family · health and wellbeing


Betty Crocker Cookbook

Whilst flipping through a 1950’s copy of Betty Crocker’s Cookbook, I came across this cracking gem.

I’m not sure which of the concepts snared my attention first. Was it the glaring absence of ‘mindfulness’ (that lady is definitely not living in the moment) or was it the odd collection of pastimes that she defined as ‘pleasant’? I mean, does the mental picture of striking your partner across the head with a golf club make the vacuuming easier? Do thoughts of being caught in a gale force wind on a yacht get the washing dry any faster? And really, visions of reclining on sand in formal dress would not prompt me to scrub any harder. Perhaps though, images of dancing with your lover while your husband looks on enviously, could make the ironing less tedious….

However, after spending a relatively extended period of time on this planet, I have come to understand that chores are what they are, and the sooner (meaning younger) we come to grips with this, the more internally settled we become. (And that philosophy forms the basis of why the dependents in this household are destined to become indentured servants.)

washing the bike

The plan is, rather than wistful thoughts of gaming parlours or train surfing, their focus will be on the spokes of the wheel, and should any notions of nightclubs or bars creep in, they will be rapidly suppressed by the passion to remove every leaf from an outdoor crevice.

sweeping up the leaves

And hopefully by the time they reach a decent age, any dream of a casino or like gambling den will be fiercely overshadowed by the love of freshly cut grass.

mowing the lawn

All flippancy aside, what I have learnt is that the dread and reluctance toward a chore is inversely proportional to the personal reward gained at its completion. To stand back and admire a neatly clipped garden bed, a freshly made bed or a tidied out cupboard, remarkably outweighs the initial abhorrence of the prospect. And what I do know for sure, is that there are opportunities to experience this pleasure time and time again.

Postscript: There’s a verandah that needs sweeping, so I’m off to harbor me some pleasant ones……



christmas tree

Despite the carpet of needles, the slight lean and the odd squashed bit, nothing beats the unmistakable scent permeating the entire house and the twinkling majesty of the christmas pine, steadfast in the corner of the room.

It seems there is a role for every family member to play in the christmas tree ritual. The careful manoeuver into the car by teenage son (rule of nature: size of tree selected must exceed boot depth by 50cm) with crossed fingers on the drive homeward that the prize does not escape through the unfastened hatch.

The installation into the living room – joint effort by all to ensure: tree stands straight rather than Pisa style, a minimum of detritus is shed along the way (mother’s priority) and enough room around base to allow for the sea of packages that will inevitably appear.

lights on the treeLights must be expertly applied before any form of decoration takes place. Teenage son is then excused to attach metres of fairy lights around the periphery of the home Lampoon style. At this point, teenage daughter with self-claimed aesthetic prowess, proceeds to direct the decoration process with as much skill and concentration as a philharmonic conductor. (Should any individual make an inadvertent ornament placement, you can be sure it will be carefully adjusted during her private visits to the tree).

decorating the tree

And taking in the wonder of it all, the youngest, whose role may not have visible significance, but one that ensures the magic, spirit and sparkle of the season pervades the entire household.

the final touches



The prospect of a night spent under canvas (in this case nylon) in the backyard with just your older sibling and the crickets for company, yields excitement so heavily charged, it could power a suburb.

Backyard camping is a fabulous adventure when you are 6 (or 14). There’s nothing like experiencing the great outdoors, knowing the backdoor is only metres away, should a possum hiss break the night silence. Lying on the foreign surface of an inflatable mattress, with some familiar bedclothes on top for security, a new range of sounds is audible, and extending from this, a new range of thoughts and ideas develop.

Spending a night in the natural world sparks an awareness of self – one that is mutually exclusive to the rest of existence, even crystallising for us, our place within this larger picture. All the while, the sanctuary of indoors provides the safety net required to promote the confidence required to make these developmental leaps. Under a crescent moon with the occasional twitter of ringtails, what better way can there be for emerging independence to take its first steps?

Small tents are very inexpensive and simple to pitch. The hours of pleasure they provide coupled with the level of self-reliance they facilitate, make them an extremely practical investment for christmas and birthday gifts alike.

Postscript: and should any danger have been lurking, we could rest easily knowing the camp was being safely watched over…