You are Already Happy !

Advertisers would like us to believe that happiness is 'out there' somewhere and that if you buy products, happiness will come with them.

Sure, there is a certain degree of happiness when you buy something new. As you know, I have a stationery obsession, so nothing excites me more than a new notepad with matching pen! The sad thing, however, is that like any drug, the happiness wears off and needs to be topped up by another purchase. I call this 'synthetic happiness'.

I call true happiness JOY. I often say I find joy, I chase joy. It is a difficult concept to define. It is a little buzz that I get. Joy is in the weirdest places. Sometimes I feel it when I cup a little tomato growing on a bush. Sometimes I feel it when my corn seeds poke their heads up out of the dirt. Other times I feel it when I watch my sons play outside. Sometimes I feel it when I produce a hand crocheted dishcloth that is, let's say, a little wonky!
This sort of happiness comes from inside. It is far richer and far deeper than synthetic happiness.
The trick to finding this sort of joy is firstly to go looking for it. Ponder the question - what gives me joy ? It could be something so trivial, it doesn't matter. When you find something, take note of the little buzz feeling that happens when you experience that joy. Now seek out other things that bring you joy. I call this chasing my joy. Once you know the buzz feeling you will chase more and more of it.
Before you know it, you will be finding joy in the most unusual places! You will soon learn that synthetic joy just won't cut it anymore!
You will find that this kind of happiness is inside you. It has always been there. It is just that we pile so many 'things' on top of it that we can't hear it's little buzz. We pile on television blaring in the background, kids fighting, deadlines to meet, eating on the run, bills to pay, places to be,blood pressure problems, running here, running there, running late!
As we simplify our lives we peel off all those things that are piling up on us. We plan our meals to bring peace to meal times, we plan ahead so we don't race around and run late, we turn the TV off and talk to each other. We budget well to take the financial pressure off. We take the time out to walk with our partner for our health and the health of our relationship.
Little by little we peel off the layers, and there, underneath in a very quiet voice is JOY - buzzing away.
What brings you joy ? Please do share !
PS - the photo above is number one son laying in the grass in Bathurst NSW - now that brings me joy !

A Generous Spirit ..... and a Give-Away......

Recently I was overwhelmed by the generosity of Tracy from Sunny Corner Farm. I had entered a giveaway on her site and happened to win. She sent me some produce from her local area. There was a few different types of award winning pasta from Bellata Gold ( Produced in Tamworth NSW) and products from Demeter Farm Mill ( Produced near Gunnedah NSW). All products were certified organic!

I would like to continue the spirit of giving. I have some products from Ecostore. They are a New Zealand success story! I love to hear about little companies that start out small and have tremendous success. They started as a mail order business in a basement. This company produces a wide range of products where the back of the product says exactly what I like to read:

Can you see that ? No petrochemicals. No phosphates. No Nitrates. No chlorine. No synthetic dyes or perfumes. They do laundry, personal care and a gardening range.

You can get a free sample of their washing powder if you live in Australia or New Zealand. http://www.ecostore.co.nz/ The liquid smells like pure eucalyptus. It reminds me of the cough lollies we used to have when we had a cold when I was in primary school.
I am giving away some moisturiser, baby soap and baby balm. Would you like to receive it ? Even if you don't have a baby I am sure the soap and moisturisers will suit your skin just fine!
I certainly don't mind posting internationally. I also have some other goodies to package up for you. One of the items is a book I received in a swap from a reader in Pennsylvania. It is a fabulous book about keeping things simple! I have learnt many great principles from it and it is now time to pass it on so the wisdom can be shared.
All you need to do to win the package is to put a little note on your blog site to tell people why you like A Vision Splendid and that there is a give away happening here. If you don't have a website simply send an email to your friends telling them why you like A Vision Splendid.
After you have done your post or sent your email, place a comment on this post or send me an email ( address at left) and I will happily enter you into the drawer.
I am very excited to be able to do a give-away. I remember how exciting it was receiving my package from Tracy.
Good Luck everyone.


My Grandmother's Hands

My Grandmother's hands certainly tell a story.

They speak of hard times and hard work.

They show determination and perseverance.

They shout self reliance and reliability.

They illustrate dedication and faith.

They are harsh and weathered yet these hands

have taught love and understanding,

they have witnessed joy and peace

and they speak into generations to come.

I am forever grateful for all that my Grandmother's hands have taught me.


Slash Your Grocery Bill Immediately

The easiest way to drastically reduce your grocery bill is to avoid the cleaning and non- food aisles. When I think about the layout of my local supermarket I could easily spend one third of my budget on cleaning and 'lifestyle' products before I even get to the food section. As I stroll down the aisles I first come across the pet food then toilet papers and glad wrap, foil , plastic bags etc. When I think of alternatives I can use my plastic containers instead of plastic wrap and foil and also use them to replace those sealable bags. I am not ready for the 'cloth wipe' era that seems to be sweeping the green bloggers in the US, so yes I will put toilet paper in my trolley.
In the next aisle I see batteries, fly sprays, cockroach baits, toilet cleaners, disinfectants, air fresheners, bathroom cleaners, kitchen cleaners, carpet cleaners, stain removers, washing powders, ironing spray and cleaning cloths . Hmmmmm I think to myself - if I use rechargeable batteries, keep the doors closed and use a fly swatter, use my Grandmother's recipe for getting rid of cockroaches, clean the bathroom with bi carb and vinegar, use my Enjo and home made cleaning cloth, and spray my ironing with a fine mist of water - I will never have to go down that aisle again.
I think to myself, if it wasn't for advertising, I wouldn't even realise that I NEEDED these products.
My point is this, a lot of what you buy at the grocery store you don't really NEED. You could spend $40 or more without having a thing to eat in your trolley. If you are trying to reduce expenditure, then prioritise your list and shop in order of importance. Start with essential food items like your staples and fruit and veg and forget the non food items (except the TP of course!)
I saw an ironing aide spray for $4.67 this week. Considering that I made a lasagne yesterday from scratch that fed us last night and tonight plus enough for lunches as well for about this price, I can't really justify the cost of the product for that cost.
I went through my master grocery list and wrote an alternative to most things on the list. It was really quite easy once I put my 1940s hat on. There are now so many aisles in the supermarket that you don't need to venture down.
The choice is always yours of course to spend what you like, but if you are having trouble coping with increasing prices, try the concept of shopping in order of importance or going without the cleaning and lifestyle products and see if it makes much difference to your bill. It has really changed ours! Let me know how you go!


These are Exciting Times

Who would have thought so much joy was here awaiting me. Today I crunched into a carrot that was so crispy and sweet that it tasted like a fresh coconut!

There are tomatoes just bursting off the bushes. They are almost ready to come inside and ripen on their vines. There are grape tomatoes and Grosse Lizzy. The carrots, oh boy, there are SO many carrots..... and beans...... won't be long and we will be drowning in them! I can't wait to supply friends with fresh produce. I remember my two Nannas exchanging things when I was a child. Do you remember, before plastic bags, things like fresh beans were wrapped in damp newspaper and had a rubber band wrapped around them ? I will be reviving this tradition FOR SURE! LOL

This picture is of one our our newer beds. They measure about 2 metres by 1 metre. We are a living proof that you do not need a lot of space in order to produce your own food. This is a highly productive little garden. There are loads of carrots, two tomato bushes and huge area for climbing beans. We thought that to produce some of our own food we would need to have a huge area, even maybe an acre of land and that we may have to move. This is such a myth! You can have a very productive garden in a very small space. Our first tomato plant was in a pot! You can plant three lettuces with leaves that you constantly pick in a pot about 40 cm in length. That will do you all summer!

Today I heard Maggie Beer talking on the radio about cooking. The presenter said that it was difficult for people to cook from scratch because we just don't have the time. I was so impressed by her answer. She said the idea was total rot! All it takes to be able to cook a meal is a little planning! She said with some planning and a well stocked larder it is actually quicker to cook from scratch than it is to drive to the takeaway, place your order, wait for your order and drive home again. I remember Jamie Oliver proving this by phoning for a Pizza whilst on stage and then making one and having it ready well before the delivery boy arrived.

So, I guess if it's not a time factor, it must be a "can't be bothered" factor! I know I suffer from it sometimes!
These are some other tomatoes that are growing up the side of the driveway. This spot faces west and is not a 'garden bed' as such. It is just an area that we used to have to pull the weeds out of from time to time. Now it is a wonderful productive garden.
Let me tell you ........ these are exciting times.

Monday is a Busy day

Phew! What a busy day.

Monday is the day I do all my running around. I start the day with what I call a 'home blessing'. It is where I do my normal morning jobs but add in a few others like vacuuming, washing sheets, dusting etc. I then sit down and write my menu plans and organise my shopping list.

By 11am I was done and headed into town for my usual routine. I stop at the Post Office and withdraw my budget money then I head to the petrol station and put in the weekly allocated amount for fuel. Then I do any errands that need to be done and finally I do some grocery shopping.

By 1pm I'm home and unpack the groceries and have some lunch. Then I have my 'office day' where I pay bills, organise any correspondence, update the budget categories etc etc. Today I met a friend online to test a 'virtual classroom'. It was very exciting. In this process I donwloaded Skype and 'found' my sister in Queensland.

At about 3pm I started the dinner and I then headed up to the back room for some therapeutic ironing. I really love ironing. I set up a little nest in our granny flat that usually consists of a DVD playing on the laptop and a cool drink. I then iron away. Lately I have been working my way through The Waltons - let me tell you it's very inspiring !!!

About 5.30 I headed back into the kitchen and made some lovely lasagne sheets. This is the first time that I have made fresh lanasage sheets. We have made fettucine before and it was magnificent. I am looking forward to tasting the lasagne. The eggs were given to me from a friend who is VERY proud of her new chickens. The plain flour is 91c a kilo and I used 400g and the mince was about $3.69. So, this is a very cheap meal indeed!

I am about to put tea on the table and then it will be showers and reading for the boys, a few extra jobs for me and then I will fall into my latest book that awaits me eagerly.

A busy day, but a joyfilled day! There is much joy to be had from working hard.


Reviving Hospitality

Yesterday I was with a group of ladies who are all my Mum’s age. We had a lovely morning tea at one lady’s home. The hostess laid the table out beautifully. Each place setting had a small plate with a napkin on it and on top of that was a tea cup and saucer with a lovely spoon. There was a selection of yummy things to eat as well as a nice sugar bowl and milk in a jug. The reason I am telling you this in such detail was because it really struck me as being quite beautiful.

The layout of the table made me sit straighter, pour my milk delicately into my cup and give a little tinkle tinkle with the spoon and then sip it oh so lady like. (I’m sure I even poked out my pinkie finger as I held my beautiful cup!). We said please and thankyou as we passed around plates with yummy snacks.

The ritual was really lovely. The actual beauty of the scene shaped our behaviour. It slowed us down and made us engage in the setting.

Hubby and I have often spoken about the loss of this tradition of having people over for morning or afternoon tea. Hubby speaks about his two old aunts. As a child he loved going over to visit because in a minute they could put together the most wonderful ritual of afternoon or morning tea. The house was always tidy and organised and they never had to jump in the car and run to the shop because they were out of milk!

I have very fond memories of going to my other Nanna’s house ( she died in 1999) She was actually my Godmother, but she was always treated like a Grandmother. Every time we visited her we were made to feel very special indeed. She ALWAYS laid out the table cloth and got out the “good cups” and in a few seconds could put together a spread that most of us would be in awe of. She could make the most amazing sponge cakes, all cooked in a wood stove. She was so amazingly resourceful. She even knew how to chop particular types of wood for different things she was cooking. I always remember her chopping ‘scone wood’.

Whenever anyone came to her house that knew her they always came to the back door. The back door opened onto a small veranda area and then you stepped up into the house. On the left just off the corridor and leading into the bathroom was the old concrete twin washtubs and her old washing machine. Not once on my entire life of going there did I ever have to step over her washing that hadn’t been done. Can you imagine if the main entrance into your home required your guests walking into your laundry – would you be proud of cringing ? Not once was her home messy, or she hadn’t washed up or had piles of ironing or the beds unmade. Even if we turned up unannounced!!!

In my generation, no-one does the ‘afternoon tea spread’. Although I do have some frugal friends that do coffee and home made goodies, generally speaking no-one my age even has anyone come to their home for a cup of tea !!!! If you want to catch up with friends you have to go to a coffee shop.

I believe that we have lost the art of hospitality. We can’t have anyone come over without two hours notice so we can tidy up! I’m not saying that this is everyone, it is just what I observe. We have all the labour saving devices yet we get so little done.

Before the days of mobiles and telephones, people used to go ‘visiting’ and just drop in on their friends. It was a usual occurrence. Scones were the usual accompaniment to a cup of tea because they were quick to whip up. Can you honestly say that if visitors dropped in unannounced you could whip up a batch of scones ? LOL How times have changed!

So...... In my quest to revive the old traditions I am going to revive morning or afternoon tea. Lots of people drop in for a coffee here, but I am going to make them feel that little bit more special. I will put down a table cloth ( oooooohhhhhhh) and use the ‘good cups’ (ooooohhhhhh) and my sugar and milk jug. I am not the scone maker in the house ( Hubby is) but I generally have some baked goods on hand. If not, there is always the trusty frozen biscuit dough already shaped so I can have cookies in about 12 minutes.

Everyone thinks, “oh, don’t go to any trouble”, but gee it is nice to “play ladies” it changes our behaviour and in a world where everyone is only looking out for themselves, it is nice to spread a little kindness and joy!

Are you a household that has lots of drop-ins who you are always prepared for or are you cringing at the thought of anyone knocking on your front door. I would love to know YOUR thoughts. Please leave a comment.


Thinking About Christmas ( but not presents)

Recently I have turned my mind to Christmas planning and I don't mean presents.

We take it in turns to have Christmas here or over with Hubby's parents. This year I am very excited because everyone will be coming here.

The reason I have been planning for Christmas so early is because I need to make sure my garden is ready for the BBQ season. My aim is to be able to create as many things as possible from scratch and from the garden.

When I hear people talking about the Christmas countdown I think about what plants will mature in that time. I think about what plants take 16 weeks to develop or 12- 14 weeks ? Then we plant out, hoping for a Christmas harvest.

Because it is Summer in Australia it is salad and bbq season. My aim is for us to be producing the following things:

lettuce, tomato, cucumber, capsicum, shallots, corn, beans, potatoes and a good range of herbs. I also want to make sure there are plenty of blueberries.

I am very excited about how the corn plants are going. The seeds that I planted have powered ahead and are much taller and stronger than the seedlings I planted a few weeks before. It will be a joyful day the day I can pull some corn from the plant and cook it straight away. Hopefully that will be Christmas Day !!!!

I am also preparing other things for Christmas. I am experimenting with bread recipes and cookies and cakes to make sure that I have it well perfected before the day. There are also napkins and placemats to be sewn, decorations to be made, edible gifts to be perfected and Christmas Irish Cream to be made!

It is all very exciting!

I have written before about the joy that comes from the 'doing' of things. Maybe the true joy of the season comes from hand making things to give as gifts. The recipient will be overjoyed receiving something so precious, and you will experience their joy! JOY JOY JOY - there you go ! Is that why when Christmas is all about BUY BUY BUY we don't feel the joy of it and all we worry about is the headache of the credit card bill coming in January.

As I write this there are 62 sleeps, five hours and two minutes until Christmas Day. That's over 7 weeks. What can you get up and running to feed your guests at Christmas ? Can you start with some herbs, put some lettuce in a pot? Can you start to make some handmade gifts? - you don't need great skill, you just need ideas - google for ideas!

My challenge to you is to bring some joy back to the Christmas season. Give JOY not STUFF.


Detailing A Simple Life - our budget

I have been getting more and more emails asking for assistance in the areas of simple living, home management and budgeting. It gives me great joy to know that my writing is actually assisting you! Please keep the emails coming. I try and address them with detailed responses, just be aware that sometimes it takes me a couple of days to get through them all. I will also try and give more specific details in each of the posts I create.

In return, I ask that if you gain some benefit from my writing you put a link on your blog or send all your friends a link to the site and ask them to tell their friends!

At the moment I have turned my mind towards tightening our budget. I think it is because of all the news coverage about the current financial climate. I really feel for small businesses who are the first to suffer when there is less work around for people. It is okay for us to say we will cut out non-essentials like coffees, magazines, restaurant meals etc - but what if you are the owner of the restaurant, coffee shop or news agent who has to put food on your table. It really is hard, because the truth is, that in difficult times it becomes a case of 'everyman for themselves', meaning, if I don't have extra money to spend I am not going to eat at your cafe. The good thing is that the economy works in cycles, we just need to ride out this downturn.

So if I can't help you by spending money at your cafe, the only thing I can do is, as I have said before, swap you spinach for eggs, or jam for beans. This is the great Australian way - swapping the pickles over the back fence. We just need to re-establish these traditions.

I have just re-done our family budget again. Partly because I want to reduce it and partly because it changes every season because of changes to our entertainment and eating habits.

As my regular readers know I am an envelope girl. I have little bags for each area where money is required and withdraw the correct denominations of cash each week. Recently I have changed this from plastic bags to a little mini accordion file with labelled compartments.

I include not only amounts that I know we spend each week like food, fuel, entertainment but also include seasonal categories like clothing, holidays, Christmas birthdays. Whenever we need something I just go to that category and pull out the cash. This really works for us and it gives me tremendous joy knowing that we always have the money there for things that we need or if we want to go and do something as a family. There are from time to time expenses that I haven't thought of but because I have been doing it for many years I have it pretty well worked out.

Hubbie needed new shoes today ( I have begged him for weeks to replace his ones that were just about needing sticky tape!) and he was able to go and get the cash out of the folder. Number One son has a birthday party to go to on Saturday and I know that there is money there for a present. If the kids bring home a school excursion note or we want to hire a movie or go out for tea, the money is there. We don't have to worry about the guilt of knowing that we can't afford it but stick it on the credit card anyway to worry about "later".

We now allocate $365 per week, down from $449. The categories are:






Clothing/ hair

boat fuel



pocket money

sanity money

kids banking.

This is separate to the amount I have for bills and savings. I always take savings out first and have a bills amount worked out by adding them all up over the year and dividing by 52.


The kids pocket money is $5 per week. They use it to buy treats and save up for things.

The sanity money is $10 each that Hubbie and I have that we just blow or save or whatever we feel like. I allocate $150 per week for groceries but never spend that much. I usually spend under $100. I collect the extra money and blow it in holiday times or when we have visitors or at Christmas time etc. Sometimes I have to buy things out of that amount if they breakdown, like a toaster or something.

I love having Christmas already paid for. I love having our yearly resort holiday already paid for. There is great peace.

Having cash on hand is extremely powerful. I love the concept of poverty by choice. I like shopping knowing that I have a set amount in my pocket. It makes me really consider each purchase.

Are you a cash person ? Or do you have some other fabulous way of staying within your budget ? Do share !

Flo's Lamington Cake

.... I was a bit too slow to take a picture.

This is a recipe for lamingtons. I only made the lamingtons once because it was too fiddly. Perhaps it was because I had a seven year old assistant that I declared 'never again'. Don't get me wrong, they tasted lovely! The next couple of times I made the recipe I just poured it out into a slice tin and it became 'Flo's lamington slice'. But, by far the best incarnation has been 'Flo's lamington cake', where the secret is to pour the mixture into a round cake tin. (amazing isn't it!)

For my non-aussie readers. A Lamington is a square of vanille cake dipped in chocolate icing and rolled in coconut. Flo is Flo Bjelke-Petersen the wife of a rogue premier of Queensland many years ago who was famous for her pumpkin scones. ( She has a fabulous cookbook by the way!)

I whipped the cake up yesterday for some friends from Sydney who were coming to stay. It was quick and easy.


125g butter

125g sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla

2 eggs

250g Self Raising Flour

pinch salt

1/2 cup milk.

1. Cream the butter and sugar really well. Add vanilla

2. Add eggs one at a time

3. sift the flour and the salt together.

4. Add flour and milk

5. Cook for about 30 mins on 180 degrees.


250g icing sugar

6-8- tsp cocoa

1 tsp butter


mix with boiling water to the correct consistency ( not too runny) and smooth on icing with a wet hot knife. Sprinkle with coconut and there you have it!

- note to self. Take photo before kids get home from school.


Wash on Monday Iron on Tuesday.............

I never thought that I would find comfort in routine and rhythm. It used to annoy me that old people would wash on Monday, iron on Tuesday etc. I thought it was ridiculously old fashioned and heck, I needed my freedom! I didn't want to be tied down to any routine. I didn't need a day of the week to tell me what to do !

Instead of finding freedom in lack of routine I found disorganisation. Ironing became five minutes before I needed to put something on ( often running late) washing..... well it usually happened when I ran out of underwear and it would take all day to do it, not to mention the weeks of clothes laying around in baskets.

Over the years I have tried many 'systems' to be able to get things done. I would go ok for a while but then fall off the wagon and be back to old habits. Once I was married and added children to the mix it became increasingly important to have things organised.

Let me tell you that I still fall off the wagon from time to time, but it is a whole lot easier to climb back on again. The difference is that ( and I almost hate to admit it) have set days for set things. If I have something on a adjust things or do a simplified version of the day, but generally I stick to the pattern. Now don't think I can't come over to your house because Monday is my washing day or anything, I am completely flexible, but Oh the Joy of having things done and getting ahead and knowing that I just do a few things each day rather than spend a whole day trying to clean the house.

You will laugh when I tell you that my days are also colour coded. I use my calendar in OUTLOOK to work out all my tasks and put in appointments etc. It works fabulously for home management as well.

So...... At the risk of sounding completely obsessive here is the breakdown of my days in detail for those of you that have asked for this via email.

The basis of the whole system is having a strong morning, afternoon and evening routine. These tasks are done regardless of what is happening on a day. If I will be out all day or am doing a days work I still do the tasks, I just do them a little earlier to get through them.

MORNING ROUTINE - walk, shower/dress, load of washing/ breakfast / tidy kitchen/ make beds / sweep floor/ wipe the bathroom over.

AFTERNOON ROUTINE - iron washing/ organise dinner/ homework.

EVENING - clean up from dinner/ bath (sometimes) skincare/ PJs/ reading.

There is a lot in the morning routine only because I have slowly got there. I would NEVER have done this to begin with because it was setting myself up for failure. I think five good morning tasks is enough to create a habit.

Then I have a basic weekly plan that looks like this:

MONDAY - Home Management day ( mine is green). I do a ' home blessing' ( flylady.net terminology) This means I add a few jobs to my morning routine. I add vacuuming and dusting each room, wipe over screens and mirrors and mop the floor. I then go to the local Post Office and withdraw my money in cash. I fuel up the car on the way to town and do my errands which usually consists of going to the library, getting photos printed and then grocery shopping. When I get home I unpack and do up my budget books, pay bills and general office jobs.

TUESDAY - is my GARDEN, BAKE and MAKE day. ( Green) This is the day I work in the garden to plant new seedlings, move plants. build up beds, regenerate soil, bake goodies for the week like bread, biscuits both sweet and savoury and make dough and things for the freezer for times when I am too busy too cook. I have also made this my 'make' day for when I need to make soap, ginger beer, sewing etc etc

WEDNESDAY - is my business day. ( blue) I prepare classes and workshops to teach and make teaching resources and try and do some sort of training or personal development.

THURSDAY - A Vision Splendid day. (Pink) This is when I write my articles, respond to emails, update newsletters etc.

FRIDAYS - personal day ( purple) - I often update my scrapbook albums, teach a class if I have one on my books and I also do more baking to get us through the weekend.

SATURDAY - family fun day. ( yellow) We usually go to the river with friends and spend the day skiing, tubing, swimming etc. We often catch up with friends for dinner and have a bbq or something. In the winter my sons play soccer.

SUNDAY - day of rest! - whatever takes our fancy. We often do a bit more gardening, laze around, read the newspaper, play with the kids etc.

Overlayed over the top of that is the focus area for the week. Each week of the month has a different room allocated to it. for example, Week one might be the front two bedrooms, week two the kitchen etc etc. The idea is to spend 15 mins or so doing a job in that room. Soon you get to the stage where there is nothing to do in the room, for example, your bedroom where you just keep it maintained each day or week and there are no huge tasks that need to be done, except maybe cleaning fans and windows seasonally. Other rooms, like the kitchen, often need a focus clean once a month because the second drawer breeds extra utensils and the tupperware cupboard has a way of messing itself up each month.

Sounds rigid doesn't it! - Well, it's actually freeing. Once you get up and running a routine actually gives you time. I would much rather spend 30 minutes each morning doing a few jobs rather than a whole weekend trying to get a house in order.

Please don't send me emails saying it will never work for you because you work a 90 hour week and commute two hours in either direction. This is MY routine. When I was working it was quite different. The idea is to do what you can do throughout the week to free your weekends for fun and relaxation with your family. It really only takes 45 seconds to wipe over your bathroom in the morning. If you leave it for a week or two it will take you half an hour of scrubbing. The choice is yours!

So..... there it is....... not quite wash on Monday, iron on Tuesday, but just as rhythmic and it gives me tremendous joy and peace knowing that my house runs smoothly and that I am up to date and when my friends from Sydney call ( as they did today) and say they will be arriving tomorrow I can relax in peace and turn my mind to the wonderful meal I will prepare for them to make them feel welcome.

Emergency Fund - but how ?

Every where you look there is talk of economic down turn. The news today is that there are predictions that there will be about 200,000 jobs lost in the next 12 months. I am wondering how you will weather the storm. will you be okay ? Do you live paycheck to paycheck ? Do you have an emergency fund? If you lost your job, do you know how long you could survive without an income ?
How can you start or add to your emergency fund ? I think the very first area to look at whenever you need to find some funds fast is your grocery bill. A few changes to meals and cooking habits or switching brands can result in huge savings. It is a question of what you are willing to forgo in order to have financial peace. I am a big believer in small things that make the difference. Everyone dismisses the smaller purchases as "just $2" here and there, but these purchases add up to hundreds of dollars every year. Even a saving of $25 per week can equal $1300 per year. The trick is to physically put the money somewhere. A bank account with no fees and high interest is good, or you can always stick it in a sock in your undies drawer!

There has been much talk comparing the 'recession' of today to the Great Depression. I have always believed that the true state of the current economic times is concealed somewhat by the availability of credit cards. If we all worked in cash the true problem would be much harder to mask, because people would literally have no money to pay for things.

I constantly think of my Grandmother telling me that they rode out the Depression quite well. She says that because they had their own fruit and vegies and had their own meat they were somewhat insulated by true hard times.

I think if there was a true Depression this time around it would have a tremendous impact on our families. My reason for this is that there is an incredible lack of skills now. I am 36 years old and my friends and I comment that we are the first generation who's mothers burnt their bras and went to work ( and yes I realise how much I am generalising here). As a result we did not learn many of the skills that have been handed down from generation to generation for hundreds of years. Now, even baking batch of cookies is beyond the ability or interest of most mums my age. I do agree that there is a growing group of frugal, green blogging mums, but generally speaking no-one cooks! There are very few people that I know that sew, except those brilliant quilt makers that learnt this fantastic hobby. I would bravely suggest that most mums don't even sew a button back on !

We could insulate ourselves somewhat by becoming more self sufficient and think in a cooperative manner e.g. I will trade you my spinach for a few of your eggs. Actually having someone 'working the home' often results in more savings than if both parents work and spend the majority of the second wage on child care and convenience products!

If one parent in the family decides to stay home and look after young children and run the house it can be a huge money saver, but you must have skills. Cooking and gardening would have to be the two most important ones.

If you can't cook - google it !!! That's the extent of my advice. You can find detailed sites that show you photo by photo how to do basic things. You can borrow books from the library or tune in to a cooking show. There is nothing stopping you.

When it comes to gardening my best advice is to just try it. Once again google it or borrow a book and take one small step at a time. A good place to start is with sprouts on the window sill. Then venture into some herbs in pots. Even a small balcony can grow some tomatoes, lettuce and carrots in pots!

Many of the answers to today's problems lie in the old fashioned ways. Think like it's 1940 and you will reap huge rewards in health, finances and of course the joy factor !


After Storm Glow

The last two afternoons we have been blessed with good soaking rains. In the past we might have cursed an afternoon storm, usually arriving at the time when school is coming out and things are thrown into chaos. Now we are grateful for the rains that stop us from having to water the garden with the hose. What is it about rainwater? What is that magical ingredient ? Why is it that you can water daily, but as soon as there is a little rain water the plants stand up and come alive. Mother Nature certainly has the recipe worked out well.

After the storm this evening there was an amazing glow. The photos certainly don't do it justice. It was a strange green/yellow colour. Everything came alive! Even in the house there was a strange glow. It was truly lovely. I grabbed the camera and took some shots in very poor light so they are quite blurry.

We recently started daylight savings, meaning that we had to wind our clocks back one hour. I hate the change over. I value my mornings because that is when I get the most done. To suddenly lose an hour was very painful. It has taken me a little while to naturally wake up early again. I don't use an alarm clock. I generally wake up naturally just after five anyway. You can imagine my horror when this turned into six ! Anyway, I am almost back to my 5am rising.

Thank you to those of you who have been sending me emails. I value the feedback, especially the questions because they give me ideas of what to write about.
I would like to write more about managing a home on a budget, and creating a joyful, simple life especially with kids! Do you have any questions or issues you would like me to address? Just send an email or leave a comment. I would be happy to share ideas.


Busy Playing....on our STAYCATION.

Today is the last day of the school holidays for our boys. School starts back on Monday.

It has certainly been a busy time, hence the lack of blogging.

The holidays have been terrific. We had one overnight trip to Sydney, but the rest of the two weeks we have had a STAYCATION - that is, you holiday at home. A Staycation allows you to do some wonderful things. The STAYCATION family activity list has so far included building cubby houses under the dining room table and then sleeping the night there, playing tennis in the front yard, riding bikes down the road and being attacked by the nesting pee-wee and butcher birds, watching a family movie, spray painting a home made hut, making comic books, cooking, building bike jumps, making a smash up derby arena with a series of boxes, swimming in the local pool, waterskiing and swimming at the river, scrapbooking, going to friends' house for a play date, putting on a 'Star Wars Show' in the garage (lol!)

There are many benefits to having A STAYCATION. Firstly, it costs very little. If you calculate the cost of a week in a holiday apartment and then add meals,fuel or airfares and entertainment the cost can be beyond many families. Why not do the sums and then decide to spend one quarter of that amount during your STAYCATION. That money may allow you to do something special for the family like a restaurant meal, bowling, movies or whatever else is a 'treat' in your household.
The Second benefit of a STAYCATION is that it gives you the opportunity to explore where you live. Often we don't see advertising about our area because it is targeted elsewhere. If you go to your local tourist Information Centre you will be able to see what the area has for visitors. Pretend you are a visitor in your own region. There may be sight seeing walks, waterfalls, historical buildings, wineries, fishing spots etc. It may be a real eye-opener.

The third benefit of a STAYCATION is the total peace that comes from going nowhere and doing nothing! Have you ever have a great week's holiday, finally relax and then have to spend 10 hours driving home in ridiculous traffic only to have to front up to work on Monday morning ? You need a vacation just to recover! Having a STAYCATION will allow you to totally unwind, sleep well in your own bed and be at peace with the world!

Remember that the success of a STAYCATION depends on the mindset. Do something different to remind yourself that you are on a STAYCATION. Lay in the back yard with a book. Wear that Hawaiian shirt, make yourself a cocktail at dusk and watch the sunset. Turn the phone off and put the 'out of office' reply on your email. Paint your toenails, do some yoga or meditation, lay in a buttermilk bath with a glass of champagne.

ahhhhhh........... I am relaxed just thinking about it.............................

Give it a go ..................... you may just fall in love with the concept.


Where We Live

We have been away. A trip to Sydney. It is always great to head down to the ‘big smoke’, but it is even nicer to come home.

When we are driving home we get a view of our beautiful valley. It really is a wonderful sight. There is the ocean on the right and the mountains on the left with a meandering magnificent river that winds its way through the valley.

The river is our main source of entertainment throughout the warmer parts of the year. Families come together and we ski, swim, tube, kneeboard. We love it. Each weekend we pack up our picnic baskets, our air pots and baked goodies and head to the river. Early in the morning the water is like glass and makes for perfect skiing.

The children play on the river bank, exploring, making up stories of yowies in the bulrushes and digging holes in the sand. They take turns in going on the tube, often two at a time and their little faces say it all !

Families that play together stay together! A friend’s father told me once that having a boat was a great thing when their kids were growing up because it kept the family together. Instead of their children going off with mates who the parents hardly knew, their kids friends came and played with them and didn’t get into mischief as they got older. I agree with this idea. Hubby’s family also grew up boating and picnicking and I think he wants to give our boys the same experience What a wonderful pastime to share together as a family!

April Theme: Re-organise and Transition

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