The little birds...

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

Banner by Free Pretty Things for You.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Feather your Nest Friday, 24th March, 2017.

This week I have had a few chances to see how many people don't seem to have anyone who encourages them, celebrates with them or keeps them company in their endeavours to build up their homes.  I was very lucky having a good family and an older Titis 2 type lady in my life when the girls were young and I read Laine's Letters that were honestly like taking vitamins!  
As housework is endless and life can be full of struggles with health, money, relationships etc we need encouragement!  The verse Vicky pointed out recently really struck me.  It was Luke 15:8  about a woman who lost a coin and when she found it "she calls her friends and neighbours together saying rejoice with me for I have found what I have lost."
Somehow that just hit me that yes, we need someone to celebrate with.  It does us good.

I always say that thanks to the internet we can find this kind of friendship even if there is no one on our street or in our town that is friendly or interested in homemaking.  And there are loads of encouraging blogs, homemaking websites, classes, forums, you tube and more.  You do not have to meet someone to have a wonderful friendship either and some of my very best friends are people I have not met! Thanks to the internet we can cast our net wider and find our perfect friends!
We need to be careful that we hang around  encouraging places as there are people who will build you up and there are others who will tear you down.  If you are sensitive the negative subject matter can really get you down.
"Therefore encourage one another and build one another up"  ...  this is so needed!  There are so many that need an encourager.  There are so many that are lonely.  I just want to encourage you if you are lonely and going it alone then reach out and say hello and do not underestimate how you can find friendships and encouragement even across the miles.

So, Feather your Nest Friday is about encouraging myself and encouraging everyone that I can to celebrate what you did get done and achieve during the week rather than just stress about everything that still needs doing!   Assessing our progress shows us what we achieved. It is good to do.

Some of the ways I built up my home this week include:

Cooking...  this week I made a giant slab of chocolate cake.


This served as lunch box fillers, deserts and went on the fishing picnic. And I froze slices as well.

I made three trays of Enchiladas.  I make up a heap and freeze them for easy dinners. 
Bridge asked how to make them so here goes!  This isn't much of a recipe since I cheat!  But they are surprisingly delicious and things like this mean we just never buy take away. 

I use a couple of jars of Enchilada sauce...


I cook up some chicken in smallish pieces.... but you could use up left over cooked chicken also.  Once cooked pour in your sauce and let it get all blended together.


Retain at least half of your sauce for underneath and on top of your enchiladas....  spread a smear of sauce in your baking pan and save the rest for over the top.

Lay out tortillas and spread a little sour cream over them then your chicken and sauce mix and a sprinkle of cheese.  


 Roll these up and place in your baking tray,  seam side down.

Spread your remaining sauce over the top.  Sprinkle with cheese....


If I am going to freeze them I leave them like this and freeze. If we are eating them these go in and cook until warm through and cheese is melted. Serve with a salad.


I am not a Mexican and this is probably a long way from correct but they are delicious and easy.  I can have a tray in the freezer or you can individually wrap them also.

I also made cheese and vegemite scrolls. (12)

At the chemist I was getting prescriptions and was offered a choice of a heap of products for one cent! So I got one cent dish detergent!

Andy caught crabs which he had for a meal.



I got a $1 rockmelons and a kilo of pears for $2 (very good prices around here)

The last of the figs were made into about ten slices of fig paste.



This is beautiful with crackers and cheese. It keeps well also.  It is honestly delicious!
The amount I made would be over $50 in the shops.

I painted a whole heap of cards and made over my present cupboard. (as reported Wednesday)

And potted up some little succulents that have multiplied...



I wrote $339 into my savings book for the Vicky Challenge.

Just now I am still working on re organising projects!  This just seems to have domino effect! Hopefully over the weekend I will get past the messy stage and on to the organised stage!

How did you feather your nest this week? I hope it has been a good week and you have a lovely weekend!  xxx




Tuesday, 21 March 2017

The Christmas Challenge. My present cupboard and progress.

During the last week I have been on a re organise blitz and one area that was desperate was my present cupboard. It never had shelves and I once hung a set of canvas shelves in there that are made for clothing like jumpers/sweaters.  I don't know why I put up with it for so long as it basically didn't work. Things slid out and if you put your arm in to get something everything basically fell out!
Finally I fixed it up.  Andy worked all weekend so I did this myself too!  The man at the hardware store cut four bits of plywood the right dimensions for me then I was set!
One simple project like this still took hours by the time I emptied the cupboard, started again and re organised it.
There is not much in there at this stage either as we have most of the family birthdays in Jan/Feb/March. Also I have another spot for gift wrap, ribbons and cards.

After admiring Cookie's painting she has been encouraging me to try some myself.  I am not sure about the results but I have had fun and I only needed to buy one thing to be able to try painting nests.
I am still practicing.


I am working on cards and gift tags...



In the evenings I am adding a crochet edging to a table runner for Chloe....



Tomorrow the football season starts. This signals the start of watching some TV, darker evenings and less gardening.  It all equals a lot more crochet time and more crafts.  I have lots of things lined up, baskets of yarn out as well as embroidery plans. I can't wait!

So this is the sorry state of my craft cupboard before intervention...



I think I'll leave this picture small!

The shelves went in and I lined them...



And now it is re stocked. I am working on having shelves and boxes with names on them so that I can see what I have for each person.  The whole middle shelf is just going to be Harper and Scarlett. Harpers Birthday is coming up so I am basically ready for that!



I am really happy with how much better it is!  So I am happy with the week!
For some reason I have an organising bug and several other areas of the house are completely pulled apart and the place looks like we have been broken in to!  Do you notice the mess you have to go through to re organise a cupboard or shift things around?  Things get worse before they get better!
My other areas are all pantry related but things will be much better when they are done.

Next week we will be up to Show and Tell again.  If you would like to share what you have been  working on we would love to see!  You can post to the Bluebirds Facebook page or email me at brinkzi21@hotmail.com   Works in progress are fine too.

I hope you are having a good week!  And I hope I can dig myself out of my messes and have a couple of other areas made over as well by the weekend!

Do you have a specific place to keep your present supply and how do you keep track of what you have and who it is for?  As the year goes on and we really build up to Christmas it can be a lot to store and organise. But it is worth a lot. Not running to the shops in December is a huge time and money saver.  I hope by the time Show and Tell is finished I will have a lot more made to add to my supplies. xxx

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Pantries and Preparedness. Progress report! Rotating.

It is now over two years since I started working on building up my pantry and preparedness generally. I had made it a goal to rotate all the food items in the cellar this year and each week I have been doing that.  It is a big job!  This is a learning experience.  I need a system where I just do this regularly and it is part of life.  But I have discovered how fast time goes by and that you really need to keep on top of this and an eye on everything.
This is the natural next step, using and replenishing supplies.
As I do it I am trying to organise things into groups, make things easier to find and know exactly where everything is.  So the end result will be an improvement on what I have anyway.
I have discovered the only way I can keep good supplies of powdered milk is to use it regularly in my cooking and keep rotating it this way.  I need the habit of using it every time I make pancakes, mornay etc.


My photos today are your cooking. 
This is Maria's Magic Slice. It looks delicious.

That first year when I stocked my empty cellar I did get a long way, it just needs organising now.
Between then and now we established extra ways to cook and now have the back ups of a gas BBQ and always keep spare gas, a portable camping cooktop with cans of gas and an electric frypan which the generator will run.
With all of these I can cook pretty much anything and heat water.
I have a plastic tub that is my mini bath to wash in and it has worked well.
We got our generator and got good at using it.
We built up good first aid kits in the house and both cars plus first aid books.
Water is stored for drinking and we have a lot stored for washing etc.
Security is something we have added too as well with things like sensor lights around the house.
Now I have a bike as an alternative source of transport.
We have solar chargers and battery chargers.
We keep spare sheets, towels and bedding.
Pets have back up supplies as well as us.
We have good supplies of garbage bags, toilet paper etc.
There are boxes of batteries, candles, matches etc.
Plus plastic sheeting, tarps, masking tape etc you could need in a storm.
We are ahead of medications and have good supplies of over the counter medicines.
Both of us have battery radios and spare batteries.
All phone numbers and important documents have copies.
We have all emergency numbers written in the kitchen, wallets and phones.
I have an action plan in the kitchen. If something happened and I cant think straight I have my plan that is well thought out.
Our food supplies have enough protein and I can make pretty good meals from what we have on hand.


Mel K made Cookie's bread with great success! 

We also have plenty to do if the power is out. You need this... once you have done everything you can then it is a case of keeping things going and waiting. I have plenty of supplies of yarn, books, various crafts to keep me happily occupied. This is serious actually as waiting around nervously isn't good, it is better to be happily busy.


Kelley made Peppermint Creams!


Recently I did a course with Patsy at W Working Pantry and by the end of this I had a fresh list to work on.  I keep this list on the fridge and weekly we report in on how we are doing.  Most of the things I found I needed are easily remedied like more drinking water, more larger sized batteries and disposable plates and cutlery.
The hardest thing is communication.  If the power is out any length of time we found that having been clever (we thought) and had our phones fully charged and alternative ways to charge them all comes to naught when the phone towers themselves have only a few hours back up plan and they go down. So you need up with working phones with no reception. I did not know that prior to our big blackout!   If there is someone you would want to be communicating with this you need something else.
This is a bit like how you can have a generator but if you have no fuel stored you can't use it.  Fuel does not pump when the power is out. So what we have stored is what we have when we need it!


Janine also made Cookie's bread! It looks like another success!

Many of the ways we are better prepared are skill related.  We know a lot of things we didn't know two years ago! 
So it is all progress. And I would have missed many things here that I should have mentioned!

How do you keep on top of rotating your food storage? How long do you allow for canned goods? Milk Powder? Dry goods like rice and pasta?  Flour? 

As we build up our supplies this is a bigger and bigger issue! Many of you are much more experienced than me in this area and I would love your advice.


Jane's Sourdough keeps reading new heights! 
Thank you for all the beautiful photos and sharing your cooking everyone! 
This is an encouragement to others.

I am finding it good to do a review, tidy up/organise and incorporate things that need using up into the weekly menu.  It is all a learning curve and I want to go forwards not backwards!

Have a good week! xxx





Thursday, 16 March 2017

Feather your Nest Friday, 17 March, 2017.

This week it started to feel like Autumn and today is just gorgeous!  I am so happy about this! 
As we had a public holiday Monday I feel like it has been a short week and that I didn't get that much done. But once again, thanks to the notes I take as I do things, I look back over the week and feel much better! I have quite a bit I can count in my Vicky Challenge as well! 

I finished my DIY chandelier and it is ready to hang.


Chloe came up on the weekend and brought figs she had picked.


I used these straight away in two meals. The first night I made fig pizzas. The next night I stuffed some with cream cheese and wrapped them in Prosciutto. These are really easy and delicious. 


I still have a bowl full of figs in the fridge. They will be either jam or fig paste over the weekend...

In my sour dough adventures I made Calzones. They are probably very un authentic. However they were yum!  Really they are just pizza pockets.  I used capsicum, cheese, bacon, salami etc.



Also I made buns. This lot were raspberry.


I have it worked out now that the addition of milk, eggs, butter and sugar gives a sweet dough and it is like with the plain bread mix as then this gives you heaps of things to make which are just variations on a theme.

Andy is making me a new clothes line. For a long time I have wanted an old fashioned style one which is right across the back yard. My current one is old and nasty but I love hanging clothes on the line and sheets and towels smell so beautiful from sunshine.  I saw a picture online with each end having pretty scrolls in the corners.  Andy looked for wrought iron to use for this and the corners were $80 each.  So this idea was scrapped.  Mum's neighbour this week gave us the four corners we need!  All they need is painting!  They are perfect! 


I can't wait! 

I froze some strawberries for smoothies as they were going soft too fast. 

As well as fig pizza I used up a heap of leftovers on another pizza.

I did a heap of pruning, fertilised the roses and the lawn and generally have been tidying up in the garden.  The parsley has millions of seeds and I have baby parsley coming up everywhere.

For my Vicky Challenge I counted making all lunches, the chandelier, the savings on the lattice work,  my tray of buns, the figs etc. and it amounted to $776 which is the best week in ages. 

How did you build up your home and savings this week?  I hope you have a lovely weekend.  
I am off to hang washing in the sun and try and be outside as much as I can while it is so nice.   xxx















I have been doing a bit of pruning in the garden and fertilised the roses, spread some lawn food over the lawn and generally tidying up.  There are baby parsley plants coming up everywhere because of self seeding. 

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

The Christmas Challenge. Chandelier makeover and catch up.

Time to report on my own Christmas Challenge!  In our family we have most Birthdays early in the year.  So it has been full on keeping up with birthday presents.
My arm has given me trouble and I have been very slow with my crafts.  I am working on improving my actual present cupboard as it is a mess and I need a better shelving system. I am looking for drawers or pull out baskets I can put in there and organise it. It is hard to see what I have without pulling it all out. So that is on my immediate list.

One craft I completed comes from a road side find.  I love, love, love chandeliers. I can always have another one!  Andy saw two light fittings and told me so I ran around the corner to see and picked this one up...


I see a lot of light fittings with 5 or more "arms" but this was better than most as it features pretty shapes, scrolls and patterns plus eight arms.   And it is quite a decent size.
Ok not everyone would get excited by this!  But Andy knows me pretty well!

First I spray painted it white. I hung it up in a tree and gave it a few light coats.
Next I ordered two types of crystals on Ebay.  There are places that give you free postage and whole bags of amazing droplets of strings of crystals for about $12.  (I found this out when I added extra crystals to my hallway chandeliers.)



I increased the overall size of the whole thing by draping strings of crystals between the arms so they dipped down... and then hung single droplets from those.


I already had plenty of globes and when they were in Andy plugged it in and lit it up and it works!

It is going up in the lounge room.  I have been playing around with that room and it will be an extra thing I can do in there.

The whole thing came in at around $30.  Plus it was fun!



Chloe took home her little table top (like the one I posted last Friday) as I had painted that for her in palest blue.  She already had the base which has been sitting with no top in her bathroom. It was kind of a joke how the table would be more useful if she could actually sit something on it.  So now she can and I hope she sends me a picture of how it all looks.

Currently I am working a crochet edge around a lace table runner.  I have been slow as a wet week on that.  AND Cookie has me trying to paint birds nests.... I have one more item to collect and I will be ready for this challenge. I said to her that maybe my birds nests would be depicting a species of bird that makes really messy nests!  haha that will be my excuse.

 What are you working on this month?  Some of the US ladies are experiencing snow storms so if this is the case I hope you are warm, snug and safe and working away on lovely things. That is the ideal way to get through intense weather.
Here Autumn is just kicking in. This revolutionises things for me as the garden becomes less demanding and the football season starts. This equals rainy weekends crocheting, sticking my photos in albums, painting and sewing. I can't wait!

See you on Friday when I hope we will all have lots of good things to report! xxx


Sunday, 12 March 2017

Pantries and Preparedness. From learning one skill you get so much more! And the recipe for Sticky Buns.

Last week Cookie shared with us her easy one hour bread and we talked about being able to make basics from scratch and what an advantage this is... in both money savings and also being up to make meals from very simple ingredients.  Cookie's recipe can be found in last weeks post.

I am going to attempt a basic tutorial in sour dough another day.  It is thanks to Nanna Chel that I got started as she sent me some starter and instructions. She sent me to a blog called Gully Grove which helped me a lot as I found many instructions confusing but that blog made it much simpler!   Anyway, I am working on a tutorial to make it really easy for anyone interested.

Whether you are making bread with purchased yeast or sour dough starter it is like a lot of skills... it has many, many spin offs. You do not just get bread you get rolls, pizza bases, Calzones, focaccia and  fancy breads,  buns,  scrolls and sticky buns! (and many other things I haven't even tried yet.)

You can feed your family, fill lunch boxes, use for entertaining and gifts.

Then you have left overs. You get Bread and Butter pudding,  bread cases,  croutons, bread crumbs (for toppings, crumbed chops, meatloaf and more) and it goes on and on!  I wrote a post here about using up left over bread.  I make Bread and Butter pudding and it looks like a cake. It cuts like a cake and it is beautiful.  You can also make individual ones in a muffin tray.  This is also a great way to use up jam.


If you have a whole bunch of people to feed and they are always hungry all of this can really help! 

Anyway here is my Sticky Bun recipe. I adapted it from a very old recipe to my sour dough. I find really you can make any recipe calling for yeast. To do it I start with a cup or two of starter, make my sponge and go right ahead and use that instead of purchased yeast. Somewhere I will need to use less liquid than the recipe says or more flour (or both) to get the dough consistency but so far this has worked out with everything. 

For Sticky Buns (this makes 18)
Use about two cups of active sour dough starter and make your sponge with one cup of flour and one cup of water. Let it sit and become good and bubbly. I do this the night before. 
In the morning:
Heat up a cup of milk and add a large tablespoon of butter and a cup of sugar. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Let it cool down to warm.
I put my sour dough sponge in the mixer, add this melted mix, add 2 eggs and 4 cups flour.  (I used bread flour for everything)
Mix and keep adding flour until you have a nice soft dough, not dry but not wet! (I think I used about five cups overall)  Knead until lovely and smooth. I do this in my mixer with the dough hook.

Let this rise. I set it aside until mid afternoon. 

I use my largest baking dish and another smaller one. Line really well and up the sides with baking paper. 
Make a caramel sauce in a saucepan of 2 large tablespoons of butter, 2 cups of dark brown sugar, 1 cup of Golden Syrup.  (this is available in the Australian or British section in supermarkets overseas) 
Melt this all together and pour over your baking paper to cover the bottom of both tins.  You can make this anytime however I make it just before I fill the trays with my buns as this gives you warmth in your pans which will help the buns to rise. 
Sprinkle bits of pecans or walnuts over your toffee mix.



When your dough has risen to about double roll it out into a long section. 


Sprinkle this with 3 teaspoons of brown sugar and 3 teaspoons of cinnamon.  
Roll this like you would to make scrolls to form a giant long rolled up sausage.

Slice this into about 18 thick slices.  Then set each one onto your toffee base...


I got 12 in one tray and 6 in another. 
So it looks dismal at this point! Cover and let sit somewhere warm until at least double in size.  The warm toffee will help your pan be nice and warm. 
Once at least doubled you can bake them.  I used a medium oven for about 20 mins. Keep an eye on them. You want them to be golden but not get too dark...


Now for the good bits!  You want to let this cool down a bit as the toffee underneath is bubbly and would burn terribly if things went wrong. But you want it still nice and warm so it will tip out. 

Lay out a big baking tray or baking paper and tip the tray upside down so the whole thing comes out. 
Then carefully peel away the baking paper...


Underneath you will find oozy goozy sticky buns all golden and yum.

I served them warm at dinner when I had visitors....


They are really good! Later when they were cool I found microwaving them for 30 seconds made them like just out of the oven again.
I froze the whole tray of six and they freeze well.  

So that is it!  

Last week I worked on rotating some food items from our storage. I ordered a bike basket and seat cover for my bike.  I added large size batteries to my supplies.
Our power situation made international news and Elon Musk came out and said he can fix our problems.  This will be interesting!  I know he is a really smart guy and can only imagine him talking on the phone to our Premier and find this somehow hilarious.  However it would be amazing if good came from it! 

Did you add to your preparedness this week or learn a new skill that would be helpful?

Today is a public holiday for us. I am trying to get off to a good start! Have a wonderful week! xxx










Thursday, 9 March 2017

Feather your Nest Friday, 10th March, 2017.

This was one of those weeks with extra expenses that I guess happens to us all!  It seemed endless!   One of them was having a tree trimmed. Andy had already trimmed as high as he could reach on our ladder but it was bugging our neighbour and had to be done.  The upside was that we found someone who would do it for a great price as we would pay cash.  The other upside was this was the tree that had the birds nest in (they all flew away weeks ago) and we got up and saved that first.



Some of the ways we did save money this week included:

We had a lot of basil ready to pick.  I made a double batch of pesto. I use Mimi's recipe on A Tray of Bliss which is so easy and so good.


I gave a jar to Lucy which would do two dinners and made Pesto Chicken one night and pasta another. I still have some left as well.  It is beautiful and smells so good.

I made pizza bases, froze some and made pizzas with all kinds of left overs which served as dinner and lunch box fillers.


Andy found a pair of beautiful leather boots at an op shop for $15. He loves them and he needed new boots.  Massive saving there.

I got a few trays of chicken on a great special, used some and froze some. 

I made all the lunches as usual. 

I wrote $360 in my savings book for my Vicky Challenge.

Our Quince tree is covered in Quinces and about ready.  I think next week I will pick them. 


They never seem ripe as they are as hard as rocks but they go into the slow cooker for a day and turn deep ruby pink. The scent of Quinces is beautiful. They will give us stewed fruit and deserts.

This shows my side of the road vase that I mentioned last week.  I have a nest displayed in it. It also shows the table top I mentioned painting.... on top of my other road side find.... I found two of these little tables that needed new tops. I gave one to Chloe and painted the top of hers palest blue. (it is for her bathroom and her bathroom is blue.) 



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


Our Patti isn't well. Her daughter Kristi messaged that she read Wednesday's post to her Mother as Patti has vision problems and pain in her eyes. She is also light sensitive and at this point it is undiagnosed. This sounds just awful and frightening.  Anything with our eyes is especially distressing I think.  I think Kristi will read our messages to her Mum so lets lift Patti up in prayer as it sounds like she really needs it at this time. Patti I hope you are feeling much better and the doctor have this figured out.  I have been thinking of you so much!

Jeanette's daughter is also having surgery today. She is having her Gallbladder removed then going home where Jeanette will look after her so they both could use prayer also.  Jeanette I hope this surgery goes very well today. 

Have a lovely weekend. I am planning a heap of cooking as Andy has extra work and will be working. xxx



Tuesday, 7 March 2017

The Christmas Challenge. Feb Show and Tell Part 2.

Here we go again! If you thought last week was good wait until you see what everyone has been making this week!  We have some really new ideas here too!

First of all we have a beautiful blanket made by Maria G.  Maria found out that she had a long lost cousin she never knew of! She was so thrilled and her cousins name is Lucy.  (good name!) They hit it off right away. Lucy has been sick and having medical treatment so Maria set to making her a rug...


This is just stunning. Maria you have an eye for putting colours together. It makes me think of Peacocks.

Allie made soap. When she was helping me paint we talked a lot about soap making and she got started...


Allie is mad keen on coffee so I know coffee was involved!

Cherilyn made some amazing things. These are whole new ideas for me!  Firstly she made an etched baking dish...


Brilliant! For anyone who is always taking baking to other peoples places a dish with their name on it is such a good idea! I thought also how about a verse or saying... or even a recipe? There are just so many things to do with this lovely idea!

Next Cherilyn burned images into wooden spoons...


and onto trivets or chopping boards...


What a good idea for gifts! This is so clever! It beautiful work too so neat and perfect!

She also made this most stunning baby blanket for her Great Nephew and in the colours of his nursery...


This is just divine.  Incredible work. Thank you so much for sharing this with us Cherilyn.

Barb got back to craft making and she has a wonderful device that presses lovely patterns into your card... I could have a lot of fun with one of these...


I am glad you are crafting again Barb!

Cookie has also been busy!  
Firstly we have candles that she has painted...




I love the flowers but of course I especially love the nests and eggs!


Cookie has told me you don't have to be artistic to paint... there are steps you can follow and you tube videos to help. I think she might do a tutorial for us!  

And she also made purses...




What beautiful gifts! You did so much for February Cookie!

Kelley made pot holders from old jeans. She made a whole pile of them!  When you think about it denim is tough and thick... good idea! 



Kelley is brilliant with making beautiful things that are up cycled!  I love this!

So you can see a lot has been achieved so far this year. Next week I will show you some of what I have been up to.
How are you going with your present making? It really is a year round thing. I have been ahead with birthday presents and also was able to take out two baby rugs and donate them to a lady Mum knows who sends things to a Romanian orphanage. Knowing this I will get crocheting and make some more rugs.  Sometimes people say to me they don't have anyone to make things for. Yes you do! There are countless orphanages, hospitals and shelters that need hats for premature babies, warm clothing etc. Quite likely someone in the neighbourhood does too.
I am loving that so many of us are using up supplies we have. I hope you found some new ideas here!

Now we are already well into March!  I am starting to think about Easter too.
I hope your week is going well!
What are you working on and how is your gift cupboard going? xxx