Tuesday, November 24, 2020


I thought it would be nice to do a garden update since we've been living here for 1.5 years and have spent most of our time/money on our garden.  When we moved in (see the photos here) the garden looked quite lush but unfortunately, most of our privacy plants were actually weed species. It's really hard to remove plants, especially screening plants but we have a long-term goal of removing all the invasive species and replacing them with plants we love including a good mix of natives and insect loving flowers!

On our invasive species list are, African Tulip Trees, Asparagus Fern, Cats Claw, Ochna, Cadagi (the giant and beautiful tree in our backyard - it's staying!), Singapore Daisy + Mother of millions (almost have those two under control!), camphor laurel, bamboo, umbrella tree, yellow allamanda and the usual weeds like bindis and Cobblers pegs (+ many more!).  

wisteria blooms
You can tell our garden was previously a rental because the plants that are doing well have invasive like tendencies - very hardy!  Even though the wisteria vine is so beautiful, it's quite invasive in itself and needs a big cut back after it blooms to keep it in its place :P

green house
We managed to salvage this wire green house frame from my grandma's old property it just fit on the ute

bamboo stakes

Before and after! Although it's only marginal growth it's still nice to see plants growing.  That plant in the middle is a native called westringia with small purple flowers! I didn't get a good shot of the plant to the left but it's my pride and joy and I'm certain will be our front garden's show stopper.  It's a weeping tea tree which I had Ben's mum identify for me after seeing it in a neighbour's yard.  Its leaves are so lovely to run your hands through and I love seeing it grow - it's almost as tall as me!

kangaroo paw
My miscarriage garden - such a cute spot in the yard.  There's a frangipani on the left but it's growing very very slowly mostly because its had to regrow several times.  Those bamboo stakes were placed in because Joopy and her dog friend Shanti kept destroying the plants - they love to run to the front of the yard and peer over the rock wall at people below!

dew drops on a flower

garden before

cement trench
Another before and after above.  This has a bit of a back story!

battling bamboo
That backstory involves our ongoing battle with bamboo! Like everything we have the invasive type.  The tenants/owners before us controlled the bamboo by mowing over fresh sprouts without addressing the dense root system which spans 70% of our yard.  One idea was to get in a digger and remove it all.  This would have been great except, we have the craziest neighbours.  I know everyone says that but we literally have a crazy elderly neighbour with a drunk abusive son.  Luckily I've had very little contact (thank you bamboo screen!) but Ben has been sworn at and put under interrogation for not being white.  So we need to keep some of the screen for peace and safety!  After lots of talking our final plan was to hire a trencher (machine with a big chainsaw looking blade on the end) and then fill that trench with cement to create a root barrier, pulling up all the roots on the opposite side. Ben gets full credit for making this project happen!

ben and trencher
The trencher which actually comes with it's own story.  We hired it and unfortunately the gentleman dropping it off wasn't confident with how to operate it.  As they were backing it off the ute it rolled on top of Ben.  I only saw the events play out from the corner of my eye and I heard Ben yelling.  As I was running over to help I assumed I'd need to start doing CPR (so scary!) luckily the only thing damaged was our gate and Ben's knee (still not cool) but they did end up giving us the hire for free and Ben's knee is doing okay now!

bamboo problem solving
We roped off where we wanted to have the trench and then we spent a few days cutting down the excessive bamboo

I naively assumed hiring a machine would make the job easy but getting the trencher through our hard pact soil was a big effort!! In some sections, it wouldn't even get through after multiple passes so we had to hand dig.  I can laugh about it now but at the time it was pretty stressful, we worked hard hand digging the trench right up until the cement truck arrived! Super stress!

cement truck
Now he's got a cruisey job! Had to get a photo, its not every day you have a cement truck outside your house!

invasive bamboo
You can see after some rain all the fresh bamboo sprouts.  We're letting them sprout up as guides so we know where to start digging.

bamboo roots
Digging bamboo roots is really tough!  Our poor soil is compacted from all the dense bamboo root structure but we know we're doing our best.  The long term goal is to have a garden where we can successfully plant other plants knowing they won't have to compete with bamboo roots!

overgrown bamboo
So much bamboo! In this section, my dream is to have a freshwater pool to dip into on hot days.  To be honest I have loads of plans and we have a limited budget :P

Euphorbia! These aren't on the invasive weed list but they are prolific growers and need to be reigned in!

Our cadagi! I'm so sad this is on the invasive weed list :( Once the flowers bloom and drop, the seedpods open which attracts the small Australian native bees who'll collect the resin attached to the seeds. Unfortunately, it's these seeds that cause issues in beehives, from clogging the entrance of the hive to expelling too much resin and causing overheating issues.  We just had the tree bloom so we're going to do our best to cut it back to reduce the number of seedpods!

outdoor eating area
One of my early projects - 'cadagi cafe'. I dug out some of our hill to make a little eating area.  It took a lot longer than I first imagine but I was pretty proud of myself! Nice to have lunch and not have your plates slide off the table!

passionfruit bloom
Passionfruit! One of my favourite flowers and fruits :)

passionfruit vine
I'm hopeful the passionfruit vine will eventually cover our entire fence!

wisteria vine
You can see the wisteria vine covering our fence at the front.  We planted that spiky yucca the other day (a free find at the tip) and on the far left you can see the red-flowered ochna (weed!) and over on the far right the tall African tulip (also a weed!).  Both will eventually go.

wisteria blooms
The wisteria only blooms for a few weeks during spring but it's amazing when it does. 
Not only is the colour divine it releases the prettiest scent!

veggie bed
We got the raised garden bed for free via fb market place.  In my other veggie beds, the grubs always got to my spinach before I could, so I'm trying out the net to see how it goes.  The right side planter was from Dad's house and is currently filled to the brim with mint!

netted raised veggie bed
I've started drinking iced water with mint and lemon - so refreshing in summer!  I don't have a picture but on our bank outside our yard I've planted a bunch of natives plus a lemon and fig tree!

butterfly plant
This flower is called a gaura butterfly plant

yellow kangaroo paw
The yellow kangaroo paw is as tall as me now! I have two more passionfruit vines over on this corner.  My hope is they'll cover that ugly pool fence that we had to put up to stop Joop from escaping.

bird of paradise
One of the good original plants - bird of paradise!

front of yard
This was an earlier photo but it shows the archway we put in at the front

garden arch
It's pretty basic but Ben and I were proud of our efforts!

camellia flowers
Another original gem of the garden a camellia bush (yay for not being a weed!)

pink lily

ramp garden
Finally, the last garden bed we've been working on.  We tore out the crumbling cement ramp that was originally there and built a new wooden one.  It was screaming out for a little garden.  Those shaggy plants in the middle are called Casuarina Glauca also known as Cousin it! I'm looking forward to seeing them bush out in the coming years and that entry space transformed :)

potted plants
A little potted scene beside :) We have two ponytail palms (the guy in the middle) and we're toying with the idea of putting one in the ground :)

street view

wisteria flower

I try my best to spend some time, each day in our garden. I get so much joy from watching things grow, seeing the flowers bloom and picking things from the veggie garden to eat. I feel immense gratitude for having this gift in my life :)

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

bought/gift/made 22

ceramic angel

clay angel shrine

kester black rouge

kester black coolaid

ceramic chicken hanging planter
Bought: Kester Black in Coolaid (blue) and Rouge (red). Kester Black is an Australian company that produce a 10-free nail polish (+ are vegan and carbon-neutral!) 

Gift: Ben's Mum wanted a planter for her birthday. Ben's cousin suggested a chicken planter. I had my doubts about my sculpting skills (eek!) but I think it turned out okay :) 

Made: I have a little space on my desk, an altar of sorts for my Dad. I plan to add a few more things to it but this little angel ceramic is a nice place to start :)

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Dad's Ute

84 hilux ute
If it's possible for things to hold memories or energy then this ute was loaded with them. My grandma ('Granit') bought the ute the year I was born. Every school holidays, we'd ride around in the ute, visiting the beach, doing shopping (loads of lollies!), or picking up hay for her horses. Since I was the smallest I'd land the famous middle seat and a knock in the knees every time the car was placed into second. 

inside 84 hilux

When Granit died, she'd gifted the car to Dad which started a dispute between my Dad and his brother that was never reconciled. Six months before Dad passed, the ute was stolen. It was missing for months and the night before it was found, I had a dream about it being discovered. When Dad rang me the next morning, I had to tell him I already knew the good news. In between the months, the ute was stolen, Dad bought another ute and so when the old ute was returned he said we would do it up over the Christmas holidays and I could keep it. We never did do it up - he ended up dying the following April. When he died the ute was one of the first things I asked if I could keep. It felt like Dad was around me just by being it.

my dads old ute

We used the ute for moving, for picking up second-hand finds, for doing countless dump trips to clear out Dad's house. After doing 1000s of kms I had the horrible discovery that the ute wasn't actually registered, so the keys were put away and it sat collecting leaves, outside our place. I let logic tell me about the pros and cons of keeping or selling it. It would need a bit of work to get it roadworthy and registered and perhaps I could buy a newer model instead. Over the weeks I found a peace with letting it go. This ute was made to be used and the saddest ending would be for it to sit idle until it stopped running. 

brown interior hilux 84

I gave the car one last clean. I went through the glove box and found Granit's original receipt and the sadness hit me. I sat and cried and then spent most of the day crying. Ben handled all the listing calls (so many!) and I'm crazy appreciative of that. At one point Ben asked me if he should pull the listing down because of my sadness. The greatest loss you can experience is death but the idea of letting the ute go felt like I was experiencing a further loss and a remaining connection taken away. The following morning it was sold to a wrecking yard. For some reason, I'd pictured the ute going on and living another life with someone. I've said sorry to Dad and I know it's okay, some events in life simply carry sadness.

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Book Review - Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life

Despite the clear title, I was expecting the book to be a simple run-through guide of finding your 'reason for being' aka your ikigai (pronounced “icky guy”). Instead, the book branches out in lovely ways and ultimately provides a roadmap for longevity and fulfillment. An insightful/rewarding read from authors, Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles. 8/10

ikigai book review

The following are the notes I took whilst reading the book

Ikigai “the happiness of always being busy”

Importance of:
/an active adaptable mind and stepping outside your comfort zone even if it creates some anxiety
/use of meditation to calm the mind
/stoic attitude
/sleep 7-9 hours
/rituals over goals
/emotional awareness
/enjoy the little things; stay young, have fun, dance – celebrate all the time
/Our ability to turn routine tasks into moments of microflow (into something we enjoy) is key to us being happy. Happiest people are not the ones who achieve the most, they are the ones who spend more time in a state of flow

Vicktor Frankl's ideas
/ We don't need a peaceful existence but a challenge we can strive to meet (if the task is too easy it will lead to boredom, if the task is beyond our abilities it may create anxiety but that anxiety will disappear when taking the first step)
/ Feelings (like weather) happen, we can only accept and observe - trying to control our feelings will only make them more intense

Secrets to longevity
1) Stay active - never stop moving in daily routines – working in your vegetable garden/weeding – your body needs daily maintenance to prevent it from breaking down
2) Take life slow – relax
3) Don't fill your stomach – stop eating when 80% full
4) Surround yourself with good friends - be social - say hello to people in community
5) Smile, laugh – cheerful, positive attitude
6) Reconnect with nature
7) Give thanks
8) Live in the moment – stop regretting the past and fearing the future – today is all you have, the present is all that exists
9) Follow your ikigai – the passion inside of you, your unique talent that gives meaning to your days and drives you to share the best of yourself until the end – but don't worry too much about finding it + it's also open to change when you do.
10) Eat a bit of everything (Okinawan diet)

 /Book Review sets out to share some of my favourite library finds, encouraging others to do the same :)

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Monthly Poetry Challenge -October

modern female poet

the oyster holds its shell down tight
a dainty sand in youthful flight
changes and blooms in iridescent 
swirls in hushed soft light, part lips
to find the pearl insight, tinkered 
and wrapped; in paper of white
pull the ribbon, collapse the bow
and kiss underneath the mistletoe 

I dropped the ball on continuing my 'bad poem' a day schedule. 36 years of being me and by now, I know, I get easily distracted by other shiny creative projects and that's okay :) I'm still writing and that's enough to power my happiness :)

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Peachy and Gremlin /5

Time for a cat appreciation post.  We went through some scary times with Gremlin.  Some underlining and ongoing issues amped up.  He started marking inside our home, being super anxious, severe urinary issues, and very territorial.  The real alarm bell was when Peachy started to display stress signals (overgrooming!) and we knew we needed to get serious.  After trying lots of non-medication ideas (feliway, zylkene, dog-free house zones) he now takes a daily clomav (half a tablet) and golly gosh it's made a remarkable difference.  All his anxious behaviours have stopped and we have a much happier and calm household :) We did also have to take peachy to the vet on Monday (she was having an upset stomach) but the vet wasn't alarmed and she seems to be getting better *fingers crossed*

Okay, time for photos of sleeping cats or cats getting ready to sleep :P

peachy the cat

gremlin the cat

peachy sleeping on bed

gremlin curled up on bed

gremlin in bamboo

peachy girl cat

cat on monstera bedsheet

peachy with tongue out

peach asleep on ben

peachy hiding eyes

gremlin yawning

peachy being cute

Love these little panthers!