The Jam Stick


Can you see the 'jam stick' in this picture ? It has such a history.


My grandmother gave it to me a couple of years ago. The story is that when she was making jam on the farm one day a visitor noticed that the spoon she used was too short and she often burnt her hand.

The kind visitor went down the paddock got a piece of wood and crafted a new, longer handled jam stirrer and gave it to her. She used it for many many years.


Here I am, some sixty years later, using it again - bringing it back to life. I use it as a spatula in my mix master. I love the long handle.

I am not sure what time of wood it is, it is so weathered now - but still quite strong.
Not long ago, hubbie and I were fooling around in the kitchen comparing our favourite cooking items. His consists of an old frypan with no handle that he uses to make a perfect omelette ( so perfect in fact that he brings the pan, held in a tea towel, into my office to show me just how clever he is!), and an old scraper that he says he is going to pot rivet back together because 'they just don't make them like this anymore'.

Mine consists of the mix master ( an anniversary present about three years ago), an old spoon and the jam stick. You can read about the spoon here

All of our favourite cooking utensils were really old! I guess Hubbie is right ... they just don't make them like they used to!

You what is really sad though....... when we were studying the jam stick the other day, Hubbie smelt it and said......
........ 'it smells like Nanna's kitchen '
. ...... and I smelt it ...............
.....and it does .............

Working with a cash budget (repost)







































Over the years we have tried many different methods for controlling our spending and working on a budget. By far the most successful method for us is to work in cash. I have worked out what we need each week and I withdraw that amount of money.

The following are our ' cash categories'.

Groceries
Fuel
Entertainment
Christmas
Holidays
Birthdays
Scarlet Ribbon ( clothing shoes etc)
Kids Banking

You can see in the photo that I use resealable plastic bags with the category and the amount written on it. Each week I go to the bank or post office and I have a little card in my wallet that says " 3x $50, 4 x $10 etc and get the exact breakdown. When I come home I give the cash to our young sons and they go through and put the amounts into the bags. Then, when we want to do something like hire a DVD or buy a present etc, we just go to the appropriate bag.

Having the money in cash is great for a couple of reasons. When you have cash in your wallet you are much more careful about spending it. My sons have also learnt the value of money because they control it. We are also empowered by the fact that we have money in advance for needs that may arise.

I call one category 'scarlet ribbon' because of the proverbs 31 woman who has no fear for her household for when the winter snows come her household is clothed in scarlet. It is a very old proverb but one that has always stuck with me.

I have also calculated how much we require for bills. You can do this by looking at what your bills are over a year and dividing the amount by 52 or 26 depending on when you get paid. Then I transfer that amount into an account we use for bill paying.

So.... what do you do when you finally sit down and add it all up and the results are frightening ? When I did this the first time I was totally shocked at our living expenses. Son number one was about 12 months old and I was faced with the prospect of going back to work. I was a school teacher then and was going back to work just two days per week. I hated the thought of it! So, we sat down and worked through everything in a huge amount of detail. I called it my " Plug the holes audit". By this, I meant that I thought the ship ( our house) would sink by the little holes that were in it, not the gaping big holes. So I set about saving money on little things, $2 here, $1 there. I changed phone plans, shopped for cheaper insurance, worked out a price book to track specials and calculate unit pricing, worked a cash budget etc etc. The results were amazing and I gave up teaching at the end of that year.

I often hear people talking about how difficult it is to make ends meet ( while they are watching pay TV and smoking and eating take away food). My answer is to be totally honest with yourself and live within your means. Take control of your money so it doesn't control you. It is such a wonderful feeling to jump in the car and go for a holiday with the freedom of knowing that you have the cash for it all and you won't have to face the credit card bill when the holiday is over.

If you can't be bothered with the hassle of micro-managing it all then you will need to be happy with staying in debt and having no money and having lots of stress. The choice is yours to make, so which path will you choose ?

The Joy of Ordinary



“Do not ask your children

to strive for extraordinary lives.

Such striving may seem admirable,

but it is the way of foolishness.

Help them instead to find the wonder

and the marvel of an ordinary life.

Show them the joy of tasting

tomatoes, apples and pears.

Show them how to cry

when pets and people die.

Show them the infinite pleasure

in the touch of a hand.

And make the ordinary come alive for them.

The extraordinary will take care of itself.”

– William Martin

Personal Madness



You may notice that I have added a new category to my blog. It's entitled personal madness.

When I read back through my writing it sounds so lovely and homely that my friends and family must read it and think 'surely she is not the author'.

I have decided to include my personal madness because I think laughing at yourself is very healthy, and, I have come to realise over the years that there is a lot to laugh at in my life!


You see, the truth is that I have a hilarious life. I am constantly saying the wrong thing, overanalysing and debriefing with my friends. I laugh until I cry, I slap my thigh and snort out loud.

When I am done, I always decide that a good laugh with friends is far more beneficial and cheaper than therapy.




My Year of Living Ita

Source: www.sphinxx.com.au

As soon as I heard the news that Ita Buttrose was Australian of the Year I knew it was going to be an exciting and fabulous year for me. 

 

I have LOVED Ita for some time and when the TV series 'Paper Giants' was released with Asher Keddie playing Ita, I studied every line she said and every move she made. Of course, I then had to revisit her books and listen to every interview I could find.

Ita is the most amazing individual. She undertook steps to create social change where most people dared to tread. She had ENORMOUS strength and personal resilience. I knew that there should be more 'Itas' in the world and decided to rise to the challenge. 2013 would be my 'Year of Ita'. 

Discussing the 'Year of Ita' concept with a friend and fellow business women, we joked about getting bracelets made up that we could wear everyday that had the inscription 'WWID' written on, meaning of course, WHAT WOULD ITA DO ? It would remind us, in situations of difficulty, to look to Ita as a role model of good decision making and standing as an authentic believer in your own values.

Ita, for us, stands for the principles of not listening to the naysayers around you, or the ones that live in your own head, and just.... well...... just grabbing life by the b*lls and simply doing it - taking the brakes off and living an extraordinary life.

So, in 2013 that is what I did.

I embraced my inner Ita and launched my own law firm - something radical and different and completely centred on clients, not on money. Something that still allows me to be family focused and something I can do while working from my home office. I began taking on business women who needed mentoring and coaching in order for them to embrace their inner Ita and soar. I resigned from some work that, even though it gave me a great deal of flexibility, it didn't feed my soul and I launched myself as a private contractor in an area that I love.

I guess the thing that really stands out for me is authenticity. 

In launching myself, I have decided that I will not try and be someone else, I will not try and live up to the expectations of others, I will just stand tall in the knowledge that I am my authentic self and those people that dont' like that for whatever reason.... simply just don't like it- but that doesn't change who I authentically am!





“So, Ita, if you are reading this (lol) just know how much you, as Australian of the Year have changed my life and allowed me to change the lives of other women around me. ”

Do the Splendid Principles Still Apply ?


When I first start blogging in 2007 - no-one knew what a blog was. I can remember showing someone once who said 'oh that's ridiculous, the page just goes on and on until you hit the bottom'. Now I think about Facebook and Twitter and laugh about how the unusual becomes so commonplace.

Just as there are no telephone boxes anymore, I think there are quite a few things that have changed in the world and in our family life since I first started blogging. In 2007 our sons were 6 and 8 - they are now turning 12 and 15 and are really young men. IN 2007 we didn't have 'smart phones' and didn't have near as much technology in our lives as we do now.

That got me wondering. Do my splendid principles still apply ? I showed 6 years ago that I could apply my grandmother's principles in a modern world, but does that still apply today as I type on an Ipad instead of a typewriter ? Can you still live simply - Iphone in hand ?

Today I pulled out all my old notes and folders that held all my worksheets and scribblings from when we first drafted our budget, when I used to calculate in childcare costs and when fuel was less than $1.00 a litre ( and we were concerned about our fuel usage!)

One of the documents that I found had this handwritten on it:

FOUNDATIONS

1. A working budget

2. A 'stores' cupboard or functional larder ( old terms for a well stocked pantry)

3. A solid routine

4. Cook from scratch skills

5. A working diary/ calendar system.

EXTRAS

A garden
Green cleaning cupboard
Less plastics
Composting
Reduce, recycle, re-use and re-wear
Home Based income
Stop buying crap

Splendid Habits 

Getting ahead
6Ps
Chasing joy
Rising early
Menu planning
Extreme shopping
Homemade presents/ cards
Going additive free
TV free/ commercial free
Exercise/ Yoga.

I was so happy to have found it because it connected me with core values. Now I am considering the role that technology plays in a simple life - does it have a place ? I think it does if we stick to our principles and not let it overtake us.

What do you think ? Can you have a simple joyful life that embraces a modern technological world ?

If you want to join me, I am working through my list to establish these principles in our new home.

Back to my Vision Splendid



Well it certainly has been some time that I have spent away from the blogosphere. I actually contemplated giving up blogging completely, but something has drawn me back and had me thinking.

Why blog ? 

When I first started blogging, I didn't know anyone who was doing it. I can't really remember how I stumbled into the art of blogging, but I am sure it was from accidentally finding some online blogs and being completely inspired by them. 

Blogging was the perfect tool for me. It helped me to organise my thoughts, hold myself accountable, give me inspiration to look back on and connect with some fantastic people. 

Blogging brought me great joy as it made me slow down and have gratitude for the small things in life. 

Why the break ? 

Moving house a little over 12 months ago meant a huge change to our lifestyle. Setting up our 'Vision Splendid' on our acreage has taken time and has meant that lots of our routines have changed. This has been both positive and challenging at the same time.

Throughout this time, blogging took a back seat as I have been focusing heavily on building our future. I took on some part time work, (based here at home) which grew and grew. It seems that the biggest hurdle I encounter is that things get TOO big, when really what I am looking for is balance across all areas of life.

Even blogging got TOO big. A Vision Splendid was always designed to be something that I did for myself and a few of my avid readers. Before I knew it there were product sponsorship requests, radio interviews, Sunday newspaper interviews and LOADS of request for help. I guess it was a case of 'be careful what you pray for, you just might get it'. 

Why return ?

I am encouraged by the ongoing emails that I still receive. I am often surprised that readers are still there. When I recently restricted access to the blog I received a lot of emails asking for viewing rights so people could check back on things that I had written about earlier - as a reference tool. I am surprised that with the HUGE volume of information that is on the Internet now readers still come back to this little site for inspiration.

The Verdict ? 

I will be returning to blogging. Although there are now millions of blogs on all sorts of topics, I will blog for the reasons that I had when I first got started. Whether it brings value to others or not, I will blog for my own reasons. Although our children are now older and we are in a different stage of our lives, we are still working towards our Vision Splendid. We are crafting a life that is family centred and holds old fashioned values at its core.

Even though I work from home, I recently let quite a bit of my work go. This will be give me a chance to bring things back into balance again. My first step is to re-read through the old blog posts ad get back in touch with my original vision.

Want to join me as I assess the steps I need to take to bring back a slower more simple life that has family at the core ? 

If you are still reading this site, drop a comment in the box below and say hello!