You are Already Happy !

Advertisers would like us to believe that happiness is 'out there' somewhere and that if you buy products, happiness will come with them.

Sure, there is a certain degree of happiness when you buy something new. As you know, I have a stationery obsession, so nothing excites me more than a new notepad with matching pen! The sad thing, however, is that like any drug, the happiness wears off and needs to be topped up by another purchase. I call this 'synthetic happiness'.

I call true happiness JOY. I often say I find joy, I chase joy. It is a difficult concept to define. It is a little buzz that I get. Joy is in the weirdest places. Sometimes I feel it when I cup a little tomato growing on a bush. Sometimes I feel it when my corn seeds poke their heads up out of the dirt. Other times I feel it when I watch my sons play outside. Sometimes I feel it when I produce a hand crocheted dishcloth that is, let's say, a little wonky!
This sort of happiness comes from inside. It is far richer and far deeper than synthetic happiness.
The trick to finding this sort of joy is firstly to go looking for it. Ponder the question - what gives me joy ? It could be something so trivial, it doesn't matter. When you find something, take note of the little buzz feeling that happens when you experience that joy. Now seek out other things that bring you joy. I call this chasing my joy. Once you know the buzz feeling you will chase more and more of it.
Before you know it, you will be finding joy in the most unusual places! You will soon learn that synthetic joy just won't cut it anymore!
You will find that this kind of happiness is inside you. It has always been there. It is just that we pile so many 'things' on top of it that we can't hear it's little buzz. We pile on television blaring in the background, kids fighting, deadlines to meet, eating on the run, bills to pay, places to be,blood pressure problems, running here, running there, running late!
As we simplify our lives we peel off all those things that are piling up on us. We plan our meals to bring peace to meal times, we plan ahead so we don't race around and run late, we turn the TV off and talk to each other. We budget well to take the financial pressure off. We take the time out to walk with our partner for our health and the health of our relationship.
Little by little we peel off the layers, and there, underneath in a very quiet voice is JOY - buzzing away.
What brings you joy ? Please do share !
PS - the photo above is number one son laying in the grass in Bathurst NSW - now that brings me joy !

A Generous Spirit ..... and a Give-Away......

Recently I was overwhelmed by the generosity of Tracy from Sunny Corner Farm. I had entered a giveaway on her site and happened to win. She sent me some produce from her local area. There was a few different types of award winning pasta from Bellata Gold ( Produced in Tamworth NSW) and products from Demeter Farm Mill ( Produced near Gunnedah NSW). All products were certified organic!

I would like to continue the spirit of giving. I have some products from Ecostore. They are a New Zealand success story! I love to hear about little companies that start out small and have tremendous success. They started as a mail order business in a basement. This company produces a wide range of products where the back of the product says exactly what I like to read:

Can you see that ? No petrochemicals. No phosphates. No Nitrates. No chlorine. No synthetic dyes or perfumes. They do laundry, personal care and a gardening range.

You can get a free sample of their washing powder if you live in Australia or New Zealand. http://www.ecostore.co.nz/ The liquid smells like pure eucalyptus. It reminds me of the cough lollies we used to have when we had a cold when I was in primary school.
I am giving away some moisturiser, baby soap and baby balm. Would you like to receive it ? Even if you don't have a baby I am sure the soap and moisturisers will suit your skin just fine!
I certainly don't mind posting internationally. I also have some other goodies to package up for you. One of the items is a book I received in a swap from a reader in Pennsylvania. It is a fabulous book about keeping things simple! I have learnt many great principles from it and it is now time to pass it on so the wisdom can be shared.
All you need to do to win the package is to put a little note on your blog site to tell people why you like A Vision Splendid and that there is a give away happening here. If you don't have a website simply send an email to your friends telling them why you like A Vision Splendid.
After you have done your post or sent your email, place a comment on this post or send me an email ( address at left) and I will happily enter you into the drawer.
I am very excited to be able to do a give-away. I remember how exciting it was receiving my package from Tracy.
Good Luck everyone.


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.


Slash Your Grocery Bill Immediately

The easiest way to drastically reduce your grocery bill is to avoid the cleaning and non- food aisles. When I think about the layout of my local supermarket I could easily spend one third of my budget on cleaning and 'lifestyle' products before I even get to the food section. As I stroll down the aisles I first come across the pet food then toilet papers and glad wrap, foil , plastic bags etc. When I think of alternatives I can use my plastic containers instead of plastic wrap and foil and also use them to replace those sealable bags. I am not ready for the 'cloth wipe' era that seems to be sweeping the green bloggers in the US, so yes I will put toilet paper in my trolley.
In the next aisle I see batteries, fly sprays, cockroach baits, toilet cleaners, disinfectants, air fresheners, bathroom cleaners, kitchen cleaners, carpet cleaners, stain removers, washing powders, ironing spray and cleaning cloths . Hmmmmm I think to myself - if I use rechargeable batteries, keep the doors closed and use a fly swatter, use my Grandmother's recipe for getting rid of cockroaches, clean the bathroom with bi carb and vinegar, use my Enjo and home made cleaning cloth, and spray my ironing with a fine mist of water - I will never have to go down that aisle again.
I think to myself, if it wasn't for advertising, I wouldn't even realise that I NEEDED these products.
My point is this, a lot of what you buy at the grocery store you don't really NEED. You could spend $40 or more without having a thing to eat in your trolley. If you are trying to reduce expenditure, then prioritise your list and shop in order of importance. Start with essential food items like your staples and fruit and veg and forget the non food items (except the TP of course!)
I saw an ironing aide spray for $4.67 this week. Considering that I made a lasagne yesterday from scratch that fed us last night and tonight plus enough for lunches as well for about this price, I can't really justify the cost of the product for that cost.
I went through my master grocery list and wrote an alternative to most things on the list. It was really quite easy once I put my 1940s hat on. There are now so many aisles in the supermarket that you don't need to venture down.
The choice is always yours of course to spend what you like, but if you are having trouble coping with increasing prices, try the concept of shopping in order of importance or going without the cleaning and lifestyle products and see if it makes much difference to your bill. It has really changed ours! Let me know how you go!


These are Exciting Times

Who would have thought so much joy was here awaiting me. Today I crunched into a carrot that was so crispy and sweet that it tasted like a fresh coconut!

There are tomatoes just bursting off the bushes. They are almost ready to come inside and ripen on their vines. There are grape tomatoes and Grosse Lizzy. The carrots, oh boy, there are SO many carrots..... and beans...... won't be long and we will be drowning in them! I can't wait to supply friends with fresh produce. I remember my two Nannas exchanging things when I was a child. Do you remember, before plastic bags, things like fresh beans were wrapped in damp newspaper and had a rubber band wrapped around them ? I will be reviving this tradition FOR SURE! LOL

This picture is of one our our newer beds. They measure about 2 metres by 1 metre. We are a living proof that you do not need a lot of space in order to produce your own food. This is a highly productive little garden. There are loads of carrots, two tomato bushes and huge area for climbing beans. We thought that to produce some of our own food we would need to have a huge area, even maybe an acre of land and that we may have to move. This is such a myth! You can have a very productive garden in a very small space. Our first tomato plant was in a pot! You can plant three lettuces with leaves that you constantly pick in a pot about 40 cm in length. That will do you all summer!

Today I heard Maggie Beer talking on the radio about cooking. The presenter said that it was difficult for people to cook from scratch because we just don't have the time. I was so impressed by her answer. She said the idea was total rot! All it takes to be able to cook a meal is a little planning! She said with some planning and a well stocked larder it is actually quicker to cook from scratch than it is to drive to the takeaway, place your order, wait for your order and drive home again. I remember Jamie Oliver proving this by phoning for a Pizza whilst on stage and then making one and having it ready well before the delivery boy arrived.

So, I guess if it's not a time factor, it must be a "can't be bothered" factor! I know I suffer from it sometimes!
These are some other tomatoes that are growing up the side of the driveway. This spot faces west and is not a 'garden bed' as such. It is just an area that we used to have to pull the weeds out of from time to time. Now it is a wonderful productive garden.
Let me tell you ........ these are exciting times.

Monday is a Busy day

Phew! What a busy day.

Monday is the day I do all my running around. I start the day with what I call a 'home blessing'. It is where I do my normal morning jobs but add in a few others like vacuuming, washing sheets, dusting etc. I then sit down and write my menu plans and organise my shopping list.

By 11am I was done and headed into town for my usual routine. I stop at the Post Office and withdraw my budget money then I head to the petrol station and put in the weekly allocated amount for fuel. Then I do any errands that need to be done and finally I do some grocery shopping.

By 1pm I'm home and unpack the groceries and have some lunch. Then I have my 'office day' where I pay bills, organise any correspondence, update the budget categories etc etc. Today I met a friend online to test a 'virtual classroom'. It was very exciting. In this process I donwloaded Skype and 'found' my sister in Queensland.

At about 3pm I started the dinner and I then headed up to the back room for some therapeutic ironing. I really love ironing. I set up a little nest in our granny flat that usually consists of a DVD playing on the laptop and a cool drink. I then iron away. Lately I have been working my way through The Waltons - let me tell you it's very inspiring !!!

About 5.30 I headed back into the kitchen and made some lovely lasagne sheets. This is the first time that I have made fresh lanasage sheets. We have made fettucine before and it was magnificent. I am looking forward to tasting the lasagne. The eggs were given to me from a friend who is VERY proud of her new chickens. The plain flour is 91c a kilo and I used 400g and the mince was about $3.69. So, this is a very cheap meal indeed!

I am about to put tea on the table and then it will be showers and reading for the boys, a few extra jobs for me and then I will fall into my latest book that awaits me eagerly.

A busy day, but a joyfilled day! There is much joy to be had from working hard.


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.

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 ...