Saturday, 10 August 2013

Tuesday, 30 July 2013


The morning rush is over, the school books are put away and the lunch dishes cleared. I love this time of day. The next few hours stretch out in front of me to be filled with good things.

dozens of Amish raisin filled cookies

There is baking to do for morning teas,  cakes to bake for the freezer.

an old family recipe for date loaf

 And when that is all done, a little quilting.....

one patch flannel quilt.

  God Bless,


Sunday, 7 July 2013


I began stockpiling food and household items when I got married. I think initially it was a reaction against a poor childhood and a fear of running out of food. Nowadays I am a little older and wiser and I have learnt to trust God more, but stockpiling still makes good sense.

Stockpile in an old cellar

  To have a good amount of food stored away a good storage system is needed. This could be in the garage or, if you have a good sized pantry as I do, in the pantry. I have read of people who keep their stockpiled foodstuffs under their beds in storage boxes, or in the linen closet.  Where ever it is kept it does need to be vermin proof! There is nothing worse than getting out rice or oats only to find that the mice have gotten to it and it is all ruined.

 When I first started collecting extra food, I think Andrew thought it was a little weird. But during the course of our marriage so far, through many pregnancies, sicknesses, times of financial constraint, that extra food has come in so handy. For whatever reason I can't get out to the shops, I know I can always rustle up a pantry meal, and that can be so reassuring!

  I began my stockpile very simply. On grocery shopping days I would buy a couple of extra tins. Maybe tinned tomatoes or tinned tuna, whatever we usually eat. These tins would go to the back of my pantry to be stored. These days my tinned goods stockpile is quite full, so I have started on frozen goods. These don't keep as long naturally but it is still reassuring to know that there is extra chicken or fish in the freezer.
Home canning

  Eventually I hope to start canning more of my own goods and to stockpile these also. I also want to have some cleaning products and bathroom products in reserve. This will all take time and money, and I am a great believer in taking baby steps! But it is a good goal to have I think.


Friday, 5 July 2013


We moved to our current home about 5 years ago. It was a sudden move, our previous rental was being sold and we were told that we had 60 days to go. We chose Toowoomba because my dad was here and we could not think of anywhere else to go. So, pregnant with my 6th child and with 4 other children  under 5 we packed up our house and moved our family 1000kms north. Looking back I can see Gods hand in all our plans, He has blessed us abundantly here with friends and family. At the time though, I was feeling incredibly overwhelmed! and it has only been recently that I feel my "mojo" or my zest for life coming back.

Jake as a baby

   It has been a hard few years, Jacob my 6th child was a very hungry baby, feeding every two hours for 8 months. When he was 2 years old, Benjamin joined us. I feel that the last few years have passed me by, that I have been just surviving. Family life has been so busy and so constant that there has been no time for extra's.  But this is not enough anymore, I need something extra. I want to start living intentionally.

Benji as a baby
  As I have been reading different books and blogs ( I love reading) I have noticed that a new catch phrase seems to be making the rounds- intentional living.  I love those words. To me it means not letting life just happen, but having ideas and dreams and making them happen. Of course there are seasons in life, and different levels of energy during those seasons. Little children need lots of work, and that is my season at the moment.

  But that doesn't mean that I can't work toward dreams, I may just need to do things that are possible now. For me this is definitely losing weight,  continuing the Family Herbalist course that I am trying to complete,  gaining skills that help in living a more simple life, like cheese making, candle dipping, improving my soap and making different breads. I can also work on being more organized so that the garden gets planted when it should, and I sew clothes for the next season instead of trying to sew winter clothes in winter.... it just doesn't work.

Amish Raisin filled Bisuits

 So that is my goal. I want to live an intentional life. A life that firstly glorifies God, but a life that also enables me to dream and plan, and not feel so overwhelmed all the time.


Thursday, 4 July 2013


  To save enough money to be able to buy a few acres debt free will of course require a lot of determination, and self control -  Self control not to spend on wants and determination to try and reduce our needs. A budget helps. We usually have a fortnightly budget because Andrew gets paid fortnightly.

Andrews scrapbooking

  I make a list of all our weekly, fortnightly and monthly expenses, and break it down into fortnightly payments. I always pay bills first and put money away for quarterly and annual bills. What is left over after putting savings away is our 'slush fund' so to speak. Money we can use for luxuries, in our case usually craft supplies. By having a few dollars left over, and it doesn't have to be a lot,  it helps with the saving process.

Kate and Emily

 Instead of feeling like every single spare dollar needs to get put away, we know that we can still do our hobbies, still create beautiful things which is very important to us. We have always been a creative family, and to lose that over a block of land would not be right.

  We live fairly simply already, so our expenditures are not too huge, but having a large family means that bills like water and electricity are high and seem to be getting higher! and of course feeding a large family also takes a lot of money.

 As hard as I try, I don't seem to be able to reduce our water or electricity consumption. We don't have  tank water, nor do we have solar power, so we are totally reliant on town supplies of both.  But groceries I can manipulate. By shopping differently, cooking more simple meals, buying in bulk and directly from farmers I can save money and often the quality of our food is better.

Jake and Nick

  But all this takes more time on my part, and that is something I have noticed over the last little while, trying to live a more simple lifestyle, trying to save money all requires a lot more work. It is so easy to buy what we need, making it is more time consuming and difficult.

Beth and Jess
But isn't that part of the adventure of life,  working hard and making life beautiful.


Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Saving while renting?

Is it possible to save for a place of our own while still paying rent?

  We have been renting for about 8 years now and although I am grateful that we have a roof over our heads ( and 2 bathrooms), it would be lovely to have our own place! A place where we don't have to ask permission to do anything, where I can hang pictures, or paint if I want to. Where I can have our dog inside and a cow outside. And more room for the children to run around in.

  So Andrew and I have decided that for the next 18 months we are going to try and save enough for some land.

 We are a one income family. When we had our children we decided that I would stop working and become a permanent homemaker. While this works for the family and the children and Andrew like having me at home, financially it can be difficult especially with debt.

 Debt can be the killer of savings.  With debt there is often no option for saving because all our money is already earmarked.

  When we married we had a mortgage,  credit card debts and a personal loan. Financially we were drowning, so we made some tough choices. We sold the house, payed off all our loans and cut up our credit cards. We now have a "cash on the barrel" philosophy as Pa Ingalls would say.  As hard as it has been it has also been wonderful. We don't owe anyone, but if we want to buy something, especially big ticket items, we have to wait or go without.

 So when it comes to saving for land, while it is a possibility it is also going to take much sacrifice from all of us. We are going to have to set a strict budget and stick to it. I am going to try and save money on the groceries by cooking more from scratch and making more cleaning products. Christmas may be a little simpler and we won't have as much discretionary income for our craft supplies. But the end result will be wonderful. We will have our own piece of land and will be able to start homesteading in earnest.


Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Autumn canning

  Autumn is the busiest of seasons in the kitchen. Canning and preserving are in full swing with apples to dry for my homemade muesli  and to can for apple pies and crumbles

 come winter. Tomatoes are made into Passata, tomato sauce and BBQ sauce.   Capsicums and chilli's become Capsicum relish. This spicy relish comes from a friend of mine who has been making it for years. It has become a firm family favourite.

                                                       Capsicum Relish.

  Cut up: 1 lb capsicum
               2 cooking apples
               3 or 4 hot chillies
Add:      2 cups sugar
              1 tsp salt
              1 cup apple cider vinegar ( any vinegar could be used)
              1/2 cup water.

Boil till tender and bottle.

I love going to my pantry and seeing all my hard work put up in jars, and knowing that I am a little closer to living a more self-sufficient life. The dream is to one day grow most of our food, and supply most of our needs for ourselves. This will probably be a long time coming, so for now I am taking baby steps. Preserving what I can, from produce either grown by me or locally.

                                                      Tomato Sauce

                                                              BBQ Sauce

                                                            Flowers from Andrew