Just Try Your Very Best

When you take on a more simple, sustainable life you come to rely on your own personal skills.

Some skills like cooking and gardening you may not possess but you slowly develop and practice. You slowly get better at planning meals, balancing a budget, providing in home entertainment.

Sometimes you surprise yourself and are quite happy to add a new found skill to your bag of tricks.
My bag of tricks is missing one noticeable skill area. Sewing. I would love nothing more than to be posting photos of my home made clothing, quilts and other beautiful handmade items. Some people can't boil an egg, I can't sew a straight line.

Okay, maybe that is a slight exaggeration, but you can feel my emotion. I have made various things throughout my life, shorts, pyjamas, curtains, bags and aprons, but I have never progressed.- maybe it is a mental block.

But...... my sons MAKE me sew.

They won't allow me to say no. After all 'there's no such word as can't in this house'. I beg them to understand... I just can't sew. But they set me up at the machine and say "just try your very best".

Who on earth taught them such empowering phrases ?

How dare they use them against me!

So... after another day of being stuck inside with two of every animal waiting for the dove to come back with an olive branch which tells me the flood is over, I made a..... penguin. Thank goodness he LOVES it.

Those of you who know me well are laughing now.... I can hear it......


Challah Baking Success....

In keeping with my ' if a woman could make it on a fire 1000 years ago, surely I can do it' approach to cooking of late I decided to try Challah, a traditional Jewish bread. I am not Jewish, although after cutting this loaf and spreading it with real butter....we are considering conversion. lol.

1 cup lukewarm water
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons oil
3 tablespoons honey
4 1/2 cups bread flour ( I use Lighthouse brand Bread and Pizza Flour)
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
sesame seeds
Egg wash:
2 egg whites
Mix the water, honey, oil, eggs and egg yolks in a bowl and whisk well. Then pour in half the flour, salt and yeast. Stir well until smooth and leave for 15 minutes. Then slowly add the rest of the flour half a cup at a time, mixing in well. Turn out and knead for 10 minutes. Put in an oiled bowl and wait for about 90 minutes until it doubles in size.
Then divide evenly ( about 375 grams each) and roll out into three ropes. Braid into a long twist tucking both ends under. Glaze with whisked egg white and cover and wait until dough rises further. Then glaze again and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Bake at about 200 degrees for 20 minutes.
We ate it fresh, with real butter. We also drizzled olive oil over some slices, spread them with crushed garlic and italian herbs and pan fried them for a lovely toasty texture. we then topped it with home made tabbouleh.
A recipe definitely worth trying.


Rain Farm ....86mm and Counting.

It's raining. Not just raining, but RAINING. It's been raining since Wednesday afternoon. It hasn't stopped. Not even a little. The next three days are set to be the same.

Just when we were doing this.....

I am now putting out as many containers as possible to catch the rain. I would love to have a huge rainwater tank but we have to finish off our current projects before getting one.
Everything is wet. There is a river, ankle deep, flowing through the yard. It seems a terrible waste. In a week or two we will be watering again because of the hot weather that will return.
.... at least my ironing is now up to date.


Not Blogging, Waving.

Just dropping in for a quick hello. My days have been swallowed by visits to doctors, surgeons, a trip to hospital and some surgery for number two son. A week off school before the operation and a week or so after the operation.

We are amazed by how brave he is. No tears, no fear. As I kissed him goodnight on the operating table and he closed his little eyes I felt my heart stop with pain.

But he, it occurred to us as we sat with him afterwards, had no expectations of what was to come and no understanding or fear. We wondered if it was the lack of commercial television in his life. He had not sat through tv shows depicting operating scenes or witnessing people lose loved ones all for the sake of "drama" in a 7pm time slot every night. We could be wrong, but it struck us that he was not frightened while we were struggling with 'what if' scenarios playing in our heads.

Experiencing this and as I listen to the horrific stories being told by the bushfire survivors in Victoria I wonder why it is that we need to watch television shows that 'simulate' drama, sadness, suspense, loss - when there is so much of it happening in the real world anyway! I don't understand.

Anyway... number two son is recovering so quickly. He is up and walking around and standing a little taller since all the compliments he is receiving about his courage.

I am just grateful that for this season in life I am at home... able to sit with him.... and snuggle him back to sleep at midnight without worrying about how I will cope with work in the morning. I know the season won't last forever, but for now...... I am grateful for the chance to take the time.


Some Answers

I love to read your emails and comments..... Often times I just don’t get the chance to reply to all of them. I apologise, it’s just not something I allocate time to. In the spirit of building a community of people seeking their own Vision Splendid I will post more emails onto the site and attempt to reply to more comments.

So here goes......

The Outback House..... yes the photos are from the ABC television show which is currently replaying in NSW at 11am on a Saturday ( not a very good time I know.... but definitely worth recording for a better viewing time).

FaerieMama.... I would contact them for sure. I think they are open on long weekends but if you got a group together I am sure they would open for you. Let us know if you get out there and what your thoughts are about the place.

Michelle..... I know what you mean about complicating your life by trying to do things simply. I find that with marketing and advertising. Sometimes simple living or ‘green living’ is just the latest theme for marketers to throw ‘stuff’ at you. Instead of simplifying and cutting back we just ‘change over’ to simple products..... e.g buying magazines about green living instead of gossip mags, buying ‘sustainable products’ instead of plastic ones. It is still out there buying and accumulating ‘ stuff’ just under a feel good heading. I think advertisers are very clever!!!!

Hughesey....... I sure did see the 1940s house and LOVED it. I would love to be able to get hold of the series. I haven’t seen it anywhere in Australia. Has anyone else ?

Michelle..... I also saw Frontier House. ( The American equivalent of Outback House). I really liked it to. What always amazes me is the similar theme in all the shows. At first the families hate it and can’t cope then after 4 or 5 months they go back to their old lives and can’t cope with the 21st century. This was really well explained by the teenage girls in the Frontier House who initially hated their 1883 lives of milking cows and doing hard work. They missed their make up, friends, television etc. When they arrived back in their 21st century lives there was footage of them spitting in their hot tub outside the mansion saying how the 21st century was so boring because there was ‘nothing to do’. They found going to the malls totally boring!

In the radio interview yesterday I was talking about what I enjoyed about the Outback House. One thing that struck me was the importance of every person’s job – be it the gardener, farm hand or cook.

In our 21st century lives do we have a purpose to our day? Do our children play an integral role in the family? Or do they just hang around waiting to be grown up so they can start their own lives? I love that the children had such important jobs in these programmes. It has made me rethink the roles my children have. The interesting thing is that my boys thrive on responsibility.

It may be time to stretch the boundaries a little.

The Rythm of Life Returns

Poster from Posterart.com

The long days of summer holidays are behind us and we are slowly returning to our usual rhythm. Today marks the first full week that the boys have been back at school.

After a summer of no shoes, lots of swimming and playing I have sent two bleached blonde haired, tanned boys back to school feeling most uncomfortable in their leather shoes!

It now time for me to turn my mind back to my rhythm. It's time to reshape the Vision Splendid and re-establish my connection with what it is that I am trying to achieve here.

Yesterday I did another radio interview with the local ABC. It was so nice to hear Fiona talk about how much she enjoys my site. It really gives me a tremendous sense of joy to know that others are empowered by reading my journey. Thank you again for the feedback and I look forward to building a stronger community throughout 2009.

So today I am pulling out my home management binder and revamping it for 2009. If you have a copy of my E-Book you can follow me - I am working through from page 18 on total organisation.

I have also started an audit of all the bills I pay. Have a look at the Simple Savings link on the left hand side which I am using to build more savings throughout the year. In January the focus was to look at all your bills and get a better deal. This is one site I always pay a membership for. It is a HUGE database of saving ideas - not just simple "use vinegar" type ideas, but I mean real ideas like where to find discount bread, meat, or stories of people negotiating cheaper insurance or how they have paid down debt etc. A very worthwhile resource.

As a list writer I love headings. I think in headings and boxes. So my thinking at the moment is grouped into the following headings. This sets out my focus areas for the next few weeks.

Finances: re-vamp budget, design new spending plan and organise bill payment system.

Household Management: evaluate current weekly plan and design systems. Look at doing LESS in 2009 by evolving simple successful systems for cleaning, ironing and home maintenance.

Baking: Invest time to save time - do more baking frenzies - find some interesting new meal ideas to add to our core group of meals.

Gardening: Plan out successive plantings to prevent the feast then famine approach that we had last year. Move towards supplying much more food from the garden.

So that's my 'thinking', which will then evolve into some projects.

Where are you heading in 2009 ?

April Theme: Re-organise and Transition

In the Southern Hemisphere, April is in Autumn.  The days here are still warmish, but there is a sneaking whisper in the wind. That whisper ...