Showing posts with label old fashioned living. Show all posts
Showing posts with label old fashioned living. Show all posts


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!


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.


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......


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!


A Night in the Library with Colonel Mustard

I don't remember how it first started but we tend to turn everything off when there is a storm approaching. There have been quite a lot of thunderstorms lately and we have been watching the radar imagery on the bureau of meteorology website. For Australians it is

Last night as the storm got closer the boys asked whether everything should be turned off. I told them it is probably best if they do turn it all off. 'Best' however, is not because of the risk of appliances shorting out or power surges, although that is always a possibility, 'best' is because it a great opportunity to have a power free night. The electricity stays on, so we have lights, but the boys prepare torches, candles etc 'just in case'
It's all very exciting.

 Then comes the 'powerless' activities. - drawing, playing cards, building Lego. Last night we played Cluedo and had good fun doing it.

I love having silence in the house - that is when things slow down and everyone uses their imagination.


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'.


The Fourth R - ReWear

We recycle, we renew, we re-use, it's now time to re-wear ( outer clothes, I mean!!!)

Re-wearing cuts down on washing and helps make your clothes last longer.

Strategies for introducing re-wearing into your household.

1. Have 'town clothes' and 'house clothes'. You get dressed in your house clothes, do your jobs and then put your tidy clothes on to go to town, meet friends for coffee, have an appointment etc. When you return home, hang your 'town clothes' up, after all you have only worn them for an hour or so and continue working in your 'house clothes'. This will help your 'good clothes' last longer as they are no being worn as much.

2. Wear an apron when you are cooking and cleaning to protect your clothes.

3. Your children can have a set of 'after school clothes' that could last quite a few days. They can change out of their uniforms and be in their play clothes for those few hours between school and bath time. They can then fold those clothes up before bedtime and get another afternoon out of them.
Some days these strategies are completely impractical! Especially when after school activities include digging in the garden and playing in the mud.

I am certainly not advocating that we get around the place looking and smelling like an old tramp, but in a world where we wear things for one hour and then advertisers tell us that they must be washed with expensive brand named powder, with an added 'brightener' to the wash, followed by a fabric softener and ironed whilst being sprayed with a fresh smelling ironing aide, there are lots of opportunities to re-wear some outer clothing. It's great for the environment, it saved us money and most of all cuts down the amount of washing.

It's worth thinking about.


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.


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.


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' ( 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.


The Secret To A Long Life.............

When my grandmother turned 101 in July she gave an interview to the local Newspaper. She told them that the secret to a long and healthy life was keeping busy and not worrying.

She failed to add that she grew all her own food, never smoked, and didn't drink. I guess if you are busy going about your daily work you don't have time to get old. Daily work keeps you mentally active and physically active. It is funny how no one went to the gymnasium in 1940 ! doing a hard days work was just part of life.

Now..... advertising tells us that work or effort is bad. We drive 1 kilometre to the shop, we have a clicker button that changes the channels on the TV because, lets face it, we don't want to have to get up and take three steps! We are so sedentary because we have machines that do everything for us. As a result we are completely out of balance as human beings. We are overweight, take medication to reduce our cholesterol and more medication to keep our blood pressure down.

Maybe if we took the 1940s approach to life, things would fall back into balance. Walking to the shop, digging in the garden, growing and eating our own food would reduce our waistline, our blood pressure and our cholesterol levels. The work would give us a tremendous sense of satisfaction that money can't buy and the changes we make would improve our family budget.

Then we would be as humans are meant to be. Balanced. Are we the only mammal that is self destructive?

Hubbie snapped the photo a couple of days ago. It is entitled "why do you ask?"


The Family Company - the best one to work for.

Our Family Boardroom.

No company could survive if they constantly missed deadlines, didn’t pay bills, had more outgoings than incomings, had staff that constantly yelled at each other, no filing system, no records. Can you imagine the picture? The company would fail for sure. It would be extremely stressful to work there and for the owners the burden would be unbearable.

Managing your home is no different to managing a company. Think of your home as your family company. If you were the CEO then all of your actions would be centred towards the betterment of your company, not any other company. Your company would come first.

How is your company running at present ? How is the monthly budget looking. Do you even know how you went this last month ? Do you know how you went this past year ? What are your filing systems like ? Can you put your hand on a piece of paper in under 30 seconds? Can you locate your tax summary for 2006 or your child’s immunisation records? How about a manufacturer’s warranty card or the insurance papers for the house ?

Does the company run smoothly? Are there standard operating procedures? Does each company member know what their job is ? Are tasks being performed or are deadlines being missed.

Is your company solvent? That is, are you financially viable ? Is your company going down the gurgler – is it falling behind year after year? Are the outgoings each month more than the incomings?

Who cleans the offices? What recognition does the caterer receive? When is the next board meeting and what is on the agenda?

Your family is more important than any other company in the world. Where do you priorities lie ? Do you give more to your workplace than your own home ? I am sure that you have heard the saying 'on your deathbed, no-one wishes they spent more time at the office'.

Here are some points to improve your family company.

1. Start a good filing system: even if you can't tackle the back log, from now on file every piece of paper that needs to be kept in a place where you or anyone else can find it in under 30 seconds.

2. Have a system for house cleaning and management. Develop a basic weekly plan. Break up tasks so you don't spend your weekends doing housework or washing and ironing. Remember, there are many jobs that fit into the 'stitch in time saves nine' category.

3. Grow some of your own food: Start with some potted herbs and move to planter boxes with a few vegies and then to garden beds. Growing food is economically sensible for a family, it is a fantastic activity to get children involved with and gives a tremendous sense of satisfaction that cannot be reproduced by any 'shopping activities'.

4. Finally take charge of your finances. If you are 'blocking' the truth, it is time to face your financial facts! You can't do anything about the problem unless you identify it and take charge! Work out where you are now. Look at my 'stop think do' programme on the left hand side for more tips. Taking charge can be extremely empowering.

5. Work on your logistics: Stop rushing around. Plan Plan Plan to alleviate chaos and bring peace to your household. Look at what you need next week or next month and do it now so you are not rushing around at the very last minute making everyone stressed. Group errands, minimise outside commitments and prioritise your home and family as Number One.

6. Work on your Family Relationships: If a company has disharmony in the workplace, they would call in an expert and do some personal development and team building exercises to improve workplace relations. Every company knows that when staff are happy and harmonious productivity goes up and staff turn over comes down. People are happy to come to work. Invest some time into improving your family relationships. Spend time together, schedule activities and outings. Have a family movie night where you make home made pizzas beforehand - each member of the house can contribute like a production line. Even a two year old can sprinkle mushrooms! Play a board game without the TV on or play a game in the yard or park. You will be surprised how it slowly changes thing if you invest the time.

7. Have a family meeting regularly. Kids love this, no matter what their age is. At the family meeting you can plan holidays, discuss behavioural expectations, talk about pocket money, discuss job allocations, give recognition for jobs well done. This is something you have to try - especially if you have children. They thrive on this sense of contribution they feel. When we first did this it was a little 'tongue in cheek' for me but once we got going I saw how fabulous it is. Now there is excitement when we announce a family meeting, or if things go off the rails wit behaviour, jobs etc we say 'I think we better call a family meeting' In our VERY serious voice LOL.

Try these steps and let me know your thoughts. Afterall, our family company is the best one to work for !


Spring Garden Update - Messy Peas and Harvest Joy

The soil warms and the plants SPRING to life.

Last week and the week before we had awful weather. Our peas, which were about 5 feet tall were laying flat on the ground because of the terrible winds that we had been having. We also had a huge amount of rain which seemed to last for days and days. We thought we may lose all the peas so we decided to just pick the whole lot up and tie it up as best we could. It appears today that some pieces which were broken or bend have started to die, while others still have good fat pods on them

The plant is a huge bundled mess, but we will just let nature takes it's course

The rest of the garden is coming along well and we are very excited about the temperature of the soil rising. Beans which he had given up on have now awoken and since the rain the corn has doubled in size

Last night we went to a bbq with friends. Our contribution was the salad and it gave us great joy to go and pick a lettuce from the backyard. We joked about our 'harvest ceremony' and of course, had to take photos.

We had to add 'bought' capsicum, cucumber, tomato, carrot and red onion. We live in hope for the day when the whole salad will come from the backyard. If we keep getting great days and steady rains it may not be that far away.


The Perfect Father's Day Meal*

Last Friday my favourite radio programme Life Matters ( ABC Radio National) ran a programme on the topic of the decline of eating at the table. This is a topic I have read about in the past. I can recall reading some research that came out of the USA that suggested that kids from families that ate at least four meals together a week had better school grades, fewer teen pregnancies and limited drug use. My sons are only seven and ten but I can guarantee you that eating at the dining table as a family will prevent either of them falling pregnant in their early teen years. LOL

The photos are of the table that my sons set for the father’s day meal. I cooked a lamb roast with so much rosemary that when I first put it in the whole house smelt like the Catholic Church from my childhood! LOL ( must have been a sort of incense smell).

We eat 99.97% of our meals at our kitchen table. We have a small cottage style house and the table is slap bang in the middle of the kitchen. It seems to be the ‘hub’ of the house and I believe it when people say ‘the kitchen is the heart of the home’.

I believe that eating at the family table has a myriad of benefits for our family, probably some that I am not even aware of and could probably never articulate, but these are some thought that come to mind.

1) It is a TIME OF GATHERING – we are all busy and it seems as the boys get older, that pace continues to increase. Meal times are an opportunity to gather together as a family unit.

2) It is a time to COMMUNICATE – we have a similar conversation each night at the table. It usually starts with ‘ what was the best thing about your day ?’ or ‘How was Miss Taylor (teacher) today ?’ Even when they were tiny they loved to contribute their five cents about something that happened that day. Even if it was a couple of disjointed words at the age of 18 months, it was still their contribution.
 As they have gotten older their contribution has become increasingly articulate and I love how they recount narratives about their day. It makes me laugh that the ten year old’s contribution usually involves some funny anecdote about the day, about who said what that made the whole class laugh. The seven year old’s contribution usually starts with ‘ do you know what?’ and we all have to say ‘what??’ to which he replies ‘well……’ with terrific expression in his voice! Even the grown ups have to contribute what was good about their day. It often makes us think. When I am in an awful mood, it is the conversation that usually turns me around! I am hoping that as the boys get older a platform is built for open communication and sharing of concerns and issues.

3) A time WITHOUT TELEVISION. Even if the television has been on I always turn it off when we sit down to eat. I seems that the meal time is a special time. The switching off is like some great ceremonious gong that announces ‘ let the sharing begin’.

4) A time of STRUCTURED MEALS – combined with a menu plan it is a great way of looking at what the kids are eating. I have one son that eats absolutely anything and another that eats very blandly – rice chicken pasta peas saos apples and rice crackers could get him through the year. Laying meals out on the table lets me keep up with what we eat.

5) It makes me feel a bit WALTONISH – lol. Remember the show THE WALTONS? I have the compete Series One on DVD and I love it. It’s kind of strange and hard to articulate but I love the old fashioned values, the simplicity of life, the hard times, the family values and I love that they sit around the table and debrief over beautiful home cooked meals.

I know that as the boys get older and get cars, mates, girlfriends, part time jobs and hormones that this romantic notion of the family meal will probably go out the window so for now… for this season I will enjoy it while it lasts.

I ask you this………. Are you swapping the opportunity for better family relationships, a stronger family unit and greater communication for the evening news and gossip or the latest soap opera ?? Food for thought I guess………


The Spirit of My Ancestors

This is the spoon I use to cook with.

It belonged to my great grandmother.

Considering that my Grandmother is now 101 years old, it is amazing to think that HER mother used it to cook with.

If you look closely you will see that one side is worn down from use over the years.
This is one of my most prized possessions. A couple of years ago I was a guest speaker at the View Club and took my spoon along to talk about the importance of writing down our stories. I accidentally left it on the table and it was collected with all the cutlery at the end of the meal. I went home without it and it took a couple of days for me to remember that I must have left it there. I was devastated and returned to the venue and raided drawers and drawers of cutlery with the owners to finally get it back! It must have gone into the dishwasher with every thing else. I was extremely lucky!

I really LOVE my spoon because every time I pull it out I am reminded of the spirit of my ancestors. Hard working, frugal living, self sufficient, simple people. Whether it was by choice or necessity, the spoon reminds me to live like it's 1940s. To be more family oriented. To cook from scratch. To be self reliant. To waste less. To save more. To have a grateful spirit.

I wonder what possessions of mine are going to be around for more than 100 years ? The answer that pops into my mind is unfortunately the millions of plastic bags I have used so far LOL !


The Daily Sweep

If you told me 12 months ago that I would be sweeping everyday I would think of it with dread. The hallways and loungeroom used to be covered in a lovely cream carpet which we chose when our first born son was a baby, not knowing how ridiculous it was to have cream carpet and a young family. When we closed in the back area of the house and reclaimed the laundry as living area we put flooring through all the areas except the bedrooms and office. As a result I now have to sweep everyday.

Rather than being a chore, I actually enjoy my morning ritual. It is quite shocking the amount that is actually swept up. All that dust and dirt was soaking into the carpets before because I certainly didn't vacuum every day.

I like the simple repetitive act of sweeping all the dirt and dust out the front door and back into the garden. I love that the simple act doesn't require any electricity or the latest state of the art vacuum cleaner. I love the feeling of satisfaction that I get when I walk back in and it is all clean once again.

There is joy in the simple rhythms of life.............


This is What 101 Years of Simple Living Looks Like....

This is my Grandmother who turned 101 on the 15th July. She still walks around, has a wonderful memory and she certainly has " all her marbles". She lived in her own home up until 6 weeks before her 100th birthday.

When the local Newspaper were interviewing her they asked her what the secret of a long life is.
She said it was 'keeping busy'. I guess that is true. I have never known Nanna to procrastinate over anything. She was always prepared for anything. Her freezer was always stocked with freshly blanched vegetables and she had frozen meals she had made bursting out of the huge chest freezer she had. We always joked that if the Apocalypse came, it would be okay, because Nanna's freezer could feed all the survivors! LOL

When asked if she made a wish on her birthday she said she didn't need to make a wish because she had everything she wants and needs. She enjoys living in the nursing home because she doesn't have to do her own washing, cleaning and ironing. She views it as a luxury.

When asked about society today, she said the children are little brats. Her thoughts are that children should be put to work early for their parents so that they learn to do the right thing.
She was asked if she had ever used a computer, and told the journalist that although she had used my lap top, the only mouse she has ever known is the one you set a trap for !

So.... 'keeping busy' is the key to a long and lovely life ? What was she busy with ? In the earlier days it was milking, baking, cooking meals, washing, cleaning, gardening, ironing, farming, knitting, sewing. Then, when she moved to town it was ......... baking, cooking meals, gardening, washing, cleaning, knitting, sewing....... hmmmmmm I guess she was just too busy to grow old.

So, what can I learn from this ? Am I doing my best in the areas listed above? Am I seduced by the advertising devil that tells me to slacken off, rest because I 'deserve it', buy because I 'deserve' it and think about myself because, after all, I am the most important person in the world! No.......... I think I will adopt the more humble life. I will work hard for the joy and peace that comes in knowing that I am 'ahead' and prepared for the days to come.

Proverbs 31:21
When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
for all of them are clothed in scarlet.


We Apologise for The Break In Programming.....

The past two months have been a huge transition time in my life and in our house.

I have decided that I will leave my paid employment and come home. The reason it is such a huge transition is this. I used to be a teacher. While I was off work on maternity leave I did a law degree and in October 2005 I began working for a large law firm. I was admitted as a solicitor in 2006.

Working as a lawyer is really a great profession, despite what stereotyping may tell you. I worked in an area of law that really helped people in crisis. The best thing about helping them was that it didn't cost them anything. I enjoyed this because I enjoy helping people. I get a real 'buzz' from empowering others.

Over the last couple of years I had been questioning my priorities. Making money is a very good thing, as it gives you choices. But making money doesn't do it for me. It sounds like such a cliché but money doesn't necessarily bring me happiness. The lack of money ( and I have been there too) gives me anxiety where as the middle ground brings me joy. The problem with making good money in a job is that you constantly trade your time for the money. Throughout my life it always seems a shift between having lots of money and no time or having lots of time and no money. So I have been on a quest for the middle ground. What if I could design my life the way I want to. After all, nothing is permanent. If I make the wrong decision I can go back, can't I ? There are thousands of sheets of notepaper laying around this house with lists. When the going gets tough, the tough make lists! Lists of pros lists of cons, lists of values, lists of qualities, lists of strengths, lists of weaknesses, lists of assets and lists of liabilities. Lists of goals, aims,objectives. Not that I am into astrology but apparently I am the typical Libran- weighing it up all the time.

Then on the 19th of April I got a call to say that a friend from work had lost her husband all of a sudden. This was a lady who is a real role model to me. She has two children about 18 and 21 and they were a very close and loving family. I looked at her son and hoped that I would be able to raise my sons to be fine young men as well. There she was in her mid 40s - a widow. She had lost her beautiful husband so suddenly. As I sat at the funeral I realised that life is as delicate as a butterfly's wings. It clings to us like a fine spider web that is gone in a breath of wind. Yet we treat it like it is permanent, like it is set in stone, that somehow it is our right to have it for as long as we demand. Truth is, it can be blown away with any breath of wind like a dandelion seed.

With this new found perspective I listed on yet another list what really brought me joy and how I really wanted to design my life and how I really want to raise my children. It always comes back to the way of the old days. How did they afford to live ? Of course they didn't have many of the 'luxuries' that we call every day items, but human needs have not changed at all in the last 50 years. We still need water, food, shelter and love. The only thing that has changed is our unquenchable need for items introduced to us via advertising. We buy because we have a need to fulfill. The items fill that need for short period but then we need something else to fill the void. What is the void we are trying to fill ? We needs in our human psyche are not being met ? The great philosopher Epicurus surmised that we need friends, freedom and an analysed life, that is, to discuss the philosophy of life with friends, while sharing good food. I think I tend to agree with him.

So... once I made the decision there was no turning back. Suddenly there arose a further list of very important things. A To-Do-List of the mammoth proportions. Firstly, secure food. As I have always thought, my Grandmother would never have had only some parsley and coriander in the garden and told the kids to get in the car and take them to McDonalds! Of course there was no McDonalds and no car ! LOL

It was just taken for granted that there would be things to eat in the garden. So..... we built more garden beds and started studying up on when to plant and when to harvest etc. At the moment, there is not much to show for our efforts because it is winter, but the seeds are sown for a wonderful spring.

I have been doing quite a bit of reading. I have stated many times before that no matter what perspective an article is written from it always adds up to the same conclusion to me. Whether it is about green living, peak oil, permaculture, frugal living, voluntary simplicity etc etc it always comes back to living like it's 1940. So I will take on many things from the past whilst keeping the treasures of our modern society.

Only my closest friends can truly understand my reason for living my career, that is, "that I have an overwhelming need to till the earth while my children are young" LOL ! I am sure that many will believe that I have had some sort of breakdown. If you remember the very first episode of "The Good Life" you will be laughing now I am sure.

I guess this means it is time to put my money ( or lack of it) where my mouth is and commence the experiment. Can a thoroughly modern mum live freely in a modern world. Can she produce food? Can she cook from scratch? Can she knit socks(gulp!)? Can she raise chooks for eggs? Can she learn to sew properly (gulp!) and........ can she still afford to buy the occasional vanilla latte on skim milk that has become her signature coffee ?

I believe that my user name "BusyWoman" is about to become an extremely accurate assessment of the days to come. I look forward to it with a sick sense of excitement. I hope you will stick around for the journey.

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 ...