Lawns Into Lunch .... always busy !

On the weekend we extended our 'farm' area. We had a vision for many more garden beds so we moved the fence closer to the house, giving us an extra 2 metres in length and lots of room for extra beds. Today we dug out an area for a tomato and chili patch. Of course the chooks had to get in and help.

I am really loving the 'farm' area. I spend quite a lot of time up there now, planting seeds, filling in the garden diary, sketching plans and reading gardening info. As part of the 'farm' extension we took out the clothes line. It was far too close to the chook house and took up quite a bit of space. I now have a temporary makeshift clothesline along the veranda in this area until we 're-purpose' the old clothesline into a new model that better suits our needs.

Someone commented on the simple savings website that they enjoy my blog, but I don't write enough. I have been thinking about this...... I guess the reason is that sometimes I am too busy doing things to sit and write about them! lol

People can go to work and be busy all day and get paid for their efforts and then spend that money outsourcing their life needs. They get someone else to grow their food, bake their bread, make their clothes etc. Some even outsource even more of their ‘needs’ – they have other people mow their lawn, wash their car, take care of their children, and even cut and buff their toenails! Lol

When you don’t have a job, you have to do many of these things yourself. This means that your job is ‘life itself’. I find that living this DIY lifestyle is somewhat busier than a ‘normal’ life.
You see, If I want bread, I have to make it. If I want baked potatoes for tea I have to grow them. These tasks are not easy by any means! I can’t just get up at 7am and realise that there is no bread and ‘whip one up’. It takes about 2 ½ hours using a bread making machine and if i make it by hand I still have to allow time for rising etc. So there is a lot of forethought in a loaf of bread.

Potatoes! ::geesh:: they are even worse. If I want baked potatoes for my tea then I have to think about 14 WEEKS IN ADVANCE ::lol:: so that I can actually grow them.
This translates into a lot of busyness on any given day. Life is always about getting ahead and thinking ahead.

Thinking about needs for the future – what will I eat tomorrow, next week, next month? What can I do today to make sure that happens? That might be as simple as getting some meat out of the freezer or planting some broccoli seeds. It might be baking a cake for afternoon teas for a few days or making jam. Each action we do today is a sowing that we will reap some time in the future ....... therefore,....... :: AS YOU SOW, SO YOU REAP::

So if it is such a busy life, a life that takes planning and preparation – why would you bother ? Why would I bother growing potatoes when I can go to the supermarket and buy them for $2 a kilo ? Why would I make soap when it is on special around the corner ? Why not just go and earn money and just buy these things ?

The answer is THE JOY FACTOR. An undefinable, unquantifiable invisible element that some people see everywhere, whilst other people miss completely. There is a deep sense of satisfaction in roasting your own potatoes, or snipping off your own shallots. Sure sure, there are other factors at play. People have a number of reasons for doing things like growing their own food. It may be as a way of saving money, a way of obtaining fresh, organic produce or a way of securing a food supply in times of uncertainty. These factors DO play a role in my decision to grow my own, but the number one benefit to me is JOY, HAPPINESS, FULFILLMENT, ACCOMPLISHMENT, SATISFACTION or whatever other title you want to put on it!


Nothing To Leave The Block

I often think of the ideal of nothing leaving our block. I have written before about thinking ' what if everything we bought onto our suburban block was to stay here'. Imagine if we had to use, re-use, recycle or dispose of every little thing that came onto the block. I could go to the shop and buy what I needed - flour, sugar etc. That wold be fine because I can tear up the paper packaging and put it in the compost to break down. But when it comes to other forms of packaging I am totally lost. Where would I put the plastic wrap from the inside of a packet ? What about the bag that the oranges came in or the plastic tray in the rice cracker packet ?

If nothing was to leave the block I would have to start a little pile behind the shed, then maybe in the roof, then under the house....... how much would I use in a month... a year ??

:: I often think like this::

Of late I have even been suspicious of recycling systems. We put all our recycling into a different coloured wheelie bin and it is taken "away" wherever that may be. I have read quite a bit recently about how the price of recycled materials has dropped to the point where it is not financially viable to process the materials. Will companies still process recycled goods without a profit ? Out of the goodness of their hearts or their love of the environment ? ( that's for you to answer, but I know what my gut tells me)

So in keeping with my gut, I am still attempting to not have things leave the block, even if they are 'recycle' worthy.

The picture above is of my compost bin in the kitchen. I tear up any packaging or paper that will breakdown as well.

Living with the ideal of nothing leaving the block means you have to be really mindful when you are shopping. Believe me, this is EXTREMELY difficult. I can't ask the girl at the checkout whether waxed milk cartons breakdown in the compost and how long they take !

Yesterday one of the boys opened the last packet of water crackers that was in the cupboard and I tore up the cardboard packaging and ::gulp:: placed the plastic into the bin. Today I made a huge batch of lavash crackers to make me feel better.


Last Night's Meal

With what feels like thousands of eggs on hand the obvious choice for dinner last night was a quiche. This one has a little bacon and handfuls of herbs ( basil and coriander) and shallots. It was very tasty indeed.

We combined it with some home grown corn and beans. The corn is SO tasty. We always leave it in the husk and put each cob in the microwave for three minutes and then take them out and peel the husk and silks off it. They come off really easily and the corn is cooked beautifully. It is crisp and very very hot!

Maybe it is all in our mind, but things that come from the backyard seem to taste so much better. Is it the freshness? Is it because they are organically grown ? or is it the secret ingredient of the joy factor that comes from knowing that you grew it, you picked it and you then took the twenty steps back to the house and cooked it ?

Sad to say that some things didn't survive the huge amount of rain we had while we were away. While we were in Sydney for five days we had over 90 mls of rain.... and I was worried about getting someone to water the garden !! My poor butternut pumpkins became completely waterlogged and just dropped off the vine and the chook house turned into a swimming pool. At least the seeds I planted before I left were up when I got back.

Here is one of our chooks. I thought I would give her a little spot in the limelight considering their wonderful contribution to our food supply.


Garden Update

You can menu plan all you like, but sometimes the garden will dictate what is for dinner.


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!


Learning Piano The 'Unschooling' Way

For years I have wanted my eldest to start playing piano.

 Notice "I" wanted him to play.

When he started first class I discussed the idea of having lessons with him. but he wasn't interested. He would say ' maybe one day'. Little by little he started mucking around on the keyboard and from time to time I would ask him if he wanted to do lessons - but still not interest! ..... didn't he realise that it would be much easier if he learnt when he was young and that it would be 'good for him'.

But...... I let my feelings of frustration aside knowing that if I forced him into lessons it would be something of a chore. He would 'have' to practice each week and I wanted him to LOVE IT, not necessarily be good at it.

I grew up playing the piano. I had formal lesson from about the age of ten and did up to my 5th grade AMEB exam. But for me, it wasn't about exams, techniques etc it was about being able to hear something and play it, to write pieces of music, to write songs.

Last year, the spark in my son was switched on. He started to tinker and I showed him a book with very basic 'teach yourself' notes. He absorbed it so quickly. I didn't 'teach' him, I just yelled out "that's meant to be an A" from the kitchen from time to time when I could hear him miss a note.
Every week or two I would show him a little snippet more. Lately he has been putting a one finger chord in his left hand while playing a tune with his right.

Last week I thought I would step things up for him. I grabbed a piece of paper and penned down the notes to a Red Hot Chilli Peppers song that he knows and loves. Then I left him with it to figure it out. He self corrects, which makes me so happy because he hears his mistakes!

Then I started him a book, with nice bright colours. You can see above that the 'music' has no rhythm associated with it ( that will eventually come). The note above the line is his left hand chord and the notes below are the melody. The different colours are used because that is how I think ( and I hope he does too) that is, the colour is used to 'section' the music.

The results are phenomenal. He plays with real passion. He has mastery over the keyboard. I will do him up some more songs like this, then we will move to the sheet music and start looking at the shape of the notes ( pitch) and the rhythm. He knows his 'every good boy deserves fruit', but this just gives him some quick success to embed his passion for music.

It gives us joy when we hear him pump it out - sometimes over and over again, ten or so times a day. This is very different to having to beg a child to do their piano practice before their lesson.

He played the song for his grandparents who were visiting this week. They liked it .......... I did not dare tell them that the title of the song is 'californication' LOL


Home On The "FARM"

Well....... 'farm' may be a bit of an exaggeration, but with my garden beds now fenced off from the chooks with a stretch of makeshift netting and a wooden gateway it has affectionately become known as 'the farm' and I am fully embracing it!

I have a vision for the 'farm'. It is a vision splendid. I have been looking back through the archives of Path To Freedom and have seen that they started with something not that much different to what we currently have. I think we even have a little more space.

Reading their journal is so inspiring. They didn't wait until they had their acreage in the country to start leading a more self sufficient lifestyle, they jumped in where they were, in the city in Pasadena and just made the most of the space they had.

So, whilst my 'farm' is not a huge area, it does have it's advantages. It is only 20 steps away from my back door, yet I am still within walking distance from the little shop, post office and the boys' school. It is small but extremely manageable. There is room for expansion ( a whole two square metres! ) and I can run and get anything from the area when I am cooking.

It would appear that the more joy I am finding around my home, the less I search for outside 'entertainment'. I like the planing, digging, seed raising, harvesting and preserving that comes from having a garden. They are 'feel good' activities. I could never find that sense of joy in shopping mall!

I like falling into bed at night knowing that I have worked hard all day. It seems I fall into bed exhausted yet wake refreshed ready to start a new adventure, or try something new.

Our boys finished school on Thursday and don't go back until the 28th april. I am really happy about having them home because there is so much 'home learning' to do. Sometimes their school days interrupt real learning ( and my boys have great teachers this year!) - I know that sounds strange, but to me ( and I spent eight years as a primary school teacher) parents are the first educators of their children. Kids learn the most amazing things by osmosis up until the age of five. They learn at least one language, how to crawl, walk, count, the names and attributes of animals and things in nature. They even learn to read! Then, once they start school, we seem to think that they can't learn independently anymore. They need a 'teacher' to tell them what to learn. For boys that classify birds, write 'how to manuals', cook, build, design lego robots, paint artworks and solve puzzles, it can be pretty boring to go to school and colour in sheets that say " F is for firetruck" LOL

So, school holidays is the chance to rev up some passion for learning. We will even take them to Sydney to some museums to spark some curiosity.

But for now....... can't stop to talk..... got to get back to the farm... - crops to plant, corn to harvest! LOL

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 ...