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Looking To The Old Ways in Uncertainty

Looking To The Old Ways in Uncertainty


 





There is so much that I love about the 'old days' and the 'old ways'. 

I like the  'can do' spirit of the people, particularly those that lived through the Great Depression and World War II. 

I love their ability to 'make do and mend' and work with what they had. 

Of course, this is just a romantic view of the past. A way in which I am cherry picking the good from the bad. I fully recognise the trauma, the oppression, the ineqaulity, the poverty and all the other things that were prevalent in these time. 

In this place I focus on the pearls of wisdwom that I can take from days gone by. I look to the previous generations for their knowledge of running a housegold, keeping the family budget on track, bartering, growing a garden, sharing with their community and finding joy in the little things. 

I have always loved these 'old ways', but as I write these words in 2022 it seems that I am seeking this wisdom now more than ever. It times of uncertainty, looking back to see how our older generations dealt with adversity is a great source of reliable, tried and tested information. 

Here are some of the posts I had written years ago about my love of the old ways.  











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A Vision Splendid
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Reviving the Wisdom: Cash as a Last Resort

Reviving the Wisdom: Cash as a Last Resort




 

I have  very fond memory of my Grandmother wrapping home gown beans in damp newspaper so she could share them with people. It makes me think that we need to tap into our childhood and community memory because there is so  much wisdom there.  

I think back to the way my grandmother and my godmother ran their homes as friends that lived close by to each other. 

Both of them grew their own produce and baked from scratch. My godmother  had chooks and used to barter the eggs around town. She traded cooking, mending and eggs for people to do jobs at her house. She got egg cartons from another neighbor, swapped another neighbor for the newspaper and even the home brew was bartered. She never owned a car and different people often took her into town when she needed to. 

My Grandmother always had the latest newspapers and magazines on hand, but she never paid for. She always traded pumpkins, zucchinis or anything else that was in season for them. 

 Of course, no-one ever used the term 'bartering' it was just the way things were done.


They were quite enterprising really. A dollar saved here and there would have really added up.

For these ladies cash was really used as a last resort. If you couldn't swap or do a deal for something that you really needed then you would have to use your cash.

In contrast, today we don't share our things around. We are almost like 'hoarders'.  Just look in our houses at all the clutter! We would be better off having something flow into our homes, use it for a period and then have it flow out again for others to benefit from as well.

Rather than using our cash as a last resort, we tend to jump straight to it. If we want something, we buy it. No questions asked. We think of something, we conclude we 'need it' and we jump in the car and go and buy it or order it online straight away. Even if we haven't got the money, we just stick it on the plastic and will worry about it later!

I am therefore going to look at the principle of using my cash as a last resort. I will stop and think of creative ways that I can obtain things without using my cash. My beans will be ready soon I can wrap them in newspaper and trade them for eggs and macadamia nuts.

In order to start the bartering circle happening I will have to think of things that I can GIVE to people, for it is truly IN GIVING THAT WE RECEIVE.

 I am sure that once I start the ball rolling other people will come on board with the concept. I am sure if I asked a friend if they would teach we basic quilting skills they would love to be paid with home made cakes.

This thinking doesn't come naturally to my generation. I will probably subconsciously cruise past many an opportunity to swap instead of spend. I will turn my mind to this more over the coming weeks and keep you updated.

Does anyone have any ideas for reviving the 'swap instead of spend' tradition ? Perhaps you are already doing a lot of it. Please share your ideas so that we all can benefit.
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A Vision Splendid
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Living with Uncertainty

Living with Uncertainty


 


This is my Grandmother - aged in her late 90s. 

She was born in 1907 and lived a life that was two weeks short of 102 years -living on her own until almost 100 years. 

She saw much uncertainty; The Spanish Flu pandemic, two world wars, a great depression, the early death of her husband..... the list goes on. 

In this photo she is briging in her tomato seedlings for the evening to proect them from the cold. She raised the seeds from last year's crop. 

After living a life of uncertainty, she had learnt to always be prepared. That meant that she always had produce in the garden, preserves in the cupboard and frozen veg and meals in the freezer. 

In these times of uncertainty I am reminded to look after the basics. Keep my house warm, preserve the produce and be prepared for rough economic times - just in case. It worries me to think that these skills of growing, baking, preserving and budgeting are slowly being eroded away by clever marketing. That is why I will also advocate for the simple life and retention of the old fashioned skills. 

Of course, I also know the secret that there is much joy to be had in the simple things in life ! 

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Cumquat Marmalade: Winter Sunshine in a Jar

Cumquat Marmalade: Winter Sunshine in a Jar


 


This year's cumquots have made the most delightful marmalade. It's like winter sunshine in a jar! 


YOU WILL NEED: 

About 500g of cumquots 

a cup of sugar

The juice of half a lemon 

METHOD: 

Slice the ends of the cumquots and cut them in half. 

Chop the fruit and pulp coarsley 

Mix in the sugar and lemon jouce

Cook on the stovetop sitrring constantly until the mixture thickens 

Bottle in clean jars whilst hot and seal. 


This is one of those experimental recipes. You can try different citrus or blend flavours together. 

All I know, is that when you have a smear on sourdough it is a burst of sunshine in your mouth ! 

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Rustic Lavash Cracker Recipe

Rustic Lavash Cracker Recipe






Ingredients 

315g of flour ( your choice of plain, rice, wholemeal etc) 

1/2 tsp of sea salt 

1 tbsp poppy seeds 

1 tbsp sesame seeds 

1 small egg ***

1/3 cup milk ***

30g butter *** 


***i swap these ingredients for good quality olive oil. I don't measure it, I just keep adding until the consistency is not too sticky and easy to roll. 

I use the pasta maker to roll the mixture into sheets, but you can also use a rolling pin. Then I transfer the sheets to baking trays and slice across them with a pizza cutter. I don't bother moving them apart, as they separate once they're baked. 

Then bake at 180 degrees for about 8-10 mins or until they are golden brown. When you get the crackers of the tray, they fall part where they were cut. 




This recipe makes a huge container of crackers and is worth the time investment for the beautiful result. It also means that you have crackers on hand in the cupboard whenever they are need and they extremely cheap when compared to buying rusti crackers from the store. 

As an added bonus there is zero waste because you are not bringing home any packaging. 

You could change this recipe to any flavour by adding spices or other seeds or change it to a gluten and dairy free option. The best way to find out what works is to experiment. 

Do you have a similar recipe to share ? 

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Earthy Quiche

Earthy Quiche



I love this quiche and I bake it regularly. It has become a really good breakfast food for hungry teenagers - it keeps them going all day!

I start by browning some onion and garlic, perhaps some bacon or sweet potato cubes. You can add anything you like that needs pre-cooking.


I whisk 4 eggs, some corn kernels, chopped spinach, half a cup of self-raising flour, half a cup of milk,  some grated cheese... you get the idea, basically anything you have on hand.


I add  lots or rosemary at this point. It is my secret ingredient to give the quiche a really earthy deep flavour.


Stir everything together and pour it into a glass pie plate. I have used a sheet of frozen pastry under this one to hold everything together, although you may find it is okay without the pastry.

Bake for 50 minutes at 180 degrees. Slice into 8 pieces when cooked.



Do you have a quiche recipe ? Do you add in anything you have on hand ? If you try this one or have an interesting recipe, please share in the comments below or on Facebook. If you know someone who will love this recipe, use the buttons below to share the love around! 

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A Vision Splendid
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Old Wisdom and the Spring Equinox in Australia

Old Wisdom and the Spring Equinox in Australia



















I just love spring! It has such a special feel to it.

The Spring Equinox happens in Australia between September 21 and 23. This year it happens today at 6.23pm.

Mathematically, we are at a quarter point for the seasonal year. Day and night are completely equal in time and from tomorrow day will be longer than night.

This balance in the earth’s days reminds me that we should stop and calibrate things in our own lives. We should seek balance. This often means that we need to do a clean sweep, re-evaluate and change things a little.

In days of old, the Spring Equinox held great hope to people because it symbolised the end of the cooler weather, the emergence of seedlings and the anticipation of new crops. The houses were opened and the soot of winter fires cleared out.

We still hold onto this time of ‘Spring Cleaning’. It’s time to pack away blankets, tidy our cupboards, donate clothing that doesn’t fit and generally de-clutter.

We take this time to sow our summer seeds, work out what seedlings we will need and think about harvesting what is abundant now.



Lavender is in abundance at the moment, which tells me it is time to make new skin care products and soap. After harvesting this crop of lavender and picking some rosemary and spinach for dinner, the house smelt sensational ! 


On the 28th of September I celebrate my birthday, another reason to stop and think about the season and the year to come.

The many new colours of the flowers, the sounds of the birds and the smell of a potential summer breeze on the wind makes me stop, think and bring everything back into balance, ready for a fresh new season.

Do you have a spring ritual, a cleaning ritual or any other special things you do to bring in the new season ? 



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Renewing, Restoring, Rewilding, Reconnecting

Renewing, Restoring, Rewilding, Reconnecting





We were due for a break. We were excited by the opportunity to go away as a family and take some time out.

We didn't need to go far, or spend much money at all.


It is funny that you can be so close to home and yet feel so different about things. Truth is, it is not the location, it is the mindset that you slip into.

You slip into a mindset of relaxation and renewal. You slow down, breath and look around. You are not rushed and you take the time to let all the little things enter your senses. You listen intently, you breath deeply to smell all that you can. You reach out to touch the surrounds.

And it feels wonderful. It feels like you have a fresh lease on life.


...and yet, you are so close to home. It shows you that you can turn off distraction and turn on your senses at any time that you need to renew.



Our weekend consisted of a Friday night of games first of all. A hilarious night of Pictionary where we snorted with laughter and our drawings made us question the way we think collectively because we could draw meaning from a couple of squiggles.


On Saturday we walked almost 8 kilometres. We explored, studied and 're-wilded'. We reconnected with nature and realigned with the fabulous thing that is Mother Nature in its many forms.

It is beautiful to watch our boys, who are now young men, still show wonder and awe at the natural environment.

On Saturday we had an abundant meal of fresh seafood.

On Sunday we returned home, very steadily, stopping a number of times along the way.

When we arrived home we were refreshed and content. It was such a wonderful time of purposeful renewal that we all agreed that we will do this more often.

Personally, I will be exporting this thinking to myself when I am at home. I challenge you to do the same.

What would it look like if you carved out some time to practice renewal ? Does it mean that you have a bubble bath with a glass of wine ? Does it mean that you drag your chair out into the garden and read indulgently without guilt while you eat strawberries ? Does it mean that you choose a hobby and give your self permission to carve out time to indulge yourself in it ?

It's very healthy to practice self care instead of martyrdom and guilt . We are much better for those around us when we take care of ourselves first.

There is much joy to be had in slowing down.



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Podcast with 'The Greening of Gavin'.

Podcast with 'The Greening of Gavin'.





I was lucky enough to be interview recently by Gavin from 'The Greening of Gavin'. It was so much fun chatting with Gavin and his wife Kim because we have a similar approach to life. After the podcast recording finished, we ended up staying on the line chatting for another hour or so !

If you would like to hear the interview, click on the link below. Don't forget to drop by Gavin's site as well. Gavin and Kim share a huge amount of their knowledge freely with everyone.

The book I referred to in the interview is now available. You can click on book/articles in the menu above or the picture on the right hand side to see more details.


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The Fire Pit

The Fire Pit





The boys had been wanting to build a fire pit for some time. They had been very mathematical in measuring out the hole, planning the surrounds and dreaming of their nights toasting marshmallows.



There was quite a lot of clay where they decided to put it, so the digging was quite difficult.

Unfortunately, it rained and rained not long after they dug their hole and it become nothing more than a duck pond for quite a few months.

They had almost given up on the idea and signed it over to the ducks permanently, but as the cold nights hit, they had a renewed interest in the project.




They dug it out and lined it with old bricks, tiles and anything else they could find.




Of course, when it came to lighting, no ordinary match would do. They wanted to experiment with lighting a fire with a battery and some steel wool. It worked really well.


 As they built up the layers of wood they could find from around the property, it settled into a beautiful warm fire. We moved some chairs down there and brought down a really nourishing meal of slow cooked meatballs and mash and all sat around chatting.

It was such a slow relaxing night. It felt like we were camping, but we were 100m from the house.


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My Grandmother's Ways

My Grandmother's Ways



(This post first published 2010)

It is now over six months since my Grandmother passed away. But it’s funny, I don’t feel that she is gone. I feel that she is still at her home in Bathurst, where she moved to when I was a baby.


I took this photo in about 2005. It captures the feeling of driving up the driveway after a long trip to finally arrive at ‘Nanna’s House’. Her house was an old coach stop in the gold rush days.

When I look at this picture I smell the corned meat cooking, the apple pies, the fire going in the lounge room. It is real.


There is so much of my grandmother’s ways that I try ( often without success!) to incorporate into my own life. It seems now, that I am not the only one. Since frugal has become the new black, more and more people are adopting the wisdom of the old fashioned ways and making changes in their lives.


The Global Financial Crisis combined with growing environmental awareness has meant that many people are embracing some of the lost arts of yesteryear. Cooking, sewing, gardening and entertaining are gradually becoming more mainstream as people embrace the joys of home.

I have witnessed what I call a ‘collective sigh of relief’ that frugality is now ‘trendy’. It is much easier to keep up with the Jones’ when they are being frugal that when they are constantly updating to bigger and better things.

I see a resurgence in the vegie garden, chooks in the suburban back yard and home cooking.


In my grandmother’s day these tasks were carried out because of necessity, whereas today we do many of these things by choice – we chase the joy. Where once, throwing a microwaved meal onto a plate in a rush was a hassle, now we spend hours in the kitchen with a glass of wine and an Italian opera to produce an artisan feast and it counts as ‘stress relief’.

Whether you work full time or are a stay at home parent, there are many ways to reconnect with the joys of home. Here are some of the things that have brought me joy throughout this journey.

Cooking from scratch – trying new recipes and flavours and venturing into what I once would have thought of as a waste of time – like bread and pasta making.

Growing Your Own – never underestimate the joy of collecting something that you have grown – even if it is a handful of basil or a sprig of parsley!

Finding or buying Used – whether it be a vintage table cloth or an old wooden spatula, used items are fabulous in quality and bring the essence of their previous life with them. ( I always cook better with my great grandmother’s spoon)

Mending and Making Do – there is a sense of satisfaction that comes from being able to mend something or find a way to re-use an item instead of racing out to buy a new one.

Slow Living – turning off the television gives opportunities for everything from family discussions to games nights and story telling.

Getting Ahead – time is a very valuable commodity and thinking about what is coming up in the weeks and months ahead and tackling some of it now brings tremendous peace. Running around at the last minute brings nothing but stress!

Cash Budget – this is one of the best things that we have ever done in terms of our financial management. It has helped us get out of debt, have holidays and taught our children how to save and use their pocket money wisely.

Have you embraced any old fashioned living principles ? Is it just me, or do you think that frugality has become ‘trendy’ ?



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Mandarins and Macadamias: Mother Nature's M&Ms

Mandarins and Macadamias: Mother Nature's M&Ms



Wandering around the backyard with a basket in hand, there are so many delicious offerings to be found!

I am starting to call this area 'the food forest' because there is always something to snack on.

The Macadamias are starting to fall from the tree. They are in a green pod which breaks open to reveal the hard brown shell. Inside the nuts are creamy and lovely tasting - a true Aussie Bush Food !

I add macadamia nuts to banana bread instead of using walnuts.


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The Jam Stick

The Jam Stick



Can you see the 'jam stick' in this picture ? It has such a history.


My grandmother gave it to me a couple of years ago. The story is that when she was making jam on the farm one day a visitor noticed that the spoon she used was too short and she often burnt her hand.

The kind visitor went down the paddock got a piece of wood and crafted a new, longer handled jam stirrer and gave it to her. She used it for many many years.


Here I am, some sixty years later, using it again - bringing it back to life. I use it as a spatula in my mix master. I love the long handle.

I am not sure what type of wood it is, it is so weathered now - but still quite strong.

Not long ago, hubbie and I were fooling around in the kitchen comparing our favourite cooking items. His consists of an old frypan with no handle that he uses to make a perfect omelette ( so perfect in fact that he brings the pan, held in a tea towel, into my office to show me just how clever he is!), and an old scraper that he says he is going to pot rivet back together because 'they just don't make them like this anymore'.

Mine consists of the mix master ( an anniversary present about three years ago), an old spoon and the jam stick. You can read about the spoon here

All of our favourite cooking utensils were really old! I guess Hubbie is right ... they just don't make them like they used to!

You know what is really sad though....... when we were studying the jam stick the other day, Hubbie smelt it and said......
........ 'it smells like Nanna's kitchen '
. ...... and I smelt it ...............
.....and it does .............
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