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, 29 August 2017

The Christmas Challenge. A tutorial from Jane.

Thank you everyone for so many fantastic tips in the menu planning.  I am not sure I would have finished replying by the time I publish this.

The last of the show and tell photos will go over into September as they were just a few and today I am heading off to the farm for a few days.  So thanks to Jane I can go as this post was put together already with a beautiful project from her.
This is something lovely to do for our own kitchens but also for a beautiful gift.  It could be family recipes to hand down to a Grand Daughter,  budget recipes for a friend who needs help with cooking or a kitchen tea/bridal show gift.  I really need to do this as I made recipe cards years ago and I have so many new things I make that need to be recorded in one place.

Jane started transferring recipes from her notebooks to cards that she printed from Jes' site, Strangers and Pilgrims on Earth.   The cards can be found  here.  They are just gorgeous.
Jane had looked and found ugly cards in a box for $25 and thought no way so she made her own!

Notice the beautiful handwriting! 

It turns out the size of the cards is just right that they can go into a photo album and this will protect them.  Jane also laminated hers and another option would be to cover them in contact. 

Finding a nice album just right was the next step!  She found this lovely one at The Reject Shop which is a cheap store. We also have that store here so I will have a look.  Otherwise try a similar dollar type store. 

Then Jane bought dividers so she could add sections and make recipes easy to find...

She used these tabs to set up her album. I really like this idea.

In the back of the album is a pocket originally intended for negatives and this is just right for holding spare blank cards for future recipes you might like to add to the collection.

I just love this project!  Jane your cards and album are just beautiful! 
I thing these would be the most gorgeous treasure, keepsake, gift.  
Imagine if we could copy handwritten recipes from our Nan's, Mums and other family and give them to all the daughters and grand daughters! 

Thank you so much Jane!  You have been a huge help to me today!

Feather your Nest Friday will be on the weekend as I will be coming back from the farm later Friday I think.  So it will be late but I am really hoping to have a lot of good things to report.  My shopping (with needing nothing in mind) got me some 80% bargains to work into the menu plan!  All I bought was bacon, salmon and pepperoni. (And milk!)  I got these all at $2 a pack.  Menu planning is really paying off!

I hope your week is going well!  I am heading off, it is a lovely sunny day so it will be a nice drive. See you on the weekend! xxx

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Pantries and Preparedness. Laines Menu Planning.

First of all thank you to everyone for praying for Kelsey in Texas.  Her husband is home, they are all safe and the house is without damage! She said thank you all so much so is so grateful and very tired!

This week I want to get started with a series on menu planning.  Laine got me going on this in an earlier post when she was talking about how she is learning from The Fundamental Home how to menu plan.
Now I have kind of menu planned most of my life.  I always know what we will be having for dinner and usually a few days ahead at least.  When I am organised I have a weeks plan written up.  And usually I have a back up plan.  But what Laine is talking about is far beyond that.  And it opens up a whole new world of savings!  We are kind of on this journey together as she is new to it too and ahead of me.  This is something that will potentially cut your costs, build your pantry and help you get ahead in many ways.

I began watching The Fundamental Home on you tube and reading as much as I can as well.
This is how Laine introduced the subject to me and it was in reply to asking what new things she might be doing since the days of the original Laine's Letters...

I am still practicing the same things and always trying to learn more. I am trying to implement Amanda at The Fundamental Home's food shopping and menu planning to cut my food bill in half...that is my goal. I am so new at menu planning so this is a new practice for me. Lucy got a big white board for her birthday like the one Amanda uses in her grocery hauls, so we are writing down our savings and menu plan on it like she does. Lucy watches her with me, so she loves that we are doing the same. I can't save as much as Amanda does because I buy mostly all organic vegetables and fruits, grass fed beef, wild caught fish, organic chicken and eggs, etc. But she has sure inspired me! This week I actually cut my grocery bill in half with a menu plan for the week. It was amazing. I went to three stores and the farmers market. My first meal last night for the meal plan was fish chowder which Lucy and Art loved. I am also implementing an entertainment fund like she does, and a budget for toiletries every two weeks like she does. I am so excited to try this. I am speaking in September at our church on growing kids healthy on a budget, so I hope to share what I learn in our town. If it works, I estimate that I can save $140 a month in groceries, have an entertainment fund which we never had before, so a total savings of $1680 a year! I have to get used to the menu planning, which I have never done my whole marriage, but I keep hearing you can save so much this way. I am trying it! It will take me quite a few weeks to learn if this will work for us, but I love saving money while producing healthy meals.

Each letter we have discussed this further... there are tips in here that I want to include....

I have never menu planned in my life, and I thought it wouldn't work for me. But I have nine meals planned ahead right now, and I must say it is pretty awesome. I like your idea of using things up in the fridge. For the past two weeks I have saved almost half on my grocery bill, $20 every two weeks for toiletries, added in an entertainment fund (like Amanda does), and I am still saving $80 a month! (Plus I am still eating organic and healthy. )  I did have to shop 6 stores to realize my savings both weeks, but I look at it as my "savings business" in my home. I had thought I could save more a month, and maybe I will as I get used to this new way, but for now this is where my savings are at. It's really exciting! I am trying to stay one week ahead in my meal planning.

And then here Laine wrote up her tips for us that she has gathered so far...

I have implemented Amanda's saving tactics on my food shopping for 4 weeks now, and I have cut my grocery in half! I am teaching Abbie how to do it as well, and she has gone with me the last two weeks and is saving too! She is pretty excited. My daughter in law called last night and wanted to learn as well. I love menu planning when you get home with your stock, it's so much fun. I also love being a week ahead as I know if I got sick, I have food for the following week. I go to 5 stores to realize this savings, but it is so worth it. I go early in the morning on Monday to get the mark downs on meat, and I am done in about 2 hours. So it doesn't take too much time, and the savings are so good. Here are some of my tips on managing this new system:

1- I keep a notebook with how much I spend at each store and my menu plan. It really makes me feel good to see my savings on paper. It's my little business. 🙂 And I pray to get better and better at it.

2- Once I have four weeks notated in my notebook, I calculate how much each meal cost us per person. This is really exciting, and I feel like a chef/owner running a restaurant. There is no where we could eat this healthy for the price we are paying, and that motivates me even more! 

3- I also keep a running list of my expenditures on toiletries, paper products, and cleaning products in the same notebook. This is a separate budget like Amanda does at The Fundamental Home.

4- I check off the meals in my menu plan as I make them. It also helps me to know what we've eaten in the past few weeks so that I can switch things up a bit and add variety to our dining.

5- I try to have fish, turkey, chicken, and beef in one week's rotation. Sometimes lamb too. Last night we had beef stew, tonight we are having chicken oregano, and tomorrow a fish chowder. 

6- I shop one week in advance, so it helps me to look at my menu plan to know what meat to pull out of the freezer for that evening's meal, or for several meals ahead.

7- I shop early on Monday morning to look for savings on marked down meat, and I shop about 5 stores, pretty much all in a row. So all my food shopping is done in about 2 hours. If I do not have enough produce, I go to my Farmers Market, which is just down the street from me, on Thursday in my town.

I was just sharing with Abbie yesterday a few more things I have learned from Amanda. One is to always go shopping even though your pantry is full. You are consistently building your stock. Also if there is a good deal on meat, use some of your toiletries/paper/ cleaning supply budget. I keep watching her and learning. I am having so much fun with this new budget.  My husband is thrilled at my savings.

Something I note is that all our brains are wired differently!  Sometimes things have to click with us and suddenly we will SEE something we didn't see before.  This is how it has been for me.

These are the steps I have been through so far and some of the results....

First of all I made a list of all my meals in the freezer.  Some are ready to make and others are things I have all the components for. 
Then I made a list of all the meals I can make from the pantry with what I currently have.
I have not included emergency type meals... i.e. I could cook up pasta and dream up all kinds of emergency things to get us through.  I have just counted what I consider regular meals that I have on hand. 

Then I went through the fridge to see what meals I have plus what I need to use up. 

The first thing I noticed is that I did not need to buy anything for the week except for milk and some fresh veggies.  Nothing.  
Seeing my list of meals written up and posted on the fridge I can see what I have.  I really need nothing. Somehow I never realised before how much I have and that I really don't NEED anything.   So shopping is only to see what really good deals I can find and nothing else.  

With the help of catalogues or one of my across town shopping trips, Aldi and the various discount places I have found I just buy the most amazing deals.  I had to really change my shopping to find the deals.  I wasn't seeing them before.  Mostly the big deals I find are not in supermarkets.  I don't need anything else and I keep reminding myself of that.  Being ahead I can be really choosy about the deals I buy.

This for me means things are really different to six months ago.  Instead of heading off to the supermarket I am prepared to go to six or more places for the best deals.  I will do them in groups depending on where I am and what I am doing so I am not travelling around in circles.  I might only get one really good deal in any place, it might be their loss leader that is their one big special to get people through the door! 

At home with my buys I write up my current meals. I work out what I can make with the deals I have found plus what I already have on hand.   I aim to have at least seven meals for the week written up.  On the right hand side I have a list of all the spare meals I have that are in the freezer and pantry.  
The first meals on the list will be using things that need to be used up.  And the fresh things I do not want to freeze. 
Then the list will go to what I will make next. 
If I freeze something I add it to my list on the right. (my spare meals list)
And I have a tally of my meal count as I like to see that go up and currently it is 27. 
(The first weeks it was lower and it is gradually growing!)
It becomes kind of a game to find a way to add a meal to the list.  Sometimes it is by having left overs or finding a way to stretch a meal into two meals.   Some nights Andy has had one thing and I have had another as there is one serve of something left over. 
Each week I try to use at least one freezer meal to keep those rotating and I will do that on a busy night or when I am tired.

The biggest thing that clicked for me is that I now do not have to buy anything unless it is a major bargain.  I am free from having to buy anything just because I need to think of something and fast!   In reality I was already there but I just didn't realise until I saw it all on paper and then the penny dropped!

Last week I found beef, potatoes and tomatoes at great prices.  These are really the only things I bought except milk, carrots and broccoli.  
The beef added many meals to my list as well as became three meals on the immediate plan for the week.  Then from one of these meals  (Beef stew) I got three more meals in the form of beef and vegetable pies.  This gave me two more meals for my reserve list as they went into the freezer.  My list grew again!

I have another spot that I write down any key ingredients I have that are potential meals.  This is a bit like a jigsaw puzzle.  i.e. I had Haloumi.   So when I could I got a small amount of lamb and then I had a complete meal to write into my current meal plan.  Lamb, Haloumi, beetroot and salad was our meal.   Many times we only need one item or a couple of small things to complete the jigsaw and end up with another meal on our list.  I think SNAP! I have a meal! 
I move the Haloumi from potential meals into the weeks plan.   
It really inspires you to get creative! 

The next aspect is to consider your week and your plans when writing up your meal plan.  While I have a roast to have I will not plan that when I know I will be out most of the day.  My meal plan for those days will usually be something that goes into the crockpot in the morning or something super fast and easy.   You have to line up your meals with your life so it is realistic.  It is ok to swap meals on your list too if something comes up.  To be honest if the wheels fall off the day then a toasted cheese sandwich is ok! 

It was an effort to get started and know what I have and to get into the swing of it.  But now it takes only a few minutes a week.   
Being ahead with meals and only buying the best specials is the most amazing saving.  I can just say no to all the ridiculous prices I see and move on! What a better position to be in!

Of course each thing we can learn to make ourselves is another thing we can remove from the shopping list. So the shopping list goes down and down.    One of my latest things is making yoghurt. While the shopping list is reduced the list of new things I can make is increased i.e. tatziti, cheesecake, dips, dressings, toppings, deserts, smoothies...

Anything we have available to us can also further reduce the shopping list. I have parsley, lemons, rosemary, bay leaves, thyme, oregano and spinach... (currently) so I google a multitude of things I can possibly make with these and add them to my meal list.  Since I have been given so many lemons I have made lemon butter, lemon cake, lemon and yoghurt cake,  lemon with chicken and fish. 

As Laine said it is like a game and also like running a business.  Restaurants do not waste anything. If they did they would not make a profit!  So you are aways looking at what you have, what needs using up and thinking of what can you make from it?  Everything is used.  The days of finding "past it"  ingredients in the bottom of the fridge are truly over.  

I do not plan breakfasts and lunches but some people do. We always have the same breakfast and lunches are usually left overs of some kind.  So I only really need to plan dinners. 

This week is like Laine said... I don't really need anything.  I still shop as many big specials are weekly and my aim is to keep ahead so I still do not need to ever buy anything at full price.  Also this builds up the pantry really well.  I am just keeping ahead since I have twenty seven meals on my list now.   My time instead is spent finding a few amazing deals and ignoring the rest.

You might already do this and be far ahead than me.  Please share any of your tips on this!  Most of us are on the look out for ways to save on food, eat healthy and reduce waste.  Wherever we live food prices seem to have risen and this is an area of potential great savings that we really need. 
Once you are a couple of weeks ahead with meals you can really just laugh at normal food prices and just buy the amazing deals.  It is wonderful. And it is fun as you feel like you are winning rather than being forced to buy terrible prices!  

To get started list everything you have and try to get ahead one meal at a time. Once you are ahead by a couple of weeks you are set!  And if you are sick or something goes wrong with a pay or some other problem you can menu plan and eat from what you already have. What an advantage!  

I hope you have a good week! I know I have a big September ahead as our insurance money finally came and the floors will go ahead.  So September will be renovating, spring cleaning, re arranging the kitchen and lounge room and setting up my spice cupboard... and putting in my herb garden. And other stuff no doubt!  
Lets finish off August first! xxx

Friday, 25 August 2017

Update on Kelsey.

I have heard from Kelsey this morning as the hurricane is starting to come in.   She is one hour inland and her home is on a hill.  Her father in law and Grandfather are with her but her husband is working as part of an emergency team right on the coast.  The storm appears to have been upgraded now to cat 4.   Kelsey is very worried about her husband.  I feel very worried about them all.
Please pray.

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Feather your Nest Friday, 25th August, 2017.

This has been another whirlwind week but a good one!  I keep a note book on my fridge and I jot down savings quickly there, or I forget.  This is the longest list I ever made!

But first.... Kelsey is right slap bang in the path of Hurricane Harvey.  I saw this last night and thought it is heading towards her and it looks a shocker.  Now I have heard from her this morning.  She says yes they are right in the way and it is coming in Friday afternoon or so.  She says she has followed us on our preparedness steps and is so glad she did! But she is home with a small baby so this makes it even more worrying.  Please pray for her family and everyone in Texas.

Many of my savings this week came from one of my further afield shopping trips.  I headed south to see Hilde as it had been her birthday. Of course we went op shopping and to the discount grocery store and the fruit and vegetable market.

Some of my finds were a huge book of roses which I will use for card making and note book covers and so on...

It has pages and pages of gorgeous images.

And a pantry book full of beautiful pictures and amazing information so I spent $2 on that...

I also found a lovely top and a cardigan, jars for my herbs, a pasta cutter gadget and a beautiful big basket for $3.  Very soft flannelette pieces in baby prints. One is covered in little pink lambs. This will become little hankies for Harper and Scarlett.  Also a large thermo for $3.

At the discount grocery shop I came out with an eight kilo pice of beef!  (something like 17 lbs I think)  I had seen these bulk pieces there before and I compared around and the meat was one third even of Aldi prices.  I also got 4 kilos of potatoes for 50c a kilo (cheapest I have seen) and tomatoes as well.  
Of course coming home from Hilde's I also had lemons and she had potted up some herbs for me so I have marjoram, mint and oregano new little plants. 
It was a fantastic day!  Andy's eyes nearly fell out of his head when he saw the beef and he carried it in for me.  
I have to say this is just like old times when I did day trips in the country to regional towns to shop and save.  It is so worth it.  Very often I notice the first one or two items have covered my fuel costs.  The rest is all savings.
I also found that the fruit and veggie shops there sell cases so I hope next time to get a whole case of tomatoes and be able to make pasta sauce etc.

At home I pretended to be a butcher and cut that beef rump into steaks and casserole meat.   So now it is portioned out.  And steak is for dinner tonight!

I made a Lemon Yoghurt Cake.  Each week I am trying something different using yoghurt.  Sooner or later this will be a post as if you start making your own yoghurt you will be amazed how much money it saves.  This was a really nice cake.

Also I made baby food with a lamb shank and veggies,  a corned beef in the slow cooker,  baked apples as I had apples that needed using up. These just go into the slow cooker also.  I made peanut butter biscuits for Harper.  She is mad on peanut butter and these have one cup of pb, half a cup of sugar and one egg. Thats it.  The recipe said a cup of sugar and I just halved it. 

She loved them!  When she sees the tin she says "More bisc" 😊

I juiced lemons and as my ice cube trays are all full this time I did a bottle of juice to freeze.  

The jars are from my op shop day.

On the side of the road I found a large potted Agave plant.  Chloe needs plants for her garden so she will get that.

I cut Andy's hair.  Cut the rug as we say.

Lucy gave me some fabric which is perfect to make next years hot packs.  It is a very thick plush velour. 

I picked big bunches pf parsley which is hanging upside down to dry.  Tonight I am picking more herbs to dry.

And I found my herbs and spices cabinet!  It was in a second hand store.  I have a space that is 20 x 20 inches and any height.    I found this...

The top already has little shelves that wrap around and Andy will add some more for me...

These will suit my little herb jars!  Then there is a slide in, slide out, work space in the middle (where I can mix up my mixes and recipes) and the bottom has larger shelves...

It was a huge bargain and they still gave ma a discount for cash.   Of course next time you see it there will be pretty linings and it will looking a lot different (and cleaned up!)  but how perfect and suitable and it fits my space like it was custom made! 

I am still adding up my Vicky Challenge but it has been a great week of savings.

I hope you also had a very good week.  How did you save, get ahead, build up your home?  
Have a wonderful weekend.   I am getting in early for spring and re doing my herb pots with fresh soil and moving some that need a new spot to grow.  

On Monday we have the start of a series on menu planning with Laine. xxx

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

The Christmas Challenge. Show and Tell for August, part 1.

This morning I woke up to no power and I thought no blog will happen today!  But it just came back on!  So far it has been a busy week and I am working on unpacking many finds from yesterday.  I went south on  a further afield shopping trip and saw my friend for her Birthday at the same time.  It was a really good day!  But more about that on Friday!

I love seeing what you are all making and creating.  Everything is beautiful so far.

First of all we have Suzanne.  She has been making Cherry Jam and look at her beautiful presentation...

This looks so stylish Suzanne and I love the way you did the labels! 

Jane is busy as ever!  She is working on two rugs for her parents new caravan.   These will be christmas presents. 

She has Fathers Day sorted as well as she made her Dad a hat and she found the gloves in her travels...

I really love this!  What a nice present for a man.

And since home from the trip Jane started on writing up new and often used recipes on to recipe cards.  

We got talking about this as I LOVE recipe cards.  Jane sent me a heap of pictures of how she made them and then how she is storing them to use and this is all so beautiful we are going to have a tutorial.  I need to do this. I made a set years ago but now I have so many recipes that are newer so it is time to do them again.  They are equally gorgeous at home or for gifts!

Kelsey made beautiful thank you cards ...

And a relative was having  a baby. Kelsey and her husband combined forces. Her  husband made a wooden box and used horse shoes (from the ranch) to make the handles!  This was all perfect as the new baby is a little boy and the nursery theme is COWBOY.  This melts my heart.   

Kelsey made a baby rug with plaid and horses!  This is just a beautiful gift.  The tags are just perfect too!  

Lucy decorated a light for Harper's room.   The cover was $1 in a cheap shop. Then she stuck on butterflies which Harper loves...

This matches the pin up boards she made earlier. 

We will go on with show and tell next week.  If you would like to share what you have been making please email me at I really love hearing from you. 

I am printing this while I can as the power went out again when I was about half way through! 

I hope your week is going well!  See you on Friday! xxx

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Pantries and Preparedness. Learning to make pasta with Vicky.

The last weeks have been big learning weeks for me.  Gradually I have eliminated quite a few things from my shopping lists.  Some of them are surprisingly big savings!  Also one thing seems to lead to another i.e. making my own yoghurt has given me lots to play with and so I made my own Tatziki Dip which is something else new. Another thing I no longer will buy!

Before we get started I am going back to an old Laine's Letter.  This is just an excerpt but it is full of motivation to increase your cooking skills to help beat rising prices and get ahead.  It starts with a reader question...

2~ Can you tell us how you are handling the food prices going up? I don't seem to be doing so well in this area. I know you've written about it many times, but I need a pep talk so much.
Yes, I have watched the food prices go up as well in my area. And the gas is higher than this time last year, as well as our electrical and water bills. So I am doing my best to readjust my budget accordingly and continue to save as much as I can. I pray for God's help all the time!
My best advice to give you is to learn how to cook as much as you can from scratch. I am still amazed at how much I save from a continuing learning and growing in this area. I learn from cooking shows, magazines, friends and family, the ladies on this list, and cookbooks from the library. I am constantly trying new recipes to increase my knowledge.
It is so wonderful to know how to make pasta from scratch, as well as egg noodles, muffins, doughnuts, french fries, tortillas, bread, or numerous other things. They really require so few simple ingredients, so it is much cheaper to make them than buy them. Plus it is so much tastier as well. We have so many recipes on our website for you to try. And learning to cook with leftovers is so important, too. So often I look as forward to the leftovers as I do the main meal, because I know what I'll be cooking with them next.
It is also good to buy seasonally when things are on sale. For example, I just bought all my canned pumpkin for the year while it was on sale at Thanksgiving. I did the same with cranberries and froze them for the year as well. I do the same thing during the summer on certain fruits and vegetables. I also used coupons for cream cheese and stocked up on that this past week, as well as many baking goods. With cheese rising in price, it is nice to know how to make it; so I want to increase my knowledge in this area for the future.
And that is really the key, increasing our knowledge in cooking, baking, canning, freezing, growing, and drying food. The more we learn, the more we can save. It is also so important to be ahead of our families in this area. That is why I love to do my cooking in the morning, because then there are good things for them to eat all day. And I know what is coming out of the oven, so there is a plan for dinner when they ask me. Then we don't need to eat out or munch on junk food, which are both costsly and not good for our health.
"She is like the merchant ships, she brings her food from afar, she also rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and a portion for her maidservants." Proverbs 31:15
"The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish pulls it down with her hands." Proverbs 14:1
I think it is a continual learning and growing in our homes. I am constantly asking the LORD to teach and train me!

With those words to get us going now over to Vicky and her pasta demo.   Some of you will already be wonderful at this!  But I have always thought it was to fiddly for me surely!?  Now I am determined to learn.  So I hope this also helps others like me!

Vicky says in this tutorial her pasta isn't thin enough but her husband was hurrying her along and she was taking photos as well!  But to get it thin!  She also said it costs her about 40c to make a small batch of pasta.

She also says that she allows one cup of flour and one egg per person.  But to start off with a small batch to get the hang of it!

Here we go...

Start by sifting 1 cup of All Purpose flour onto the counter in a mountain shape and then make a well into the flour. 

You want 1 whole egg and 1 yolk in the well, but hang onto the second egg white in case your dough is a little dry then you can add it in. And add a dash of salt. 

Using a fork scramble the egg the well and when all scrambled going in circles start pulling the flour into the egg just like you're still scrambling the egg.

When you have mixed enough of the flour in to start forming a dough using your hands, start needing the dough. If it is sticky add flour a little at a time until it isn't sticky and knead until it is firm yet pliable.

 A good way I tell is I wash my hands because they will be messy and then give it another knead or two and if it isn't sticking to my hands I call it good. If it is still sticky add a little more flour and knead some more. 

After you have it all kneaded wrap it in plastic wrap and leave it to rest for 30 minutes. 

Divide your dough into workable pieces and sprinkle the counter with flour and start rolling it thin.

 Once your dough is rolled thin you can start cutting it. A pizza cutter works really good. 

Drop into salted boiling water. They will cook in 1-3 minutes depending on you like them so be ready to take them out not long after you drop them in the boiling water and voila fresh pasta! 

Vicky says that you can make soup noodles, buttered noodles, fettuccine with spaghetti sauce, chicken and noodles or whatever you like!  And that thinner again is Linguini noodles. 
She served her noodles here with butter and parsley. 

Thank you so much Vicky!  You make it look possible! haha! So I promise to get going!

Next week we are studying menu planning with Laine!  She recently got me started on menu planning and it is not what I thought.  My idea of menu planning was a list of my meals for the week.  Well, that is the beginning but there is so much more!  It is new to Laine too and you will see how this can save you so much money and also build up your emergency meals.  Laine who stretches a dollar unlike anyone else I know still has managed to halve her grocery shop with her new menu planning. I find this amazing since she is so frugal already!  But this is the power of menu planning. 
Then we have a Ravioli tutorial from Rachel!  I have so much lined up that I need more Mondays! 

Do you make your own pasta?  What would you really love to learn how to make but have never quite taken the plunge?  I am thinking there will be other tutorials that we can have as we have some great skills between is all!

Have a really productive week!  Be diligent and watchful!  xxx

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Feather your Nest Friday, 18th August, 2017.

What a week!  Overall the week went too fast and my legs couldn't keep up or that is how it feels!
But... two huge things happened.  The first is that we do not need a new air conditioner and it cost $180  all up to be back up and running.  The service guy went over the whole thing throughly and said the last man that serviced it told us a bunch of lies.  This unit should last us at least several more years.  This is like winning the lottery since it would have cost us thousands!  And we also have heating again!

The next big thing is that we have approval for a pay out on our floor insurance and have one form to sign this afternoon before the money is paid into our account.  So I shouldn't count my chickens before they are hatched but the money should be paid then and I can go ahead and book in the new floors!  Since the floors we want are a lot cheaper than the floor we had this means we have money left over to build up our emergency fund as well!  And it means my planned kitchen re organise can happen as we put all the furniture back in after this work is all done.

Both of these things are a big relief and help! So this was a big week that is for sure.

Otherwise... some of the ways I built up my home this week were:

I made a beef casserole from beef on a half price special.  It was really good and the left overs went straight into pies.

I freeze them this way, slightly under browned, so when I put them in to oven next time they will not end up too brown.

I made two more batches of yoghurt.  I decided to compare methods and ingredients.  To make vanilla flavour I added some vanilla paste and some sugar.  I also invested in a yoghurt maker so that the only electricity I need to use is to boil the kettle.  

This came with the one litre container and I have a jar that fits that makes half that.  So I can make either amount.  I am looking for two jars that will sit on top of each other then I can make two containers set in the pot.  I am loving this!  It is a staggering saving too.

I had a few op shop deals.  One was some jars for my pantry.  

There were from 50c to $2.  They will help me set up my spice cabinet when I find it! 

Also I found another teacup set for $5.

Drinking tea from a nice cup is one of my daily lovely things.  So now and then one gets broken.  This is how I get them though.  Some simple pleasures in life are  easy to add to your day.  To me this makes all the difference! 

I also found a large heart shaped baking tin for $2. I thought this would be nice also for heart shaped pies! 

I used up two packets of the spice mix I made to cook Vicky's Enchilada sauce.  Oh my goodness!  It made much more than the three jars I used to buy and saved about $12!  And it tasted beautiful!  
I simmered the chicken for quite a while and reduced the sauce.    Then I made up three trays of enchiladas...

We had them for dinner and also a lunch.  I froze a tray and gave a tray to Lucy for their dinner.  She messaged me to say there were DELICIOUS.  Truly they were miles better than with the jars of sauce.  So this is something else struck from the shopping list. Thank you Vicky! 

I serve the with a green salad and they look so nice! 

I made soup with left over veggies.

Lemons and garden parsley were sent home with Mum when she went back to the farm.

Lamb shanks were made into a curry.  This turned out really good which was lucky as I cooked 6 this way. 

I made 16 Naan Bread which also used up some of the yoghurt I have been making.

I used more yoghurt in a big batch of raita sauce and free mint from the garden.

And I made two loaves of bread which I need to slice up today to freeze.

I think that is about it.  Everything else is the usual stuff!  Yesterday Harper came over for most of the day.  We watched a ballet performance on you tube and she didn't move a muscle. It went ages and ages and at the end she clapped furiously then said "more!!" so we watched it again!

I don't have a clue how much I saved on my Vicky Challenge, I will work it out over the weekend. It was quite a bit though.

I hope you had a good week!  How did you build up your nest, save, get ahead?

This afternoon I have to go and sign this form.  There is a large secondhand shop really close by so I will check it out incase my spice cupboard is in there!
Have a wonderful weekend! xxx

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

The Christmas Challenge. Mid August. 2017.

My Christmas cupboard is looking really healthy!  It is a combination of things I have made, bargains I've found and even some op shop finds.

Yesterday I called into an op shop (thrift store) and came out with another very good basket for making up a hamper gift. I get these when I see them and this was a big one for three dollars. It would hold a big cake, jars of jam, or one of my cleaning gifts with wool wash, miracle spray, cleaning cloths and so on.

These last few weeks I finally made some cards for men.  I watch out for images all the time and I really liked these ones from an English magazine...

Since my family are farmers these are great. I got twelve cards all up.

I finished crocheting wash cloths (or cleaning cloths) to pair with all the soaps I made earlier in the year...

I add these to the cleaning themed baskets as well (along with the soaps) and so these are a handy addition to have a heap of!  And all my crochet cotton is now used up.

As well as the beautiful vintage magazines from Deb I had a parcel from Mimi!  She sent me lovely fine angora wool with a sparkle.  You know I love sparkle! 

I have plans for this. It is going to go into a blanket! 

With my bulk herbs and spices buy up I have made up jars of herbs and also ready made mixes and some of these are going into kitchen themed gifts...

The other day I saw bargain big wooden spoons. I love wooden spoons!  I got some of these as something else to add to kitchen gifts along with my bunches of herbs etc.

I love to be able to give away herbs and this week I gave away parsley and lemons.  Anyone who cooks loves stuff like this as it is so useful.

Something that is helping is my further afield shopping.  I feel if I have travelled further for good deals that I should make the most of the trip and go into the good op shops while I'm there.  This is really working!  I have put away some amazing gifts for 50c to $3 price range. Oh and also lovely containers and baskets to make up hampers. These are so handy to have ready to go.  I have to note... a nice basket makes a whole bunch of odds and ends suddenly look abundant and lovely.  So it might be something I baked, jars of jam, bunches of herbs, some Bay Leaves packaged up etc but all in a basket it looks so nice.  If you want confidence to do this look online at hamper gifts and notice the prices! 

How is your gift cupboard going?  I am at the point now where I am feeling ahead with gifts and in a pinch I could go to my cupboards and find a suitable gift, card and wrap for most people and most occasions.  This is a good feeling!  It is also another thing that is like money in the bank. I do not have to budget for those gifts. 

This afternoon I am going to Aldi and there is a big op shop right around the corner from there as well so I am trying to pair up these shops as a regular trip.   

I hope your week is going well!  We have had heaps of rain but just now the sun is shining and it's lovely.

Next week we will be heading towards the end of the month again so if you would like to be in Show and Tell send me your pics to   I LOVE seeing what you have been making, your ideas and even your thrift store finds and baking!  Love it all! Thank you! xxx