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Showing posts with label old fashioned living. Show all posts
Showing posts with label old fashioned living. Show all posts
Old Wisdom and the Spring Equinox in Australia

Old Wisdom and the Spring Equinox in Australia



















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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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


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

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

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



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Podcast with 'The Greening of Gavin'.

Podcast with 'The Greening of Gavin'.





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

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

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


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The 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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Should We All Be More Frugal ?

Should We All Be More Frugal ?



Recently I have been thinking more and more about the instability of our lifestyles and the way that we are set up as a modern society to live.

If you tune in to television or magazine advertising they will have you believe that everything is wonderful. It has never been better! 'Live for today', you hear them say....'go ahead, your deserve it'.......'you only live once'....... Pay tomorrow.... interest free...

I look around and see a very different story. I see people wondering why 'everyone else' seems to have it so easy when they are doing it tough. I see people who just completely block their financial circumstances and live from credit card to credit card and keep refinancing their blues away.


I have really started to sit up and take notice because I see more and more people whose lives have been turned around by such a simple event that pulls the rug out from underneath them.

I have seen friends go through a separation and divorce, the death of a spouse who was way too young, a job loss for the only income earner in the family, serious illness which turns a family upside down and people wiped out through once in 150 year floods.

We all subconsciously believe that it will 'never happen to us', but I am sure people who have been through a change like this have thought exactly that.



Do you think it is prudent to tighten our belts in the name of securing a solid emergency fund ? How many of us could truly survive for six months if our current income source dried up ? If your income stopped tomorrow, how prepared would you feel ?

As you know, I am always using 'times gone by' as a reference point when it comes to being frugal, living green or living more simply. Perhaps because of the instability of the times, people from older generations always put money from good times away for times when they may not be as good. They stood by the traditional wisdom of saving for a rainy day.

Are our times today any more stable today than what they were back then ? Does easy credit disguise society's true position ? I am not sure, I can only judge it by what I see, hear and read around the community and in the blogosphere.

Why suspicion is.....yes.
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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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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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Re-Using Success.

Re-Using Success.



I still have a lot of plastic in my cupboards.

I have been making a real effort to re-purpose a lot of it because I don't think there is any sense in just throwing it all into landfill. It defeats the purpose.

Slowly but surely I have been changing over some of the storage containers in my cooking cupboard, a cupboard I have above my main prep area so I can just reach up and grab everything I need.
The large glass jars are from buying coffee in bulk and the smaller jars are from local oysters. They have a plastic lid unfortunately, but I still like to re-use them.

I have labeled the jars very simply with a permanent texta.

I enjoy opening the cupboard and looking at all the cooking supplies. I can see at a glance what needs to be topped up, often from a bigger supply in the pantry. I especially enjoy decanting the farmer's market honey into my little pour bottle which makes it easier to manage and easier to pour out a little for a cup of tea or to add to a recipe. I also like having my spices in bigger containers because I use so much of them.

But most of all I love the fact that the containers are NUDE. There are no brand names, no bold colours and no in your face slogans. It makes me feel all 'Little House on the Prairie -ish' LOL or maybe even a bit 'Waltons-ish' - knowing I can send John Boy to the store for a pound of sugar any time soon!

- Gotta love a spoon full of madness each and every day.
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Our Grandparents Never Went to the Gym

Our Grandparents Never Went to the Gym



Can you imagine trying to set up a gym or fitness centre in 1940. You would have to convince people that it was of benefit to them to come in and use the equipment.

I can imagine a farmer being told to get onto the treadmill so he can walk to get some exercise. He’d be saying – he get his exercise in the paddock thanks!

What about the gardener. She would be told to get on the weights machine, but she would argue that she gets enough of that pulling weeds and digging potatoes.

What about the woman told to jump on the bicycle to ride her way to fitness, she’d be saying that there was no point in doing that because she just rode four miles to get here on her own bicycle and still has the return journey ahead of her!

Yes, I agree with you that the 1940’s gymnasium would be a total flop!!

But, as a 2010 girl I have a gym membership. We have a community owned aquatic and leisure centre about half way between my house and town.

Sure, I could get my exercise walking in the paddocks, digging potatoes and riding my bicycle like they did in 1940, but there is one big difference. They never allowed do get themselves overweight in the first place.

Have you noticed when looking back at old photos and hearing people’s recollection that very few people were overweight ? I believe it is a combination of an active lifestyle and limited food variety and quantity.

Today we lead a more sedentary lifestyle and have an abundance of food all around us, and like any cow on a good pasture we are bound to add a few kilos each year until you hit middle age and ........... Last week I read that obesity is now the biggest health problem in Australia and is responsible for all kinds of preventable diseases and conditions.

If exercise was a pill it would be a wonder drug. It reduces stress, makes you feel very very happy, reduces blood pressure, corrects type 2 diabetes, makes for strong hearts, great skin, hair and nails. Who wouldn’t buy a box of that pill ?

So. Quite ironically I drive to the gym to get on the exercise equipment. One of the trainers told me I am close enough to ride my bike there and back, which I am… but if I rode my bike there, I wouldn’t have to go inside!!! ( That’s my logic …..and I am sticking to it for now!)

Is it worth the money ? I think so because I use it almost every day so the actual cost of each visit is less than a cup of coffee and I feel so damn good after a class. Today during a bodypump class with the music blaring I had a massive rush of endorphins and could barely stop myself from yelling out ‘damn…yeah!’ as I threw that weights bar over my head.

You can check out all about bodypump here.

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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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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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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’ ?



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Yesterday We Owned The River

Yesterday We Owned The River


When we are cruising around our beautiful river and there is no one else about I always think that the river belongs to us - that {we} own the river. Of course I know it is exactly the opposite, we don't own the river - the river owns us!

I had the camera with me yesterday so I snapped some shots of the old buildings around the banks.

There are lots of old dairy farms on this island. There is also a lot of history around the area, with the river being used as the main transportation link for freight and milk. The whole area was once a bustling hive of activity. Now days, the river winds its way through the valley with most people too busy to even stop and look.

But I look....... and dream of days gone by. Days when being 10 kilometres from town was a long way and could only justify a trip there once a week at most. Days when the river was the centre of life - providing goods from afar and fish, prawns and crabs from it's depths.



You can see that cruising up the river, turning off the motor and drifting in the silence for a while, taking in the sounds of the birds, the lapping of the water on the bank, the friendly dolphins.... would make anyone realise after a while that {we} don't own the river, the {river} owns us!

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A Simple Reminder

A Simple Reminder



On Wednesday I spent the day with my youngest son on his school excursion to Timbertown. We have been there before, so it was nice to go with his class group.

Apart from spending the day with my son, it was a very healthy day for me. I felt a reconnection.

I walk into the little cottages and there is something spooky about it. I see the small rooms with perfectly laid out furnishings and hand made quilts on beds and hand stitched lacework on vintage wooden chests of drawers. It is spooky yet it really speaks to me. It is spooky because I can sense the pain of a woman who probably had 10 children with no electricity or running water and worse still... no lap top to record her frustrations and joys!

After the spookiness clears I am drawn to the simpleness. I am drawn to the fact that there are limited personal possessions, which meant that what they had was truly treasured. I am drawn to the idea that their life was made up of the ‘job’ of living in itself.

Every day was about living. It was about preparing meals , growing food, washing clothes, making belongings, educating children. These tasks took all day. I see our lives in contrast where we do the ‘business of living’ in a short period of time. We wash our clothes automatically, have our food delivered and outsource the majority of the other tasks. Then we are left with the rest of the day and week wondering what we should do. We have so much time left over that we introduce jobs, hobbies, socialising, children’s activities and recreational shopping.

As I look around the old style room I imagine that life was so busy through the week from sun up to sun down that by the time Sunday came around it was a well earned ‘day of rest’. How lovely it must have been to know that you worked hard and accomplishment so much all week that you were due for a day of relaxation and socialising. I guess the flip side of that is that it all started again with wash day on Monday.

Of course I know that I am totally romanticising the whole thing and the reality would have been quite harsh ( especially the no lap top bit) but isn’t that was nostalgia is all about ? You take the good and leave the bad.

Back to my home in the 21st century where I have my own version of the pioneer cottage. My focus turns to preparing meals, tending to the garden, baking some treats, composting the food scraps, collecting the eggs, washing the clothes, tidying and caring for my home, making some handmade cards and helping the children.

I am just lucky that I have a digital camera and lap top computer so that we can all share the journey.
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Changes At The Dinner Table

Changes At The Dinner Table






Sitting around the table with my in-laws this week, we struck up an interesting conversation. The topic of the conversation was for the benefit of my children, particularly the youngest son. It started like this:


" Poppy, when you were a kid, what did you do if your mum was cooking tea and it was still twenty minutes from being ready and you were staaaarving?"


"nothing.... you just had to wait" he replied.


"So, you didn't go and get a few biscuits out of the cupboard or eat an apple or grab a small packet of chips ?" We asked as youngest son's eyes began to get wider.


Pop told us all about the ways things were. You always ate everything on your plate because that was it! If the meal was cooking.... you waited. It was as simple as that. The meals were simple but adequate. They ate the same things all the time, there was no need for anything gourmet or new.


When I think about the 'old way' of eating there are a couple of things that always come to mind. Firstly, how the food was supposedly 'bad for you', - all that butter, bacon and dripping and yet only a very small proportion of the population was overweight. Secondly, the rhythm of eating - breakfast, morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner and supper. It sure seems to be a lot of eating!


What strikes me about the way we eat today is that we are NEVER hungry. I see mothers with prams pull out all sorts of weird and wonderful things - it seems that kids can't go anywhere without having an emergency box of barbecue shapes in their backpacks or a six pack of juice poppers because the label says they are good for us.


Is it my imagination or are we just grazing all day long ? Is food too readily available for us ? Has food become a pacifier to young children and is it to comfort rather than to nourish ?


It always seems strange to me that people ate traditional ways for such a long period of time, yet since food companies have been telling us how to eat more 'healthy' we are the unhealthiest we have ever been! Sure, we may be living longer, but we pop a lot of pills and have lots of replacement surgery in order to carry on.


Ockham's Razor ( a radio programme on ABC) featured a programme called Fructose recently. It was an extract from the book Sweet Poison by David Gillespie. You can find it here.

I was particularly interested in the way he looked back at how food intake and health changed in a relatively short period of time.


It was not that long ago that there were no gym memberships, no diet magazines and no meal replacement programmes. I think you will enjoy the glance backwards.


As far as our family goes, I want to talk more to my kids about the ways things were. I want to be more rhythmic in our eating patterns and stop for meals and morning/afternoon tea and enjoy the ritual of those events as well as the food intake. I may even bring back dessert! - home made of course!!!


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A Woman's Work

A Woman's Work



These are some shots I took from a display at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney. I have been there a couple of times before and was glad to see that this display was still there. I love this display because it reminds me so much of my other Nanna's house. Looking at it is almost a step back in time for me. It reminds me of a time when things were so simple. I look at these photos and think about the women who spent many hours in these types of kitchens.

Meal preparation and cleaning was a big part of their day. There were no microwave ovens or online pizza ordering.


Depending on which source you read, some women fought to escape from the prison of the home. They longed for a life that recognised them as individuals and beings that were capable of so much more than being "just" a mother and housekeeper.



I love that here I am in the 21st century at the age of 36 and already have had two professional careers ( lawyer and school teacher). I love that the above picture of me captures the present and the past. I love that I here I am with the world as my oyster knowing that I can do and be anything I want to be .... and yet, I write a blog justifying my choice to be "just" a mother and "just" a housekeeper.
...... I wonder what the 1940s woman would have thought of me................



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A Vision Splendid
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Earth Hour - A Step Back In Time

Earth Hour - A Step Back In Time




Last night we had dinner with some friends to celebrate a birthday. It co-incided with Earth Hour, a now annual event where participants are encouraged to turn off their lights for one hour from 8.30pm as in indication of support and to raise awareness of global climatic concerns.

Our boys knew all about Earth Hour because they had been discussing it at school. They packed torches to take with them and I packed a few extra candles, not sure what our hosts would have.
The kids ( there were nine of them) were watching a movie, playing the playstation and generally doing modern day kid things! When it was time to turn the lights out, however, out came the torches and games of spotlight and spooks started, as well as going out to look for flying foxes ( bats) and jumping on the trampoline with torches ( to the tune of squeals of delight). After that they came in and played the piano and we all commented on how lovely it was. Two of the boys in particular play really well and we enjoyed their Pachobel's Canon duet.

The grown ups continued their dinner party by candlelight and it was all very lovely. When the birthday cake came out we joked about not blowing the candles out because we needed the extra light until 9.30pm.

It always surprises me that as soon as our modern convenience is removed it doesn't take long before we revert back to our natural ways. We adjust very quickly to the inconvenience. The kids suddenly rely on their imaginations and have the greatest fun, the grown ups have a lovely night because of the change in mood or ambiance brought about by the softer lighting.

....and of course, as Pachabel's Cannon was playing in the background, it was a moment of joy when someone said ' you know, this is what it would have been like in the olden days'......... joy of joys!
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A Vision Splendid
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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.
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A Vision Splendid
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Been Out Back at the Outback House

Been Out Back at the Outback House









I have now returned home after going out to Dubbo in western New South Wales to visit my grandmother once again. While I was out there I had the opportunity to visit the Outback House. Ever since the series was shown on ABC a couple of years ago I have been wanting to visit the area, but it is privately owned and was only opened on long weekends and special occasions.



The television series depicted participants from modern day heading back in time to a working homestead in 1861. The property, named "Oxley Downs" was 'built' as a replica of the homesteads of the day. You can see more about the series here I was really drawn to the series because it is very close to where my grandparents built a homestead in the 1930s.


What struck me straight away was the self sufficiency of life. Exactly how my grandmother had described to me. They raised and killed their own meat and grew all their own fruit and veg. My grandmother also grew wheat and took it to the mill to swap for bags of flour.



The homestead was so simple yet so beautiful. It had a hallway that went straight through the building with rooms off to each side. First door on the left was the dining room which doubled as the classroom and office.




The first door on the right was the parlour which has comfortable chairs and small tables and a piano.





The last two rooms were the bedrooms.




I was so intrigued by the kitchen. So primitive, yet highly functional with a separate storage room or larder.

The garden was a huge area that really grew everything, all in together. It was magnificent. There were no neat little rows, it was more a permaculture style. The owners told me to take what I wanted and although I wanted to dive in with a wheelbarrow, I respectfully took a few things that I thought I would be able to continue the heirloom breeds from by saving the seeds.







What really struck me was that in comparison they did it so tough, although they knew no different. They baked and made EVERYTHING. They grew EVERYTHING.



When I arrived home I went to make some rock cakes and suddenly realised how lucky I am. I have refrigeration. I can freeze my vegetables and meat, I have a microwave if I want the butter to melt faster, I have an electric oven. So a more self sufficient lifestyle would be so EASY in comparison. It is so easy to bake bread, make pasta, make jam. Yet..... it seems that we have been tricked into a consumerist lifestyle where even baking a chicken is too much work when it is far more "convenient" to get a pre-cooked chook from the supermarket!


So, my perspective has certainly changed......... I rose early this morning and made strawberry jam. I then had it on a slice of home baked bread from the bread maker, toasted in my electric toaster and I had a cup of tea boiled in my electric jug. Being more self sufficient is suddenly so easy is comparison.


I sat and thought joyful thoughts......
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A Vision Splendid
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