IMAG0883-1

Succulent Terrariums On A Budget: How To Make Your Own

Since moving into our home I’ve been trying to introduce more colour into our space in form of plants and flowers. However, not being a particular green thumb means I have to be realistic about what I choose to grow and where. As well as the various health benefits associated with having indoor plants (cleaner air, better sleep etc), I find having greenery in the home gives it a lift and turns dead space into… well, live space. It also means I don’t have to buy fresh flowers every couple of weeks (which I feel a bit bad about as it seems particularly wasteful).

So I woke up on Saturday morning determined to add to our collection of house plants (which actually consists of a lonesome Peace Lily in the living room). Enter succulents!

Succulents, taken from ‘The Succulent Garden’

Succulents are water retaining plants which are adapted to drier climates, thus they need little care and are the ideal no-fuss plant — perfect for me. Upon searching the Internet for information on succulents I stumbled across images of succulent terrariums which looked great, so I decided to follow Burke’s Backyard’s instructions and make my own.

Taken from ‘Floral Verde’

Taken from ‘Flora Verde’

Terrariums are essentially clear glass/plastic containers of various shapes used to grow indoor plants. Not wanting to spend too much money I decided to wash out some glass jars and two glass tumblers (not pictured) for my humble project.

Various jars from our cupboard, pre-clean

Based on the instructions from Burke’s Backyard I wrote myself a list of items to purchase (pebbles, charcoal, succulents etc) and headed to my local Bunnings store where I chose these plants:

Once I got home I threw everything into a cardboard box, chucked on my favourite gardening gum boots and headed out into the garden to create my terrariums (with the help of Stevie):

Stevie guarding my box of goods from what appears to be a bag of potting mix

My Slogger gumboots from Amazon

Now, I must confess that I didn’t follow the instructions step by step and omitted some of the ingredients (such as charcoal and moss) because I had trouble finding them (in the case of charcoal I didn’t want to buy a 10 kg bag and only use a handful of it), so come a month’s time my terrariums might be no more, but I figure succulents are robust and will be okay (though I suspect mould might be the worry, we shall see!). I found the process quite straight forward, though transplanting the succulents into the tiny jars was a little difficult, especially with my sausage fingers!  But despite emptying most of the potting mix on myself, they turned out okay (though not as lovely as those from Floral Verde).

Jars and tumblers lined up and ready

Pebbles to allow drainage

End Product — some looked better than others, but once added to the windowsill they looked quite good together.:

It ended up being a particularly cold and rainy day by the time I finished, hence the gloomy photos, but overall I was happy with them.

Frau x

More artichokes -- I couldn't resist.

Pressing the Flash

Thank you to everyone for their lovely comments — I never imagined my post would be ‘freshly pressed’ or that people would be so kind and encouraging!  As you probably gathered from my last post, I don’t have a background in photography. Those in the know speak of ‘composition’, ‘lighting’ and ‘lenses’, I speak of photos ‘looking good’ and ‘not looking good’. I am, in the real sense of the word, amateur.

The rise of digital cameras have changed the photography landscape (no pun intended). People now have the technology at their fingertips to take fairly decent photos. You have the luxury of deleting 9 out of the 10 photos without being worried about wasting precious film. You can view photo images in high resolution and tweak them here and there. It is, essentially, a pretty good time to be taking snaps for your album!

Garden

Homegrown pumpkin (hanging off our back fence). Looked better than it tasted, unfortunately.

This was the seedling which grew into the beautiful sunflower from my previous post

Artichoke from Mann’s parents’ garden

More artichokes — I couldn’t resist

 

Holiday snaps from Phillip Island, Victoria

Cape Woolamai (it was very windy and cold)

Churchill Island Heritage Farm. The trees were beautiful.

Wild mushrooms

Local horse, Churchill Island Heritage Farm

Family

My two favourite mammals: Stevie and Mann

Stevie aiming too high

 

More to come.

Frau x

Queso blanco

Cheese: Amateur Photography

As a child I was fascinated by photography. I liked to think I was on a mission to capture the perfect photo. I would buy myself a cheap disposable camera from the supermarket (these were the days before digital cameras), spend a week or so taking the best photos in the entire world (in my humble 9 year old opinion), have them processed then rip them out of the envelope with glee — only to discover with great disappointed that I had taken most photos seconds too late. This became a particular talent of mine, that and blurred photos that looked like they had been taken inside a womb.

Talent of choice: taking bad photos

In my late teens, I worked for a photo processing company. I had given up my interest in photography by then, but found working there heartening as I soon discovered that I wasn’t the only one who had a knack for directing the camera at the sun and taking pointless photos of  glare because I thought they looked ‘artistic’.

It’s only recently that I’ve started taking photos again with any enthusiasm, thanks largely to a decent camera phone. I’m not formally trained nor do I take photos professionally, but I think some of these shots have turned out well, so I share them with you now:

Food

Oh glorious food.

Black forest cup cakes

Kitty cats

Beatrice and Harriet, unsure about their sitters

Harriet

Beatrice (I love her little paw pads)

Landscape

Sky opening up on the way to Castlemaine

Flagstaff Gardens

Path to Flagstaff Gardens

Castlemaine Botanical Gardens, Christmas Day

Powerlines

Lake Mountain

Train approaching

And garden

Tomato seedling

sunflower

Frau x

New Addition to the Family

Her name is Stevie. Mann found her chasing after cars while on his morning run and luckily  scooped her up before a car claimed her. Feeling particularly grumpy that morning (I was sulking childishly at home because I couldn’t find my running pants), my foul mood quickly dissipated when I was greeted by this little fox-like mug:

On the way home from The Lost Dog's Home

Within half an hour of being in the house Stevie was at home. She visited each room, coming back periodically to lick us and say hello, then found Mann’s socks which she proceeded to pick up and drop off at certain parts of the house. We were in love. Sadly, reality sunk in when we realised that Stevie probably had an owner that was looking for her so we took her to the local vet (Mann had door knocked around the area she was found beforehand) and we were told she was not desexed, microchipped, registered or vaccinated but she was in good health. We were told she would be collected by The Lost Dog’s Home .

Later that afternoon we eagerly rang The Lost Dog’s Home and enquired about a little white pomeranian cross that would have been collect earlier in the day. They said they had no record of her. Heartbreak. We then rang the vet who confirmed she had indeed been picked up and gave us a reference number. We rang The Lost Dog’s Home back and were relieved to hear that she had arrived but had not yet been entered into their database hence no record of her. We told them were interested in adoption and they told us we had to wait 8 days in case she was claimed.

Happy Stevie riding in the car after picking up Mann from the train station.

After what seemed like the longest 8 days of our lives we arrived at The Lost Dog’s Home excited to pick up our new little lady.

If anyone has considered buying a cat or dog, I recommend adopting from a shelter. It broke my heart to see the number of abandoned animals at The Lost Dog’s Home (but lucky for them they are being taken care of and not wandering the streets). All adopted animals are vaccinated, desexed and microchipped at minimal cost and are in perfect health and condition. There are also fostering options if you would like to trial your potential pet

It’s been lovely having Stevie around the house especially for Mann who works from home 3 days a week. She is sweet, playful and sometimes a little naughty but we look forward to seeing her smiling little face every morning and night. The best thing about adopting her is knowing that she has a good home and parents that adore her.

Frau x

PS. She was named  after Stevie Nicks of Fleetwood Mac — we had been listening to them lately and thought the name suited her perfectly!

Frockin’ More

Upon visiting my wardrobe the other day, I realised I had a few more favourite (new) frocks I wanted to share:

This cute little number was from Quick Brown Fox. I like a lot of their dresses — the patterns, the cuts — but I find some of the material  can be cheap and the stitching and lining can be haphazardly done. This particular one didn’t seem to suffer from either of those problems so I snapped it up quick smart when I saw it on the sale rack for $30. RRP ~$80. It’s made of polyester and spandex and is quite warm; it’s best worn over stockings and under a cuddly coat.

This is another Quick Brown Fox frock — I’m a sucker for wrap/faux wrap dresses, especially in super comfortable jersey material so I happily bought this lovely patterned dress for full price ~ $80.

This is one of my special occasion dresses. It’s a dark blue silk with pale pink polka dots, the cross over neckline is flattering and the belt defines the waist. I spotted it in the Karen Walker section at Myer and fell in love with it, it is part of her Hi There line. I think it cost $150 +, I got it for 30% off.

I found this dress in a local shopping centre tucked in the back corner of a brands reject store. It’s an off white colour dotted with fairy tale-esque prints by Friends of Couture and cost a mere $30; originally it was $100+. I usually steer clear of white/light colours but this waisted cut is very flattering. Here are some close ups:

Little red riding hood?

Unicorn!

As affordable dresses go, I’m quite a fan of the brand Sunny Girl. From what I know, they only go up to a size 14 so sometimes they fit, sometimes they don’t, mostly depending on the bust. This was a nice summery addition to my collection. Cost: $49.95.

That’s probably enough frockery for one day!

Frau x

The Running (Wo)Man

Until recently, I was not the running type. In fact, I avoided it as much as possible. I ran neither for punctuality nor for my favourite dessert. Place me metres from my departing train and I would not even consider quickening my pace. I was an anti-runner.

This all changed when Mann sent me an article by The Guardian’s Charlie Brooker. In the article, Brooker, the unseemingly unsporty type, humourously wrote of an iPhone app called Get Running which had changed his outlook on exercise and himself (‘I have been murdered and replaced with a suspicious facsimile. In running shoes’). Finishing the article with a chuckle and usual exercise-related hesitation, I decided to try it myself — if it was good enough for Charlie, it was good enough for me.

So in early February, after putting the idea off for weeks in true lazy Frau style, Mann and I woke at dawn on a Monday and hit the pavement.

I nearly died.

The first run of week 1 (there are 9 weeks and 3 runs per week) consisted of walking for 5 minutes to warm up and cool down and alternating between 1 minute of walking and 1 minute of running repeatedly to make up a total of 30 minutes of exercise. I couldn’t even run for 1 minute without being in a  large amount of pain. My legs ached and my lungs burned, my body was struggling to cope. I was ashamed for letting it come to this. But I persevered, despite  being self conscious of parading my unfitness to the world. Now 5 weeks into the program *I* have been murdered and replaced with a suspicious facsimile in running shoes. A miracle.

I am starting to enjoy running. Instead of googling desserts, I now google ‘beginner running tips’ and ‘Asics running shoes for women’. I find myself going on runs voluntarily when I feel restless or tired. I am eating healthier and more conscious of what I put in my body, purely because it greatly effects how well I run. If I eat too much, I feel sluggish and running becomes more difficult than it should. If I eat too little I quickly run out of fuel and struggle to complete my session. Essentially, I have become more aware of my body and its needs. My body is also starting to change, I have lost some weight and gained muscle in my legs and core. And most importantly, mentally, I am awake and more confident in myself.

I have a bit to go until I complete the 9 weeks and am able to run for 30 minutes straight/5 kms but I’ve come far for someone who had never imagined herself running or enjoying it. At this point I can run just over 2kms continuously. It may be at tortoise pace but I can do it nonetheless. Those living sedentary lives will understand what an achievement this is and knowing that I have never been able to run for even half the length, I know I’m kicking some running arse.

So the point of this post is to encourage those wanting to incoporate exercise into their daily lives to put their thoughts into action. If you have ever considered getting back into exercise, even for a split second, I urge you to give this app or something similar a go. It’s all about starting slow and taking your time — you may not be fit overnight but it will happen eventually.

I would love to hear of other people’s experiences if they would be kind enough to share it here — tips, favourite websites, recommendations, anything you would like.

Frau x

First World Problems: Too Many Frockin’ Frocks

One of the biggest tasks I had when moving house was reducing the size of my wardrobe. Sitting on my bedroom floor surrounded by a mass of patterns and colours I realised how much money I had spent (and wasted) — some of the items I hadn’t even worn before!

Since then I have downsized to around 30 dresses, the other 70 or so I gave to close friends (it makes me happy when I see them wearing them) and opportunity shops. I now prefer buying clothing from second hand stores where possible, and have developed quite a love for op-shopping — in particular, vintage dresses. Being a fuller lady, vintage dresses are flattering, comfortable and perfectly appropriate work attire (what else do librarians wear?), but more on that in my next post.

Here are some frocks  from my current collection of newly bought items:

I spotted this Alice in the Eve dress in General Pants Co. one day for $80. I resisted to urge to buy it and was rewarded for my patience a week later when it was on sale for half price.

Another Alice in Eve dress from General Pants Co. Despite having purchased a few dresses from them, I’m not a big fan of General Pants Co. I find their general collection a little pretentious, but I do like  Alice in Eve. This was also purchased for half price ($50). It’s an eye catching art nouveau-esque pattern of royal blue, pale pink, red and light grey. Unfortunately, the blue dominates in this particular photo but you can see the pattern a bit better below.

This dress is a particular favourite of mine. I usually avoid high neck lines as they make me look top heavy but I couldn’t resist the adorable red frills. I bought this from Etsy for $20 on sale. Best thing is it’s been handmade out of scrap material.

 

This is probably the most comfortable dress I own that isn’t a moo moo. Made of polyester and spandex it is stretchy but because of its a-line skirt, it accentuates and skims at the right places. The pattern reminds me of spring and it’s one of the few dresses I own that doesn’t contain red or blue. This was bought from Leona Edmiston’s online store for $80 — around half of the riginal price if I recall correctly.

 

Next post: vintage dresses!

Frau x

China Girl: Dinnerware Delight

On a recent shopping trip with a dear friend, I came across some lovely dinnerware. Our current collection consists of plain white china so I jumped at the opportunity to grab a bargain and add some colour to the mix.

Preston Markets

Since moving NOR, Preston Markets has become our regular shopping haunt. The fruit and vegetables are fresh and well priced, and  general specialty shops cover most of your shopping needs. There’s also a well stocked Asian grocery store which sells fresh Asian vegetables and herbs, rice noodles and tofu — things often lacking at your usual supermarket.

ARC Asian Grocery. Photo by Joanne P

On this particular trip we came across a little corner store selling dinnerware (I can’t recall the name of the store, unfortunately). And there I spotted a few things I wanted:

  • a small coffee cup (I have trouble consuming a mugful of coffee in the morning, especially when I’m running late),
  • a little sauce jug, and
  • some colourful mugs.

What was even better was that they were all nestled on the clearance table under the sign saying ‘6 items for $5’.

I was sold!

Garrards

Another place we chanced upon was Garrards in Harbour Town. We were on the look out for a cheap dinnerware set for my friend when we spotted this beautiful bowl.

It was half price at $9.95 so I couldn’t resist. The mustard yellow is gorgeous and our produce looks even more appetising presented in it.

There were other lovely things we wanted but we decided to come back with a car so we don’t have to cart heavy purchases across town. I’m saving all my pennies to buy matching dinnerware as we speak!

To wrap things up I’d like to share a few lovely items we have been gifted:

Frau x

Home Produce

As our friends know, Mann is a most enthusiastic gardener and baker. The majority of our plants and vegetables have been grown from seed and we regularly eat homemade bread (he has recently progressed from normal bread to sourdough, the latter is much more difficult to make!) and we always have lovely homemade pizza  bases on our pizza nights. Though far from self sufficient, I’m rather proud of our amateur efforts (and in particular Mann’s) and happily share some of our results.

From the Garden

Peas

Heirloom tomatoes

Red heirloom tomatoes

Butter beans, peas and heirloom tomatoes

Close up

Sweet peas, runner beans (purple), climbing beans and tomatoes

Sunflower

 

From the Kitchen

 

Rye loaves

Sourdough

Homemade heaven: tomatoes, sourdough, chilli and garlic oil

Homemade heaven: tomatoes, sourdough, chilli and garlic oil

Vegetarian pizzas

Butter fried mushrooms from the garden

Queso blanco (white cheese)

 

Frau x

Brightening up the Home on a Budget: Part II

Since my last post I’ve added a few more prints to our walls.

Bedroom:

These prints were found at TYPO, a ridiculously cheap stationery store. They’re double sided and have different patterns on the back. I think I bought a pack of 10 sheets for a few dollars. Our IKEA patterned quilt cover set (the pattern is actually made up of green circles — you can’t quite make it out in this photo) was also very cheap, I think it cost me $12 on sale.

Sewing nook:

These prints were taken from Frankie Magazines and function to inspire me to create beautiful dresses on my new Singer sewing machine! Unfortunately, due to lack of space the nook has been overtaken by Mann’s beer brewing equipment as well as other boxes. Once we get rid of the excess furniture in the house, we’ll be able to clear the space a bit and turn it into a more inspiring and creative space!

Bin:

After less than 4 months of use, our cheap Kmart bin lid refused to close properly. So instead of going out and purchasing another bin (hence wasting $$ and materials) we used a small paint can to weigh it down. The paint can was pretty unsightly so I used some leftover wrapping paper to brighten it up and it also happened to match the plastic mat and recycling bin!

Frau x