given my present supply a big boost! Also soaps go well with the wash cloths I crochet and I could do a soap themed gift basket with Wool Mix, Laundry Liquid, soap and wash cloths!

Next week I will cover the Glycerine Soap and the Cold Pressed Soaps.

The big thing I notice is that by making gifts all year by December you have the hugest variety. Making soap now also means it will be really hard by Christmas. It feels hard now but the longer they are kept the harder they get and the longer they will last in use.

I hope your week is going well! This afternoon I am making the Lux soap in pink... then doing some painting! xxx

Sunday, 14 February 2016

The Vicky Challenge. New ways to save!

Not being a full week since the last Vicky Challenge I thought things might be a bit light on! But no! I have a ton to report!

Also now we are in the swing of things,  I am finding tracking my savings easier and a pretty much a normal thing, I want to add to The Vicky Challenge. So each week there will be something extra, usually a theme. Something that might find us NEW ways to save. This weeks theme is Aldi!

But first my savings...

I potted more parsley seeds and cut back some herbs and cleared some things that have finished producing. Making room for some new seedlings.

Chloe came back from the farm and visiting my brothers farm with buckets of figs! There are two types, big plump purples ones...

And green ones with pink inside.... they are from different trees, three all up.

I have bags of them, in the fridge, in bowls, baskets and simmering on the stove. 
Figs here are ridiculously expensive. Mostly they are sold in plastic containers of six. They are over $1 each. I mean per fig! So I have over $300 in figs just now!

When Chloe headed off on her trip she took Andy's fruit picker he made me and a ladder, knowing the figs were almost ripe. My niece Alex also helped and she climbed right to the top of the trees. Alex is a rock climber. Handy!

The sun was setting and Chloe thought of my blog and what a good picture the huge fig tree would make!

I made jam... ten jars so far and more on the way.

There are so many things you can do with jam. I want to use lots of figs fresh and baked but many were soft and I have no hope of keeping up. So jam it is. But jam can be:
Gifts towards a kitchen or basket of goodies present.
Donations to a fundraiser/stall.
Goes on toast, scones, warmed as pancake syrup.
Stir into plain yoghurt to make flavoured.
Add to muffins or cakes. Berry jam extends berries in anything.
Fill a sponge.
Fill jam drop biscuits or jam doughnuts.
Make a jam tart.
Glaze meat or chicken.
Make bread and butter pudding.
Make buns or scrolls and fill with jam. Then add icing.
Use instead of ice-cream topping and nuts.
Flavour a milkshake. 
With puff pastry and cream you have little danish pastries or desert treats.
My Dad puts plum jam into a curry.
To name a few! 

We didn't go out for Valentines Day. I made a special dinner. Predictably it included figs! 

I made figs stuffed with goats cheese and wrapped in Prosciutto and baked...

A baked brie ...

This is really really easy and so good! All you do is slap a brie or camembert on to puff pastry. Top with nuts and cranberry, wrap and bake. Let it cool down to just warm or it is too runny! Then serve with a little salad. There are variations on this but this is the usual one I do. It seems really fancy but it's not!

I did pear, rocket and balsamic vinegar. Somehow the pear and the cheese are so lovely.

For desert I made a Chocolate Brownie. I used a packet mix for this as Brownies are totally unfamiliar to me so sorry no recipe! 

This also gives me a heap of slices for Andy's lunch box all week.
I am reading an old book called "Living on a Little" by Caroline French Benton... one of the tips is when making a cake to seperate away a little of it,  make into another tiny cake and change it in some way so that you get an additional serving. So if making a plain cake she might make a tiny cake just big enough for desert and add jam into the middle or ice it differently. Then you have a spare desert or afternoon tea or treat. It is as if you have another cake.
Taking this advice I separated away two small serves of Brownie Mix. They look really cute like chocolate bars. So that is another nights desert plus a gift.

I can tell I am going to get a lot of tips from this book!

I will say we saved $100 on going somewhere fancy as we have some years.

As usual I made the lunches = $100 saving.

So not too bad for a short week. $540 or so.

On Friday night I met Cath and Wendy at Aldi at Hallett Cove. Also Laine, Cathy and some other lovely ladies.  It was a fantastic night! I learned so much! 
For those that don't know Aldi has been in some states of Australia for a long time but our state has never had an Aldi and I had never been to one. But Helen, Wendy, Cath, Kaye, Fiona (and others!) have all told me how much they save shopping at Aldi. Many people say it reduces their grocery bill by half. 
Truly I thought surely it couldn't reduce my own bill by so much? But after Friday night I know it will. Maybe even more. 

This will not be a help to everyone, if you don't have an Aldi or it is too far away... but for the SA ladies who have not tried it or anyone who has one and hasn't been this could be a game changer!

I was impressed with everything! I have signed up for the emails and the catalogues are being delivered to my letter box. The fresh produce was  Australian or even better South Australian and beautiful as was the meat. Even the pizza bases, bread, biscuits etc I noticed were all Australian. 
Wendy and Cath were able to tell us what products they use and love and others joined in. One lovely lady was from Holland and she had shopped in Aldi for many years. Everyone was so helpful. 
Talk about a steep learning curve! 

I bought dark chocolate for Andy. He says it is beautiful! 

The price was amazing. And something I noticed is that cheaper products in our usual stores have hideous packaging. Aldi things all look first class. 

The skin care is famous. I had already read up on that and the blind tests where Aldi products have won major competitions world wide. Most of it is around $8.
I bought two serums. So far I am so impressed with them! For anyone who shops at cosmetic counters this would amount to hundreds of dollars a year difference in one product.

I wrote down a lot of prices of things we regularly use. Olive oil, pasta, shampoo and so on. Things like the Olive Oil, I noticed was about half price plus Australian made lovely olives. 
Many things were well under half price. I particularly noticed feminine hygiene products, laundry powers and liquids, the whole fruit and veg department... all well under half our local supermarket.

I had the best night! This is me (looking so excited!) with Wendy and Cath.

This was an experience that is going to save us a fortune. Last year one tip alone from The Cheapskates Club saved me over $500. It would be impossible to add up the savings from tips I have adopted. But what amazes me is still finding new ones and this workshop was one of them!

When I got home I sat and had a cup of tea and an Australian made Aldi biscuit that was delicious. I thought what a lovely night! I am a total convert! If the average Australian family spends $200 a week on groceries then they are able to save over $5000 a year changing to Aldi. That is a lot. 

How did you go this week? I hope you had some great savings and are also some new discoveries!

Today I am making more jam and we are having roast chicken and figs for dinner. I have a lot of figs to deal with! xxx

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Feather your Nest Friday, 12th February, 2016.

The last week has been "soap week" basically! I got a little bit of painting done but not much so far as most days I made soaps. However this was one of my goals for the year and I am really pleased!

The week flew past.

Some of the ways I saved money this week were:

I got two off cuts of beautiful fabric from Spotlight really cheaply. For $2 I got pale blue softest thick fluffy fabric suitable to make heat packs in winter and cream ruffled fabric that I will recover lampshades with.

I earned a $5 Woolies voucher from shopping points.

Found an old style tin watering can on the road size. I love it!

I cleaned my dishwasher, took out the spray arm thingys... and cleaned it properly. Big difference!

Decorated my wool wash to make it suitable to give as gifts and also some of the laundry liquid.

I planted lots more parsley seeds into pots plus packaged up some seeds to give away.

Repotted two hydrangeas I was given for free.

Sent two presents in the mail and stuck to my small to post rule!

Made several batches of soap. This gives me supplies and gifts. I will package them for gift giving later as now they need to dry out and mature. Meanwhile it looks like a soap afternoon tea party as they are around the house on my cake stands and plates. I like it, they look pretty and smell good.

All the recipes will be next Wednesday on The Christmas Challenge.

Some of the ways I feathered my nest include:

Repainted a table. Looks much better.

Spray painted another cake stand.

Re painted a pretty tray.

Decorated a giant candle in my hallway.

I got ahead quite a bit in my gift making, soap supplies, and a years worth of laundry liquid!

So it was a good week.

How was your week and how did you save money and build up your home?

Two things are happening today that should help me build up my home lots! One is Chloe is returning from the country with buckets of figs! She and my niece went picking figs on three trees. Three giant fig trees, covered in figs. Two kinds of figs actually. I might not get them until tomorrow but they are coming!

AND tonight I am meeting Cath and Wendy at the new Aldi and we get a private group tour/introduction, samples and info. I am very excited. In the letter box I have had two specials leaflets which have been amazing and I signed up for emails also. I can see this is going to radically change my shopping budget. I am a willing learner. I know this potentially could save us a lot per year. So I intend to be a star pupil! I hope I will learn some tips I can share with you next week!

Have a great weekend! xxx