Bunting

I love bunting and want lots of it inside the marquee at my wedding. Unfortunately, it’s really quite expensive. To save money, I thought I’d sew my own. It also meant that I could make the lengths the exact size that I needed.

To start with I found some directions. A blog post on Glorious Treats was the one I decided to go with. It was simple and it looked good.

At first I bought material at my local fabric store, but given the amount I wanted to make, it was going to get expensive quite quickly. Instead, I ended up buying second hand sheets, quilts, pillow cases and table clothes from my local Salvo. This was probably the best thing I did. They were ridiculously cheap, and gave me a whole lot of material to play with. Plus, it was a great way to recycle old stuff. About 90% of my bunting flags are made from second hand material.

I also had my mother-in-law to be, sisters and mum send me some material to include. I thought it was a nice little touch, as I plan to keep most of it.

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Above is a pic of two separate lengths of 15m. I still have a lot more to go, and should end up with about 120m. While it has taken quite some time, it has certainly saved me a whole lot of money. The most expensive part turned out to be the bias tape (at 97c per metre).

DIY seed packets

Having been to a number of weddings, I’ve found a lot of the favours given are often things that never get used again, or dare I say it, thrown away. Taking that into consideration, we want to give our guests something they’ll actually use.

We considered giving small potted plants to the guests at our wedding. It would have been relatively easy to create ourselves, however we decided against this, as many guests will be coming from interstate. Not everyone loves plants as much as I do, so it would probably be a hassle for them to manage a potted plant in addition to their luggage on their flights home.

Instead we’ve decided to create seed packets and give them seeds.

I love raw/organic materials, so chose to use recycled paper. Unfortunately none of the stores where I live sell it, so I bought it online from BuyEcoGreen. I also bought five images from Can Stock Photo to use, though I only used three (see below).

Our names, the date of our wedding and the location are at the bottom of the seed packets, though I’ve photoshopped these out, so you’ll have to use your imagination.

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By making these myself, it has enabled me to personalise them. As we don’t know who will be attending at this point, we chose to add an individual quote to the back of each packet.

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I found a great Australian company online that sells seed packets – The Seed Collection. Their seeds are not chemically treated or genetically modified, and are not hybrids (this is important to me). They’re also the perfect size for my packets.  See below some lavender I bought from them earlier in the year.

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I’ve used craft glue to glue the packets together, and to finish them off, will add a cute little vintage style sticker to hold the top flap down. These were from an Australian Etsy store called LittleBillieBluebird.

DIY soy candles

I’m getting married at the end of next year, and love crafty stuff, so I’m making a lot of my own things to use on the day. I’ve chosen to go down the DIY path for a couple of different reasons. Firstly, because it’s fun, but also because there are certain things I’d like that I just can’t find anywhere, or they’re way overpriced. It also means I’m generally saving money. To kick off my first DIY post, I’ve decided to show the soy candles I’m making. If you’re trying to save money, these are probably not the way to go, as buying bulk tealight candles would be a whole lot cheaper. I chose soy wax because it burns cleaner than standard parafin wax, and generally burns for longer. I also made sure it contained no GMO material (unfortunately a lot of soy does these days). I chose to exclude colours and fragrances. The raw colour is really nice already, and once you start adding colours and fragrances it gets a lot tricker (if you want to do it properly). Plus, the fresh flowers on the day will already provide enough scents. The first step is to melt your wax. A lot of sites say to just stick it in the microwave until it melts. This is okay if you want okay candles. But if you want better than okay then you need to melt the wax at the right temperature (this varies depending on the wax you use). I bought my wax (and most of the other equipment I used) from Aussie Candle Supplies who advise what temperature each wax is best melted at. If doing it on the stove (as I did), you should do it in a double boiler so you don’t burn the wax. I melted mine in an aluminium pouring pot as you can see below. Soy - melting wax1 As with melting the wax at a certain temperature, the same applies with pouring it. If you pour it too hot or cold it might not set right, or it might not adhere to the glass (soy wax has a low melting temperature so it’s generally contained within glass). Soy - melting wax I chose to use small glass jars that I bought online. I would have prefered to use recycled jars, however in this instance I bought them. I bought the wicks (based on the type of wax I had) at a length suited to the size of the jars, with metal tabs at their base. This holds them in place when the wax is setting. You can also buy lengths of wick which you can trim yourself (I’ll be doing this at a later stage with other bigger jars that I already have). Soy - wicks When your wax is at the right pouring temperature, you simply pour it into each container. From what I’ve read, room temperature plays a part in how successfully they set and adhere to the glass. I’ve also been told to avoid putting them in the fridge to set. Soy - setting As they set they’ll slowly go cloudy (above), then the nice creamy colour below. Soy - drying I’ll be adding some twine around the top of each jar to finish them off. I’ve roughly done this in the below photo. Soy - finished1 So far, I’ve been testing two to see how long they burn for. Both have been used for over a total of eight hours, which is great. When in use, the wax completely melts to a liquid (given its low melt rate), then re-sets when the flame is blown out. Below are the details of where I bought each item. Aussie candle supplies – soy wax (GW 464) – cottonbraid wicks (ACS 3.0) – aluminium pouring pot – glass thermometer – plastic pouring pot Just Jars – 100ml round jar (no lid) They’re really quite easy to make, and lots of fun!

A little bit of green

Green is one of my favourite colours, so I thought I’d share some of the green things currently in my garden…

This is the first time I’ve grown broadbeans, and they’re going well. Nothing has attacked them, and I learnt early on (thank you Matt), that I needed to support them from the wind. A piece of string tied from one fence post to another worked perfectly.

They’re in full bloom now, with gorgeous white and purple flowers, and the first of hopefully many pods has begun to appear.

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This broccoli is also a first in my garden. It’s only quite small, yet is already growing a head of broccoli. Can’t wait to eat it!

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My snow peas are taking over! Well not quite, but they are loving the spot where I planted them. Soon they shall be covered in little white flowers.

Snow pea sprouts

Last but not least, is kale, another first for my garden. I love its crinkly little leaves. While currently a light green, the leaves will darken once it matures.

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Love me some chickens

Back in June I decided to add two little chickens to my family. How old are they? No idea. I have this problem called bad memory and tend to forget a lot of things. Anyway, they’ve been laying since late July.

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Chimmi (centre stage in this pic) and Doreen are both Isa Browns, and are terrible models. They are obsessed with food, and unfortunately are rather difficult to photograph, so excuse the over exposure.

When I first got them, I was worried how Chase, my old little Chihuahua cross Jack Russel (below), would go with them. She has a habit of chasing each and every bird that sets foot in the yard… even at 13 years of age.

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It turns out I didn’t need to worry too much. She was excited at first, but once she got over that she’s been pretty good. There have been a couple of incidents, where she’s gotten cranky in her old age, which has resulted in a game of chase around the chicken coop, but the chickens hold their own.

They have this whole kung fu thing going on. Just the other day, it was the chickens who were having a go at Chase, both ganging up on her. Wings were flapping, clawed feet outstretched, reaching for Chase. They were both taking turns the naughty little chickens.

I must admit though, they are a whole lot of entertainment. From their unique little personalities, through to their dinosaur like run, I could watch them for hours. And the eggs are a bonus! I would say they help with kitchen waste and food scraps, but in this case my two are a little do-do, and don’t seem to want to expand their palette. It’s all good though, plenty of room in the compost.

What gardening means to me

I often find it hard to explain what gardening means to me. When I try, people often look at me blankly and change the subject. In a way, I feel sad for those people, for they’ll never understand or experience the pure joy it can bring to one’s life.

Gardening is a part of my soul, my connection to earth and everything beautiful around me. I feel so much joy when my hands are in the dirt, a delicate seed in my palm, knowing that with my care and attention the seed will thrive, and grow into something beautiful.

My love of plants and nature in general started when I was very young. My grandfather used to grow fruit and vegetables in a plot out on a friend’s farm. I remember popping open gooseberries and peeling back their papery skins, while Pop stood there smiling. My sisters and I used to peel peas from their pod for my mum, but would often end up eating half of them raw, laughing and giggling as they ended up all over the place.

I remember when my dad planted a silky oak tree in the backyard. I thought it was so beautiful, I used to sit out beside it and talk to it… err, let me just say I was quite young at the time.

I also remember the first time I attempted to grow something. I planted a large pot of mint seeds, and for the first week every afternoon after school I sat picking out all the weeds that had miraculously appeared… they weren’t weeds.

My love of gardening continues to grow the older I get, and I like to think that I got my green thumb from my pop. He was always so fit and healthy well into his 60s, given his time spent in his garden and it’s something I aspire to. Just the thought of pottering around in my garden when I’m old and grey brings a smile to my face.

Most people wouldn’t understand the excitement I feel when the wind scatters piles of leaves all over my lawn. For me it means carbon for my compost, which I often don’t have enough of (other than paper). Just the other day I was aerating it (the compost), and found a worm with an egg sac. Up until a couple of months ago I wouldn’t have even known worms have egg sacs (egg sacs? yeah right), but I saw it and got so excited! The worms were having a party in my compost. Woo!

We have a couple of crows building a nest high up in a huge eucalyptus tree in our yard, rosellas often on the lawn eating grass seeds, king parrots regularly flying about (who I found out were eating all my tomatoes!), and a flock of about eight kookaburras often laughing merrily up in the tree.

I could spend my whole weekend in my garden, and it would be time well spent. Now with the new addition of two crazy chickens, it’s even more fun.

One day I’ll have the garden I dream of, I’ll grow all sorts of edible plants, have more chickens to add to the flock, have beautiful trees and plants, a stunning pond and natural pool, and maybe even my own bee hive. Until then, I’m content with my little garden out the back, because as long as I’m growing things, then I’m happy.

It’s hard to put into words what gardening means to me. The best way to describe it, would probably be to say that it makes my heart soar and my soul sing.

There is a quote I have always loved – ” I climbed the tree to see the world” – and although I love it, I didn’t have to climb the tree. Simply sitting against its trunk, under the dappled sunlight through its leaves, the world came to me.

How to make rosemary and lemon tea (tisane)

I’ve always loved gardening, and have been looking forward to the day I can grow a multitude of my own produce, including a broad range of plants not only for cooking, but  for making my own teas and tisanes too.

I’m not 100% there yet… I won’t be until the day I have my own place and can transform the yard into an edible paradise. I’d do it now, save for the fact that I have to remove anything I plant when I leave my current abode, and I’m restricted to using the current garden beds, which don’t allow for a whole lot of space.

There are of course ways around that, and I have managed to grow pumpkins for the first time, much to the dismay of my boyfriend.Those dark green vines with pretty yellow flowers have managed to creep about 10 metres along the fence line over the lawn. In the other direction, they’ve crawled a further five metres or so up under the fence into the front yard. Thus he threatens to mow over them on an almost weekly basis.

What is a relationship however without compromise? Being the good boyfriend that he is, he has agreed not to mow the vines to shreds (though I can see from the glint in his eyes that he’d thoroughly enjoy doing so), if I keep the grass short.

How I hear you ask? With scissors of course, and yes, it is as painful as it sounds, though definitely worth it. Especially when I see my pumpkins getting bigger and bigger each day.

Ah but I digress. As I mentioned above, I have very little garden space available. I do however have room for rosemary, and what a wonderful herb it is.

One of my favourite ways to enjoy this fragrant perennial herb is as a tisane. Tisane because technically it’s not considered a tea… even though it looks like one, and tastes like one.

For starters, it’s not as hard as it sounds. A tisane is basically an infusion of herbs/flowers/roots and hot water.  For this one, all you need is fresh rosemary, hot water and a lemon.

So, here’s how to make rosemary and lemon tisane
Pick a smallish sprig of fresh rosemary off your plant, roughly the equivalent of about one tablespoon’s worth of leaves. You can rub the leaves a little if you so choose. Sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t. Doing so, will help release more of the oils, and therefore make the flavour a little stronger.

Place the sprig/leaves in your tea cup and add about 250 ml of hot water. Leave it to infuse for a while, then add a small squeeze of lemon juice. It’s as simple as that.

I don’t really measure the amount of infusion time, as normally I set it aside while I’m doing something else, then come back to it. In saying that, you should wait for at least five minutes or so as a minimum. The longer you leave it, the more it’ll infuse and the stronger it’ll taste.

One of the benefits of this infusion is the stimulating effect it has. Rosemary aids in concentration and keeping the mind clear due to the increased supply of blood to the brain. Plus it has some exceptional antiseptic and antibacterial properties. Combined with the lemon makes it a great way to start the morning, or as an aid for a sore throat.

Note: Tisanes or any infusions for that matter, should be consumed in moderation. As too many coffees can have negative effects, so can tisanes. Responsible drinking people. Even if it is just tea… ahem tisane.

How to harvest marigold seeds

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Marigolds have become one of my favourite little flowers. Not because I love orange, or because they’re cute, but because they are a god send when it comes to keeping pests away from an organic garden.

One of the biggest problems I face is keeping away the bad bugs that want to munch on everything I grow. Marigolds have quite a pungent smell, which tends to act as a repellant for many bugs, so by planting them in and around the garden, they help deter pests. Plus they’re considered to have a low pollen level, which is always a plus for anyone who suffers hayfever.

This year I’ve harvested the seeds, so I can grow them myself rather than spend a fortune on buying seedlings, so thought I’d share how this is done.

With marigolds, the seeds come after the flower heads die. Once a flower dies, it’ll start drying out and turn brown (top left hand corner of picture). When it gets to this stage, simply pinch them off, and carefully extract the seeds from the inside. You can peel the top open, however I prefer squeezing from the bottom and letting them all pop out.

You should end up with a heap of seeds (see front of pic). Which is great, because it’s likely that not all will germinate.

Happy harvesting.

Mexican bean beetle?

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Mexican bean beetle

I’m all for organic gardening, so, when something started eating my tomato plant, the first step was of course to find out what it was.

Google helped with that… but, the only thing that seems to resemble this spiky little fellow is the Mexican Bean Beetle (larvae). Problem solved, except for the fact that they aren’t meant to be on the South Coast, let alone Australia.

There’s not much I can do for my tomato plants now, they ended up getting late blight (I think?!), however the bean beetle (if that’s what it is) could be a problem.

Being a total greenie at heart, I contacted the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries to let them know of the ahem, possible invasion. I’ve since sent a sample off and am now, with much trepidation, waiting to hear the news. Trepidation because it’s probably a common pest that is going to make me look like the amateur gardener that I am (ie a fool). Damn karma. If I could’ve sent the bug without drowing it in alcohol first I would have. Really.

Anyway, if you know what it is, please let me know.