Showing posts with label seeking your thoughts. Show all posts
Showing posts with label seeking your thoughts. Show all posts


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 ?


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’ ?


According To Martha ....Six Things To Do Daily

According to MARTHA who has positioned herself as THE world wide authority on all things 'homey' we should be doing the following 6 things every day in the home.

1. Make The Bed - because tidiness begets tidiness, meaning if you make the bed you will feel like cleaning the rest of the room.

2. Manage Clutter - we are meant to grab clutter every time we walk out of a room and encourage other family members to do likewise.

3. Sort The Mail - open, read and sort as soon as we bring it inside.

4. Clean As You Cook - rinse and pop things into the dishwasher as you are cooking ( great advice for those that actually HAVE a dishwasher )

5. Wipe Up Spills While They're fresh - almost anything is easier to remove if you attend to it straight away.

6. Sweep The Kitchen Floor - every evening after you have finished cooking so that dirt and grime don't build up.

Well..... sounds easy enough when you read it in a pretty little list. How do you rate in the Martha stakes ?


Garden Update: Tears of {Onion} Joy

I will be crying tears of joy when I finally chop and cook this little baby! Actually, it is not so little. They are remarkably huge!

This is the first time that I have grown onions. I always had it in the back of my mind that onions take too long and they take up too much space. But..... the time was going to pass anyway and I don't believe they took a lot of space. They are now ready to be pulled out, tied and hung up until we need them. I will be planting more for sure!

  Everything else is plodding along nicely. This silverbeet is going much better since a relocation into a much wetter area.

Rows of beans are powering now that the weather is warming. So too is the sweet corn. This year we are really trying to get our succession planting worked out. We always struggle with feast or famine when it comes to our garden so this year we are determined to try and stagger the plantings and have an ongoing supply of produce.

Tucked away there is the shadow is a little pumpkin that wasn't there yesterday. They say magic doesn't exist, but how was there nothing yesterday and today there is a pumpkin ? That is a miracle in my books!
There are also some exciting chook house renovations happening to prepare the girls for a luxurious summer in their new penthouse. Stay tuned for further updates.
A question for you.... how do you plan and/or organise your succession planting so that there are no gaps in your backyard production ? I have been really encouraged by the show River Cottage and borrowed the DVD from the town library. I like the way Hugh has his seedlings starting again as soon as the last lot go into the ground. He has a great system worked out.
Do you have any fabulous system for what to plant when ? I'd love to know what you do.


Garden Update: Wanted - Bean Expert.

Our garden was feeling a little unloved until I got out there a few days ago and pulled out some old plants and got the soil ready for the next growing season. The whole garden was flooded a couple of times over the winter period and we had so much 'time off' with sickness that the soil was quite compacted. We have freshened it up and added some organic fertiliser.

Can someone please tell me what is happening with these broad beans ? This is the first time we have grown them. We have lots of bushes, all about a metre tall with loads of flowers. They seem to be evolving every day, but we are not sure whether we have missed the fruiting stage. Our seasons have been so mixed up lately - we had summer temperatures earlier in the week.
So if you are an experienced broad bean grower - please drop me a line.

My onions are fattening up well. Once again, a first time crop. I was always put off growing onions because of how long they take to grow. These seem to be going okay and I hope they are amounting to something underneath the soil as well.

And of course I can't forget our beautiful girls! We were originally advised to get four because there would be times when each of them would go off the lay. Well....... we have had four eggs a day since they started laying. It doesn't sound like a lot, but believe me it doesn't take long before they are falling out of the fridge and even though you supply the neighbours, your family and their friends, there are still eggs galore. These productive little girls are so spoilt but we are grateful for their contribution.



You can now follow me on TWITTER to find out what I am up to. Simply go to and you can follow along and also let me know what you are up to.


Radio National Interview

If you have found A Vision Splendid after listening to the interview today on the ABC Radio National's Life Matters show, I would like to say a huge warm welcome to you !

If you are a reader who missed the interview, there will be a link available to the podcast later on today. I will put up a link on this site in the next few days.

If you are new here, please have a look around. We are a family of four who are attempting a simpler lifestyle, based on the wisdom of my (almost) 102 year old grandmother.

We are everyday, normal people. I was a school teacher who became and lawyer and hubbie was a police officer for 15 years.

These days our efforts are on growing our own, cooking our own, raising our sons with intent, try to manage financially and laughing through our miserable failures!! This is is the place we record our adventures.

Please drop us a line and introduce yourselves. You can get on our mailing list, or you can purchase our 'e-book' from the link on the left hand side.

Hope to hear from you soon!


TV Free Week

Picture from

We have joined with friends of ours in going tv free from Monday to Thursday.

Our friends said they were interested in getting their kids more motivated and having earlier nights themselves. We thought we would also give it a go. Even though we don't watch commercial television, we do watch the ABC and the occasional SBS programme. One of the difficulties is that the shows we enjoy are in a bad time slot for our kids.

They enjoy The New Inventors, Collectors and Catalyst, but all of these are on in an 8pm time slot.

I thought there would have been more opposition to the box being switched off. We have don't it a few times in the past without any problem, but number one son is now ten years old and really enjoys science programmes.

Anyway, we have flicked the switch. There was a slight murmur on Monday when I reminded number one son of our choice, but he got over it pretty quickly when I joined him in doing some other activities. Number two son is seven and he could take it or leave it. He is more of an outdoors man!

After Monday.... they haven't even mentioned it! They do homework, they "play", they draw, they build models with cardboard boxes and they try to hypnotise the chooks! They are so funny to listen to.

Last night we commented about the change in them. We started to think about their imaginations and giving them time for their brains to expand and think of wonderful ideas. Often these ideas only arise out of total boredom. When they have to ask the question 'what is there to do?'

It's got me thinking. If our kids are watching two to three hours of television a day - is that time when there brains are in a vegetative state? Are we not allowing our kids to reach their true potential because their brains are 'on hold' for such a huge amount of the week ?

As far as the favourite programmes go, I taped 'Top Gear', and 'The New Inventors' and I will tape catalyst tonight. They are welcome to watch them on Friday night or over the weekend.
I wonder whether it will be a sustainable idea, or whether we will slowly go back to sneaking a few programmes in here and there.

I know that I much prefer listening to the boys talk to each other, play, argue and resolve issues as well as make up 'toilet humour' jokes and limericks. The only issue I have is that I am ready for bed at 7.30pm LOL

What is the TV situation in your house ? Are you happy with it? Do you have any TV rules or guidelines ? Are you a TV addict and happy with your choice ? - would love to hear from you on this topic.


Time To Evaluate

It has been 9 months since I threw in my job as a solicitor and started living a more simple and deliberate life. Today I was re-reading the entry from June last year that I wrote regarding the decision.

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.

Time for an evaluation.......

I haven't been blogging as much lately about the usual topics because it seems that I have those things under control and blogging about them again seems somewhat repetitive. I haven't even been reading many simple living blogs because I have found them to be following the same themes all the time. Is there only so much one can write about the topic before there is nothing new to say and day in day out it is just the same ? I hope not!! I am always looking for a new challenge.

You see, in June last year I was worried about whether or not we could produce our own food, whereas today I am in the habit of going and grabbing things out of the garden as required, especially things like herbs and shallots which are generally an after thought on the shopping list. The thing we need to improve on is succession or staggering the planting so we don't have thousands of vegies harvest then nothing for the next two months.

Cooking From Scratch..... another thing that we have under control. It seems so natural now to bake bread, make pasta or try new things like the challah loaf.

Chooks...... another normal part of the day now to get up and feed them and talk to them and in return they fill the fridge to overflowing with their beautiful eggs. We certainly need to give away or sell some more because one fell out when I opened the fridge door yesterday! lol

On the knitting front..... well........ my excuse is that knitting is a winter thing and I don't sit down long enough in the summer months to be able to do it! ( are you convinced?) Ask me again in the winter months how I am going.

Even our house seems to be slowly falling in to line. I like a clean crisp and clutter free environment, it's just that it usually only stays that way for about 35 minutes! Over the months we have thrown out more and more "stuff" which makes things a lot easier to keep clean. Once I started doing yoga I became very conscious of our living environment. It's hard to relax and do yoga poses with a clear mind when you are staring at a basket of ironing! lol I believe that your home environment has a HUGE impact on your mental well being. It is much easier to relax and feel at peace in an uncluttered space.

There are still a couple of projects I want to do in this department. Tackling the filing cabinet is one of these jobs. time to clean out some old paperwork and revamp the file headings. Can you out your hand on any piece of paper or financial record in less than thirty seconds or do you have to go digging? My aim is to be the thirty second girl!

So.... with the food gardening, cooking, home management and even the cash budget under control is time now to move towards looking after myself personally. Time to work on regaining my personal health and becoming more active and fit. I don't mean a " lose 30kg in 3 weeks" type of thing, I mean adopting a more healthy approach to eating, drinking and exercise for no other reason than to feel great! That includes looking after my skin, hair, nails etc and doing the best with my god given self, in a way that still reflects my values for an old fashioned approach ( meaning I won't be getting botox injections for a wrinkle free face lol! )

I have been really inspired recently by Libby ( ) who blogs in her fitness section with tremendous honesty about her weight loss journey. I love the way she shares her ups and downs, good days and bad days. She gives me so much motivation !

So, my question to you all is this........ If you're reading this blog you obviously have an interest in simple living. How would you rate your health? Do you nurture your body the way you nurture your garden? Do you feel healthy and happy and energised? Are there changes you would like to make about the way you look after yourself ?

Are you interested in following a journey to health, the simple, frugal way ? No group programmes, no personal trainers, no membership fees and no hype? I wonder if it can be done. let me know if you would like to join me on the journey.


Some Answers

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

So here goes......

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It may be time to stretch the boundaries a little.

The Rythm of Life Returns

Poster from

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where are you heading in 2009 ?



On Monday I was down in Sydney again and had the opportunity to visit the Maritime Museum. We were lucky enough to be able to board a replica of The Endeavour, the ship of Captain James Cook who is credited with mapping much of the southern hemisphere around the 1770s.

As children in Australia we were taught for many years that Captain Cook "discovered" Australia in January of 1770. Our history books completely missed the fact that the land was already inhabited by people who had lived here for thousands of years and has seen many explorers, be they Dutch or Portuguese, traveling in the area. I was interested to read in Cook's journal that he regarded the native people as living a better way of life in the natural surroundings than the Europeans of the time. Unfortunately his respectful view was not to be followed as history progressed.

Even though the ship was a replica, it was a totally moving experience. The cabins of Cook and Joseph Banks ( a botanist travelling with him) were so small yet they had all of life's necessaries. A bed, a small writing desk, a shelf, hooks for clothing, and a chest into which all their belongings fit.

The feeling I had when I was on the ship reminded me of the sense of simple satisfaction that I often get when visiting historic houses and museums. They had so little, yet they had everything that was needed for life. One plate, one bowl, one pair of boots. To read more about it you can visit here and look at the self guided tour.

Then, of course, my mind starts racing..... what if everything that I personally owned was to fit into a beautiful sea chest ? How would it change what I brought into my life ? I would only be able to keep things that were sturdy, long lasting or extremely precious! How many 'things' have I brought into my life and house which do not fit into these categories?
There is such a sense of peace inside me when I think of having less.....maybe John Lennon was right......Imagine no possessions................


Welcome New Readers

Wow , there has been lots of new readers lately! If you’re new to this site I would like to say a huge welcome. You can subscribe using the RSS button on the left so you can get notification every time the site is updated. If you are a returning reader I am very humbled that you return. Thank you! Sincerely!

Let me introduce myself..... My name is Michelle (BusyWoman). I am a solicitor who left her job in June 2008 to come home to see if I could live a more simple, frugal life, applying the old fashioned principles that my 101 year old grandmother has taught me. I have no idea whether I can do it or not. I just take steps forward each day. I know that life goes in seasons and who knows what direction I will take next!

I write about themes such as trying to simplify my family life, growing my own food, finding joy in the every day, frugal living, and applying old fashioned wisdom to our modern lives. Let me add that I am a ‘back slider’ – meaning I am constantly on then off the wagon! That is why I like to write a blog – it’s a visual reminder of where I have come from and where I am going. Almost like two steps forward one step back.

Although I am a stay at home mum, I am not an advocate for stay at home mothers, I am an advocate for having choices. I live in a household where I went back to work and my husband was the stay at home Dad for quite a few years.

I am happily married, but I do not prescribe to an existence that requires mum, dad and 2.2 kids in order to be ‘just right’. There are many blogs that portray a perfect life. Let me tell you, I am not one of them! Perhaps I should post a photo of the way my son’s bedrooms look at present to confirm this! LOL

I write about steps that I have taken to simplify MY life in line with old fashioned principles. I would love to hear about YOUR efforts at finding simplicity and joy in your life circumstances. My children are not teenagers so I can’t write about the difficulties of living simply with kids that age – maybe you can. I am not a single mother or father for that matter so I cannot write from that perspective, but I am sure there are readers who are. What about running a household where the breadwinner has recently been retrenched ? Or trying to ‘live green’ when you still live at home with parents who don’t support your passion?

If you are interested in simple, joyful living, why not share how you move towards that in YOUR circumstances. I value diversity. We can all learn so much from each other. I encourage you to ‘come out’ and post a comment or if you don’t have a blogger/google account, send me an email and I will publish it for you. I would love to hear from you.

In the next few months I will be looking for some guest bloggers. I will be looking for contributions on themes that are in alignment with the values of my site, but I want to bring in a ‘truth in blogging’ element. I want to know how we deal with these themes in real life. If you are interested in that please email me with your thoughts. The address is over on the left hand side.

Once again, welcome to all the new readers.

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 ...