Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Oh Springtime.

Oh warm springtime evenings I remember you. I remember the gorgeous after dinner light, the wanders down the driveway, the perfect reflections on the dams and the loud chorus of pobble-bonks.

Oh gorgeous balmy spring evenings I remember how happy you make me, how much I love that last water of the garden of the day, the leisurely weeding and yet another pick through the asparagus. And I love that finally after such a long wet winter we can practically watch our garden grow.

Oh warm and still evening, I remember how farmer Bren makes the most of you, working until it gets so dark that he can't see what's in front of him. And how much I love the surprised and happy look on his face when we go down to visit him. How dirty his hands are and how we all just want to kiss him.

Oh Springtime evenings you make me so happy. I love the extra hours in our day. I love the extra adventures we can get up to. I love the running and skipping and climbing and laughing down the driveway.

And the bees. Oh my goodness, standing very still right next the hive watching the bees coming home after a long day's work is one of my favourite things to do.

Oh Springtime evenings, I am so happy you are here again and sticking around for a while. I like the way we live our lives when you are here. You are so good for us. We are so good when you are here.


Monday, October 29, 2012

My 10 ingredients for a top party.

This weekend past marked a couple of very important anniversaries for me and farmer Bren as parents. Together we threw our third and final five year old's farm party which happened to also be the 25th party we have celebrated with our girls and their friends.

Twenty five!! Crazy huh.

And as I've been sitting here downloading the photos and enjoying the calm before the next storm in two weeks, I've also been thinking about what I've learnt over time, about my top ten ingredients for a successful and FUN kid's birthday party.

1. Theme.
I like a theme. I like that it sets the mood before the party even starts and often gives a bit of an exciting clue as to what the party will be and what to wear. Over the years we've had spotty parties, cupcake parties, rock star parties, Jazzy once begged for a poo party but I said no, make-over parties, slumber parties and so many more.

2. Invitation.
Unfortunately I forgot to take a pic of Miss Pepper's sheep invitation (I did post one to instagram tho if you want to check it out), but we always make our own invitations. Mostly we draw a picture and colour them in and write the details on the back. My kidlets get so excited for their parties and making the invites feels like we are actually doing something rather than just sitting back waiting for them to arrive.

3. Craft activity.
Let's face it, I like a good crafty activity and so most of our parties start with something to make while we wait for everyone to arrive. On the weekend we painted flower pots and in the past we've done nail polish, decorated treasure boxes, tote bags and iced cupcakes. Mostly the item they decorate ends up being their take home gift too.

4. Tractor ride.
Well to be honest this was the first tractor ride we have ever done at one of our parties, but my goodness those kiddies loved it. They sat back in a pile of hay, got a tour of our farm and sang farm songs the whole way. 

I guess number four is really about doing something that celebrates the party's theme.

5. Free time.
We always have a long list of activities planned but love it most when the party goes off script. When the kids just go off and do their own thing and enjoy being together.

6. Big kids.
My big girls have finally gotten to the stage where they can happily run a party. I can't tell you how awesome it was to watch Indi and Jazzy take turns explaining the games and making it all happen. It also reminded me of when I used to run my sisters' parties growing up and how much fun that was.

7. Their faves.
Miss Pepper wanted a pinata. When we sat down and wrote the games list she couldn't stop talking about how much fun the pinata at Mimi's party had been and how much she wanted one for her own. 

We made the woolly sheep pinata by covering a balloon with strips of newspaper soaked in watered down glue. Once it was dry we popped the balloon, filled the paper ball with treasure, made little legs from toilet rolls and then covered the entire thing with cotton wool balls.

8. Our faves.
I like that we do old fashioned parties at home. I like that they are pretty low key but loads of fun. And I like that they are an opportunity to play some of the games of our childhoods. Three legged races, sack races, follow the leader, statues and egg and spoon races all made an appearance. Pass the parcel did not (thank goodness).

9. A yummy cake.
Chosen and planned by the birthday girl. In this case it was banana cake covered in chocolate ganache (mud) with plastic animals. And it all went which is always an added bonus.

10. Besties.
We like to have a friend or two stay behind after the party has finished to help open the prezzies, to play with the prezzies to finish off the cake and to continue the fun. Otherwise everyone goes home and its all over just like that.

So how about you?
Do you have special ingredients that you always add to make a great party?
What was the best themed party you ever threw/went to?
What's your fave party game?
Do you have a party season at your place or are they spread out over the year?

Party on dudes.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Catching bees.

Late last Wednesday evening, or very early Thursday morning, half of the bees belonging to one of our bottom orchard hives suddenly gorged themselves on honey and flew on out of their hive. We weren't around to see it happen, but according to everything I've read, 1000's of bees leaving the hive at once is quite an incredible sight to behold.

Once they had escaped the hive with their queen bee, the swarm quickly found a temporary resting place in a nearby tree.

When we drove past on our way to school on Thursday morning they were calmly waiting in a big bee cluster for their scouts to come back with news of a more suitable permanent hive.

Leaving behind half their colony and a new queen to take over is the hive's way of managing their population.
Over the years we have found bee colonies living in tree trunks and other cosy, protected nooks and crannies on our farm, but this swarm, waiting on an easily accessible branch of a tree seemed very catchable. 

So we waited until dusk and put on our bee suits.

Then farmer Bren held on tight to the branch holding the swarm while I cut it down.

Then we placed the swarm, still on their branch, on a white sheet right next to a new bee box.

And we waited and watched. And after a while we realised that the swarm was pretty comfortable on their branch and wouldn't be going anywhere unless we helped them a bit more. So I picked up the branch and with one big flick, shook the bees off onto the sheet.

And then I ran away madly, terrified that they would go crazy and chase me. They didn't. But farmer Bren said watching me run as fast as I could trying to escape in my bee suit was the high-light of his whole day. Pretty funny.

After that they quickly started crawling to the shelter of their new home. They looked like a slowly moving blanket rippling and creeping to the hole in their new hive.

And although we sat and watched quietly, we were also buzzing along with them. What a thrill to get up so close and personal with such an incredible creature. Part of me wanted to wriggle my hand deep into the middle of their mass and feel their movement, their texture, their weight. But the other part of me, the part that respected their potential danger and the fact that we had already tampered with them enough, won out and left them alone.

And while I'm talking about danger, I should tell you that I took these pics through the mesh of my bee suit helmet with thick, clumsy gloves on. I'm sure that was a pretty funny sight too.

So now we have a seventh hive of bees as very important members of our Daylesford Organics team. And those worker bees certainly have their work cut out for them at the moment collecting nectar and pollen for their hives and pollinating our orchards and gardens and forests. And we're a bit thrilled that we rehived them, and that they'll continue working for us pollinating and making honey.

Are you keen for the bee like me?
Do you love honey in your tummy like Miss Pepper?
Are you busy and buzzy with a list a mile long like farmer Bren?
Or are you happy in your swarmy gang of pals like Indi and jazzzzzzzzzy?

Wishing you such a happy and sweeeeeet weekend. xx

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


And on the fifth anniversary of her birth, she squeeeeeeeeezed her eyes shut tight and she made a wish. I'm certain it was an extremely important wish but none of us asked her about it in case it stopped it from coming true.

And as she made her wish I took a deep breath, shut my eyes and made a couple of my own. I think mamas are allowed to make birthday wishes too. It makes sense I think.

I wished her a life filled with as much love as she was smothered in today. I wished her so many, many, many, many more birthdays and excuses for celebrations and parties. I wished her a life time of laughter and dancing and magic and yummy food and family and friends.  I wished her confidence and creativity and wisdom and strength. And compassion and courage and respect and resilience. I wished that one day she be comfortable with her time tables. And inspiration, I wished her lots of that.

And I wished that every year when our Daylesford Organics orchards are bursting with blossom, when the smell is intoxicating and the bees are buzzing about doing their thing, that she remembers and knows in her heart how adored she is.

Happiest five our beautiful Pepper Berry, you certainly are adored. xxxxx

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

almost five. x

She turns five tomorrow.

Those ten little fingers and ten little toes and those long, long plaits have been with us for five whole years. It is hard to imagine life before them. I wouldn't want to imagine a life without them. Gosh how we all adore her.

And tomorrow we'll celebrate her. There will be pancakes, candles and a banana cake, a trip to town to buy a prezzie, lots of cards, singing and a ridiculous amount of kisses.

But today I am an overemotional mess. My baby is no longer a baby. I don't have a baby anymore and I never will again. And I can't stop crying.

I know at five she'll still be little, but she'll also start to be a bit big. Five means that in a few short months she'll start school. She'll separate from me a bit more and become a bit more independent. She'll look elsewhere for inspiration and permission. I will be less and less the centre of her universe. She'll experience and be influenced by the big wide world without me always being there to filter it and protect her.

I know I'll adore and admire and be in awe of my big five year old kid. But I'll also miss her four year-oldness like crazy. I already do.

My funny, happy, plaited, singing, story telling little four year old buddy.

Thank you for letting me hold you like a baby and kiss you all over today. Tomorrow I promise it'll all be about the happy.


Monday, October 22, 2012

friendship bracelets ❤ love & links ❤

Isn't it funny how hands have their own memories. How hands can remember the way to do something that the head has completely forgotten.

Do you know what I mean?

This happened a few years ago when I picked up the knitting needles for the first time since school and my hands remembered how to do a basic stitch.

And a few days ago, after a twenty year break, my hands remembered the way to tie the knots to make friendship bracelets. It all felt so familiar and so comfortable, like I had only made a knotted band a few days before.

And as my hands did their thing and knotted the strings, they brought back feelings and memories from the last time they did those same actions. The knotting brought back memories of a toiletry bag filled with rolls of coloured cottons, of safety pins stuck through the hem of my jeans for tension, of sitting around with friends gossiping and knotting, of swapping bracelets with friends and boyfriends, of intricate patterns, of wearing one bracelet even though it gave me a rash underneath, of not taking them off until they fell off and of gorgeous collections up and down my arms and ankles.

Twenty years later and my girls are now loving the old friendship bracelets. Every time I look at them they seem to have accumulated more. As the days get warmer, their sleeves get shorter and the amount of stuff tied around their wrists get thicker.

I think they look gorgeous. I love their individual collections. I love that their fad takes me back to such a happy time in my life. And I love a handmade trend. It's like a crafty opportunity and that is pretty ace in my books.

I had planned to write my own tutorial for the basic knots and patterns you need to make a friendship bracelet, but after doing a quick google search I found some great ones. Clear and easy to follow.

Here's my friendship bracelet linky list;

Friendship bracelets.net - The basic knot.
The Purl Bee - Chevron stitch (same as above).
Friendship bracelets.net - Wave stitch (same as below).
Friendship bracelets.net - Braid stitch.
Friendship bracelets.net - Alphabet.
The Purl Bee - Valentine stitch.

You can buy rolls of cotton or embroidery floss from craft shops and wool shops.

On a shopping trip to Bendigo recently we found a whole heap of odds and ends of cotton in the back room of the Bendigo Woollen Mills. You might be lucky and find some in op/thrift shops too.

And while you've got your cotton and knots happening you might want to make want to make your head phones cozy and tangle free, deets here.

Every time I think I might make one for me or my farmer boy, I get another request from my girls. I think it's high time I teach them how to make their own. I think we might drag a blanket outside this afternoon and have a lesson. I can't think of anything nicer.

Oh and while we are talking about knotting, the winners of the Ebooks are;
Michelle Symes - who chose the 24/7 book.
Leah - who also chose the 24/7 book.
Email me with your email details girls and we'll get those Ebooks to you asap.

So how about you?
Do your hands sometimes surprise you with their own memory?
Did you make friendship bracelets as a kid?
Do they bring back happy memories?
Are you going to make some now?
I hope so.

Happy knotting!

Bye! x

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Our little farm in Frankie. x

It started with an email from Jo asking if we'd heard of Frankie and would we like to be included in a story called Our little farm. Had we heard of Frankie?? Um, YES!!

It continued with a phone conversation to nut out the details. There would be an interview and a photo shoot and then the article. The phone conversation took place in a break while moving the chooks through the forest. We were sitting on the bank of the house dam drinking coffee. It was a glorious and sunny morning and we were muddy and tired from the work and it all felt a bit surreal and at the same time terribly exciting.

The next step was the interview. We sat and answered the questions on the lap top one night after the girls were in bed. We were impressed at how in depth they were. And we felt proud and a bit overwhelmed by how far we've come and all that we've experienced and achieved over our 12 years as Daylesford Organics.

Then came the photo shoot.

I had looked up Olga Bennett's work and was terribly excited that she would be coming out to photograph our family and our farm. And I was a little bit nervous too. Olga's work is AMAZING!!!!

She called me one afternoon to set up a date and time and told me straight away that she has bought our eggs for years and was so excited about this project. And I told her how excited I was too. And because we were both excited I decided I could relax and look forward to it.

Olga and her partner came up for the shoot on the only sunny day in the middle of weeks of rain. We took a long walk around and as we walked we talked about farming methods and family and photography and life. It was really lovely. My girls adored her partner. And it felt like we were just going about doing our thing and we barely noticed the camera.

And then I guess it finished when Frankie came out.

Our story is in the 50th anniversary issue which has the most gorgeous magazine cover I have ever seen. And our story is wonderful. We are lucky enough to be sandwiched in between our fave avocado family Barham Avocados, and deer farmers, the Hansens. The photography is beautiful, the words are inspiring, I am thrilled.

A huge thanks you to Frankie mag for choosing our farm in your small farm story. To Olga Bennett for the most wonderful photos of our farm I have ever seen. That photo of us five takes my breath away every time I open it. To Luisa Brimble for all the photos in this post and for sending me your very own copy so I could have it quickly. And to everyone else who has sent me photos and shared in our excitement.

So much yay!

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