Friday, 11 August 2017

Friday Flower Arrangement

There is not all that much in the garden in winter. Or so I think, until I start wandering around and I collected this little pile.

There is always foliage of some sort, particularly among the native plants.
Proteas are a winter winner and my daffodils have started flowering.
I do have quite a few camellias but I find that they do not last in a vase. The flower heads just drop off within a day or two. Any hints for making them last longer in a vase?

This is what I came up with for this week.

I am eagerly anticipating the first ranunculas - the buds are forming. Tulips are poking through. The poppies are putting on lots of growth. So many flowers are coming; so much colour to look forward to! I cannot wait!

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Mother's Day Gifts

I hope all the mothers had a lovely day last Sunday. Due to previously mentioned illness at our house, it was a quiet, stay-at-home day for us. We did some reading, some gardening, played UNO, made a puzzle and watched a movie. Very relaxing - I always find simple days are the best. My second daughter works at a cafe and they served 485 meals on Sunday, covering breakfast, brunch, lunch and afternoon tea. Very hectic!

Here is one of the gifts I received:

I have named him Billy Bob and he is in the garden bed I can see from the kitchen window. 

I have placed him in the ranuncula bed from last year - you can see some of the ranunculas already coming up at his feet.

And the card from my eldest daughter is hilarious!

My 12 year old son is the worst culprit for this! He always says no one else would worry about it, but now I have proof that they do. Or there would not be a card for it!

Some flowers for the house from this week. There are very lean pickings in the garden at the moment!

Chrysanthemum, carnation, penstemon, salvia, one little dahlia in the very front and some random foliage that I use all the time as it is lovely and weeping.
Protea, rosemary and salvia

And if you have a baby girl to knit for, this is the cutest knit!

And it is free on Ravelry hereStitchylinda Designs is hoping to repay all the free patterns she has enjoyed from Ravelry by donating her own designs for free. And if this is anything to go by, I think I will be checking her designs regularly!

Hope your week has been wonderful so far!

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

I Need To Get Out Of Here!

Even I, a self-confessed homebody, feel that eleven days in the house is too much! I am going slightly stir crazy!
That being said, I have managed to get lots of planning and reading done. But there is only so many days you would like to be confined to barracks with no sign of release.

These are the times that I am extremely thankful for my stockpile. Hubby has been to the supermarket a few times for milk, bread, fruit and veggies, but I haven't had to send him with a huge long list to re-stock heaps of items.

Times like these are when the pantry really comes into its own, not necessarily when the zombies come!

Of course, I am preparing for big picture changes in the world, but as we have seen with natural disasters and other interruptions in supplies, there are going to be plenty of minor hiccups along the way.

I am really enjoying this pantry series.

And hopefully I will get out of the house soon!

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Flower Farming

For a while now, my dream has been to turn our property into a food and flower farm.
Slow Food has been around for a while now and most people are familiar with the concepts of reducing food miles and supporting local farmers.

And now Slow Flowers has become a hot topic. If anything, flowers tend to travel even further than food and be produced in less fair conditions for workers. In Australia, roses, orchids and carnations will often be imported from countries like India, Kenya, Thailand, Colombia and Ecuador.

This is an interesting article by Choice, investigating where cut flowers come from, particularly those sold in supermarkets, the health and safety issues, including workers' conditions and chemicals used, and quarantine/contamination issues.

I have started growing some flowers (and per my previous post, I am planning on planting some more roses!)
I had great success last season with a trial of growing dahlias from seed. I am trying to start on a very tight budget, so dahlia tubers at $7-$8 each were just not possible. Growing dahlia from seed means that you cannot select varieties and the colours will be whatever turns up. But I loved that part of it! It was like waiting for treasure, waiting to see what colours would appear. These are some photos of the dahlias I grew this summer.

I had a little rummage around and all the plants have formed good tubers. So the question will be, will they re-grow next year from these tubers? If so, I will be able to grow a paddock of dahlias for next to nothing!

I also grew some carnations from seed which are growing well. I have planted a few salvias, gerberas, yarrow, lavender and penstemons.

I have finally finished bulb planting as well - 800 ranunculas, 1000 daffodils, 300 irises and some tulips. The chickens keep getting into the ranunculi bed and digging them up, so I am hoping they will be OK.

I am planning lots of sunflowers as I feel they are always popular. And we all know my obsession with having a field of sunflowers one day!

It has always been my dream to have a little farmstand - does anyone else do this? I would love to hear your successes and pitfalls to avoid. Especially if you are selling farm grown flowers - what are your go-to flowers and how do you present them?

Monday, 15 May 2017

Winter Is The Time For Roses!

I have been away for a while, haven't I?! It is surprising how quickly it creeps up on you - and then you haven't posted for nearly a month!

Firstly, I hope everyone had a delightful Mother's Day yesterday.

Mine was lovely, despite the fact that we have all been sick for the last two weeks.
And a friend received the best Mother's Day card ever. As quoted from an eight year old girl's card - 'I love you so much my head could explode.' Love it!

As we have all been ill, I have had plenty of time to do some garden planning, in particular drooling over the bare-root roses catalogue. Luckily for me, Treloar Roses is less than an hour's drive away (or maybe that is a dangerous thing, as my wish list is extraordinarily long!)

These are my particular favourites for this order, although any David Austin rose is welcome at any time!

Image from Treloar Roses

Julia's Rose is a coffee/fawn coloured Floribunda.

Image from Treloar Roses

Addictive Lure is a Kordes modern shrub rose with a powerful sweet scent.

Image from Treloar Roses

Charles de Gaulle is a lilac blue hybrid tea which has been released for a special cause.

In 2017 the Australian War Animal Memorial Organisation (AWAMO) are establishing a war animal memorial in Pozieres, France where the Charles De Gaulle rose will be planted. In support of this project, Treloar Roses are donating $1.50 from the sale of each Charles De Gaulle bush rose to the AWAMO.

Image from Treloar Roses

Caramella is a Kordes modern shrub rose in caramel apricot tones.

These, of course, are only my particular favourites. The first time I went through the catalogue, I think I had $500 worth of roses in my cart, so had to do a bit of pruning!

There are no pinks or reds here, as I inherited about ten existing rose bushes when we bought this property and they are all pink or red.

I found this very helpful article on rose growing, including a homemade rose food recipe.
And I will definitely be trying this interesting propagation technique this year. I have never propagated roses before, but all my current rose bushes are getting very old and woody. They hadn't been pruned for ages and I think I should try to propagate them before they die off.

Do you have roses? What are your favourite varieties, or varieties that you would love to have?

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Couch Grass Is Not My Friend

Couch grass has to be the worst plant ever. I'm sorry, I am quite happy to find a use for everything, but I challenge anyone to come up for a positive use for couch grass. It is a weed, no matter what place it is in!

This variation of the quote exactly describes couch grass!

It invades our backyard veggie garden constantly. For the past three years, I have told hubby that I WILL win against the couch grass and rid the garden of it entirely. He just shakes his head and lets me try. I have been determined that couch grass will not get the best of me. But I think I will have to concede defeat. It has beaten me! There is no way that I can eradicate it - I can only hope to keep on top of it before it inundates every other plant. This is not easy, as I am fairly sure it grows as soon as you turn your back on it!

Do you have couch grass? Or do you have a different weedy nemesis to battle?

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Happy Easter

A day of celebration indeed!

May you all have a blessed Easter.

And just because I love vintage, here are some cute Easter images.

Friday, 14 April 2017

Good Friday Blessings

This is the blessing we sing at the boys' school for chapel. My prayers are with you all on this Good Friday.

May the Lord bless you today
And may He keep you in His care
Giving His peace to your soul
Even when times are hard
May the Lord's love flow through you
Just like a never ending stream
Knowing His hand will be there
When you call on His name

May He always shine on you

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Yarn Along - The One With No Knitting

Joining today with Ginny for Yarn Along.

Is this you?! It is definitely me, especially now that the cold weather is setting in. I could also add 'and watch Victoria' to the end of the mug as I am really loving watching my DVD of the Victoria TV series. Two episodes to go!

I do not have much happening on the actual knitting front as I have been sorting out my stash and winding yarn while watching DVDs.

But the book I am reading is so hilarious, I had to share it. It is one of those books that you find yourself chuckling away to as you read, even having uncontrolled bursts of laughter.

The book with the long subtitle: Life Moves Pretty Fast: The Lessons We Learned From Eighties Movies (& Why We Don't Learn Them From The Movies Any More) by Hadley Freeman.

The book title comes from this quote - pretty deep and meaningful for an eighties teen movie!

Now, being born in 1970 means that these movies were the background to my teenage years: Sixteen Candles, Pretty In Pink, The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Dirty Dancing, Ghostbusters (the real one!), Trading Places, Coming To America, Weird Science, Top Gun, Risky Business, The Karate Kid and the list goes on!

I wanted to be Molly Ringwald so bad!

I think I may have Pretty In Pink to thank for my love of vintage clothing and repurposing clothes (although I so would have loved the dress as it was - not sure on the end result!)

It was an interesting observation made in the book that in eighties movies makeovers, the characters retain their quirkiness and individuality, whereas by the nineties, makeovers seemed to be more about making the 'ugly' misfit just like everyone else so they would be popular and fit in.
Could this be why teenagers from the eighties are happier to go their own way and forge a different path? Who knows!

The author also makes the observation that eighties movies are so re-watchable (is that even a word?) I definitely find that - it doesn't matter how many times I have seen a movie like Dirty Dancing or The Breakfast Club, any time it appears as a re-run I will find myself sitting up late to watch it again.

And always saying lines from these movies. Who doesn't say 'wax on, wax off' at least once in a while?! Or 'nobody puts Baby in a corner.'

I would love to hear what your favourite eighties movies would be, whether you grew up with them or have seen them afterwards. And which ones have you seen recently that just didn't live up to your memories of them? I'm afraid The Goonies springs to mind for me!

Here is a reminder - Top 100 Eighties Movies or 100 Eighties Movies You Must See. After reading this list, I need to get to the library and see which ones they have!

The lists do leave out some standout movies, like Stand By Me and The Outsiders.

And the first movie my hubby took me to? Our first date, actually. Platoon - what a romantic!

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

My Top Ten Essential Oils

I want only the best, most effective, safest and purest support for my family. They deserve it! This is why I have chosen to replace so many of our health, beauty and cleaning needs with essential oils.
I LOVE these oils! 100% pure, no hidden fillers, synthetics or sprays, and sourced where the plants grow best, through ethical treatment of the growers and communities. An empowering health alternative. 
Everyone likes a top ten list, right? And I love my essential oils. So here is my list of my top ten favourite essential oils and why.

I'm only going to select from single oils, not the blends. Although all the blends are wonderful and I use them all the time.

1. Lemon

You cannot go past the basics and you definitely need Lemon essential oil in your life!

Lemon, like all the citrus oils, is uplifting and energising and is a great mood enhancer. It can overcome mental fatigue and help in decision-making. Lemon is calming for someone who is emotionally overwrought and helps to instill a positive mindset. Diffuse Lemon in the morning, either alone or in a blend, and you can't go wrong! It will also act as an air purifier.
Lemon has powerful purifying and cleansing qualities as it is antimicrobial and antiseptic. Use it to make your own bathroom cleaners, dish soap, laundry detergent, carpet cleaners and more. I will be sharing some recipes for the cleaners I make in future posts.
Healthwise, Lemon acts as an astringent so is particularly good for teenage acne. It is an excellent detoxifying oil and can help to clear phlegm and treating the symptoms of coughs and colds when diffused, especially if used with Eucalyptus.
I would call Lemon the go-to oil! If you can only have one oil, make it Lemon for its multiple uses.

2. Lavender

Lavender has a long history of use in beauty products - think of Yardley's English Lavender which was launched in 1873. But of course, Lavender had been used for centuries at home before its use in commercial applications.

Lavender essential oil could be considered the opposite oil to Lemon as, whereas Lemon is invigorating and great for waking you up, Lavender is calming and useful for bedtime. Lavender is calming and relaxing and will promote restful sleep and ease tension.
Diffuse at bedtime or make a lavender water spray to spray on your pillow or bedding before sleep. Make some Lavender bath salts or add a few drops of oil to your bath before bed and you will drop off to sleep in a heartbeat!
Lavender is associated with healing of the skin. It can be used to ease sunburn and to ease the pain of burns and other wounds as it prevents infection and promotes healing. It is also helpful in the treatment of insect bites as it can relieve the itching.
All in all, Lavender is definitely on your must have list!

3. Peppermint

Peppermint essential oil is another oil with a long history.

Peppermint has a high menthol content, which is responsible for its contradictory warming and cooling properties. It is a 'strong' oil and as such care needs to be taken when using with children and those with sensitive skin.
Diffusing Peppermint will help to clear your mind and enhance concentration. It can also help when you are needing some insight and clarity when planning new ideas or taking in new or difficult information. Thus it is good for use when studying.
Menthol is an effective nasal decongestant - just take care when using with young children. Do not use direct inhalation with them or someone with sensitive nasal passages. Its head clearing properties also make it useful for treating tension headaches. A cold compress using Peppermint oil can clear a headache.
A spray made with Peppermint oil and water is very cooling on a hot day and can help relieve the discomfort of sunburn. Keep it in the fridge to make it extra cooling.

All of the above are the reasons why these three oils - Lemon, Lavender and Peppermint - make up doTerra's Beginner's Trio Kit. I would definitely start my journey into essential oil use with these three.

4. Tea Tree (Melaleuca)

Tea Tree or Melaleuca essential oil is sourced right here in Australia. It has been used by the indigenous people of Australia for centuries and they shared its properties and uses with Captain James Cook.

Most of us probably already know of Tea Tree's antimicrobial, antiseptic and antifungal properties as it is widely used in a number of products. In 1923, a study found that Tea Tree oil had an antimicrobial activity of 12 times that of phenol (the current product in use). It is helpful in treating wounds and infections. Tea Tree oil is also of great use when added to cleaning products. I add it to my homemade liquid handwash too.
Like Peppermint, it also has head clearing properties and can diffused to help with coughs and colds and to purify the air. It has strong immune-building qualities and is helpful for those with chronic illness or those who have trouble fighting infections.

5. Frankincense

Frankincense essential oil is called the King of Oils.

Frankincense promotes feelings of calm and peace, stilling the mind and aiding in prayer and meditation. It helps to focus your energy and improve concentration, so is useful for students. Diffuse Frankincense to dispel anxiety and release stress and to promote feelings of overall wellness.
Frankincense is wonderful for mature skin and can help reduce skin imperfections, such as wrinkles. It is also useful to help with minimising the appearance of scarring, due to its skin rejuvenation properties.

6. Geranium

If you are after the best beauty oil, Geranium essential oil would be it!

Some people don't like the scent of Geranium as it is quite sweet and floral and it can be cloying. But used in small amounts, it adds a lovely floral note.
Geranium has various beautifying properties and promotes healthy, glowing skin and hair. Add a few drops to your regular moisturiser for smooth, blemish free skin, as it regulates the production of sebum. Add a few drops to your shampoo or conditioner for silky hair.
Diffuse Geranium to calm the nerves and lessen stress. It relaxes the body and balances the emotions, lifting the spirit and fostering peace and well-being.
A little Geranium goes a long way, so it is an oil well worth purchasing.

7. Eucalyptus

Eucalyptus essential oil is similar in some uses to Tea Tree, but is worth having for its own benefits.

Eucalyptus is useful for opening the airways and promoting clear breathing. I use it for my son's asthma and hay fever. It is used for coughs and colds as it is a decongestant. When you have a cold, drip a few drops on the base of the shower. The warm water will release the oil in the steam and ease your breathing. It is also an effective insect repellent and can be used to relieve muscular aches and pains.
Due to its purifying properties, it is useful for purifying the air and for cleaning surfaces.
Eucalyptus can lessen tension and promote relaxation. It is considered to be an oil of renewal and can cleanse negative spirits and feelings of conflict.

8. Ginger

Ginger essential oil is probably best known for its use in motion sickness and digestion problems.

Ginger is a warming oil and such is good for stimulating circulation. This also means it is helpful in dispelling cold symptoms. Inhaling Ginger oil can help reduce feelings of nausea, so take some along on a long car trip.
Diffusing Ginger can increase clarity and determination so is useful when suffering apathy or indecision.

9. Cedarwood

Cedarwood essential oil has a warm, woody scent.

Cedarwood has a skin clarifying effect. Due to its astringent and antiseptic properties, Cedarwood is useful for improving oily skin and hair, such as acne and dandruff, as it helps to reduce oily secretions.
Due to its camphoraceous properties, it is an effective insect repellent and can be used to deter moths.
Cedarwood is a grounding and balancing oil, so can be used to soothe the mind and body and promote feelings of well-being. It is frequently used in massage therapy for this reason.

10. Bergamot

Bergamot essential oil is another of the citrus oils.

Bergamot is one of the most popular oils for use in perfumery and gives Earl Grey tea its distinctive flavour.
Bergamot is purifying and cleansing to the skin and is useful for treating wounds and acne. Used in conjunction with Lavender and Tea Tree, it can be effective against cold sores and shingles.
Bergamot is unusual in that is has both calming and uplifting abilities. I include Bergamot in my top ten for its emotional uses. Diffusing Bergamot can have a slightly sedative effect so it is useful for depression and anxiety. It has been found to be effective in patients suffering from eating disorders. Bergamot can restore joy and encourages the release of pent up emotions, particularly when used in conjuction with Lavender.

So that is my top ten. As you can imagine, it took me a while to narrow it down - and if you asked me next week, my top ten may be different!

If you are interested in learning more about essential oils or just want some beauty and cleaning recipes and diffuser blends, I share them all on my Facebook page. I would love you to come and visit me there! Sometimes there are even giveaways!

And just to start you off, here are some diffuser blends using some of my top ten oils.

And with this one, just replace the Lime with Lemon.


Please remember that while essential oils are a natural product, caution must be exercised in their use as they are extremely potent. Please heed the below cautions and use essential oils safely.


Possible skin sensitivity. Keep out of reach of children. If you are pregnant, nursing, or under a doctor’s care, consult your physician. Avoid contact with eyes, inner ears, and sensitive areas.