Feather your Nest Friday, 2nd December, 2022.

It is officially Christmas!   In our house December = Christmas!  Also it is Summer!  We started off with beautiful days.   On the farm Summer is actually the hardest season but it is also when so much produce comes in which is one of the best things! 

For those that followed along in  The Tuesday Afternoon Club  we have made Christmas gifts,  created, baked, grown, preserved our way through the year and we are in good shape for the season.   I did add a couple of things this week including some beautiful soaps (pink Dove, it smells so nice!) and I must credit Stephanie who posted some time ago her use of tiny little sparkly birds on soaps.   They were just divine,  I had the birds on hand for some time but finally had some paper that I thought worked with them.

What I love about making a bulk batch of gifts is having things on hand to be able to give to someone who pops in,  someone who is not on your list and maybe someone you haven't met yet.   

In the garden I picked five good sized zucchini and there are many more coming on!  I put these through the food processor and freeze dried them.  

I am so happy with this!  When I am making a tomato or spaghetti sauce I can bulk it out with a few cups of zucchini.

My freeze dried goods were building up on my table and it was time to find a good cool and dark place to store them.   I found the perfect cupboard which I first had to clear as it stored my stash of glass bottles that I save for sauces,  essences, coffee liqueur and so on.  Once I had that done I set up my freeze dried pantry. 

Mum was coming for afternoon tea so I tried a biscuit recipe as a gluten free option.  It worked so well!   Most times just substituting gluten free flour does work.   I feel often you need a bit more flour.    

There were really delicious.  This is the recipe:

Monte Carlo Biscuits.
1 cup butter softened.
1 and 1/4 cup sugar.
2 eggs.
2 1/2 cups Self raising flour (or SF Gluten free flour)
1/2 cup custard powder (I made sure it was GF also)
Beat the butter and sugar, add the eggs,  work in the flour and custard powder.  Test to see if it rolls into a ball nicely...  here I added a bit more flour.
Make into balls and press with a fork.  Bake about 15 mins.  
When cold fill with both raspberry or strawberry jam and pink icing.   Store in a tin or jar. 

Mum loved them!

I finished off two bibs for Chloe's boys.

With the warmer weather I made a big rice salad and it went with several meals.

My new chickens settled in but it is still really hard to get a good photo!  This is the best I can do:

They are Silver Spangled Hamburgs.  (Immature.)  Which I had never heard of!

Also... my Guinea Fowl are now about half grown and looking awkward!  But they will be very pretty colours.  Once they are mature and can fly the idea is they will free range full time.   They sleep high up in trees and hopefully are safe from foxes.  During the day they then live on bugs and also they are great at alerting you if there is a snake around.

The big project of the week has been Andy working on putting irrigation in the orchard.  It is at the everything is dug up and pipe laying stage. 

I have some young trees doing quite well.   This one has Apricots coming on.  Tomorrow I am going to put netting over them.

Today I made Banana Muffins as I had bananas to use up. 

Each day I pulled up some weeds and some spent veggie plants,  things that have gone to seed.   These fed the chickens and quail and cleared some spaces.  I went through my seeds and planted Thai Basil,  Zucchini, Cucumbers, Chilli and Pumpkins.  If they grow I will get a second round of everything.   The weather is warm so I will be watering these twice a day. 

From my veggie box that I was given last week I made Beetroot Pickles and they turned out really well.

My attempts to share some of Mimi's most helpful tips and recipes were met with so many difficulties!  Andy printed for me all the recipes she had shared and published and I finally got them organised into folders.   These folders have room for more and are becoming my ideas for 2023.   As I put them together I found so many things to try.    These can be found on the Facebook Group "Mimi's a tray of bliss...living a life beautiful for less" group.  They are in the files.   Lots of you had trouble finding this so I am going to gradually post links to them from Mimi's blog.  We will start with something easy, basic and very handy...  how to cook perfect fluffy rice every time (using hardly any electricity) and basic fried rice.  These two things are so economical,  stretch meals... and lead into so many other things!   You can find these here.

I have also been on a mission to print recipes I cannot do without.   Things I use all the time I keep printed and stuck inside my kitchen cupboard doors.  So I just open the cupboard above my mix master and the recipe is usually there.  But I realised I have lots I should have printed copies of.   I saw an online question the other day and someone was advising others to have all their tax information and all their photos on "the cloud" and to "declutter" actual physical copies.  As if the "cloud" will be there in ten years, thirty years...   

Mimi's blog is another.  While I hope it stays up it might not and so I am copying recipes I really always want to have.

The spare pockets are already filling with recipes I want to try,  craft ideas for 2023 and so much more.  This will make these my working folders for the new year.   I hope by January we will be ready to hit the ground running with a whole new year of things to make for our present cupboards!  

How did you build up your home this week?  I hope lots of opportunities can your way! 

I am planning some gift wrapping and card writing this weekend.  I have not decorated yet as we are having a real tree and so I leave it a little while but I want to create some Christmassy atmosphere, twinkly lights,  gifts wrapped,  cards written,  parcels posted and appreciate and take in all of the good things.   There is only one thing better than feathering your nest with your family and that is adding some glitter and sparkle to it! xxx 


  1. I am incredibly inspired by all you are doing! Your Tuesday afternoon club sounds wonderful. Such a good idea!! I love it! Those biscuits look delicious. The little rose plate is absolutely beautiful.

    I am recovering from an illness so I have only been doing some housework and organizing, between rests. But I want to get started on a new hand-sewing project as soon as I can.

    It is hard for me to imagine Christmas in the summer. It must be beautiful! We have lots of snow here. We are enjoying the pretty Christmas lights in our little rural village. God bless you!

    1. Dear Mrs. White, I am hoping you are recovering well and feeling much better. For us a white Christmas was something in the movies. It looks beautiful to me! For us it is often a hot day. We still prefer the roast turkey and all the hot dishes but many opt for something cooler. I just adore Christmas lights. Thank you so much for your comment! With love Annabel.xxx

  2. I am envious that you are in summer - but I could not imagine having Christmas in summer!! LOL. Your winter is more like our fall - once winter gets here - it is pretty cold (below freezing).
    The chickens and other birds are pretty neat! Sounds like you have kept busy. Have a great weekend!

    1. Dear Cheryl, White Christmases are right out of tv shows and movies to us! Thank you very much re my chickens! Have a lovely weekend to you too! With love Annabel.xxx

  3. Hi Annabel

    How gorgeous are those soaps, done so pretty and will make fantastic gifts.

    Your chickens are so beautiful. I am in love with them

    The Monte Carlo Biscuits....wow they look like ones I saw in a cafe today selling for $5.00 a biscuit. Thanks for the recipes.

    Speaking of recipes I have been on Mimi's Blog this week and have been copy and pasting to print after Christmas. I am doing this in my spare time (ha ha no such thing as spare time at this time of year)

    I will be making Banana Muffins and Banana Pancakes this weekend as we have some that need using up.

    Have been working on or finishing off
    2 Advent calendars 1 is finished and the other is just the hand stitching and the hanging sash to go on
    Quilt (as you have seen)
    Cards have been written and some posted, others need to have a gift to go in them
    Presents are laid out ready to wrap (only a few items to get or to arrive in the post)
    Started thinking about school holiday activities
    Done our yearly donation with this year to the Women's Shelter as a Friend's Kids were collecting for the school to donate hampers, found some things in our gift cupboard added a few staples in and some books that I picked up rather cheaply in a sale.
    So back on track this week

    Take Care
    Aly xxx

    1. Dear Aly, You have been so busy! You are doing well with Christmas. I also have seen single biscuits for $5! The mind boggles at the prices now. As things quieten down you will come up with great school holiday activities. I think Ive told you one of ours used to be the great bedroom clean out and re arrange. You can do quite advanced sewing projects with DD being already experienced! We made giant pin up boards, lots of baking, jewellery making, soap and beauty products....I think I was learning at the same time as my girls. Oh... they did a lot of crochet too. I loved it all! Also the ability to sleep in, rest, have no schedule...is beautiful too. True time out.
      Well done on your donation to the women's shelter. We need to all remember to do what we can, however we can, as that is a big part of Christmas. With much love Annabel.xxx

  4. You had a very productive week, my friend. I wish I could say the same. Your packages look absolutely beautiful. You are an inspiration in everything you do.
    One year we were in St. Lucia around Christmas time and the temperature was in the low 70's daily. Another year we were on Coronada around Christmas time and it was lovely. So warm we were riding bicycles. Both times it seemed odd, to us, to see Christmas Decorations and hear Christmas music in warm weather.
    Although it would be a huge adjustment, it is one I wouldn't mind making. Winters in Wyoming are very windy, which makes the cold worse. Without the gale force winds blowing all winter it would be lovely year around here.
    Have a wonderful weekend.
    With much love,

    1. Dear Glenda,
      Thank you so much! I can only imagine how the wind would make it colder as wind is just nasty and also unsettling. Our worst fear is gale force winds in summer. These are our fire danger days and can be actually terrifying. I am praying we dont have this ahead. Today is warm and nice and still!
      I am watering veggies, herbs and seedlings and I hope the irrigation on the fruit trees is operational within the next week. This will be a big help to me.
      Have a lovely weekend! With love Annabel.xxx

  5. Boy I think I'm smart until I try and download these cookbooks! :) :)

    Is there a way for you to post links to the cookbook files for all of us that are having trouble? I'm not sure if that would affect your blog's bandwidth, accessibility, etc. Understand completely if not!

    Thanks for all you do, I love this blog and your posts. It makes me re-think how I'm doing things. After cancer diagnosis and job loss these tips are a true life saver!

    1. Hi Emily, Im sorry this has turned out so hard! The problem is the site is a members only group. The good news is most of the recipes are on Mimi's blog, recipes in four sentences is a good place to start. I will post more links to what I think are some of the best in the coming weeks. I am very sorry you are dealing with a cancer diagnosis and job loss. There are so many ways to save, simplify and feather our nests. Thank you for your kind words. With love Annabel.xxx

  6. Reading your posts is like reading a letter from a friend. The bibs are so cute, the apricots are beautiful. The biscuits look yummy and your freeze dried zucchini looks so delicious. How wonderful to have a freeze dryer. Hoping the news will be good Tuesday when I have the xray on my arm Tuesday. Tried to sew a seam on a small tumbler baby quilt but by the time I got things set up and one small seam sewed I was exhausted. So now I pin and mark the seam one day and sew another day. Is there an animal showered than a turtle? That is me! Lol..

    1. Thank you so much Nancy! I will be hoping and praying you get a good result on Tuesday. Breaking down jobs into small steps is a good idea. Thank you for your kind comments! With love Annabel.xxx

  7. What lovely gifts! And such pretty baked goods. Thank you for inspiring us yet again.
    Your chickens are so unique. I have never heard of that breed. But they and the guineas seem to bring you joy, which is what counts. :)

    I have been taking a few minutes each day to explore Mimi's Blog. She has a series on "War on TV Chefs" and a list of how-tos under "Home Spun Things". My daughters and I were delighted to find her idea on Edible Glitter. We hope to include those in some gifts to friends and the tea bags with the pretty tags. So simple, but thoughtful! So glad that you are working at trying to preserve Mimi's work. Thank you, Annabel!

    Hope to see what the Bluebirds are up to on the Facebook group. Thank you everyone for sharing. It is so helpful to those of us who are stumped in our gift-giving.

    1. Dear Leslie,
      Thank you! I figure having decent varieties of birds give me more trading opportunities and I do enjoy them too.
      The edible glitter is very pretty! I am so glad you are finding things that are useful to you! You will find many!
      If you need any ideas please post on the group and we will all chime in with ideas! Everyone is so helpful! And it is a lot of fun also! With love Annabel,xxx

  8. Dear Annabel, lovely post as usual. Last Sunday was the first Sunday of Advent so that starts the Christmas season here. It's already quite cold. We've dipped into the 20s F some nights and had a couple dustings of snow.
    Those soaps are beautiful and will make lovely gifts. A little behind on decorating, but we plan to get the tree up this week and start baking. Blessings, Laura

    1. Dear Laura,
      Thank you! Once the tree is up the lovely atmosphere is so lovely. Baking must be very nice in the cold weather. I am baking on the cooler days as it is warming up more and more! Have a good weekend and new week! With love Annabel.xxx

  9. Hi Annabel and everyone,

    Those are such pretty chickens! Annabel, your baking and freeze-drying look so good and are so inspiring. What a good week! I need to go have a look at Mimi's recipes.

    This week I added some more fruit juices and electrolyte drinks to our "recovering from treatment" pantry, added soap to the "taking care of oneself pantry," and made a batch of spaghetti sauce. Now, I am *not* a handy person! but I put together (with advice) a freestanding pantry cupboard to hold juices, electrolyte and protein drinks, and easy snacks and found it a home in the dining area. I keep a basket filled for him, but this way my husband can easily grab something he wants if there isn't one in the basket - and it makes it easy for me to maintain and rotate what we do have in the "chemo pantry." Last night I put up a Xmas tree with stitched ornaments and decorated other parts of the house a bit, to bring some cheer. My dad gave us a very sweet gift of trail mix, baked goods, and sparkling juice. I sent out Xmas cards from my card stash over the weekend - that greeting card stash has saved us a lot over the past couple of years.

    Thanks everyone for your prayers for my husband. He is having a hard time with feeling down, but I am trying my best to encourage him. Any suggestions would be most welcome and appreciated. (I did take him to see his doctor today and a counselor from the cancer center is also being scheduled.) His labs before chemo this week showed the tumor marker dropped another 100 ng/ml - so it is now less than half what it was pre-treatment. Answered prayers! And, in case it might help anyone else, we learned that taking an anti-nausea medication first thing with a protein drink or juice, then waiting 30 min for breakfast helps a lot with the nausea.

    I hope everyone has a good weekend.

    1. Dear Kathy,
      Well done on putting the cupboard together!! What a great additional pantry! You really are doing everything possible to take care of your husband. Also you got the tree up and decorated! That is beautiful! And what a nice gift from your Dad!
      It is understandable your husband is feeling down. I think things can happen very fast and there is shock and major adjustments all in quick succession. It is a lot to handle. I cant imagine I can only go by when things out of our control come at us boom, boom, boom. We are flat out managing the situation. You did the right thing to take him to the dr and I hope the counselor is helpful and a person he feels he can talk to. The more people he has to talk to the better. He is getting encouraging results so I hope this gives him lift. Thank you for including tips to help others too. You are doing wonderfully and I love the projects you completed this week! With love Annabelxxx

  10. Dear Annabel,

    Wow! Those soaps are beautiful! Your presentation is always to die for. There is a working farm "museum" here in N.S. that has those chickens as one of their heritage breeds that they raise...they are certainly beautiful! I am excited because my blue egg layers have finally started laying. After all these years I finally have blue eggs! Blue, brown, and white all in the same carton look so beautiful.

    We have family visiting, so my Christmas prep is going a bit more slowly than I'd like, but I have managed to get at least one Christmas parcel out...cards and parcels will hopefully be finished next week. And hubby has 24 days vacation coming to him starting on the 17th, which will be absolutely lovely, but I just want to make sure I'm all done the present stuff before he gets off so we can enjoy the time with him! I think it's doable, and it's all fun work, anyway!

    Those cookies look delicious...I think I'll try a batch this week to go in the snowman cookie jar!!! I always have custard powder on hand to make Nanaimo bars for Christmas, so we're in luck!! Thanks for the recipe!

    Lots of love,

    Jen in NS

    1. Dear Jen,
      Thank you so much! I think Ive ended up with fancy chickens completely by accident! Oh blue eggs! This is one of my dreams! How beautiful! To achieve this I need even more chickens!
      It is fantastic your husband has so much time off over Christmas! Enjoy your visitors, you will make it I know as I know you prepare gifts all year! With much love Annabel.xxx

  11. Hi Annabel,
    What a wonderful, busy week you have had! Our zucchini plants are just babies (we had miserable weather late into November and everything was delayed in plating), but yours are such an inspiration - I can't wait for fresh zucchini and tomatoes. This year we are also trying capsicum which will hopefully grow well. The weather is finally starting to warm up here in the ACT but I think more rain is on the way.
    Your Monte Carlo's look amazing - I'm going to try baking them today, thanks so much for the recipe.
    We got our tree and decorations up this week. December is such a fun, time full of waiting and anticipation. It's my favourite time of year. And with only a couple of weeks of school left, I can't wait for the Christmas holidays. Our chickens are on the lay really well, so I've been making lots of quiches and boiled eggs for the kids' snacks. Your silver spangled hens will be beautiful!
    Thanks so much for all you inspiration and encouragement.

    1. Dear Kirsty, Thank you! Today I picked three good sized zucchinis and there are lots more coming on. Tomatoes are forming. I have never grown capsicum successfully BUT I have a couple now that have grown to a good size and are beginning to form babies! I will be so thrilled...
      I am so glad your hens are laying so well. We used to look forward to and love the school holidays. The girls would always be pretty tired by this time of year. One school broke up it was my favourite time of year as well!
      Many thanks! With love Annabelxxx

  12. Hello Annabel, I am back here reporting what it is happening in my world. Have been taking a small break, but kept reading your letter and the bluebirds'posts. Like talking with friends.... I was very busy, although I thought winter coming will be slower but I am in a continuu moving, preparing, working, planning. My husband says it is too much! I am proud to say I use up every bit of yarn scrap, every bit of food, leftovers, fruits, vegetables, grass, leaves, paper shred from the office for my chickens (who are well and happy even it is bellow zero in the nights). I built up my pantry on a shopping trip the best I could, but prices are very high. No shortages on the shelves but sure there are in the wallets. I made a habbit of buying something extra, like bread or something else to eat because in front of the big shops stay people with small children waiting fo some help - I dont give money but I do give food. The town start feeling up with refugees again and a hard winter is comming. I try to stay prepared, not panic. Like you, we will have a real Christmas tree and put up before 24th December but until then bits and bobs, Christmas lights and decoratios come up. Getting ready with the presents, too. I love your photos with the Dalmatians chickens and the cows are adorable. Re the painting, you are talented -
    if you have time, keep painting. It will give you really pleasant hours. Have a nice week. Laura's_world from Romania

    1. Dear Laura,
      I am very glad to have you checked in. You have worked really hard and even your chickens are benefiting! They sound well set up for winter. I am sorry about the prices and I think you are wonderful that you get something extra for the people standing hoping for some help. With refugees pouring in, in such cold weather... this does not sound good at all. Keep doing everything you can , I just feel very worried about winter.
      Than you so much re my painting! I did find it relaxing as it kind of consumes you and you cant think about anything else as you paint. Or I couldn't at least!
      With much love and many prayers, Annabel.xxx

    2. Laura, do you have a blog? What is the URL? I'm guessing it is called Laura's World. I'm also guessing it is written in Romanian! But I wonder if there is a program that would translate it to English. I'd like to read it...if I can!

      I love your posts. I'm continually amazed by your resourcefulness and industriousness, not to mention your fabulous English!

      Best wishes to you, too, Annabel! Your resourcefulness and industriousness also amaze me!

  13. I wish I had your gift of wrapping. The packages are beautiful. Here on the Nebraska Prairie, we have settling into winter. Farmer has been gathering up fencing and storing it away. We've counted up how many bales he needs to feed each week to have enough until May. We will probably need to buy some from a neighbor to get us through.
    He has decorated the porch and outside the farmhouse for Christmas.
    I put up the tree and lighted garland, I hung the stockings (with care). I put out the Christmas tablecloth and centerpiece. And there are candles (battery operated) in the windows. We have a curious toddler around (DS4) so no other decorations will be set out. I don't want to say, "NO!" all month. We want him to enjoy it, so only unbreakable ornaments on the tree.
    I've been staying out of the grocery store because I have been buying gifts. I watch sales and use coupon codes and have a budge (that I sometimes follow.) At this point I am done with 3/4 of my shopping and only need a few things for local family. Our Christmas cards will go out next weekend. I'll start baking the next week.
    I need a few more free days to get finished up but I have 20 days, so I should be fine.

  14. I cannot understand why people want to keep everything in "the Cloud" or even on their computer. Just old fashioned, I guess. I keep either the original or copies of important documents in a box with other important items that can be grabbed if we had to leave the house suddenly. Like when our house was hit by lightening.

    This year, I am once again giving gifts of purchased food items (interesting spices, sauces, etc)., homemade food, and cookbooks I think each will like. Both of my kids make good incomes but neither are very good about stocking up. Although, the past two years have certainly taught them the need for at least a little extra in the pantry.


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