Sunday, July 5, 2015

Plant-related objects that have recently come into my life (that I love)


The Beauty of Australian Wildflowers by Norman Sparnon
This fantastic 1967 book was a gift from my lovely friend (and fellow plant lover) Em. I spotted it while Em and I were poking around at Waverly Antique Bazaar, where there are always treasures to be found. The idea of taking these wild, accessible and often unpredictably shaped Australian wildflowers and carefully arranging them, with respect to their natural colour and form, using the gentle, thoughtful art of ikebana is so appealing to me. This book is truly an Australian treasure.

RAW Peppermint and Coconut Chocolate
I've featured another RAW Chocolate flavour in this series before and I'm featuring it again because it's DELICIOUS - and because Casey has just released a new flavour that will soon be available on her website and in stores: peppermint and coconut. After much consideration and taste testing, I think that this is my favourite of all of her flavours. It reminds me of being allowed to have one of my parent's special after dinner mints as a child, if I was well behaved at dinner.

Plant-dyed hand-spun silk yarn by Myf Walker
I feel very honoured to be the recipient of three skeins of silk yarn that Myf Walker hand dyed with golden rod, tansy, tagettes, rose, madder, sumac and native Australian indigo from her garden and then hand spun into this delicate yarn. I've had it for a while now and it is so special that I am reluctant to use it. I'm keeping it aside for a very special project that is yet to be determined. Myf has just created some beautiful, limited edition necklaces using her plant-dyed silk, hand made ceramic beads and hammered copper and silver, and they're now in her online store.

Bondi Wash Tasmanian Pepper and Lavender soap bar
I have a really simple daily beauty/hygiene routine that involves plant-based soap, shampoo and moisturiser. I don't spend a lot of time and effort getting ready (too busy living), but I do like to use a few beautiful, high quality products with all natural ingredients. I've been using Bondi Wash products for the last few months and they are really quite lovely, feature heavenly smelling native Australian botanical ingredients (including Tasmanian Pepper, Wattleseed, Macadamia, Lemon Tea Tree,  Sydney Peppermint Eucalyptus and Paperbark oils) and leave my skin feeling clean and soft.

Homemade chai tea
I was recently gifted a little jar of chai tea spices by someone whom I do regular volunteer work with. As we were digging away in the garden of the community farm that we both volunteer at, I mentioned how much I love chai tea. As we finished up our vegetable planting at the end of the following week, she handed me a little jar of her prized homemade chai spices and gave me brewing instructions. I've been enjoying it with friends ever since. There's something extra delicious about food that has been made with loving intentions and received as a gift, I think.

Wild Tassie Tasmanian Kelp
I am one of those people that likes to eat exceptionally thoughtfully, but I am also a very lazy cook. I like to prepare food that tastes delicious and is really healthy but it cannot be hard work. I know it sounds like a lot to ask - super healthy and delicious food that isn't hard to prepare, but I have managed to find it. The secret is having really amazing ingredients that are bursting with flavour and nutrients that will do all of the hard work for you. This organic Tasmanian kelp is one such ingredient, and I've been using it in pretty much ever savoury dish that I've prepared over the last few months.

Australian seed pods
I recently went on a road trip east through Gippsland and across to Wilsons Promontory National Park. As with all of my road trips, this one involved regular stops to collect flowers, leaves and seed pods from the roadside along the way. These are some of my favourites from this trip. It gives me such pleasure every day to surround myself with little memoirs of my journeys around Australia.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Winter wildflowers


I've been collecting wildflowers to brighten up these cold, grey winter days. I found all of these flowers within two streets of my home. I love that I never have to look far to find beauty. 

Craft and connection



(Image: Felicia Semple)

I recently wrote an article for The Planthunter on my experiences with craft and how it has enabled me to connect with other people when the weather doesn’t lend itself to outdoor pursuits. I discovered how satisfying (and healthy) connecting with others and avoiding spending all winter alone on the couch with my loom can really be at The Craft Sessions last year. Read more about it over at The Planthunter.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Making time for beauty


No matter how busy my day is, I always make time for beauty. The imperfect beauty of the natural world surrounds me every day, and whether I'm in the city or out in the country, I always make time to immerse myself in it. Even if just for a few minutes, these experiences rejuvenate and inspire me as I go about my day. The smell of a fallen eucalyptus leaf in my hand, the sight of a bug crawling up a fence post, the sound of grevillea pods crunching underfoot; all of these things remind me of what a gift being alive is.

This is the current state of my ever growing wall of perfectly imperfect flora that I've found while on my way, a reminder of that beauty that is so easy to forget as we go about our day. 

Saturday, May 9, 2015

True indigo dyeing with Aboubakar Fofana

http://theplanthunter.com.au/culture/indigo-dyeing/
(Photo by Francois Goudier, courtesy of Aboubakar Fofana)

Earlier this year I had the pleasure of spending two weeks with Malian natural dyer Aboubakar Fofana in Mullumbimby, just inland of Byron Bay, NSW. I was hoping to advance my natural dyeing skills by learning with Aboubakar, who has spent the last few decades mastering various natural dyeing techniques. I was not at all disappointed. The days were long and often tiring, but the opportunity to learn advanced natural dyeing techniques made it well worth it and, using my learnings from this workshop, I feel like I've been able to take my natural dyeing practice to the next level.

Aboubakar specialises in indigo dyeing with a fermented leaf vat, using no chemicals. This is one of the key reasons that I chose to learn with him. True natural dyeing without the use of chemicals is important to me, and indigo dyeing is a form of natural dyeing that is frequently performed with the use of strong chemical additives to reduce and alkalise the dye solution. In his workshop, we learned that there is no need to use these chemicals to achieve a beautiful and permanent result, and I am excited about using these methods as part of my natural dyeing practice.

I wrote about my experiences with Aboubakar for The Planthunter, and you can find out more about his work and future workshops in this article.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Upcoming workshops: natural dyeing and weaving for The Craft Sessions

Natural eucalyptus dyed merino wool yarn by Belinda Evans of Alchemy
Native Australian plants for natural dyeing by Belinda Evans of Alchemy
Ordinarily I like to announce upcoming workshops first via my shop email newsletter, but I'm today announcing these two workshops for The Craft Sessions here because they completely sold out a few hours after registrations opened! 

I really enjoyed learning and teaching last year, so I'm returning again on 11th - 13th September this year to teach two classes: Natural dyeing using native Australian plants and Weaving a wall hanging using naturally dyed yarn. These two classes work well done hand in hand (using those naturally dyed yarns to weave your own masterpiece), but they work equally as well separately. I'll be bringing in plenty of my own naturally dyed yarn for the weaving workshop. 

I'm looking forward to spending another amazing weekend with beautiful women who share my love of crafting, connecting, sharing and laughter. Are any of you coming along to The Craft Sessions this year?

Make your own Australian native smudge stick

Wild harvest Australian native smudge sticks by Belinda Evans of Alchemy

On my journey of fulfilling a constant desire to capture my experiences with my natural surroundings, I recently created a handful of smudge sticks made using wild harvested Australian native flora.

Cleansing my spaces with smoke is something that I do regularly - I love the scent and ritual of clearing old and making way for new energies. Doing it with native Australian plants that carry special memories that are harvested from local places that hold meaning for me makes it an even more enjoyable and meaningful ritual. 

I enjoyed making and using these smudge sticks so much that I decided to share my methods on The Planthunter for this month's Scent theme.