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Showing posts with label My Grandmother's Ways. Show all posts
Showing posts with label My Grandmother's Ways. Show all posts
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 neighbour, swapped another neighbour 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 Grandmothr alway 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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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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A Vision Splendid
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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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Working with a cash budget (repost)

Working with a cash budget (repost)








































Over the years we have tried many different methods for controlling our spending and working on a budget. By far the most successful method for us is to work in cash. I have worked out what we need each week and I withdraw that amount of money.

The following are our ' cash categories'.

Groceries
Fuel
Entertainment
Christmas
Holidays
Birthdays
Scarlet Ribbon ( clothing shoes etc)
Kids Banking

You can see in the photo that I use resealable plastic bags with the category and the amount written on it. Each week I go to the bank or post office and I have a little card in my wallet that says " 3x $50, 4 x $10 etc and get the exact breakdown. When I come home I give the cash to our young sons and they go through and put the amounts into the bags. Then, when we want to do something like hire a DVD or buy a present etc, we just go to the appropriate bag.

Having the money in cash is great for a couple of reasons. When you have cash in your wallet you are much more careful about spending it. My sons have also learnt the value of money because they control it. We are also empowered by the fact that we have money in advance for needs that may arise.

I call one category 'scarlet ribbon' because of the proverbs 31 woman who has no fear for her household for when the winter snows come her household is clothed in scarlet. It is a very old proverb but one that has always stuck with me.

I have also calculated how much we require for bills. You can do this by looking at what your bills are over a year and dividing the amount by 52 or 26 depending on when you get paid. Then I transfer that amount into an account we use for bill paying.

So.... what do you do when you finally sit down and add it all up and the results are frightening ? When I did this the first time I was totally shocked at our living expenses. Son number one was about 12 months old and I was faced with the prospect of going back to work. I was a school teacher then and was going back to work just two days per week. I hated the thought of it! So, we sat down and worked through everything in a huge amount of detail. I called it my " Plug the holes audit". By this, I meant that I thought the ship ( our house) would sink by the little holes that were in it, not the gaping big holes. So I set about saving money on little things, $2 here, $1 there. I changed phone plans, shopped for cheaper insurance, worked out a price book to track specials and calculate unit pricing, worked a cash budget etc etc. The results were amazing and I gave up teaching at the end of that year.

I often hear people talking about how difficult it is to make ends meet ( while they are watching pay TV and smoking and eating take away food). My answer is to be totally honest with yourself and live within your means. Take control of your money so it doesn't control you. It is such a wonderful feeling to jump in the car and go for a holiday with the freedom of knowing that you have the cash for it all and you won't have to face the credit card bill when the holiday is over.

If you can't be bothered with the hassle of micro-managing it all then you will need to be happy with staying in debt and having no money and having lots of stress. The choice is yours to make, so which path will you choose ?
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Capturing The Life That Was

Capturing The Life That Was



Last week I purchased an external hard drive to make a double back up of my digital photo collection. Gee it was easy! I had lots of photos ( I mean LOTS) on CDs all carefully labelled and categorised and I even had proof sheets printed of what was on each disk.

It was so easy to just whip them into iphoto ( I am a Mac girl) and there they all are - in chronological order and able to be sorted in keyword categories at the click of a mouse!

I skim through all the photos they really reveal just how much I have a love affair with days gone by. There are so many photos capturing aspects of a life that was.


I am always intrigued by the lifestyle that people led in the past. The days of hard work and little reward, an instilled work ethic that is rare to come by these days, a complete life of self sacrifice to others with no chance of any recognition.

My Grandmother told me once that the girls of today just don't have the stamina to be able to do all the things they did.....and I would have to agree!

Although, I have been quoted as saying that I could do without electricity and running water, grow my food and still get by quite okay ......as long as I had wi-fi and a solar powered lap top to blog about it! LOL


Look at this tired old truck - can't you see the expression on his face ? Years of hard work can be seen across his brow!


I don't have to walk four miles to school barefoot in the snow. I haven't birthed 13 children all 9 months apart and I will never have to fight for women to get the vote..... but I really do think that there are some traditions and principles that we should not let go of in our modern world.

We should not shy away from hard work. We should only eat our fill. We should show respect to our elders. We should live within our means and we  should raise our children with values that we want to see reflected in our society.


......and then we should blog about it to share the message !
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A Vision Splendid
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Free Range Kids: Special interview with Lenore Skenazy


Did you catch the 7.30 Report interview with Lenore Skenazy last night ? She is the author of a book titled 'Free-range Kids'. If you missed it, take the time to watch the whole interview with Kerry O'Brien ( who I am secretly in love with and devastated that he is leaving soon!) 

Do you think that it is strange that this topic has become SO CONTROVERSIAL ? 


I congratulate Lenore for being brave enough to take on the topic of 'helicopter parenting' and the issue of 'blame'. I LOVE her position that you can't go to the park and play because it is too dangerous, yet it is okay to let them sit on the lounge and watch television, become obese and develop poor habits and health issues that stay with them for life.

We won't accept caged eggs, but we readily accept caged children ! We fight for free range eggs, but are quite happy to raise 'battery hen' children.

Think back to your own childhood. Were you roaming the streets on your bicycle without a helmet ? Off playing down the street knowing that it would be okay as long as you were home in time for tea ?

Do you remember lots of kids, at some stage, having a broken arm, or skin off from 'stacking' their bike ? Eggs on their heads where they were running around the house and crashed into each other ?

Do you remember when kids were 'dirty' ? They were literally covered in dirt because they were building bike jumps, dig outs, cubby houses or burying treasure maps ?

How does the way you raise your children to compare to your own childhood ?

Think about times back even further. Was my Grandmother hovering over her children to make sure they played nice, didn't get their feelings hurt or (god forbid!) scuff their knee on some grass and get a graze ?

It seems crazy when we compare.

Are you a helicopter parent, a lawnmower parent (the parent that smooths out all obstacles) or a free range parent. I think I am in the middle ground, but with my boys now 9 and 12 I think I can swing a little more free range now that the Lenore has done such a great job of putting language on the issue.

Let's get some dialogue happening, people. Where do you sit on the free range parenting scale ?
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A Vision Splendid
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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 .............
Read more »
A Vision Splendid
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Vintage Hankies

Vintage Hankies


Looking at these handkerchiefs all freshly washed and crisply ironed I am reminded of their place throughout history.

There was a time when one would never leave the house without a freshly pressed hankie in one's pocket. A hankie was more than just a tissue, it was seen as an item of fashion and, particularly after the war, an extension of the self.

It is interesting to see the progression of beautiful vintage designs. Did you know that when dresses were somewhat plain and all one colour, a decorative hankie in a bright floral was thought to bring style and elegance ?

What about that hankie that was strategically dropped, only to be retried by an attractive suitor ?

What about the hankie that was handed to a teary lady which was lovingly hand embroidered with initials ?


I have accepted the mission of single handedly bringing the vintage hankie back into the world. LOL

You may remember that I am also on a mission to single handedly bring back the tea towel

http://avisionsplendid.blogspot.com/2008/02/tea-towel.html

and the air pot.

http://avisionsplendid.blogspot.com/2007/09/chaning-world-one-air-pot-at-time.html

Phew, this world changing stuff is hard work...... any takers for continuing the crusade of bringing back the hankie, the tea-towel and air pot ?
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A Vision Splendid
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My Grandmother's Ways

My Grandmother's Ways





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’ ?



Read more »
A Vision Splendid
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Slowly.... Methodically.....

Slowly.... Methodically.....



Well. It's over. The end of an era. I have been imagining the day for at least the last 25 years.

We sat in the church and I did not look at the coffin. It was nothing to do with the Nanna that I knew and loved. It was somehow foreign. I sat and listened and laughed at the eulogy. It was quite funny. It was beautifully written. The only place I thought I was really going to lose it was when they read My Grandmother's Hands. A simple poem I had penned years before to go in one of my scrapbook albums. But, I held it together. I reminded myself that this is not her....... I have many wonderful memories that are her.... not this...... not this freezing cold church.

::It was strange::

Outside the church we all stood around. We had been told that there would be a private cremation. I was talking to a cousin when suddenly we noticed that processing out of the long driveway was the three clergy, two dressed in white and one dressed in black stepping slowly in front of the hearse as it crept along the long driveway out into the street.

Did anyone even notice that she was sneaking away silently ? We stood there and watched, but didn't say anything to each other. That is the way she wanted it. She would step away slowly, privately, unnoticed and without any fuss.

Driving the seven hours back home I was surprised that I wasn't sadder. Truth is we were all so sick, too sick really to even have ventured so far.

All the way home I thought that when I knew she had decided to go, I would never be able to write another word on A Vision Splendid, nothing more about my Grandmother's ways. But when she died I felt stronger than ever that I had a duty to capture all the good things about her and craft them into my own life to make me a better person and to empower the lives of others.

But..... all in good time.

At present I am sick...... we are all sick. We are slow and steady. Even though i am not 'sad' as such, I think it is part of the realisation and the mourning.

I go about my tasks very slowly...... methodically....... I haven't been anywhere, or spoken to anyone. I am practicing a little self preservation because, as my sister told me... the cogs of life have turned. I feel as thought we have all stepped up one place in the generations. My children have become who I was, I am now my mother and my mother steps fully into her role as Grandmother. The wheels of life turn.

So, for as long as required, I am going slow. I am surrounding my self in nurture - wherever I may find it. So far I have found comfort in lovely meals, hot baths and of course...... coloured paper. I have been making some beautiful cards.... there is something very healing about cutting out a perfectly stamped pink flower.

So...... for now......... I take things as slowly as required.
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To Everything There Is A Season

To Everything There Is A Season


My Nanna
15th July 1907 - 1st July 2009



To everything..............there is a season


A time for every purpose under the sun.


A time to be born and a time to die


A time to sow and a time to reap


A time to kill and a time to heal


A time to weep and a time to laugh


A time to mourn and a time to dance



A time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing


A Time to lose and a time to seek



A time to rend and a time to sew



A time to keep silent and a time to speak



A time to love and a time to hate



A time for war and a time for peace








Now.... it is my time to mourn..............I hope that soon it will be my time for peace.
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So Dark Before The Dawn

So Dark Before The Dawn






I am really missing my morning quiet time. I like to have some time before the sun comes up to sit and ..... well just sit, or download all the ideas that raced around in my head throughout the night, or blog, or read or write lists.... and lists..... and then summary lists! lol


But the sun is coming up very late at the moment. It is after 7am which in my books is way too late! I don't have an alarm clock. I sleep with the blinds up so I can see the stars and hear the first bird warn me of the impending daylight. But 7am ? That means by the time the birds start, it is already close to 6.30am and I feel robbed of my quiet time.

I try to start each day with a strong morning routine. If I can get through that then all is well with the world. Households with children can be danger zones in the morning. Having a predictable steady paced routine is much better for everyone's mental health. Believe me, I have tried looking for that pair of shoes at the last minute only to attempt getting out the back door and realising that one child doesn't have a hat which means ' no play' - it is a much saner option to opt for the night before readiness programme and the subsequent peaceful morning.



After the whirlwind has left I can start my 'whip round'. Finish making the beds, swish the loo and perform the meditative daily sweep.


In keeping with my focus of health and fitness I have been taking the time to do some exercise and fuel up with a huge breakfast. Breakfast like a king and dinner like pauper.




Thinking back to my Grandmother's ways - routines were an integral part of life. Can you imagine the family getting up to have no fire going, not hot water, nothing cooked ..... because the wife 'didn't feel like it today' lol How times have changed!

Routines were essential to the running of daily life. Now days, we seem to be able to take it or leave it. If we don't feel like doing the washing, the family has more than enough clothes in wardrobes. If we don't feel like cooking there is always the drive thru! In my grandmothers day if she didn't wash, there were no other clothes. They had work clothes and church clothes. If she didn't cook, they didn't eat because there were no take away restaurants! I remember her telling me that on one occasion she didn't iron the pillow cases and they had unexpected visitors drop in and stay the night and when she had to pull out the un-ironed pillow case she felt humiliated because it was a great shame! lol Yes.... things have surely changed.

But back to my world....... I have to wait until April before daylight savings finishes and I get my extra daylight in the morning. Until then..... I will continue blogging away in the dark feeling cheated because the day is well underway yet the sun is not doing her job!
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A Vision Splendid
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Joyful, Joyful Day......and the Chooks  Arrive.

Joyful, Joyful Day......and the Chooks Arrive.







Today was one of those days. Absolutely Splendid!

We arrived home last night so the morning was filled with washing and a radio interview with ABC in Perth. I can now proudly say that A Vision Splendid is reaching coast to coast! LOL
Then I decided to make a ladder for the chook house out of whatever scraps of timber I could find. The boys helped me to cut the steps roughly to size and even straighten out the nails that we were recycling. It is quite rough, but I actually love the fact that it's a little 'wonky'. We then used a old piece of timber for the perch.

We harvested a huge lots of beans. Here they are in a colander that belonged to my Grandmother. We use it all the time. I am certain that it will last another lifetime yet. I love old things so much. You know they are going to last well, because they already have!



I cleaned out the fridge and freezer pulling out all the compartments and washed them ready for Christmas goodies and stockpiles of harvested produce.

Then we went to town and adopted our girls. All four of them. Since then the boys have spent all afternoon in the cage with the chooks helping them to adjust to life with us.


I had one of those splendid moments. Full of joy. The boys were playing with the chickens and feeding them by hand while I watched and I could smell the beautiful aroma of a banana cake almost ready in the oven. Pure Joy !




To top it all off we are now going for a swim and then we will head off to the movies to sit in air conditioned comfort. We are seeing Madagascar 2 so I hope there are a few laughs in it for me too.

What a Splendid day!




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Just A Quick Hello

Just A Quick Hello



Just logging in to say a quick hello. We are on the road and I have been searching for a wireless connection to be able to log onto the site. The picture below is of my 101 year old Grandmother who we have been visitng in Dubbo, western NSW, and who I thank for starting me off on this journey. I told her all about A Vision Splendid and she said "oh, so I am famous am I ?" and laughed. Nothing surprises her!

The response to my story in the Telegraph's Sunday magazine has been amazing. If you didn't see it, the article was titled 'Dollars and Sense' and told the story of people who choose frugality as a way of life which brings with it lots riches. Thank you to all the people who have emailed me and hello to all the new readers.

While we were in Dubbo we took the boys to the zoo. For those of you that haven't been there, Western Plains Zoo is very different to your concrete and cages type zoo. The animals are in huge open areas with a small but deep river or moat separating you from them. You can drive, walk or ride the 6km circuit. As you look around, you can't see the moat and it looks as though you are just walking through the plains. The wetlands bring hundreds of wild birds to the area which shows that the habitat is in balance.


It was a wonderful learning opportunity for the boys. The talks from the rangers was excellent. There was a very interesting talk about how the number of hippos have dropped 98% over the last twenty years because of the sale of their meat on the black market. The hippo dung kept the fish population alive, so the drop in hippos has also meant the drop in fish which results in the loss of the local fishing industry and the villagers' food supplies. It really struck me that mother nature has a way of keeping everything in balance, in a life cycle that is so well contructed yet held together with spider webs. One thing changes and the web falls apart. As usual it is the humans that have disrupted the web. We are such a distructive breed wouldn't you agree?

 

My favourite animal was this little meerkat and with his lovely little face I will sign off until I am back in the land of a decent internet connection.
Stay Tuned..............
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My Grandmother's Money Tin

My Grandmother's Money Tin










































This is the tin that my Grandmother used to organise her bills. Inside, she had an old tray that she labeled with the names of the bills she had to pay. She would then put a little money aside into each category. Simple isn't it ?




She also gave me a collection of the old paper money that Australia used to have. It looks very different to the plastic money we have these days. We also no longer have a one or two dollar note. They became coins in the mid 80s.






Hubbie and I were discussing how we used to have pay envelopes that had 'actual' money in them with a hand written pay slip. Hubbie remembers keeping so much of it for 'spending' and then banking a portion of it, using his bank book. He said you would put the money in your bank book and put it through a little slot like a slippery dip and the teller would process it and call your name to come and collect your bank book.


Very different to our world today of 'virtual' money. Today you can go to work, get paid straight into your bank account, pay for things straight put of your bank account and never actually 'see' your money. In fact you can work for years and have no idea of how you are actually going. Sure, we get pieces of paper that tell us how we are going, but how many people sit down and add up this account and that account to see whether they are getting ahead, treading water or sinking fast!


Gee times have changed. Have they changed for the better for us as consumers? After all, this 'virtual' money was sold to us on the basis of how convenient it would all be. I am guessing, however, that you and I are not the winners in this new system.

I wonder how we would protect and guard our money if we were given it in a little brown envelope and told 'that has to last you the week, so be careful with it'.
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My Grandmother's Hands

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.
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Reviving Hospitality

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

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.





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