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Sunday, January 25, 2015

Key Design Features For A Child's Garden

is a modest family home on the northern edge of Scottsdale. Karie is extremely creative and her passion is evident in every corner. She has created many "rooms" and incorporated strong features and the garden is set to become a beautiful backdrop for many weddings to come, but it is the children's garden design I'll share in this post.

Healthy play and plenty of outdoor time is to be encouraged and regardless of the size of your yard, there are some key design features found here that could easily be adopted in your yard.

The property is exposed to some pretty windy extremes and hedges and wind breaks feature throughout the garden. These also serve to screen the play area and all the paraphernalia too.

It's comforting to have children playing within earshot but they enjoy being secreted away too. Having your own special space not right under parent eyes gives a feeling of independence and a freedom feeling. Many of the surrounding hedges have tunnels for entrance ways, something I adored as a child. A cubby house is also a great place for independent imaginary play AND a useful toy storage area. Using treated timber makes for a low maintenance yet sturdy structure.

Another essential in the garden area is a bike track. This one is a purpose laid cement path within another hedge enclosure but you could easily incorporate yours as part of your path structure, driveway and clothesline access. Note the interior bed is interesting with large rocks and hardy native grasses, soft but hardy agapanthus and bark mulched so that watering and trailing hoses are not required. The small trees are canopied high, providing some dappled sheltering cover but no eye hight hazards around the track. The bikes and scooters tend to have a "home" here, rather than be left lying around the yard as tripping hazards.

Between the bike track and the cubby house is a "moored" boat sand pit tied up at a "landing dock/jetty". Note the treated pine stepping stumps set off the "jetty". How could kids fail to engage in imaginative play. Again the area is also bark chipped and planted with different coloured flax clumps and drought tolerant succulents also soften corners and edges.

After all that, riding, swinging, digging, chasing....
is a quiet nook at the end of the "dock" for some time out, maybe some book reading and afternoon tea. A cosy place for a mum to knit and supervise from. 
A simple pagola style covered in wisteria also in keeping with the purple hues of the plantings throughout the play area.

But there is more!
A fairy walk with more secret paths winding beneath shady canopies.

Little fairy nests and bowers made from garden findings. A seasonal creative activity for the children every year,

Again the use of old mirrors extend the space and add mystery glimpses. 

Whimsical miniatures are a must in fairy gardens. Note the plantings perfect for shady places that fill the borders, also the lattice work and little garden iron-work edges that help to define the space. 

An old punch set glitters and reflects light in the gloomy undergrowth providing magical meeting places for fairies.

And another green alcove off the secret path where imagination takes flight.

Clever, creative touches that need not cost the earth.
Be inspired by the junk in your work shed and the items no longer used.

Old mirrors, some recycled bricks for paving, off cuts of lattice...
Visiting an open garden provides plenty of food for thought and we are so lucky gardeners like this participate in the Australian Open Garden scheme.
You can see more wonderful photos of Adawood here on a post by photographer, Belinda Fettke. It's called "You Have Cancer...Three Words You Never Want To Hear" and as you may guess there is more to this story and plenty more inspiration.

Monday, January 5, 2015

The Empty Pickle Jar- My Resolution

I have been doing a lot of thinking about priorities. About time, family, friends and also myself. 
There will be some changes.
I'll keep my jobs and I will continue with my voluntary work with kidney health

I'm going to let go of the Growers Market 
I'm also stepping back from Living Better With Less.
There is every reason to believe that these things will go on without me just fine and the world will surely keep turning but it is time for me to shift my priorities and time effectiveness.
I am embracing my grandmother-hood-ness!
Teaching is like tossing pebbles onto a still pond.
In the last four years I have been gratified to have lost count of the ripples and I am grateful for the opportunities and the growth I have also gained.
Loving this suburban life.

Monday, December 29, 2014

2014 - A Retrospective

Come along with me and see the year that was in our suburban quarter....

As well as my two paid jobs I also participate in the local Growers' Market and as always our activities are very much seasonally driven.
Living Better With Less also continued for another year meeting monthly.
Here are some of the things we did and learnt;


Re-hydrating and fermenting...

Kombucha making and....

Milk Keffir and Water Keffir...

We've been frugal making

Creamy yoghurt for next to nothing and

A whole three course dinner party for less than $15.

We learnt how to make healing salves and potent "Fire Cider" for a cold remedy

and talked about healing herbals and tisane...

and how to make toothpaste and sunscreen...

Wooden chair maintenance,

...and wooden drawer maintenance.

I did some work shops on food preserving called
"Beyond The Freezer"

And participated in the 
"Tassievore Eat Local Challenge"

with a very local and seasonal dinner.

I  also held a darning and knitted garment repair workshop at a Launceston pop-up "non-buying" shop in May

And later in the year I did a talk/food demonstration in Hobart for Colony 47
"All About Beans: Growing, Storing & Cooking"

And I even organised and hosted my first bus tour.
I took 30 ladies on a knitting journey through the midlands of Tasmania with a focus on fibres and local suppliers.

Our party of the year was a baby shower as we eagerly anticipated our first grandchild 

and we decorated a nursery...

And we are still trying to wipe the grins off our faces!

Sadly we lost some good people this year and I would like to dedicate this year in memory of;
Nic Leclercq - one of our Living Better With Less members and a dear friend
John Schoots - my uncle and an extraordinary man with extraordinary stories
Jeremy Ball - our deputy mayor who was an absolute hero for our city and gone too soon.

We grow, we make, we mend, we preserve,
we flourish.
Thanks for being there and sharing it all.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Xmas 2014 - Copper/White/Silver

This years theme is copper/white/silver.

I've carried this theme through to the wreath also...

This year I stitched and ruched some soft ivory silk scraps and white organza and then over laid it with some copper tinged berries garland. The short, battery operated LED light string sits very easily among the wired garland twigs.

The mantle holds small vignettes of copper, silver, vintage amber bottles and old assorted books in reds. 

A beautiful hand made ceramic plate by Marley & Lockyer and some short strings of stars to light the night.

Simple white gift wrap and white raffia ribbon.
I stamped the white tags with embossing medium and powdered, mixing clear embossing powder with Ranger Perfect Pearl powder (called "perfect copper" naturally!) and used a heat gun.

I followed that through with the Christmas Cards using a pearly card stock that I had on hand.

We've polished and dusted, the crystal is throwing prisms and the silver and copper are throwing light everywhere.

Special pieces...

A special time.
Welcoming the new grandbaby to our traditions and remembering those we have lost this year.

It's hard losing those we love but to lose someone in conflict or at someone else's hand is heart breaking. My thoughts are for the families of those taken in tragic circumstances recently and my prayers are for peace.
Religion isn't violent, it's the violent and disturbed people who kill.
Peace be with you. 

Monday, December 22, 2014

Hand Made Gifts for 2015

This year my gift bags contain Rhubarb and Vanilla infused Vodka that I made some months ago. Assorted cordials include, Wild Nettle, Rhubarb and Blackcurrant.

These are lovely with chilled sparkling water but can also be used as syrups for desserts. The blackcurrant is particularly good with hot water for a bedtime soother.
As for last year, I have used the chalkboard look labels and very sorry to say that I have sourced the last of these bottles. I love being able to keep everything uniform in the goodie bag.

I made some "Tranquillity" room sprays for a soft calming fragrance (sometimes Christmas gets a little tense don't you find). These atomisers are about 50ml. I filled 3/4 of the way with witch hazel and added 9 drops of my blend (lavender, bergamot, ylang ylang, geranium and chamomile) and then topped with distilled water.

Last month I made a series of soy wax candles and named their different fragrances for local areas that they inspired. 

I can make jam but I bow down before Miss Kate, a true artisan of preserves, and I am so excited to share some of these creations with loved ones and colleagues. As you can tell from the labels, she sources local produce and blends the most incredible flavours. But even beyond the flavours, she works with the textures of the fruit and the moisture contents that vary from season to season and even the weather on the day plays a part in her delicious science. 
Her label name is...
My all time favourite is Blue Raja and to be honest I even just eat it off the spoon!

Kate's creations were also in keeping with a natural and black colour theme so I kept carrying that through with stamped tags and plain brown bags and silky black cord.

A little bit of this and a little bit of that.
They are not created overnight and are the product of seasonal selection and preserving. 
Made with thought and love.
I have done several posts on cordial making and you can find them all by simply typing "cordial" into the search box on the right somewhere over there.
All Kate's contact info can be read easily from the labels in the pictures above. 

You can re-read last years' gift bag post here
So what have you made for gifts this year? I'm looking already for new ideas for next year... 

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