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)

Method:

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.

http://www.underlockandkeyblog.com/search/label/floral%20friday

DIY Hapa Zome botanical print

I always find crafting to be therapeutic and soothing, but this project takes it up one notch by allowing me to literally hammer my troubles away while creating beautiful botanical art. Welcome to the wonderful world of Hapa Zome.
Hapa Zome is a Japanese art form whereby flowers and leaves are hammered onto fabric or paper to create a botanical print. I first came across it in Alys Fowler's The Edible Garden series and was so fascinated I decided to give it a go! It is a very satisfying exercise and the results are instant and gorgeous. Here's how...
You'll need:

Flowers and leaves (pick fresh ones with lots of moisture for best results)
Cotton fabric
Hammer
Paper towels
Wooden chopping board (or any other block of wood for hammering on)

Method:

1. Place fabric on chopping board and then arrange flowers and leaves on fabric in desired pattern.
2. Working in sections, cover flowers and leaves with 1-2 sheets kitchen towel and hammer away.
3. Carefully peel off paper towel and gently rub away the mushed up flowers and leaves