A secret getaway

If you’re following me on Facebook or Instagram you may have noticed I was out of the office for the first half of this week. You see it was my birthday on Monday and my husband whisked me away for a surprise getaway with just the two of us. I had been pestering him with questions about where and who was looking after the house and the dogs and where were we going but it wasn’t until we hit the road that he told me we were heading towards Bunker Bay.

I have some very fond memories of this corner of the world and without question Bunker Bay is definitely one of my favourite beaches along the entire Western Australian coast line. We spent our time strolling the beaches, sightseeing around the coastline and the amazing rock formations and I got in plenty of reading while my husband snoozed nearby. We finished the weekend off with a bottle of champagne as the sunset over the hill and it could not have been more perfect.

I didn’t end up taking any digital photos other than on my iPhone and the rest are on film so while I wait to see those here are a few iPhone photos from our secret getaway, all edited with PicTapGo

Cottesloe Engagement – Anna and Lee

It was just a few short months ago that Anna and Lee booked me for their April wedding. With Anna being a school teacher her time during the school term was pretty much taken up with her job so over Christmas they pulled together the last details to round out the team for their wedding day.

We met last week for their engagement session at the family home where Anna grew up. She had mentioned it had been used as a wedding location previously and I can see why as it was picturesque and so perfectly private for us to enjoy these final moments of Anna and Lee as engaged before they tie the knot this Saturday.

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Autumn Country Wedding – Fiona and Colin

It started as a dream when Fiona casually mentioned how lovely it would be to get married at her Aunt and Uncle’s farm in Pemberton. It is a place that is special in her heart and after having seen it for myself, I can understand why.

While we had some rather wet weather the morning of the wedding and contingency’s had to be put in place to relocate the ceremony into the barn where the reception was planned, the day could not have been more perfect. Following the ceremony guests were treated to afternoon tea of cheese, fruits, nuts and crackers to sustain them on a photo hunt around the extensive property or to just settle in for the afternoon with a glass of champagne before the wedding feast later that evening.

With an explosion of autumn colour at every turn, it was such a privilege to be able to photograph their day for them. Every element of their wedding was carefully thought out and showcased the best of the region at this time of year. From Fiona’s bouquet plucked from the very same gardens earlier that day to the pecans handpicked by Fiona and her family as gifts for their guests, it was an amazing day.

Wedding Gown : Bride’s Desire from Bridal by Aubrey Rose, Bride’s hairpiece : Fiona Dixon, Bridesmaids Gowns : Dessy, Florist : Joy Head, Hair Stylist : Empire House of Hair, Makeup Artist : Kerry Newton, Officiant : Renata’s Celebrations, Rentals & Hire : Bridgetown Party Hire, Ceremony & Reception Venue : Private Farm

My kitchen garden – Autumn update

If you follow my Pinterest board you might have noticed a slight fetish with kitchen gardens lately. When we moved into our new home I thought I wouldn’t be vegetable gardening again but after we returned from France I decided I would give it another chance.

I really love gardening but in the past I was prioritising time in the garden only when it was necessary such as at the end of each season with a light pruning in autumn, fertilising in spring and the occasional weeding. This year I am trying to be more intentional with each thing I do and a vegetable garden seemed like a great chance to be intentional rather than just wing it and hope the stars align. I now spend about 10 minutes each morning before I start my day wandering the garden and tending to it in small doses.

The first step in having a vegetable garden was choosing a location. There was one garden bed that never really took off in our backyard and is hidden from sight from our main entertaining area. It is reticulated, west facing but still receives enough sunlight and has a huge limestone wall we could attach a trellis to for support for those plants that needed it. Last summer I planted a couple heirloom tomatoes, a couple of zucchinis and a large strawberry patch but I wasn’t really intentional in what I was trying to do. The only hard and fast rule I did make was that the vegetable or fruit needed to be one that was uncommon such as an heirloom variety or expensive to buy. For example, zucchinis are super cheap in the peak of the season so I planted gold zucchinis instead of green which are always available. It wasn’t a great success as I think I planted too late into the season but it was a start and made me see how much time I needed to give to the garden in order to really have a harvest.

Before I was able to get to the planning and planting though, I did a few things to really help the seeds for my spring garden get off to a good start. In mid-March I started by pulling out all the old plants that were spent (and getting a lovely surprise of beets I forgot I planted). I lightly turned over the soil a little with some compost and my very handy husband installed a trellis across the back wall of the garden bed so no matter where I planted climbing plants (beans, tomatoes, etc), they had some support.

Then I sat down and planned out what I wanted our spring vegetable garden to look like. I decided I was going to follow the concept of intensive or square foot gardening which allows you to plant more in a smaller space, yielding more produce. Fortunately the garden bed is approximately 4m long x 1m wide and would work perfectly with the square foot gardening concept (one foot is approximately 30cm so I was able to have two squares x 13 along the garden bed). This was my plan for planting out the garden bed (click on image for a larger version).

The few vegetables I really knew I wanted were radishes, heirloom beets, heirloom carrots, peas and beans, some lettuces and a few dwarf varieties of cauliflower and broccoli. After discovering that there were some hefty quarantine fees put in place last year for WA when buying seeds into WA from the east coast, I just headed down to Bunnings and bought a selection of seeds to plant.

Already one month later, everything is moving along wonderfully and I’m excited for how it will look next month. I am already harvesting the lettuce, although it is quite young, and the next to be harvested will be the radishes and this is what it all looks like at the moment. It’s not so pretty and I need to paint that ugly rendered wall but its productive. The garden bed is about 50cm high x 4m long x 1m deep and that limestone wall is about 3m high in total while the lattice is about 2m high. My husband is a clever cookie! To the left of the vegetable garden is a 1.8m high wall that divides the pool from this area and to the right is a small garden shed.

So what did I plant exactly?

Radish - Two variety’s of radishes went in to help me choose which one I prefer best for future plantings – French Breakfast and Saxa 2. Radishes are perhaps the quickest seed to germinate (only 3 days) and they will be harvested in the next few weeks. I’ve heard they are great for digestion, eliminating toxins and with a high vitamin C content (25% of the daily recommended value), they can help prevent viral infections. I plan on using them in salads and sandwiches probably on a daily basis considering how many I planted.

Cos Lettuce - The lettuce was not from seed but in a punnet as I wanted a quick harvest of one of my favourites, cos lettuce. They really are so easily to grow and you just need to make sure they are regularly protected from snails. I always have a tendency of buying greens and never using them before they begin to go off so with them in my garden I can pick them exactly when I want to use them now. I think I will end up planting more lettuce variety’s once the cauliflower and broccoli’s are finished and I have that space back.

Beetroot - I planted 3 variety’s of beets – Chioggia, Detroit 2 and Burpees Golden. Beets take about 3 months before harvesting so they should be perfectly timed for beet salads in winter or roasted and served alongside roast/grilled meats. I do have a couple of spaces in the garden ready for planting again this month so we have a continuous supply. Grant loves them traditionally pickled so I may give that a go too. Beets are something I’ve wanted to cook with more regularly as they are real superfoods that lower blood pressure and cholesterol, stabilise blood sugar and even has claims of reducing fatigue and osteoporosis. Of course the leaves are also great for eating too so nothing is wasted.

Peas and Beans - If you want bang for your buck, peas and beans will do it. For one tiny seed you can harvest hundreds of produce continuously over a season. I planted a dwarf pea called Blue Bantam and a climbing bean called Purple King. It is a big plant growing up to 2.4m but the pods are purple until they are cooked when they turn green which sounds like too much fun to pass up.  The great thing about peas and beans is they can be frozen after a quick blanching so can be enjoyed well beyond their harvest.

Cauliflower and Broccoli - These were from seedlings and are dwarf variety’s and I planted 3 of each and gave the remaining seedlings to my father in law for his vegie garden. If I had put in regular cauliflowers then one plant would have taken up 4 squares which I decided was too much space to give up in my small garden. They should be ready in a couple of months and I will happily live on cauliflower soup for an indefinite amount of time.

So there it is! My kitchen garden is well on its way to overflowing with produce this winter and I can’t wait to share more with you as the season progresses. If you have any questions, I’d love to hear from you or even what you are planning to do in your own vegetable garden this autumn.

Sittella Winery Wedding – Renae and Darryl

I don’t think there has been a time that I have felt more blessed or fortunate in my career. This March was choc-a-block full of lovely weddings, each one more beautiful than the next and Renae and Darryl’s Sittella Winery wedding was a quiet little jewel right in the middle of March.

On a beautiful early autumn day, the sky was the most amazing blue and could not have been clearer as they said their vows in front of their family and friends. Not even a gust of wind that launched an umbrella in the air as Renae made her way down the aisle could break her stride.

Thank you so much for letting me witness your day, Renae and Darryl. I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for you both as you begin your next chapter as husband and wife.

Wedding Gown & Veil : Hobnob Bridal, Bridesmaids Gowns : Tuscany Bridal, Florist : Blossom & Bloom, Hair Stylist : Hair by Ivy, Makeup Artist : Lisa De, Officiant : KM Celebrations, Ceremony & Reception Venue : Sittella Winery