Where would you live?

Every time Stu and I go away somewhere, we always inevitably end up coming home with grand plans of moving to a new dream location. Recently, since we've just been to the farm, we've been dreaming of living in the countryside, raising chooks and maybe even some pigs, cattle and sheep, growing our own vegetables and being self-sufficient.
Me, at the farmhouse
While some of these plans were idyllic and perfectly realistic (a sea change when we're old and grey, for example), others were just plain ridiculous (ie. a ski lodge in the snowy mountains even though we absolutely hate the cold and don't do winter sports). The people at BOQ who are home loan experts, have asked that I share a few places I would absolutely love to live in and they are:
Beach house, Tasmania ( wouldn't mind living there)
Beach living- every year Stu and I like to go on a beach side getaway just so we can lie on the sand, take dips in the sea and wake up to views of the ocean. How nice would it be be have easy access to the ocean every day of the week! I probably wouldn't suffer from wanderlust as much as I do now.

City living - The city of Sydney is noisy, crowded, full of suits, crazies and just a little bit obnoxious, but it is also vibrant, colourful and so very very exciting. Though city living no longer suits my current life so much, I do still miss the convenience of just walking down the road to get a fantastic cup of coffee, and also being close to the art galleries and all the designer boutiques.
A farm we visited at Barrington Tops
Country living - I remember clear as day the first time Stu and I stayed at an old dairy farm at the Hunter Valley. We both left the region dreaming of owning a piece of land one day, being a farmer of sorts or owning a cute little Bed and Breakfast or maybe planting an olive grove. Even the very sensible and practical Stu admitted that weekend had inspired him to one day own a vineyard and produce the best wine this land has to offer. One for the bucket list perhaps?

Suburbia - I have to admit when we first moved to the burbs, I didn't like it. It was too quiet, too green, too boring (mind you, I was still young and restless then). Now though, I must say we made the right choice as it really suits our quiet family life. I love that we have a big backyard for Alex and Frankie to run amok in, great schools for when the boy is older and there's a real sense of community that I never experienced in the city. Better yet, Stu's parents live just five minutes away!

If you could live anywhere you like, where would you live, and why? I would love to know!

DIY rosemary smudge stick (insect repellent)

Every year I give my rosemary plants a good prune to keep them happy and encourage growth. I always end up with far more rosemary than I can use in my cooking so this time, I decided to bind them in a bundle and dry to use as a natural insect repellent. Smudge sticks are more commonly made with sage but rosemary works just as well.

To use, simply light one end of the smudge stick and then gently wave it in the air until it starts to smolder. I like to place mine in a fireproof container at the door; the fumes they release help keep pesky mosquitoes away from the house.
To make your own rosemary smudge sticks, you'll need:

Rosemary, trimmed to 15cm lengths
Kitchen string or twine (must be natural fibre as you will be burning these)


1. Trim rosemary sprigs into 15cm lengths.
2. Bundle about 8-10 sprigs and tie a tight knot at one end.
3. Wind the kitchen string up until you reach the other end and wind the string back down.

4. Secure with knot, leaving enough string for tying and handling.
5. Hang in a dry spot until completely dry (3-4 weeks) before using.

Royalla farmstay

As I've previously mentioned, we recently travelled to the Southern Highlands with my parents and stayed on a working farm. Here are a few photos and stories, read on if you're interested...
We stayed at the farmhouse at Royalla, a working farm set amidst a lush, green haven. It was beautiful, modern, so very comfortable and was equipped with a well stocked kitchen so we were able to cook our meals there - a major plus when traveling with little Alexander.
We were thrilled to meet the farm animals which included llamas, cattle, sheep, geese, goslings, chooks and Guinea, the guinea pig (can you see him?). It was sweet to watch Alexander squeal with excitement as he met them even though that inevitably scared all the animals away.
We took long walks on the property, fed the sheep, collected freshly laid eggs (and made super yummy brekkies with them), picked fresh herbs from the impressive vegetable garden but mostly we'd just hang out.
We also found a bowerbird's nest by following the trail of all the blue things the bowerbird had collected!
The giant trampoline on the property was great for lots of bouncy fun times.

All in all, a very fun time on the farm, a welcome change of scenery and made for lots of beautiful memories.

In this moment

reading... The One Hundred year old man who climbed out the window and disappeared by Jonas Jonasson. OMG. How outrageously funny is this book?! I can't wait to find out what happens in the end. And I definitely want to watch the movie when it comes out in DVD too.

excited about... our farmstay. That's right, guys! Today, we are heading down South to stay on a farm for a few days with my parents who are visiting from Singapore. Wonder how Alexander will react to the chooks and the cows?

planting... an apple tree. My father has always wanted to plant a fruit tree in our garden so when Alexander grows up, he'll be able to (literally) enjoy the fruits of his grandfather's labour. Fingers crossed the tree will grow big and strong.

watching... Alys Fowler's The Edible Garden. She is my new hero and source of inspiration. I love how she mixes the concepts poly culture and edible landscaping to create a beautiful yet useful garden. Makes a lot of sense, really.

dreaming about... hot sand under my feet, and taking dips in the ocean. And that's about to become a reality as we have just finalised our holiday to Fiji...woots!

wishing... I had Stainmaster carpet so I won't have to worry about the boy and the dog bringing half the garden into the house every single day.

celebrating... Our wedding anniversary. Our third!

collecting... lots of little pine cones from the garden. I plan to make garland with them for Christmas, so be sure to stay tuned.

feeling... loved and very blessed.

loving... my vegetable patch. It is absolutely thriving this year. I've gone a bit mad and sown a heap of seeds - leeks, rhubarb, sunflowers, coriander, zucchini, rocket and eggplant and lots of little seedlings have sprouted. Hope to be able to enjoy some homegrown vegetables this summer.

Floral Friday - native blooms

Happy November! It's Floral Friday today and this month's theme is "native blooms".

Here's a confession: When I first moved to Australia, I thought the native flowers here were a bit 'meh'. They are (mostly) spindly, spiky, dry and wouldn't look out of place in a sci-fi movie. But over the years, I've learnt to appreciate their unique beauty. They are brightly coloured and tough - resilient to the harsh Australian sun and drought. And mostly, I love how to their nectar provide food for so many of our native birds and animals.
Australian natives from left to right: Lomandra longifolia, callistemon (various), grevillea (various)
What flowers are native to your part of the world? Show us by linking up below with your native blooms. Be sure to check out everyone else's links too!

Floral Friday is a monthly photography project with different themes each month. This series is about fun and taking time out to smell the flowers. To play along next time, please email me for next month's theme.