Save like Nana did. Knowing the importance (and value) of your work.

Nana knew the importance of her work.  She was responsible for a lot and could be trusted with it all.  Work at home,  raising children,  household management, gardening,  preserving and all a household entails were considered work and they sure were!   There were routines to get it all done and I only remember her having a happy attitude.  I recall my Pa helped Nan fold the bed sheets.  They had to be neat and crisp, she would get on one end and Nan on the other to fold them perfectly.  I used to try and mess this up by attacking the middle.  On one hand Nan took her work very seriously and she would have been tough to lead astray.  On the other hand she did most of it with joy! 

Years ago the first time I really detected a negative view of homemaking was an ad on TV.   In the ad a woman had made jam and her "friend" mocked her for making it herself rather than buying it.  It was a low form of advertising indeed.   Later when I had children I found a lot of opposition to enjoying being a homemaker and loving having kids!  Surrrrelyy I must want something more?  Surely I was wasting my talents!  Also surellyyy I hated school holidays and couldn't wait to see the back of my kids!   

Thankfully with my family support (and with Laine's Letters which she was writing weekly back then)  I knew what my mission was and I treated it as my job/calling/ and put my whole heart into it.   All these years later I am beginning to understand just how important that was and still is.  A Mother,  Grand Mother,  Great Grandmother can influence many generations of her family and probably beyond.   We are reaping the rewards now of the work my Grand Parents and Mum and Dad. 

Anyway ... Nan's time came before anyone told her she was wasting her time,  or put her down for making her jams and preserves or cooking from scratch!     Now many of the things she did such as carry a shopping basket,  washing her napkins and dish cloths,  line drying her clothes,  mending,  growing food, preserving etc are now considered "sustainable" "environmental" and in many cases so much better for the budget!    Even so,  you will still get people who want to put you down.  They actually get upset and abusive over any idea that you would want to save money,  prepare for the future,  stock a pantry,  raise your own animals,  grow you own food.    You have to ask... WHY do they even care?  What business of theirs is it?   Seriously... if you encounter opposition or abuse (even thinly veiled insults) from doing anything for the benefit of your family let that send loud alarm bells off and do not be discouraged by them.   The point is.. be like Nan and not easily led astray.   She didn't have 24/7 advertising, TV and social media telling her she really ought to be online gaming or whatever...  but maybe she experienced other kinds of pressures to blow the budget and not get her work done.  She just didn't come down in the last shower and she knew the importance of her work.

Aside of being proud of our work I think we need to realise it's value.   Back when we did the Vicky challenge I quickly learned just how much my cooking was worth.  At that time if I baked three dozen sausage rolls I would check the retail value... and think "holy cow these would have cost  $180 to buy!"  For a couple of years I did that with everything.   My savings per week were mostly over a thousand dollars.  This helped me realise how much it would be costing if we bought lunches, bought coffee,  got take away,  bought gifts and cards,  or paid someone to clean my own house and windows and so on....  

Whatever we are doing or making we need to know the value.  Many of us bake,  grown,  preserve,  repair,  do alterations, craft, knit, crochet etc. and sell or gift things.   Mostly we WAY undervalue our time and products!   I am guilty as anyone on this!  I try now to take notice of what things cost in the shops.  What people charge per hour for things.  Usually I am shocked!    When I see prices I often take a photo and let friends/members of The Tuesday Afternoon Club know who the going prices are!   I was able to do this last weekend.  


6 lightweight veggie bags $33.00

3 re useable fabric food covers $27.50

2 Knitted cotton dish cloths $22.95

6 Linen table napkins $128.00

Pretty tea towels were at least $20 up to $35

Know your worth and know your products worth!  I mentioned last week I saw Christmas cakes the size of mine were around $80.  I needed to re assess.    Do not be insulted or belittled by anyone,  know your worth!   I am going to make a point to figure out how much I saved on some of my baking and harvesting etc again.   It is very easy to totally underestimate how much this is!  We do not have to justify ourselves to anyone... sometimes it is just nice to know!

Packing the lunches alone is worth a small fortune every year.   Taking a picnic is another.  We love picnics!  On a long trip we pack a picnic for a lovely stop on the way.

Your home made/home produced things are not worth less than the store bought version,  they are worth more!   We have to try and grow more confident in this and looking at what is being sold at markets, gourmet foodie stores, cafes,  gift shops...   it is educational!  

I just want to say you are doing a good job.  You are doing important work.  You are influencing future generations of your family and others.  We are all learning together as we grow in our skills.   It is all worth more than rubies and diamonds! xxx


  1. I pack my husband's lunch every morning and when it comes up amongst a new group, the comments are dreadful. I do this because I love him, and I want him to have a good, healthy lunch, and to keep more of the money he works hard for in our pocket. It takes maybe 10 minutes to make his sandwiches, choose some fruit, pack a morning tea and fill a couple of drink bottles, and costs maybe $3 on an extravagant day.

    With sandwiches costing around $10 each (he has three), and cakes/muffins/biscuits costing upwards of $5 a piece, plus whatever the cost of drinks is, we are keeping at least $33 a day in our pockets. Put another way, 10 minutes effort to "earn" $33 equates to $198 an hour - I don't mind that kind of "wage".

    Last weekend at a country market, I was blown away by the prices of the goods on offer. I asked a woman selling soap how long it took her to make so many varieties and she told me she buys it in bulk blocks in Melbourne and just cuts it and wraps it! Small, 100g wrapped in paper $5, large 150g wrapped $8, and she had a queue of people waiting - no other embellishment, just wrapped in paper.

    I told Wayne I was channeling my inner Annabel, taking notes and jotting down prices.

    We have rosemary going crazy in the garden. Fresh rosemary is $3.20/10g at the supermarket, that equates to $320/kg! I have about 2kg ready to cut and dry - yet a friend told me while we were away that she couldn't be bothered growing herbs, it was easier to just buy them as she needed them. I'm happy to grow what we use and keep $640 in our pocket.

    We live the life of Riley, I'm sure, and all because we are aware of the value of what we have and do and I think that is the secret to feeling rich, rather than feeling deprived.

  2. Lovely post and so true. I remember a phrase about marching to the sound of your own drummer (or something close to that). Make a home is incredibly important. thank you! Hilogene in Az

  3. Well said if you look at ready made food it’s so expensive and full of thing I can’t spell or say. When I first found this blog you keeper your list of how much you saved each week. I loved it and was going to start a saving book in the new year. Your post has made think I should start today. Thank you for all you do. Denise

  4. Annabel, What an amazing uplifting blog. Ladies need to realize their worth in all that they do. We sort of take for granted what we do, it would run over $100 to have someone come in and clean my home, plus even to dust most want you to take everything off your dressers for them, by then, really the dusting part is the easy part. So even our mundane worth is worth so much.
    I was brought up by a stay at home Mom, she did everything and my Grandmother that lived with us covered things Mom couldn't do. They were both great examples to follow.
    I have been rudely commented on my pantry many times over, but those same people had no problem shopping for free in my pantry. Lessons were never learned by them as they have the expectations that it is someone else's job to provide for them. Unfortunately we are seeing a lot of this throughout the world.

    I was brought up to mend, sew, etc... to make our clothing last as long as possible, I have seen people toss clothing because a button fell off or a hem was torn. Or buying an outfit for one day's wear only, I can see the look on my Grandma's face now over that. Our "talents" are part of a dying breed, we are fortunate to know and do all we do. With the way our world is going our knowledge will be sought after.
    We save our household so much in all we do, we should be proud of all we do.

  5. I didn't do not feel criticized for staying home but after the kids all left home my husband's coworkers could not believe I did go get a job. My work at home was still important .

  6. I just loved this post! I learned canning at the knee of my grandmother and have really pushed myself this year, given the increasing cost of food. Over the weekend, I found cranberries at my Aldi for 0.99 a bag and bought 3, thinking I'd be making cranberry relish for Thanksgiving. Turns out someone else is bringing it. So I canned up 4 pints of cranberry juice from one bag and 6 half-pints of cranberry sauce from the other two bags. Shared this with my younger sister and she ran out and got some and canned it up this morning. I commented to her that, at the price for homemade, I won't be spending $3.49 for commercially canned cranberry sauce ever again! She responded that her husband said the same exact thing! (Note that I'm a single-person household, so I can in smaller sized jars.)

  7. My husband of 32 years has only recently begun to verbalize the importance of what I do in the home all day. He is working nights now, so is home during the day watching me be busy, busy, busy. I think he sees now that “all the things” don’t just happen! Anyway, his acknowledgment is nice, rewarding and it makes a difference to have my labors affirmed.
    Lisa, Larimer County, CO

  8. I'm so grateful for your encouragement in valuing the work at home! I was just reading about this same thing over the weekend and the author wrote that our value is the same as a missionary, doing important work for the Lord! I'm learning to ignore people who think it's not! This is such a great lesson!
    Stacy in Virginia

  9. Rick from Florida
    & Donna from N. Indiana

    Dear Annabel,
    Once again you’ve picked a great subject to tell about: Stay home and make your home a place of plenty, fun, thriftiness, comfort, learning OR
    go to work and buy those things for your family! There was the US election some years ago where they made fun of a woman who enjoyed making her own cookies for her family! Shameful!!
    CAN you buy all these things? Mostly yes but is the inherent benefit of “homemade “ the same? I say, No! Oh, you can buy exclusive cookies, games, fancy phones and give it all to your family. BUT, You can’t “buy” that wonderful time or feeling of love or attention you give while making cookies, fixing and enjoying a picnic, teaching things other than how to “message” a friend or own the latest video game. We lived board games and had a closet full; we late just made jam and toast when canning; we planted seeds or seedlings and watched them grow in amazement and not big ready pots of plants; we learned so many crafts with wild flowers and styrofoam and pressing, and made lively gifts such as you do! My mouth waters to pass by drying wild flowers or seed packets or someone’s old Christmas ornaments, or thrift store yarns, etc. My Mim also taught ceramics on a small scale! Everyone shared extra supplies! Your first project was a coffee/tea mug; ready for break time and your boo-boo’s didn’t matter!!what fun! My wife and I made the MOST beautiful Nativity set! We still use it after 50 years and the girls both want it!! Those are times and things you just can’t “Buy!”
    And your advice to ignore Naysayers is spot on! Just hold your tongue and keep on! They’re not worth replying to - just eggs them on!

    Doing bedding throw rugs so they’ll be welcoming when we get back from seeing our family up north after Thanksgiving!
    Donna says your newsletters and Bluebirds’ comments are her lifeline and could not be anticipated and enjoyed MORE!!!!

    Have a wonderful week with family, Annabel, and ALL Bluebirds everywhere!!
    And please remember those that haven’t enough for Thanksgiving and Christmas. A prayer for them also counts and is good for YOU as well,
    With Love to all,
    Rick and Donna XXXOOO

  10. Thank you for such an affirming post, Annabel! I tell my husband all the time, "I love my job, I love my life!"
    So glad that God gave me a family and home to care for. I have an older female family member that complained for years about having to cook and having to clean house (even though she had several children helping with housework). I am sad that people allow such selfishness from themselves!

    I have a college education and I feel it has only enhanced my life by equipping me to try new things. Trying new things and learning new skills has only allowed me to do my job better. I have 8 children and people treat me like I am crazy or a saint. But I am neither. I am just blessed! I also believe that " to much is given, much is required." I have 9 eternal souls counting on me to do my best (the 9th person being my husband). I don't want to let them or God down. I believe women like your Nan believed this too. That is why they worked so hard.
    Blessings from Leslie in Ohio

  11. Thank you for this post Annabel. Knowing the worth of what we make, bake, grow, share and gift is something that I struggle with. I am from an extended family that just dont understand why I would want to make or grow something that can be bought at the supermarket just down the road.
    Yesterday Katie told me how a few of her friends were quite envious of her, having me to sew for her and the boys. The friends had been on Etsy and were purchasing Santa sacks, quilted stockings and other one off Christmas items for their little ones. Katie has always valued what I make for her and the boys. Her good friend spent $70, plus postage on a Santa Sack and Christmas stocking. Katie has seen them and has told me mine are a better quality. She was letting me know my value, not just in what I made, but the fact that I did and could make these items.
    I still make and send a Christmas dress for the little girls. This years have just been posted. The girls have been asking about the dresses and when Frankie told them he posted them yesterday, they squealed. They love getting a parcel and they love getting their Granny dresses. While they still look forward to their Christmas dresses I will keep making them. Those little girls let me know the value of my work in making those dresses for them.
    Here at home, Bluey sees my garden as a great addition to our household management and worth the effort and occasional costs. When I could do nothing in October, he also saw how much I actually do. He has always valued my efforts but he now knows that I do a lot around the home. His saying thank you to me, gave me a boost. He also sees that others in our local area value my skills. This past week a neighbour turned up with trousers he wanted the hems taken up on and a long sleeved shirt changed to a short sleeved shirt. This was a super easy task and done in an hour. He paid for this with a bag of large sandcrabs. Bluey and Frankie were in heaven.
    I wasnt brought up knowing how to do the growing and preserving that I do now. I am completely self taught. Bluey's Mum, who was an amazing cook, had taught him how to cook and he in turn taught me. Mum and Grandma taught me to sew, knit and crochet. Each year I try and learn something new. This year has been the skill of adding cables and fancy stitches to my knitting.
    When we did the Vicky challenge, at first I did this quietly and didnt say anything to Bluey about it. He asked me why I was asking about prices of items, and that is when I told him. We then included his savvy shopping efforts and his making of items into this weekly challenge. We were both amazed by how much we were saving by using our skills. It made us both realise the value of our efforts.
    When we did this challenge, Bluey had not long gotten home after major surgery and ten weeks in hospital. I was his full time carer and no longer earning an income. We only had his part pension to live off. We had to look at our budget and finances and live within our extremely adjusted means. We did this and we ended up saving money on a very limited income.
    My family still see me as being odd. They still shake their heads as I present them with homemade items and preserves. I no longer gift to most of them as the gifts were not valued. I now feel sympathy for their lack of value in the beauty and love that goes into making an item specifically for that person. It has taken 60 years for me to achieve this. I still find myself questioning the value of efforts. When this happens I spend a couple of weeks writing down all the things I do and adding a dollar amount to those efforts. I soon see that I am worth my weight(I am a tall chunky monkey) in gold.

    1. Jane, you are worth more than rubies to your family. The extended family that do not value your efforts, time and incredible skills are not worth it. I am blown away by the beautiful things that you create. You really have incredible talent. Love, Lily

    2. Lily thank you for your lovely comment. I used to worry about the lack of interest in what I made and gave. I decided to remove the worry by removing the giving. It worked for me. My children and Grandchildren love what I make for them.

  12. Thank you for this wonderful post, Annabel!

  13. Great reminder Annabel to value ourselves and our work.
    For the last few years when babies are born to family and close friends I make a cot quilt, sometimes piecing the top, sometimes buying cot panels in sales and making a quilt. I am genuinely surprised and delighted by how happy the young parents are to receive a handmade item, I think they are stunned that someone would give hours of their time to make something rather than buy a present.
    The savings my husband and I make from growing a productive garden, cooking , preserving etc plus all the other work in making a house a home are really worthwhile not to mention freshness, no food miles etc. One small thing I love is picking homegrown flowers for our house and as gifts. I couldn't afford to buy bouquets of flowers ' just because' for friends but I can pick away to my hearts content in our cutting garden. One packet of seed or saved seed yields many pounds worth of glorious flowers.
    I am going to start taking more notice of savings made and I am interested in how you and all Bluebirds save and value your hard work. Penny in UK.

  14. Such true and wise words indeed. I work in paid employment 20 hours a week, I don’t enjoy it and would love to be a full time homemaker, but needs must. When I have expressed to my work colleagues that I would love to quit and stay home full time if I could, that’s the time I get somewhat negative feedback. I’m told things like I’d get bored…or work is good for social interaction…or I’d get lonely…none of this is true for me. None of it! But I’m not believed. I guess I will never get to prove it. I’m happiest with my own company and that of my family, and some wonderful communities on blogs and the internet. Who sold us all those untruths I wonder?

    1. So many untruths!!! I wish I was back making decisions in my 20's again.... with the benefit of a lot more wisdom!! Never mind, I know now that what I value and what God and families value and that the world tells us valuable is different things. And so, whilst we might need to work for many different reasons, the truth is that we can start to work toward not having to. By being frugal, caring for our families, learning to do for ourselves what we would otherwise pay for etc, we can gradually get to the point where staying in the home might actually be possible again. I pray that we both get to work less outside of the home and that God will go before us to help us accomplish that. Missy.

  15. …sorry the above comment was from Cheryl xx

  16. This is such a good reminder Annabel! I never buy cupcakes or muffins etc from the supermarket, and the other day I had a really good look around their bakery department to gauge prices. They had 6 muffins for $6. I’d made a batch of 21 that morning of the same flavour and went home and worked out that the cost was the the same as for 6 at the shop. Cookies and scones were also expensive, and basic birthday cakes were $40 each. I would call myself a ‘fill the tins’ baker, and it was amazing to me how even simple baked goods are so expensive.

    With one of my kids having coeliac disease the savings by baking gluten free items is even more noticeable. He is a teenager and eats a lot. I can’t even imagine the cost of buying biscuits etc to last him a week.

    This last weekend we went to a neighbourhood gathering. Everyone brings along a plate of nibbles and their own drinks. I made two loaves of focaccia, cut them into small pieces for dipping and served them with homemade hummus. I sprinkled pumpkin seeds and paprika on the top of the hummus so it looked a bit flash lol. It probably cost $3 max to put that platter together, but it was all gone by the time we came home.

    Thank you for encouraging us, it’s really good to revisit this every now and then. When things become habit it can be easy to forget.

    Jen (NZ)

  17. Thank you for this article!! t's sad that most of society doesn't value our work in the home. It's so vital!! I learned a lot from Laine also thru the years. How is she doing? Would love to hear from her again:) Thanks for all you do!!

  18. Annabel,
    We still keep track of our savings. Rick really likes to see how much it saves us with his skills and efforts as well as mine. My grandma used to say if it's worth a penny its worth a dollar. Basically that saving does add up even small ones we may think trivial or something rising in cost. I know people who live on fast food, frozen meals from the stores, baked goods from the store and coffees from places like Starbucks, nothing is home cooked, homemade , no DYI for anything. Every single thing is bought or paid for and yet they gripe about having to work so much to pay for it all. I know some truly do have to work to stay afloat or live in costly areas that make it necessary and I cannot fault that because all of our circumstances are different, but the I'll just buy it mentality that some have is beyond me. I feel good about saving and doing things to save. If not we would need a lot more money each year than what our income is.

  19. Thank you Annabel, this is truly a wonderful post. It makes my heart sing and it is through your blog that I found the confidence to act on my calling. I work casually some school hours, but am mostly at home. People often ask me when I am going to work more? This is the other side of the family too. Also, 'friends', colleagues etc. I have to wonder why. Firstly, I am not asking for their money, or anyone else for that matter. We are independent, so I am not sure why they would care. Maybe it is because I am happy and choose not to opt in to stress (unless it is outside of my control i.e. health) and a fast paced life. It makes me very sad that I have to justify what I am doing. I have been extremely blessed to have children and they are my calling, there is nothing else that I want to do. And I hope that I can always be a big help to them, to be there for them even when they are big men. I want to spend as much time with them as I can, this is worth more than gold to me. I am a homebody and greatly enjoying gardening, crocheting and cooking. Some people are funny that if I gave them something handmade, then they wouldn't like it, but if I purchased it from a fancy gift-ware shop, where it is also handmade, but with a tag on it, suddenly it would be lovely. I am working on my presentation. As the children get older there consistently seems to be pressure. I will continue to fight against it. Lots of love, Lily

  20. I haven’t had the option to stay home, but I do all I can to maximize healthy food into our bodies and in our stockpile. I make my husband a lunch for work every evening. He works nights and there are no good takeout options at 3 am. It’s good though, he happily eats the same lunch every day. Chicken, potato, celery with peanut butter, yogurt, jello, boiled egg, fruits, iced coffee, tea, water. It’s healthier than he could buy and it fills him up for cheap when homemade.
    I take my breakfast and coffee every day and my lunch many days.
    I love to can up meat, chicken, potatoes, beans, soup, stews, etc to make meals come together quickly. Much love to you all, thank you for sharing your beautiful wisdom.
    Patti in Cali

  21. I so appreciate these sorts of posts. My mother didn't pass on any homemaking skills to me. She was a stay at home mom because she felt that was what she was supposed to do but she sure didn't do it with joy. It was an obligation to be met and so I grew thinking making a home was a burden and painful. I really didn't know where to start or what to do when my husband & I started our family/home. Fortunately, I saw what my MIL did, my friends did and I read a lot. As old as I am even now I'm learning from this blog and others. For so many years I resented homemaking because that was the example I grew up with but now I take pleasure in it!

    One of the things I really disliked was cooking and now what pleasure it gives me to provide a beautiful, filling meal for a few dollars instead of spending many, many dollars. I made cookies the other night as a treat for my husband. He thought I'd bought them at a bakery!! I made 4 dozen for around $3. I have no idea what 4 dozen would be at a bakery but I do know I wouldn't buy them. I put some in the cookie jar and most in the freezer.
    ~margaret (midwest USA)

  22. Dear Annabel,

    What a beautiful post...thank you for your encouragement! Sometimes we just need to hear that our lives are worthwhile, even without a career salary to prove it! All the Bluebird comments are so interesting and it's lovely to read them all. I think many negative comments are fueled by either 1) ignorance or 2) jealousy. Those that make the nastiest comments are usually those that don't want anyone to be home if they can't be home (i.e. jealous). I also remember you once writing about others thinking that you were always available during the day to visit or do other jobs for others because "you're home all day, not working"...and I've run across this a LOT! There's so much to do in the day! (And yes, some time to relax, too...that's called a work/life balance...Ha, ha!)

    Your pictures are gorgeous, as usual. I love those flowers...are those dahlias with the roses? Beautiful colors!

    xx Jen in NS

  23. It was during a period of unemployment that I got pregnant for the first time. I wanted to be a stay at home mom with her and did manage to be home for about 8 years when I found it completely necessary to go to work. Shortly after my marriage ended, and as a single parent, I had to keep on working. John and I had another spell where I was unemployed for about 9 months then I returned to work once more. It took me about 9 months to figure out that we had no extra money...despite my working. I gathered facts and figures and went to John to argue my case. We needed $200 a month and he told me if I could find ways to cut that from our household accounts, he would support me in being a stay at home mom. In my first week at home, I made several phone calls and adjustments to what we were paying for services and saved nearly $300. We've never looked back.

    Over the year, I have made foods from scratch, learned to reupholster (Poorly admittedly, but no one ever looked as closely I did, lol), made curtains, did the painting, landscaped a little about the house with what we call pass along plants, and managed to earn a small income, just enough to provide myself with a bit of pocket money, then enough to pay off debt, until we were left with only a mortgage which we tackled and paid off very shortly.

    As the children grew and left home, I spoke of going back to work and John said "No ma'am! I can't afford for you to go to work! You save us way too much money by being at home!" He recognized my value and for that I am grateful. For one year and later a half year, I too tracked the savings I generated in our household. It was in the thousands and I knew that even that was not quite accurate as I never multiplied costs saved over the span of time but more a one off savings.

    I have often lamented that the business degree I got in school was wasted but my husband has assured me it's not such thing. He reminds me that I've used that degree, and the experience I gained in working outside the home many times over to save us money and time.

  24. I'm sorry. Google has been a problem for me with signing in. The comment with the stay at home mom/wife and husband John is me Terri from BlueHouseJournal.

  25. OK. I got an ad on when scrolling today...I just have to tell you about it. It was for beef-and-cabbage hand pies (bierocks) from the luxury delivery service GOLDBELLY. Now, true, they deliver to your door, packed in ice. And they send products from upscale restaurants. But, I could not believe the price.

    6 beef and cabbage bierocks. 6 ounces each. $79.95 USD ($13.33 each) Or $35.55 a pound.

    They are less expensive if you buy the 12-pack. 12 for $119.95 ($10 each ... or $26.67 a pound!)


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