Counting Down til Christmas- Creating a Family Advent Calendar Tradition

Growing up, you really think that being a kid on Christmas, is the best thing EVER! And it is…But the joy you get watching your own kids on Christmas is beyond anything you could ever have imagined.

You bring some of the things you enjoyed from your own upbringing into your annual Christmas rituals, along with your partner’s family traditions as well, and somewhere in between all of that, you start to form your own traditions as well.

Image: DIY Homer

Something we have really enjoyed doing as a family is creating a family activity advent calendar. Not only does it provide ideas of seasonal activities, but it also helps young ones pace themselves throughout the silly season. I don’t know about you, but my kids, particularly Miss 4, always wants to know what is next, what is happening tomorrow etc…. As a parent I have learnt the hard way that if you say you are going to do something, you better be intending to really do it, because your kids will not let you forget it!

Image: The Painted Hive

The Christmas advent calendar is a novel way to limit activities to one a day, and the beauty of being the adult in the house, means that you can rifle through the activity options the night before and swap them to something you are up for!

Creating your own Christmas activity advent calendar is easy, and it can be customised to suit your own family’s preferences and interests. Don’t go to church? No problem, leave anything out with a religious significance. Don’t like craft? No problem, think about more physical activities you can do.

Image: Irish Mirror

advent-4Some of the activities you may wish to consider including are;

  1. Decorate your Christmas Tree
  2. Write and post your Christmas cards
  3. Watch your favourite Christmas movies together. Let each family member choose one for a weekend movie marathon!
  4. Sing Christmas carols- find your local carol night, pack a picnic and make it an evening of fun with friends
  5. Read a Christmas story together
  6. Attend a Christmas Church service
  7. Choose a Christmas present for the less fortunate
  8. Make a donation to your preferred charity
  9. Make a handmade decoration for the tree
  10. Make Christmas wrapping paper
  11. Help choose and wrap up presents for special friends
  12. Bake gingerbread cookies, or if you are feeling particularly ambitious, bake pieces to construct a gingerbread house!
  13. Do Christmas themed craft- paint paper plates into giant Christmas baubles, or make your own bonbons

    Image: Taste
  14. Bake Christmas shortbread
  15. Write a letter to Santa
  16. Make a garland, table arrangement or Christmas wreath with fresh flowers and foliage
  17. Visit Santa- and if you are feeling brave, have a picture with him! If your family includes pets, try a pet Santa or check out the outdoor beach Santa displays for something truly Australian! Santa in BOARDSHORTS!!!
  18. Take a trip into the City to see the Christmas displays
  19. Visit the neighbourhood houses decorated with lights
  20. Catch up with friends for a Christmas get together or party
  21. Help mummy choose a special present for daddy
  22. Help daddy choose a special present for mummy

    Image: My Merry Christmas
  23. Wear Santa hats/reindeer ears and other Christmas themed fancy-dress
  24. Open one present together. Leave a plate of snacks for Santa and his reindeer.
  25. Have an indoor picnic around the Christmas tree
  26. Order fresh flower gifts, hampers and living plants- click here if you need some help!
  27. Have a BBQ dinner outdoors, enjoying the summer balmy weather and extended daylight
  28. Donate food items to the Salvation army or other charity
  29. Volunteer at the soup kitchen
  30. Listen to a Christmas CD- who does the ultimate Christmas album? Mariah for the WIN!!! Or maybe Michael Buble!!??
  31. Take a family trip to the farmer’s market to choose fresh flowers, fruits and vegetables.
Image: Not on the High Street

Certainly if you are handy with a sewing machine, a needle and thread you can get busy and create your own fabric calendar to fill, but if not there are many crafters out there who are creating unique pieces for you to purchase.

For some an advent calendar full of activities will be too hard to juggle with full time work and other commitments, so you can also alternate the pocket fillings with candy, chocolate or decorations that can be added to the tree throughout the month.

Fwf x


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Poinsettia- A True Christmas Star

So the carols are on, the decorations and tinsel are adorning the big shopping centres; put simply, the countdown is ON. We all know Christmas is on it’s way, and we all know that before you know it, it will be upon us. So while you are decorating your home, if you find you want to bring some of the outdoors inside, there are few plants that can give you that Christmas feeling as well, or as easily as the Poinsettia.


The gorgeous plant, which is also known as “Christmas Star” with it’s brightly coloured star like display, is indigenous to Mexico and flowers throughout the Christmas period in the Northern Hemisphere; the Winter months. Here, it naturally flowers throughout the colder months as well, and you will notice the bright red, white, lemon, marbled and stunning pink flowers in many gardens throughout June- August. Poinsettias are forced to flower for Christmas here too by growing them in a controlled environment. Like many Winter and Autumn blooming plants, when the night temperatures start to drop, the days become shorter and the plants have access to less light, the plant begins to bloom. These factors are simulated in order to produce flowering poinsettias all year round.

The Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) belongs to a family of plants that produces a white sticky sap when the plant is cut or broken. This sap is poisonous and can cause allergic reactions to sensitive skin. All plants in the Euphorbia family produce this sap, so you must be mindful when pruning your plant and remember to ALWAYS WASH YOUR HANDS.

A closeup of a poinsettia flower cluster from the side. Many people confuse the bracts (red leaves) with the actual flowers; they're quite different. This macro shot shows multiple pseudanthia surrounded by a sea of red bracts (colored leaves associated with a flower). The flowers themselves are called cyanthia; the green tissue surrounding each flower is an involucre, a cluster of bracts (leaves) fused into a cup-shaped structure that contains multiple male flowers and one female flower within it. Emerging from the involucre you can see red filaments supporting yellow anthers on the male flowers, and you can even see some of the pollen grains. Also emerging from each involucre you can see a number of dark-purple structures supported by short stalks (that are about a tenth of the height of the filaments; I'm not sure what these are - they may be stigmas and styles, but I doubt it). The bright yellow, liquid-filled structures attached to the involucre are nectar glands filled with nectar to attract pollinators.
Image by Marc Perkins of actual flower. Many people confuse the coloured bracts as the flower of the Poinsettia plant.

Certainly the bright red Poinsettia is the most common and popular variety at Christmas time, however there are many more varieties today thanks to modern cultivation. The red star shaped ‘flower’ is not actually part of the flower at all; the flowers are the white/yellow insignificant clusters in the centre. These coloured ‘bracts’ are simply modified leaves. Knowing that after giving a Poinsettia it is likely to die back and re-flower during Winter, you can choose other coloured varieties to plant throughout your garden to add the desired colour, or give as gifts. Poinsettias make fabulous gifts as they are long lasting, and are available ina variety of sizes so they can fit almost any budget.

New varieties are constantly being created and experiemtned with. Currently, other varieties include, but are not limited to;

Euphorbia ‘Cortex White’ – Large creamy white bracts

Euphorbia ‘Silver Star Red’- Variegated cream and green leaves.

Euphorbia ‘Cortex Candy’ – Pale apricot blushed bracts

Euphorbia‘Cortex Pink’ – Velvet textured pale pink bracts

Euphorbia‘Cortex Lemon Snow’- Pale yellow bracts

Euphorbia ‘Galaxy’ has intense velvety red bracts.





Poinsettias can grow right throughout NSW and QLD, in some cases as far as Cairns, throughout parts of South Australia and even in Northern coastal areas of Western Australia. The do not grow well in frost prone areas. Poinsettias are often left to their own devices, and as a result many specimens you see have grown tall and spindley. The way to get around this is to give the plant a hard prune after it has finished flowering and watch it re-shoot, become dense and flourish again when it becomes cold.

Keep you eye out over the coming weeks on our Christmas gift range but also our offerings in store.

Fwf x

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Creating a Christmas theme- Precious Metals

There’s a part of me that cannot believe that we are now counting down to Christmas, but I feel like I almost sped the entire year in denial these days. It was a hard kick in the butt the other day when I saw a sign up declaring there were just 41 sleeps til Christmas day, and meanwhile, I hadn’t begun my Christmas shopping.

When you have a house-full, there really are so many things to organise, and getting to the shops is hard enough, let alone shopping with a clear head and no distractions. Certainly decorating the house for Christmas is one thing that I count as pretty important especially having three young kids. It is a special time of year, and I find that as each year passes we are creating our own little family traditions, and amongst all the chaos, there are lots of moments of pure joy and fun.

Creating your theme each year can be a exciting project to sink your teeth into, and you need only be limited by the amount of time you have, your creativity, and (if your household is anything like mine) your husband’s idea of what an appropriate budget might be! Hubby tends to think the idea of starting fresh each year is ludicrus, which is fair enough, and in some ways it forces me to think more creatively in order to reuse, and up-cycle some items I already have.

Image Master the Masses via Pinterest

For anyone who has been reading this blog for some time you may remember that last year I did an inspiration piece called “Seas and Greetings”, creating a beach themed Christmas using soft emerald greens, blues, silvers and whites. So in the spirit of reusing and recycling, this year we can utilise all the silver elements again, integrating them easily into a Metallic theme. Coppers, golds and silvers are definitely versatile additions to any Christmas box, so hubby can calm down knowing that I will be able to use many of these pieces again at some stage over the coming years. Phew.


Image: Boxwood Clippings

Starting with a fairly plain or neutral base is key to being able to reuse elements. For instance, I would pick a green tree for starters- that is of course if you favour an artifical tree. By using a green tree you can easily change the look dramatically each year simply by changing the baubles you use.

Copper tones have been popular over the last year, and you are able to personalise the look by adding other colours. Think soft pink….this will make make it look like you have chosen to decorate in precious metals; white gold, yellow gold and rose gold.

Image via The Decorista
Image: Inspired By This


To tie in your fresh flower arrangements you have a variety of options. Add sprayed pine cones, berries or holly leaves to your table arrangements to easily add touches of your metallic gold, silver or copper tones to fresh flowers and green foliage. Alternatively you can use materials that naturally come in these sorts of tones like; dusty miller, eucalyptus leaves, copper backed magnolia leaves or you can even use clusters of wired matching baubles within an arrangement in neutral tones.

Image; Elle Decor
Image; Blog Lovin

With a little over a month to go, we are certainly on the countdown til Christmas! Keep you eye out for our new Christmas range, but for the moment you can start gathering ideas for home or gifts here.

Fwf x

Feature Image: Dwell Studio

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The Old Fashioned House Plant Revival

A friend text me the other day to let me know I was her ‘hipster friend’. Why? Because I have a Fiddle Leaf Fig plant at home. I literally laughed out loud as there is truly NOTHING hipster about me, I just like them. But she insisted that they were the ‘cool’ plant at the moment.

It got me to thinking about many house plants that have recently seen an increase in their profile and their popularity, evidenced by the sheer volume now stocked at local markets, nurseries and florist shops.

Even event work seems to be utilising many common houseplants, plants which enjoyed popularity many years ago, and that are once again enjoying being in the spotlight.

Image via Ruffled. Wedding Stylist and Flowers: The Style Salon

If you are looking for a way to bring some nature indoors, check out some of our current favourites;

Fiddle Leaf Fig;

The Fiddle Leaf fig, Ficus Lyrata is a fig native to Western Africa, growing in tropical rainforest settings. The shape of the plant’s leaves resemble a fiddle, hence the plant name; they are generally broad in the apex with a narrow middle, and can measure up to 45cm in length, 30cm in width! There are of course some variations to this, and many leaves will be far smaller than that, with prominent veins and a leathery texture.

As an indoor house plant it is important not to over water your fig as the leaves will yellow and fall off.



Boston Fern;

There are soooo many varieties of Boston ferns available; making them a great choice for hanging basket, pot plant, or garden plant. Nephrolepis exaltata has recently been enjoying some popularity in staging and styling events, creating bespoke hanging pieces and featured heavily through homeware/decor magazines and catalogues.

The Boston fern likes filtered natural light,  and will benefit from being turned occasionally so all the plant can enjoy the benefits of photosynthesis. The fronds will stretch outwardly toward the light so you will notice the ferns cascades getting longer and wider.

Whilst the Boston fern are the most resistant to drought, generally speaking it favours damp (but not soggy) soil. My nan has an absolutely astounding fern in her lounge room which she waters weekly, butthen leaves water in the saucer so the plant can have a bit extra to drink if it wants it. Another hot tip is to be sure to water the fern in the centre of the pot where the heart of the plant is.

The king fern which is related to the Boston, makes a great outdoor variety, either in large pots or simply planted directly in the garden. Ferns are a gorgeous way of adding spurts of colour and lush foliage to your home or garden.

Image Bakker


An old favourite for sure, this orchid plant represents fantastic value for money given that the plant generally  flowers for at least 6 weeks. I have been lucky enough to enjoy 3 months of blooms, and when placed in a large pot, they are able to create a real statement display.

Phalaenopsis are an epiphyte, and thus like to absorb water vapour and nutrients from their environment. We often suggest that a bathroom is a good spot for them as the opaque glass provides a filter to the light in the room, and the humidity from the shower creates the require water vapour. Phalaenopsis need not be watered daily, generally speaking once a week throughout the warmer months is sufficient, and every 10-14 days throughout winter. Ensure the plant gets a good drink at this time, and is thoroughly drained before placing it back in your decorative pot to avoid water building up in the vessel.

Phalaenopsis plants
Phalaenopsis plants

Can you think of any other plants seeing an increase in their popularity and want some hot tips for caring for them. Drop us a message via our facebook page

Fwf x

Cover image: Stocksy


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Going Bananas

Since travelling across the border (to Queensland) I have been trying to get my hands on a banana plant to have in our yard. Like many mothers I’m sure, I spend half my week in and out of grocery stores picking up kilos of the bright yellow fruit, so I fancy the idea of growing my own.

Image: Tropical Mum

ban-1You would think that in sunny Queensland it wouldn’t be too hard to get your hands on one, would you, but with the ever popular Cavendish variety of banana highly susceptible to a fungus referred to as Panama Tropical Race 4, authorities are now highly controlled in how and where you can buy your banana plants from. On July 1st 2016 the regulations did change however, and you are no longer require to get a permit to grow banana plants in Queensland, provided they are plants that have been grow from tissue culture and purchased from a QBAN accredited nursery. This means you can not simply take a ‘sucker’ from your neighbours plant and give it a go in your yard. Similarly, plants purchased for growth in Queensland cannot be sent to NSW due to strict quarantine practices, and vice versa.

Image: HMD Ecozine

Just last year, the TR4 fungus spread through one entire property in North Queensland, which threatened the State’s $600 million industry. Yikes!

Panama Tropical Race 4 has spread throughout Asia, Africa and the Middle East, and scientists all around the qlobe are scrambling to breed new varieties of Cavendish which may be TR4-resistant.

The Cavendish banana is the most popular variety of banana, and accounts for some 90% of, not only Australia’s banana market, but also the total global banana export trade. There have been some discoveries of some varieties of banana which are more tolerant of TR4, however none yet have been found to be truly resistant. The more tolerant varieties of the popular fruit tend to be smaller, thinner skinned varietes, which come from plants which are not as productive, and therefore could not fill the production levels required. Unfortunately, the TR4 fungus infects the fruit and makes the banana unfit for human consumption (as seen below).

Infected fruit. Image: Baking Gone Bananas
Infected fruit. Image: Panama Disease

At this point, the Queensland Department of Agriculuture is attempting to fast track the development of new varieties that will be resistant to TR4 through a process called ‘mutant breeding’. It is not genetic modification as there is no change to the plant DNA, and there is nothing being added. The process involves the plant instead being exposed to radiation and placing the plant in a state of stress in order to create a “mutant” with a particular trait.

It is not only a problem for Queensland either, many years ago, from about 1996, the Northern Territory’s banana supplies were found to be infected by TR4 as well. After mutation breeding is complete in Queensland, the plants will be sent to the NT’s Coastal Plains Horticulture Research Station for testing. The NT are currently interested in the Honduran bred Goldfinger which is highly resistant to the TR4 disease, however the fruit is not commercially acceptable; in flavour, bunch quality and production capabilities.


This isn’t the first time we have been staring down barrel of a life without bananas. Some 60 years ago, Big Mike (a.k.a Gros Michel), the variety favoured at the time, was wiped out by a version of the very same fungus. The problem with bananas (and the way we grow them) is that they are sterile clones. Ever wondered why bananas don’t have any seeds? Unlike an apple tree for example, the banana plant is the largest herbaceous flowering plant. After the banana plant has produced its fruit, the plant stem dies. The suckers (small bulbs) which grow out of the plant’s underground rhizome (called the corn) are then replanted, and new plants grow. Bananas are therefore propagated vegetatively; sure the quality is consistent because they’re all genetically identical, but this also means that they are prone to disease as they are unable to evolve and adapt, and resistance cannot be bred into them. The fungus however can continue to change, and whilst Cavendish were once resistant, they are no longer.

It’s a tough spot to be in as the yellow fellows are Australia’s most popular fruit and lord knows when prices sky rocketed after Cyclone Larry in 2006, people literally went bananas!

(Lady) fingers crossed for some breakthroughs soon!

Fwf x


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