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, 14 January 2018

The World within our Walls. Get the ball rolling.

When we were little Mum often had the dinner table set long before dinner.  She said even if she hadn't started cooking yet the table being set and looking nice was a way to get the ball rolling,  be welcoming and build anticipation that dinner was coming!   And so when she had a moment she would get the table set.  

At Christmas there is so much to do.  Mum sets the table the day before so this gets a lot of work done and out of the way and there is more time to do it nicely.

This Christmas I noticed Chloe has taken this all on board.  She was going to be out on Christmas Day then home in the evening to serve dinner for the evening meal.  She had the table set and ready and started a couple of days before.

We also always got our school bags ready the night before and Mum packed the school lunches in the evening.  Clothes were lined up ready for in the morning.   
When I grew up I didn't think about it and just automatically planned outfits for the next day and got things ready for the morning rush.  And then when I had the girls at school we would get everything ready the evening before right down to the hair ties and bags packed except for the lunches which would come out of the fridge at the last minute! 

I am not good in the mornings!  So getting everything ready the night before makes sense! 

As I started my sewing challenge I had so much to do.  I thought this is never going to happen!  The first day was almost over and nothing was done so before I went to bed I thought I will  get the sewing machine out and set it up on the table.  This only took a few minutes.  
The next day was no better.  But I thought I will just fill a bobbin and thread the machine and this only took a couple of minutes. 
In the evening I thought I will just get out some fabrics and start to make a plan...

Then the next day I cut out a pillowcase while dinner was cooking.  And this is often how things get done.  In increments!  A few minutes here and there.  But they add up amazingly! 

Being terrible in the mornings I often will set the slow cooker up the night before.  I will just get it out and sit it on the bench ready.  The other day I was going to cook a corned beef.  So I sat it out and filled it with water.  I got the ball rolling! 

In the morning I just turned it on when I made coffee.  The next time I was in the kitchen I added the actual meat!  (progress!) and later I added the pepper and bay leaves.  And now things were chugging along...

And by evening it was delicious and tender and I also had both dinner and Andy's lunches for several days. 

Other times I will get the slow cooker going and at least get the meat on.  Then as the day goes on I might add things. 

This is especially true of chicken soup with so many things to chop.  As long as the water, beans and chicken are on then later I will be adding garlic, onion,  carrots, herbs and so on. 

When baking things will often go the same way!  I will think that I will sit my sour dough starter out on the bench and feed it a few times.  
The next day I think ok I will just make some dough. 

Eventually I have a tray of something made and the steps were just achieved in moments I grabbed!

Big projects are very much like this.  We can't do them all at once.  They are made a bit at a time. Yet amazing things are done this way.  I look at Pat's quilts!  So much work!  But I know she would do her daily tasks and when she has time do a bit more on a quilt.  In the evenings I will usually do a few more rows on what I am working on.  It is a bit here and a bit there.  But eventually a blanket is finished! 

Whatever it is you just have to get things started. Get the ball rolling!  

There is so much to do at home.  We can't hope to do things all at once.  If we can just get things started we can add to that.

Yesterday I needed to use the last of the plums.  And I had a couple of hundred still.... I really couldn't face them all at once.  So I made it that every time I was in the kitchen I would cut up ten.  And by mid afternoon they were done!  I put one lot on to simmer and the others on for jam.  It is all done! 
Today I am facing the same situation with nectarines!  I have lots of things to do today.  But I already set the stockpot on the stove and sterilised some jars last night so I got the ball rolling a little bit at least! 

The spare room is in a terrible state.  I have made it that I have to sort and put away ten things a day.  I can do that.  By the end of next week is should be ship shape!  You can spring clean a whole house in 5 minutes a day,  re organise the pantry... anything! 

Setting things out and getting them started is the biggest part to me.  I add a step or two as I can.   Whatever it is the key to success is getting started!   Break it down into little steps.  With this you can tackle anything that needs doing.  

What helps you to get things done and get the ball rolling in your home? 
Do you have something you have been putting off but that could really be done a few minutes at a time? 

Have a wonderful new week.  We have a beautiful day but it is heating up.   I am off to shops, pay bills, babysit and then get the nectarines that need to be used all done!  I have some freezer room again.  I sent Chloe home with lasagna, jam, stewed cherries, banana cakes, the beautiful linens and more. This makes me happy!  And now I have room in the freezer which makes me happy too!  😊 xxx

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Feather your Nest Friday, 12th January, 2018.

I am so glad I write things down!  Sitting here going over my week it seems like forever since last Friday!  It was a big week!

This is our fruit season and I had worried about this year as most of the trees that have provided us fruit belonging to neighbours and had all been cut down.  I prayed that I will still end up with fruit but I did not expect such big results!  And I still have more coming!
First of all I had the plums that I shared on Monday from my Aunt.  Most days I have been making something with those.

So far I have made lots of jam and it is just beautiful.   

I made crumble and stewed up big pots for stewed fruit.  I have frozen containers of these which I will use for the rest of summer.    Chloe will be here over the weekend and she will take some home and I am making my use it up fruit cakes tomorrow to take care of some more!

On the way home from my Aunts I went to a fruit shop and they had big bags of cherries out on an amazing special.  I love cherries so much and it is nothing for them to be $20 a kilo ($10 a pound) so I bought a five kilo bag!   (I got them for $4 a kilo)  So then I had a car load of plums and huge bag of cherries!  
These were so good and we lived on them for days.  I stewed up most of them which is exactly like tinned black cherries. 

The syrup is beautiful and the colour gorgeous!

Lucky I have Mum's freezer space which is about full after all of this! 

On Tuesday I headed off to see Hilde and do my further afield grocery shopping.   These days have been paying off so much.  And Tuesday was another success!   I found a new fruit and veg shop to try.   A lady told me about it on Facebook!   Well, this was a fantastic tip!   I ended up with half cases of strawberries for $4.  I have never seen prices like this.  These prices were about one tenth local prices.

I couldn't believe it!  I also got apricots for the same price.
This store will be on my regular circuit from now on! 

Other savings that day were hair colour for 33c a box as opposed to the normal $20 each.  I got 12 just to put away and keep me going for ages.  This alone was a saving of $236.   
Also shampoo, conditioner, volume spray all for equally tiny prices. 

I had afternoon tea with Hilde who gave me lemons and for my Birthday she gave me a vintage tea set which is just gorgeous!  It has little pink roses on a lemon background.  I just love it!

The lady I met on Facebook who had told me about the fruit and veggie store....  this was a funny one.  We both belong to a household organisation group.  She had posted that she was wondering where to donate lots of old linens.   I saw this and wrote to her and told her my daughter is having a country wedding and we are collecting vintage linens for projects we are making for this.   I sent her photos of how it is going to look.  I thought this was a wild long shot!  Also that she probably lived too far away.  She wrote back and said she had just what we needed and it turned out she lived fifteen minutes from Hilde's!  I couldn't believe it!  
So my next stop was her place on the way home.   I made a friend!  She has a beautiful home with a huge pantry!  She grows veggies and herbs.  She sews!  She was just lovely!  And the linen!  There was lace, embroidery and everything we need.  
On top of this she gave me a stunning Shabby Chic style mirror!  And olives she had picked herself. 
This was all too good to be true and once again I didn't get murdered meeting someone I met on a Facebook page! haha. 
Chloe is coming up tomorrow.  I can't wait for her to see all of these supplies for her wedding projects!   Then the sewing will begin!

Back home I have had my work cut out.  The apricots needed using first.  I stayed up late Tuesday night and made most into jam.  It is a beautiful colour.  

There are so many uses for jam all year.  Also a collection of jams is a lovely gift.  I thought I would never get to bed that night.  There I was making jam and I had a car load of unpacking to do which just had to wait!

Next I needed to work on the strawberries.  We ate some fresh for a few days and then I cooked up a huge amount.

The smell of them cooking was just beautiful.   So now I also have strawberry jam. 

The tree in the lane kept producing ripe nectarines and I picked about 13 kilos this week.  Luckily these will last a few more days before I need to use them.  

I packaged up dried roses and petals for a swap.  They look so nice in their box ready to go! 

Each day we picked cherry tomatoes.   I am using these up fresh in salads most days.  

My parsley is going to seed everywhere.  I started to pick the seed heads to package it up to include in the next swap party.

I need to count my total number of jars of jam and containers of stewed fruit... then I can finish adding up my Vicky Challenge.  It will be a good week!

Andy worked on a couple of projects towards his part of the Vicky Challenge but they will get included when they are finished, next week I think.

I am taking part in a book study with Patsy.  We are reading The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  The first chapter is "Make Hay while the Sun Shines"  so I finally found out where that came from.  I guess that is what I have been doing this week!  

On Wednesday it was my Birthday.  We went to the beach in the evening.  It was so beautiful.  The water looked like a mirror and I snapped this photo before we left...

My sewing challenge is going ok but I missed two days due to fruit!   I will share what I have been making next week.  

I hope you had a good week!  How did you save, get ahead and feather your nest?
How are you going with your goals and challenges?  
How are you making hay while the sun shines?  Some of us are in heat and some of us are in freezing conditions!  We have to just go by the season we are in!

Have a wonderful weekend.  I am baking and working on the fruit I still have... and this is before the peaches in the lane are ready.   I never knew of this tree or the nectarine tree until I started my nightly walks.  To my amazement it appears no one picks any of it.  So now my nightly walk includes carrying a big basket! xxx


Tuesday, 9 January 2018

The World within our Walls. The art of saying no.

There are just so many aspects of creating a home in a way that is a safe haven, a place you truly feel relaxed and free to just be yourself.   We are aiming for a home that will build you up (and everyone who lives here) and that restores and reassures.

One huge factor is time. Time to enjoy, get things done, make good meals, sit at the table and eat together, craft... everything we do in  our lives and homes takes time. Without enough of it we are soon in chaos, mess and there is no peace or enjoyment.  Life in a hurry is just stressful.  It wears out down. We cannot think straight!  These things are a terrible stress on anyone and especially little children.

The photos in this post are from Chloe! 
After the last post she sent me pictures and said Mum, I have been putting words that inspire me where I can see them everyday!  
She printed all of these for free or a couple of dollars and got frames from the bargain store. 
So we were thinking the same thing, how to make the home an encouraging place!

We all want to be polite, helpful to others, a good listener, generous.  We don't want to offend...
This all can lead us to saying yes to so many things that we back ourselves into a really hideous corner and we don't know quite how it happened but we know it is awful and the house and family are suffering because we are truly hopeless at saying no.

There have been times I remember regretting saying yes before I even finished saying it.  Other times where I have thought up wild and elaborate scenarios that could possibly get me out of something I really, really don't want to do but of course this is all imaginary and overly hopeful and I just did them anyway.

A while back I wrote a post on when the girls were little and how I really had to learn to say no and how realising what my mission was really helped me to do that.  That post is here... Your time.

Laine also wrote a new year letter on the subject which I love and you can find that here..  She puts it that the Proverbs woman considered a field.  In a similar way we are considering a field of time!

Over the years I have found I struck gold when I stopped replying to any request or invitation.  This is the key!  My standard response is to say thank you so much!  Thank you for thinking of me!  I will think this over and talk to Andy about it.  Or "I will check my diary and get back to you".
This is perfectly reasonable and polite.
It gives you time to actually think!  Now I can consider how the request is going to impact the household.   This has saved me from so many disasters!

If you turn to jelly under pressure practice what to say!  At one stage I have my reply printed and posted near the phone... this was how bad I was at saying no!  I would look at my sign and repeat the script "thank you for asking,  I will have to look at my diary and I will get back to you as soon as I can..."

My improvement these days comes from not feeling I need to explain myself .  If I have decided I need to decline something I used to feel it necessary to come up with a long and interesting story about why I had to say no.
Now I don't think this is the way to go and I am more likely to say I am unable to attend or that I just do not have the time to do something.  Sometimes I might offer an alternative for example.. if I want to contribute to something then I will come up with something that I can do to help that is manageable instead.

In the evenings Andy and I will talk about some of these things and usually he is on the same page.  Sometimes we have had a laugh at how badly we both DON'T want to do the same thing.  Many times this will involve a party.  Andy would rather dental surgery than go to a party.
Should we ever actually go to a party it is not without an escape plan.

In general the peace in our home is mainly ruined by me taking on too much.  It is a hard balance to get right but without fail if I am out too much things go down hill and fast.  So I need to be careful and some of the times I need to say no are to myself. Often when planning my week I can see I have planned too much and that I need to reduce my list.  So this is a" no" to some of my own plans.

While we are thinking of things that are going to interrupt the peace at home there are many times we need to say no to requests that are going to ruin the budget.  Being able to say no here is equally important.   Most people are not going to care less if their request is something you can afford or if it will mean you have no time to sit down to dinner with your family, read a story to your child or get the lunches made and packed.   It is our job to protect the things that are important and know our priorities.  Then it is a little easier to say no.

This is a big subject!   "She looks well to the ways of her household"  includes so many things!  Caring for your family and household are huge responsibilities!   Learning to prioritise and being able to say no when needed is really important.  

I had a request the other day.  In my mind I was thinking "THERE IS JUST NO WAY..."  and I said "thank you for asking!  I am going to get back to you on this after I tell Andy about it"  and I made my escape!

Now there are times of crisis that are exceptions and we have to say yes in order to help, save the day and rescue someone.  We are not talking about those.  In general it is just up to us to be guardians of the household,  the budget and our own time.   It is ok to say no.

Now and then you get someone who won't take no for an answer!  They want to argue with you!  Or they don't seem to comprehend!  I think what part of no is hard to understand!? haha!  They might even tell you that you can't say no,  there is bullying and persuasion!  This has happened to us all.  I have a little alarm system that goes off then!   My "no" goes up a notch to the red light no!

You are doing an important job.  Week by week we are building up our homes and feathering our nests.

Do you have trouble with saying no?
Do you feel there is too much on your plate to have a peaceful home?
Next week we are looking at when too much stuff takes over and makes us feel overwhelmed, messy or anxious!

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

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Joy in the simple things.

After my post on Friday I headed off to see my Aunt.  She had messaged me and said she has ripe plums and to come and pick them!  So off I went!

It was a gorgeous afternoon!  The plum tree is huge and it was covered in beautiful huge lilac plums.  The prettiest colour!  And there were so many!  I was armed with baskets,  my Aunt was armed with buckets and we chatted and worked away picking fruit.  It was a pretty warm day too but mostly we were in the shade of this beautiful tree.   We filled container after container.   Then we took a break.  I felt we had been doing a pretty good job but when I stood back and admired our work you couldn't even tell we had picked any!  We literally made no impression at all!  The tree was still absolutely covered!

We decided a cup of tea would be a good idea and took a break.  There were stories of some of my Dad's adventures and plum recipes.   My Aunt always makes a pot of tea and gives me a big cup and saucer covered in roses.

I wear pearls a lot but as I was talking with my Aunt I decided I need to wear them all the time.  She was wearing the most gorgeous large baroque pearls and they were so lustrous they lit her face in a kind of halo of light.  They were so stunning.  So note to self to wear my pearls.  And here she was having an afternoon of fruit picking wearing her pearls.
I told her how stunning they looked and she told me she always wears them to bed.  That way if an ambulance comes they will see her wearing her pearls and treat her well.
Maybe I better start wearing my pearls to bed!

With a very hot day forecast my Aunt was organised to stay indoors the next day.  She had drinks in the fridge and a plan if the power goes out.  I also noted she has a cooler in the lounge room and a cooler in her bedroom.  Just the lounge room was on and she would swap when she goes to bed if it was hot.  With power prices now it is much easier to heat or cool one room you are using than a whole house.  Most of our homes are open plan now as when they were designed electricity was affordable.  Now the rooms you can close up are probably much more sensible!
Other aspects of her preparedness are her rainwater tank,  plenty of supplies and her hammer near the front door in case she needs to smack someone in the head.

Then it was back to more plum picking.  Now I am thinking of what to make.  Plum jam,  crumble (crisp), cobblers, my use it up fruit cake with yoghurt...  Then I am considering exactly how much freezer space does Mums freezer have now?
My Aunt knew that most of the fruit trees I had to pick from near me are now all knocked down.  She said as she rides her bike she sees new houses going up and they plant a lawn and have a couple of trees or shrubs planted out the front.  She said what a waste. They could have fruit trees!  "People think just because there is plentiful food now that there always be"  but one day they will be sorry...

So it was wonderful and joyous and I loaded all these baskets into the car.   My Aunt said how it runs in the family to love fruit trees and especially lemons and also to hate golf.   Generations have loved fruit picking, lemons and hated golf.  And here I am the exact same!
All this was great fun to me.  My Aunt increasingly reminds me of my Nanna which is really nice.
Nanna was so happy with simple things like some flowers or some eggs and some lemons!  I can't think of anyone happier than she was.  She was just so enthusiastic and so friendly.

My Dad mentioned this last time we went mushrooming.  I said how Nan would have had a great time.  And Dad said oh yes she would love it!  And how he remembers picking up wood for the fire and Nan would be so excited to be picking up wood!  She would say "oh look at this beautiful bit" and he laughed, he said she could get excited over a nice tree stump. haha!

So all this joy over simple things.   Yesterday I started making jam and I cut up enough plums to make a crumble.  I was so happy doing this.  I couldn't have had a better day!   The colour of the plums is beautiful, a deep ruby.

I have days of working through my baskets of plums.   Nanna would have loved it!
Nanna had a way about her. She could get anyone to do anything.  One time the Doctor came to her house as a house call.  While he was there she asked him if he would go up the ladder and clean the kitchen light as she could't manage it and he was tall. And he did.

I am thinking it is a bit wonderful to find simple things so much fun!  By bedtime I am thinking this was a beautiful day.  Being industrious like this just makes my heart happy!

What are the simple things that you really enjoy?   I can think of so many.  Picking up bags of pinecones for the fire,  going to the beach, picking flowers for the house, collecting eggs...
I said recently that I would rather be making jam than on a jet.  Truthfully I would rather be home than most places!  I love a good outing but honestly I am heading off tomorrow down south to see Hilde,  go op shopping with her and to the discount grocery store and fruit and veggie shop.  I am looking forward to this so much you would think I'm going to the French Riviera.    😊

Have a great week!  xxx

Saturday, 6 January 2018

The world within your walls.

Last year I found myself feeling heartbroken. The world around me seemed to have gone mad.

During my life so far Christian persecution was something that happened overseas and we were very lucky to be free here.  But all of that has gradually changed.
I felt like I would like to stop the world and get off if this is how it is going to be.
I also feel like get me out of the city and on to a farm away from some of this!

My heart and peace were really disturbed.  I just never have seen such a fast decline of many things all at once!

I decided to read my Bible and do some study every day.  And from day one I started to feel better.
From that day I saw this has always been the way.  We are not meant to conform or fit into the world. We are meant to have the Word of God as the light for our feet and keep to that.   What the world thinks doesn't matter.

I read and re read Laines Letters.  Years ago she shared a story of how her son was the only young man in the Christian Youth Group who would take a stand against pornography!  And later how he was given a terrible time at his place of work because he was a Christian.  It was awful.  You expect it in the world but you don't expect it at Church!
The other day when I saw a Church near us with a sign out the front openly promoting sin that I finally thought... this is it.  All is lost.

Now I have had time to think about this.  No, it is not new.  It is just more up close and personal that it has ever been in my life.  So that is confronting.  But so far at least we are still free inside our own
homes and no one can take away from you what you believe  in your heart.   Peace in the home and peace in our hearts give us rest.

Even if you don't relate to this you will probably relate to feeling the news is depressing and that you see things in society you find downright scary.  Or that when things are running smoothly at home you feel so much better, happier, calmer.   From any perspective the atmposhere in your home matters a lot.

From all of this I know that keeping our homes a place where we feel safe, peaceful, nurtured and relaxed is so important!  Our home is our sanctuary!  So this year we are going to have a series on keeping your home feeling beautiful, comfy, calm and welcoming.  We need that.  Our families need it too.  

I started by reading my Bible.  I immediately was reminded "do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed"  and plenty on the subject that tells us if we follow along and agree with the world we are on the wrong path!

It is also plenty on coming away and having nothing to do with terrible things.  Instead we are advised "whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things" (Philippains 4:8-9)

So this is my mission or one of them!   If I keep to thinking of good things, reading encouraging and beautiful books,  leaning new skills and working on something lovely then I feel happy.

I started my daily Bible and study.
I began re reading Laines Letters.

Immediately I felt better.
I read where Laine said "I don't listen to the worlds words much anymore"  and how she found so much peace just trusting the word of God to be true forever.

If you need peace and encouragement just read your Bible every single day!
If you haven't read Laine's Letters they can be found here.  They are the best encouragement and guidance I have ever found!  They also serve as a very easy way to do a Bible study.

I also have found Jenny of Elefantz (see my favourite blogs on the side) is a place of peace an beauty. There is a Facebook group called Gentle Domesticity that is just lovely and fits the bill for the above verse about whatever is beautiful, whatever is lovely. It is so peaceful!  This gives me a daily lift.

Some of the ways we can create a peaceful haven in our homes include:
Deciding what to say yes to and deciding what to say no too!  Being too busy is guaranteed to ruin peace in the home.
Your organisation and decor.  If you feel a mess and overwhelmed you are getting no relaxation at all!
Keeping beautiful things to look at everyday.  This might be flowers,  family photos, beautiful words to think on,  things you love as part of your decor, childrens drawings...

The way your house smells!  haha this sounds bad!  But I like things to smell clean and good!
The way your house sounds.  Happy music while you work.  I mostly hate background noise and never have the TV on in the day.  Give me birds chirping any day!
Interruptions. If I let it I would have to answer the phone during dinner every night to someone trying to sell me something. Just no way!
A routine.  I like a routine of chaos.

The garden and plants.  They are part of my surroundings and give a lot of peace and calm.

We need to work out how to get time for reading good things,  learn new things and create beauty?  I know I am much happier if I have time to work on something creative.   This really increases my contentment!  And something else... I find I am thinking lovely thoughts as I work away.

How can each person have a space of their own that makes them feel nurtured and happy?
How can we carve out for ourselves a quiet space or a craft/sewing/writing space in a full and busy household?
If we love feminine things how can we have these for ourselves in a house full of boys!?
Do you feel you should decorate in a certain way because it is fashionable but your don't even really like it?  Did you inherit or somehow get stuck with decor that bugs you?
Are there small changes you could make that would make a big difference to how you feel at home?
We are going to consider all these things!

I have known for a long time just what I like and some of what I need.  I like light, white, calm.

Quiet, flowers, pantries, baking, the house to smell good.  Clutter or a big mess unsettle me.
I struggle to get the "being home and doing things out of the house" balance right.  If I am out too much everything suffers.   The wheels fall off! haha!

My home is far from perfect.  I get in a mess.  My spare room is terrible at the moment!  The dining room table is my sewing centre right now.
I am really lucky to have a nice house.  But I have made each home nice, ordered, clean and pretty.   I have painted four houses top to bottom.  I have wallpapered, stencilled,  gilded, decoupaged, you name it!   The truth is most of my furniture is really old.  My lounge was Mum and Dad's fifty years ago. My dining table was Nan's.  A lot of my stuff came from the side of the road!   I have a beautiful dressing table found in an old farmhouse.  I paint everything white so completely random things kind of go together!   I have collected many mirrors free and I use them to hide bad bits and reflect the good stuff!   I do all this knowing that my surroundings affect me so much.

We wake up to, walk into, breathe and absorb it all.  So does our family.  And it just seems that as women we have a lot of power to set the scene,  create a home,  set an atmosphere.   The world within our walls is mostly up to us.

What is it that makes you feel nested at home?  How can you make things feel more like "you" as well as a haven for each member of the family?   Maybe I better take some photos of Andy's havens.  I will do that as he has a large music room, an office and a "man shed" haha!  But these are his personal spaces and he is not drowned out by feminine stuff.

For both of us we need a retreat from the world and we are going to have to have less media or a shoe will go through the televisions screen sometime soon!

How do you quieten things down and feel restored when the world is too much?

The next post in this series will be about choosing what to say yes to and what to say no to!  We have to say no sometimes and be good at it.  I used to find it awfully hard to say no!

And so ends week one and me posting everyday!  I hope we got off to a good start for the year.  We have set the scene for several challenges and set up our plans.  Tomorrow I will have a slow day,  plan the new week and keep myself on track!   A little planning on the weekend makes a world of difference!  xxx

Thursday, 4 January 2018

Feather your Nest Friday, January 5, 2018.

Our first Feather your Nest Friday for 2018!  The purpose of these posts is to take a minute to look over what we did for the week, what our blessings were and to appreciate them.  It is really easy to just look at the list ahead of us. That is tiring!  We need to rest too and consider things.   This also give us a change to see how our plans are going.   We need to take a break and celebrate!

There are many times that it does us good to just be grateful.  I used to keep a Gratitude Journal and each day write in all the things I had to be grateful for that day.  It was a wonderful exercise.  If you are battling or depressed this is very uplifting as it opens our eyes up to all the blessings around us.  It really touches your heart.

Some of the things I did this week to save, build up our home, get ahead etc. included:

Lucy gave me bananas so I made them into little banana cakes. I use my homemade yoghurt in these as well as use up some farm eggs!

Most went into the freezer and this tray went to Lucy's and impressed Harper immensely!

At last I had success in the sales!  Straight after Christmas I just had no luck.  It was like this last year.  Now we are into the new year finally things are marked down more.  I got  8 cartons of cream at 30c each,   7 rolls of beautiful wrapping paper at 50c each,  a huge  4.7 kilo ham for $19,
rolls of sticky tape for 50c,   sparklers for 25c a packet,  and later for more cartons of cream at 82c.  
Ok I have a lot of cream but I froze most of them!
Also I went on New Years Eve to Coles as the next day would be a public holiday.  I decided this year I would do this which is going to the shops at weird times I wouldn't normally go to see if it pays off.
It did!  The meat department was a dead loss so at first I thought I had wasted my time.  But then I checked the deli.   Success!  I came home with five bags of deli meat as they apparently have to sell all the sliced meats before the day is out if the store will be closed the next day.   I had ham, turkey, chicken. pastrami.... each bag was 75c.    And containers of ricotta cheese for 25c!  I ended up with  almost three kilos of ricotta cheese for  $3.    I was amazed!

So the fridge has been full.  Having ricotta, cream, eggs.... I made a baked ricotta cheesecake, ricotta pancakes.... and I am planning baked ricotta for one dinner next week plus I will make quiches with the eggs and cream and a ricotta pie as well.    I baked the ham and we had ham and salads for dinner last night and will again in a couple of nights time.   We will freeze a lot of it.   I will chop lots to go into my quiches and pie.  Ham and eggs for breakfast is also on the menu.

Each day we are picking tomatoes.  Luckily tomatoes go well with everything I just mentioned!

I found a really large pyrex glass jug in an op shop for $4.  This is perfect for jam making.  I had one years ago and broke it and have never found anything as good. This is identical!
I also found a perfect gift for the gift cupboard for $4.

Last night I went walking to check on a nectarine tree I knew had fruit.  Last week they were too green.  They are almost ripe and the birds had started on them so I picked a basketful.  This is in a lane quite near us.  Amazingly no one seems to pick the fruit.  I got about three kilos (6 pounds) and tonight I will go back for more.   We will eat some fresh.  I make a salad with nectarine,  rocket and balsamic vinegar so that will go with the baked ham....   and then I will make my use it up fruit cake and freeze some of those.

This year Andy is having his own page per week in the Vicky Challenge.  I usually count things he did to save.  This year he has started several new things along with me.  I think this is all because he is highly impressed with the whole thing!  😊
He has started doing his own home brew and is having the time of his life with that.   It is a big savings as it is something he can use as gifts and barter too.  Also he has sold several things.  Then this morning he rang the insurance company regarding his bill for the van.  He negotiated it down by $295 a year.  This took him about ten minutes.  $295 for ten minutes is good money!  So with sales, brew and discount he added an amazing $895 to this weeks Vicky Challenge and I haven't even added my part up yet!  

I did 15 minutes towards my sewing everyday. Last night it was late at night and it was just cutting out but I still got my 15 minutes done!
Also I have read my Bible and worked on some study everyday.  This has helped me a lot!
I got my walking done and now it is warm enough so we will be swimming again.
And I worked on a post each day this week to get the year off to a flying start.  I am posting over the weekend as well as I still have another subject that I really want to work on this year.

So I am pretty happy with the week as a beginning!   And today I am headed off to pick plums at my Aunts!  She messaged me that her beautiful plums are ripe.  This will be so much fun!

I hope you had a good week.  How did you build up your home, save or get ahead?  How did you get started on some of your goals for the year?   I know many of you are facing freezing and difficult conditions!   I hope you are all safe, sound and warm with good things to work on indoors!

Thank you for so many comments and so much support.  I will get to many more replies over the weekend! xxxx

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Setting the scene part 4. The Vicky Challenge.

To get the year going we have thought about our dreams and goals and set up our diaries and planners or whatever system works for us.
Then we had lots of inspiration from Vicky, seeing what she achieved last year and just what is possible.   You can do big things in a year! 
Yesterday we started thinking about what we want to make, use up, learn as far as crafts and present making for the year go.  And I got started and made my first thing which is a ballerina pillowcase for Harper.   Today I have lots of cutting out to do.

Now we are facing the finances and savings!  I know many of you are having big financial challenges.  Some are paying things off.  Several I know are working to build good emergency funds. 

In 2016 I started The Vicky Challenge which is what I called it because I just copied what Vicky did!  
She told me she always recorded her savings from her own work and efforts at home as a personal challenge to herself and also an answer to anyone who said the familiar "Oh, you don't work then?" 
When you looked at her savings it was tough to figure out if she would earn more if she worked outside the home or not.  Probably not.  

A few years ago we gave up take aways and I learned to make a good pizza!  Don't have a fit but this saved $2600 in the first year!   Now I keep ahead with meals in the freezer so I am never caught out.

Years ago I used calculators on a website called Crown Financial Ministries.  It helped you work out how much you were making per hour at your job.   I sat and did this with my friend who had two babies and she was considering going back to work.   You went through a process of starting with your wage then subtracting tax, childcare and all work related expenses such as uniform, fuel etc. etc.
Then you considered more extended work related expenses like having less time so buying more ready made and convenience things,  the work rated social things that always seem to come with any job, the things you end up outsourcing due to having less time.
With this final figure you divided it by the hours worked.
Hers worked out to be about $1 an hour profit after all that was taken out.
She was amazed.
Yet many people never even do the maths! 

At the time I said to her how she could SAVE hundreds a week with her work at home and we started coming up with lots of ways to save instead.   
This exercise taught me that saving is like income that is not taxed! 

One of my easiest meals for the freezer are pies.  I found anything I make in the slow cooker i.e. a chicken, lamb or beef casserole makes the most delicious one filling.  And pies freeze beautifully! 

The way Vicky did things really amazed me and I wanted to try it! I love a challenge and I like the motivation.  So from Jan 1 2016 I wrote down all my savings week by week.  I kept a list on the fridge and at the end of the week I would add it all up.   I counted  things like the savings I made from making things from scratch, supermarket savings,  making meals for the freezer instead of buying takeaway, mending,  packing lunches etc.
I didn't count the normal things I do like cleaning the house.  But if you had a house cleaner and took it over yourself in order to save then I would count that.  
So it is up to you what you count and how you approach it.
The first few weeks I was amazed by my savings!  At the end of the year my total was well over $30,000.  I took on big things!   I was quoted $25,000 to get my house painted and I did it myself for $3000.  So I "paid" myself $22,000!   

In 2015 I started on soap making.  I included Miracle cleaner, Wool wash, laundry detergent, bubble bath, hard soap... 
This supplies us and also adds to my gift cupboard. 

If you want to read more about this challenge read Welcome to the Vicky Challenge.  There is a link in this post too back to when Vicky first explained it to me.   I have found this such a motivating exercise I will be doing it again this year.  Last week I added up all my savings for 2017 and I beat the year before by several thousand dollars!   I could see each individual way I saved for the whole year.  Andy could see each one and the totals. He was amazed.  You really have a great sense of achievement.  Starting again now I am determined to beat last year! 

In 2015 I did a challenge that I found on Money Saving Mom.  This was amazing and such an eye opener.  You had to find 52 ways to save $100.  Each one could be anyway it added up to $100 i.e. it could be a one off saving such as rising up your insurance company and getting a lower rate. Or right down to 100 ways to save $1.  I remember giving up a weekly coffee and cake I had for $8.  When I worked out that saved $416 a year I was able to cross off  FOUR of my $100 segments!  
You can find this challenge here:  52 Ways to Save at least $100.  I really loved it and I learned a lot.  And it really saved me $5000 plus!   If you want to establish an emergency fund, get some savings, pay something off... this is fantastic.  Many of my savings ended up being different to Money Saving Moms but I also got heaps of amazing ideas from her.  The biggest thing was calculating the ANNUAL cost of things rather than the weekly cost.   Things that seem small and harmless suddenly seemed enormous. 
Some of my $100 savings areas were things I stopped doing rather than things I started.  i.e.  organising my fridge better and checking through it twice a week to make sure nothing is wasted.  So much food is thrown away and it is just money down the drain.  A simple habit of adding what needs to be used up into your menu plan can be a huge money saver.  

Each of these things really helped me to see my work at home as a real income and to see the potential.  Last year I found new savings.   This is the amazing thing... just when you think you are doing great you find new ways to save.   My sour dough was one thing.   Yoghurt making was another.  This saved me at least five dollars a week on yoghurt but then also gave me further savings as it replaced ever needing to buy sour cream, I make my own raita, tatziki and it adds nutrition to cakes and muffins as well.   One thing leads to another!
Then I learned to make my own enchilada sauce (also thanks to Vicky) and ridiculously, this one thing saved about $12 each time I make a big batch of enchiladas!   Since I have an enchilada cook up about once a month that is $144 a year on this one small thing.

Butter chicken spice mixes, Enchilada mix, cream of Chicken soup, french onion soup mix. 
I use all these so much!   
Each one is a significant savings and none have any artificial anything as an added bonus compared to bought mixes.

Amazed by this I learned to make my own butter chicken mixtures and just about everything else that I ever used to buy in a packet! 

Menu planning and shopping at many more places was a major saver.  I was shocked at the price differences by going further afield.  It took me time but it was very well paid time!   Another way I think menu planning saved me was just a change of awareness of what I have in the house.  Knowing I am over twenty meals ahead and seeing that list I know I do NOT have to buy anything so I can wait for the deals.   Then I buy up.  
Another way this has helped me save is with the challenge to have a list of meals I have on hand I am always trying to add a meal to the list.... this seems to have made me much better at getting another meal out of things.  I am forever setting aside something because really the meal I am making has enough and I will save an ingredient for something else.  These ingredients often soon add up to an extra meal.  Mimi taught me a lot about that!  Once a week or so I get an extra meal just having a left overs night.  This could be making something creative with what is in the fridge or even having different things for dinner.  You know when you have a bit of left over this and a bit of leftover that?  I will say to Andy "would you like left over curry or left over chicken?"  He will say the curry... and I will eat the chicken!  Who cares if we are not both having the same thing!  I just got an extra meal and extended my list!  😊

This year I want to add selling things to My Vicky Challenge.  I know many of you already sell things and several that want to start.  Adding alternative income streams is a really good idea.   I have a few things in mind and I need to make it a habit and get good at it!   I used to sell cooking to a cafe and embroidery to a baby store.   I made and sold baby blankets,  embroidered sheets and pillowcases, ladies nighties, pram sets and toys. 

I created my own little characters and made scenes of such things as mice getting married,  pushing baby mice in prams and so on! haha!

When the girls were little I sewed into the night!  

I also have a stash of things I have accumulated knowing I COULD sell them but never got around to it.   So selling things is being added to my challenge. 

The Vicky Challenge is financial.  And finances are a big part of life!  But it does't take into account the other benefits of your work at home.  To me the biggest part of being home is about creating the home, atmosphere, a safe haven from the world!   Over the weekend I hope to work on a post about this.   

I will be back tomorrow with Feather your Nest Friday and sum up the week!  I hope your first week of  2018 is off to a good start!  

What are your savings goals this year?  
Have you thought about new ways to save and new ways to bring in more money?
What do you think would work for you as motivation?  I like to do challenges as these motivate me. But we have to do something that works for us.  Some people like spreadsheets, or apps or a wall chart.... work out what would work best for you.  Another reason I like a challenge is reporting how I am going here makes me think I better DO SOMETHING or I will have nothing to report!  If this works for you then join in and report here every week in our Friday round up. 

Some of you achieved fantastic things last year!  I loved hearing this! There were some big ones like loans paid off and deposits saved!  
I notice many things we can do seem very small.  But seeds are small too so think in terms of you are sowing seeds and sooner or later you will be reaping a harvest.   Lots of really small things add up.  I am always amazed by how much! 

It is going to take me a while to catch up with comments and replies for this week but I will get there.   I really wanted to get things going and set plans into action.   It is helping me heaps!   It is exciting to see the opportunity of a new year. xxx