Vintage Story: A Vintage Garden Party

I’ve been a little quiet lately but it was for good reason: I’ve been planning my 40th (eek!) Birthday party.  In true Found By Her style, I opted for a Vintage Garden Party theme.  Below are some images from my big day…..

 img_9544 img_9497  img_9498 img_9490img_9501 img_9502 img_9505 img_9531 img_9534 img_9535 img_9541  img_9545

I had a marvellous time dreaming up my vision of the day and sourcing the perfect garden party decor: wool blankets for picnicking, choosing flowers early in the morning at the Brisbane Flower Markets, begging, borrowing and op-shopping picnic baskets, vintage napkins and tablecloths, old-fashioned champagne glasses and pillowcases, finding vintage fabric so my mother could sew the amazing bunting, and devising a menu, all of which was put together by my wonderful husband and mum.  It all came together on the day with the help of my dad and lovely friends and family and of course my mum and Craig, who made sure everyone was fed!

.img_9680 img_9690img_9683  img_9726  img_6607 img_9698

A visit from Ruby the Red Ice Cream Van, playing ‘Greensleeves’ as she arrived, was the “ice-cream” on the cake!

img_9787 img_9819_2 img_9782_2    img_9707 img_9849_2img_9815  img_9853

 Such a perfect day, better than I could ever have imagined, surrounded by my family and friends.

My Six A.M: Notes from a Reluctant Early Riser

Early mornings are just NOT my thing.  I have always struggled to leave the comfy confines of my bed and tend to greet the day with a cranky-pants attitude and the crazy-person hairdo to go with it. Even the excitement of a treasure hunt, which often begins with a pre-dawn wake-up call, can have me questioning my ability to throw back the sheets – well for a split second anyway….the pull of new finds is a great motivator.

 Deep inside, though, I know I am missing out on a beautiful time of day, particularly these mild, shadowy Summer mornings before the blazing sun and dripping humidity kick in.

So, I set myself a challenge to leap out of bed at 6am for 5 days and

“Seize the Day”.

IMG_4546

Gentle sunlight on the partially built egg shed/Hen Hilton/Chook Mahal/Cluckingham Palace!

IMG_4550

A quiet cuppa on the side steps before my crowd arrives back from a walk.IMG_4552 IMG_4559

So many lovely squash growing in my garden with a little bit of pollination help from me.

IMG_4560 Cucumbers have sharp prickles on them! They look more like a cactus than something you’d eat. The things I’m learning….

IMG_4561 IMG_4562

 Flash biology lesson: female zucchini flower on the left, male on the right.IMG_4565

 Lots of crisp beans to harvest.

IMG_4567

While planting a bed of flowers, a little gust of wind picked up the seed packet and tumbled its contents, scattering seeds as it went.  So now I have flowers growing in my carrot patch and in the cracks and crevices of my garden path.

IMG_4568

My little garden companion, Jazz keeps me company each morning.IMG_4571

The carrots are so keen to be eaten, they are pushing themselves out of the ground!

IMG_4573

Onions are coming along nicely.

IMG_4588

There is a native tree on our property heaving with blossom at the moment, buzzing with the low and constant drone of hundreds of bees.  I managed to get a photo of these glassine wings captured in the briefest moment of stillness.

.IMG_4603 IMG_4609

My Birthday boy and the quiet moments before we were bombarded with kids and present time.  Craig trying out his new boardies.

Well, I proved to myself I could do it and while I won’t be rising at six everyday, I think I will be making more of a habit of it!

Are you an early-bird or a night-owl?

The Old Farmhouse Garden Update

Well here is where I left you with my Old Farmhouse garden project – a rather boring stretch of grass.  Fast forward a few months and you’ll see how much has happened since my last garden post!IMG_2830 In came the digger to excavate out the grass and poor Mount Crosby soil that will not even grow an eschalot!  He levelled the ground out, too, ready for Craig to build a retaining wall.

IMG_3202 We had about 5-and-a-half cubic meters of soil delivered which I (with a little help from Craig) shovelled into the trailer, drove around to the top garden then barrowed in.  It was a big job but very satisfying.

IMG_3784IMG_3785 This Mount Crosby soil is seriously so rubbish that Craig had to use a jackhammer to dig the post holes for the retaining walls!!!!IMG_3689

IMG_3687IMG_3690Then it was time to lay the garden path.  I used recycled pavers which we sourced cheaply on the internet. I didn’t like the tops of the pavers so I turned them over and found the pavers had developed a gorgeous patina over the time they had lain in their previous home.IMG_3855IMG_3857

Then the mulching began!

IMG_3891I planted tomato, potato and sweet potato plants, as well as some herbs and strawberry plants.  The rest went in as seeds.IMG_3874  Beans, of course, were the first to rear their pretty little heads.IMG_7725 Always joined by my garden helpers Oscar the Jack Russell, Jazzy Cat and Pearl the Whippet!IMG_8523 IMG_8531

IMG_1733Here are the beans today!IMG_8475

IMG_8465 Well, hello there little tomatoes!IMG_8464 The tiny beginnings of my flower patch.IMG_8485 The parsnips are finding their way to the sunshine…..IMG_8480 …as are the carrots and onions – some thinning is on my to-do-list.IMG_8476 My herbs are looking lush and are making their way into the cooking pot.IMG_8472The sweet potato is on the move……IMG_8460 …..and the pumpkins won’t be far behind.IMG_8458  I’m just loving this strawberry variety with its pretty pink petals.IMG_8533

IMG_8506

Stay tuned for more updates to see how my garden grows!

The Lemonade Stand

We are so lucky to live in a community that still holds some good ol’ fashioned values: where you smile and greet your neighbours, if you need help, someone is there for you, where kids can still be kids, mucking around in the bush and on their bikes.  So when dad, Todd Wilkinson posted on the residents’ Facebook page that his kids were holding a lemonade stand, the locals turned out in droves!

IMG_7097

The kids: Jenae, 12, Liam, 10, Nathan, 10 and Scarlett, 5, worked hard to build the stand from scratch.  11791952_699886886782056_856417851052161428_o

11791949_699886770115401_8883186508744798761_o

Doesn’t it look fabulous?! I just love how the kids have been true to the traditional ‘lemonade stand’ style.  It certainly appeals to my vintage-loving sensibilities!!  The feeling was mutual, with lots of people commenting how it brought back memories of their childhoods – a simpler, more innocent existence.

IMG_7087

They set up on the roadside last Sunday, stocked with delicious goodies: homemade lemonade, cordial, cupcakes, chocolate crackles and lollies – mm mm! A generous neighbour donated some hand-knitted beanies for the children to sell, too!

IMG_7092

IMG_7093 IMG_7089

IMG_7088

IMG_7099

 IMG_7101

Some happy customers, above.

IMG_7100

The kids told me that as much as the experience was about learning to work for a dollar, they were also very pleased to give the neighbours a treat. How’s that for community spirit?

After a successful morning, the kids had learned a thing or two about hard work, customer service and also raked in a tidy sum of around $80.  No doubt the Lemonade Stand will be making a regular appearance from now on!IMG_7096

 

 

Winter Warmer: Bread & Butter Pudding

It was a suitably dull and chilly morning to welcome the first day of Winter here on our little mountain and what could be a better way of bringing in the change of season than baking up some lovely comfort food!IMG_4864My kitchen seemed to be suffering a glut of eggs and several-days-old bread so the obvious answer to this dilemma was to bake a traditional bread and butter pudding.  I’ve loved the gluggy, creamy goodness of this pud ever since my childhood when my mother would bake it for us….mmm that warm, cinnamony smell brings back memories. Perhaps you might like to try it on a grey and gloomy Winter’s day.

The Old Farmhouse Bread & Butter Pudding
(I have made a few changes to the traditional recipe which I sourced at Taste.com.au)

Ingredients
4 eggs
2 cups milk
300ml pure cream
1/4 cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
8 slices of bread
40g of butter, softened
1/2 cup sultanas (optional)
2 tablespoons raw sugar
Little extra cinnamon to dressIMG_4853
Preheat oven to to 180C/160C fan-forced. Grease a 5cm deep baking dish.IMG_4857
Whisk eggs, milk, cream, caster sugar, vanilla and cinnamon in a bowl.IMG_4859
Spread both sides of each bread slice with butter and cut each slice in half diagonally.IMG_4860
Arrange the bread in rows (add the sultanas onto the first layer if you wish to add them – I’ve never been a fan of cooked sultanas!). Pour egg mixture over bread making sure that all the bread gets a good soaking as this will help create a lovely custard. Sprinkle with the raw sugar and a little more cinnamon to dress.IMG_4863
There’s a tradition in my family that whenever we put something in the oven to bake we always wish it good luck – so “Good Luck, pud!” Bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden and set.  Now there’s just enough time to clean up and pop the kettle on!
IMG_3496Oh my! Delish…..
IMG_3497
Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream – yum!

A Flurry of Change

Not even three months have passed since we shuffled out of the big smoke to take up residence at The Old Farmhouse but SO much has changed in that time. My super-husband, Craig has been the driving force behind most of the activity around here, taking a day off work each week to do the majority of the building, as well as spending his commuting time on the train project-managing: sourcing building materials, getting quotes and organising tradies. Craig, you’re amazing!

IMG_3456The first project was the fence – metres upon metres of post, rail and wire to secure our dogs. Craig had a little help with hole-digging but did the rest of the work himself.

IMG_3457All the rails are reclaimed timber – there is nothing that speaks more of rustic, farmhouse living than this old wood – the most beautiful patina and sustainable, too!

IMG_3460The chook pen is pegged out and Craig has built rustic gates so we can venture into the ‘secret forest’ that flanks the western side our property.

IMG_3454Ok, we left the pool to the professionals! We’ll be paddling by Springtime!!

IMG_3461The deck has been a labour of love and will add some spacious outdoor living to our old home.  Wherever we can, we try to use reclaimed materials – Craig (with some help from my dad) has sourced some amazing old bridge timbers to use as beams for the roof.

The weekend brought a magnificent surprise when Craig and his helper, Paul began the process of fitting some salvaged French doors to access the deck. They removed the weatherboards to reveal this…..

IMG_3439The most fabulous original external VJs – oh my heart!!!

IMG_3440Just look at their silver, rustic perfection – *sigh*! These beauties are staying as an amazing feature wall.  All they need is a simple coat of oil.

Last night we dragged some chairs out on the deck amongst the timber and sawdust to enjoy the stunning sunset and soak up our little piece of paradise.

IMG_3444

IMG_3438

 

Cheers!

 

Not Even an Eschalot: starting my garden from scratch

“I did not cultivate any of this land, it would not grow an eschalot”, a quote by Patrick Devin lamenting the poorness of Mount Crosby soil in 1889….um, yeah, in all the research and excitement surrounding our rural move, I kinda forgot to check about the soil in the area….. It is TERRIBLE: hard, rocky, harsh and unfriendly soil. Cultivating this land is going to be a challenge.  The Devins finally managed it, growing cotton and cabbages on the banks of the Brisbane River, as well as a citrus orchard.

Kate Devin at her family’s orchard c.1925 – photograph by Maggie McDougall

I enlisted the help of my childhood neighbour, Elizabeth who has the most amazing little farmlet on Mount Tamborine, growing fruit, veggies, lush flowers and running a colourful menagerie of hens. She made the journey from her mountain to mine to issue advice to this novice farmer about preparing the soil and the layout of the garden. Looks like a thick layer of topsoil, an even thicker layer of mulch, and a good dose of patience and resolve are in order! Before she returned home, she presented me with the most precious gift, an array of heirloom seeds from her own plants – what a treasure. So watch this space for garden updates (and hopefully some future eschalots!)

IMG_2830
My selection as it stands today…ready for action!
Gathering the right tools on my potting table
The beginnings of my potting table

 

Little treasures: heirloom seeds from Elizabeth's garden
Little treasures: heirloom seeds from Elizabeth’s garden