Sunday Garden Visiting…

Monday, November 23rd, 2015

We love a trip around peoples gardens!  Always so interesting to see what other people are doing- whats growing well, whats not!  It is a chance to definitely slow down and pass a few hours being inspired in lots of ways.  Over the past few Sundays, we have visited the Alexandra District Open Gardens ( always worth the trip) and in particular the home of Georgie Leckie and Heatherly Designs, as well as Nerrinvale, lovely garden perched on a hillside in the Archon Valley.  The third garden was visited a week later in Gippsland and was called  Brougham Hall. Each garden was quite individual, but they all have one magical thing in common – the view…

The beautiful forecourt area at the Leckies property

The beautiful forecourt area at the Leckies property

I love grass paths...

I love grass paths…

This iris had to go on show- was so lovely!

This iris had to go on show- was so lovely!

I love this vibrant blue against the old weathered wood

The garden on the hill…

What an amazing view...

What an amazing view…

The garden worked really well with that huge view!

The garden worked really well with that huge view!

olive trees

A clever idea for a plain wall….

A few weeks later we journeyed to Gippsland, and visited  Brougham Hall – an amazing garden overlooking the Tarrango Reservoir – and owned by Jindivick Country Gardener.  They work damm hard those fellas!!  The nursery in Jindivick is well worth a visit, as is the Cafe next door!

again, fabulous views...

Again, fabulous views…

Things to draw your eye over and beyond...

Things to draw your eye over and beyond…

Lovely framing of the reservoir

beautiful gates, plantings and summerhouse, i will take one of each please!

Beautiful gates, plantings and summerhouse, I will take one of each please!

So, do yourself a favour and head out the door one Sunday for a little garden adventure…!


Hand made, Fair trade, Environmentally friendly…

Monday, October 26th, 2015

What more could you ask for in a bag…

Well: they are pretty funky too!


Small bag, great for going out...

Small bag, great for going out…

We have had these bags in-store for a little while now, and they are one of my favourite things.  Made in Nepal, the village where they are made is very high up in the Himalayan Mountains.  Remote, its hard to imagine places in the world today that function sans electricity, technology, and where the journey to Kathmandu is an eight day round trip for the villagers. Stitched by hand, no sewing machine is used in the manufacture of these bags.

The beautiful raw leather...

The beautiful raw leather…

The villagers collect the hides from dead buffalo found in their surrounding areas, and begin the process of tanning the hides by soaking them in water for 2-3 days.  Over the next few weeks, the process continues, with the hides soaking in a water/lime solution, which is changed over every five days.  Then the hides are tanned with leaves or bark from a plant called the Dhario, an indigenous plant found above 5000 feet in Nepal.  This is ground into dust and mixed with water.  The hides are immersed and churned in the solution over a period of time.  Eventually, the hides are shaved to give a uniform thickness, stretched and dried.  Finally, the leather is softened and preserved using mustard oil and the manufacturing process begins…all, again by hand.

Plaited strap detail

Plaited strap detail

So, you are looking at a 2-3 month process for these bags to be made, even the cotton used to stitch the bags is handmade!  The rawness of the leather shows the detail and textures and allows the bag to get better with use and over time ( unlike us!!)

More detail...

We have just added a few of these bags to the online shop, so pop over here and check them out.  We also have a few different styles at Healesville in store that  are different again…

Storm Skies, Yarra Valley

Monday, October 12th, 2015

What great storms we had over the weekend – I think I can say that, given there was little damage ( that I know of) around the Valley.  And so fabulous to get rain.  Its always amazing how quickly the plants droop and the ground dries out as soon as the temperature rises…

shed sky


The green really stands out against the sky…


storm sky shed

toms storm photo


Great clouds, Tom took this, just when we heard the rain thundering up the paddock- we all bolted indoors, dogs included!!

Collections… Yarra Valley Tourism Blog Piece!

Friday, July 10th, 2015

A few weeks ago, we were asked to guest blog on the Visit Yarra Valley webpage, how exciting!  You can view the post here...  The post was about collections, a theme close to my heart, as I do like to collect certain things, as many of us do.  The point I was trying to make within the blog was that it doesn’t have to be an expensive collection, i.e. fancy cars, boats, old violins or Faberge eggs that are priceless!!  Some of my favourite things to collect are things from nature, lichen covered sticks, discarded bird nests, and who didn’t collect shells and rocks as a child?

copper floats

These are old copper floats from cattle troughs and water tanks…

I just wanted to post the proper photographs that were supposed to go with the article.  Unfortunately, the photos I sent were not of the correct size, quality, format?? who knows!  so my husband was called in to send photos at the last minute…Because my filing system, or lack of when it comes to photo storage isn’t great, it was a bit of an eclectic ensemble, shall we say!


 I was lucky enough to stumble across a smelly old box of dolls heads and body parts a few years ago.  We had them in the window at Heathmont and all sorts of people came in to give us their opinion, 95 % was negative, but those dolls pieces sold extremely quickly to avid collectors!

nest collectionI love birds nests, each one is so unique and made to measure!   I only ever take the discarded ones, leaving the ones in the trees to be used again…galvanised stuff 1

Watering cans…mmm what can I say except I now have graduated to old sprinklers.  Luckily, my husband agrees, as it is a practical obsession!  Old sprinklers work so well, are sturdy and don’t fall over, and most of all, look great!!!

Just as a side note, did you know Visit Yarra Valley have a fabulous competition running currently- its all about visiting the Yarra Valley and what a great time you can have here!  Entitled  ”Find Yourself”, you would be mad not to enter !! Pop over here to do so…  its going to be a cold, cold weekend everywhere baring FNQ!!  So rug yourself up and take a journey to the valley, indulge in a glass of warming vino, or a lovely heartwarming meal by an open fire- don’t forget to come and visit morris brown, we are having a SALE, so you might find a bargain or two to take home as a little souvenir…

Otto and Spike- Melbourne made goodness!

Tuesday, May 19th, 2015

We know winter is really and truly on its way when we unpack a box of Otto and Spike goodness!  Made in the backstreets, of the Melbourne suburb of Brunswick, sadly Otto and Spike are one of the few remaining handful of Australian knitting mills left producing there.  When the factory first opened over four decades ago, the streets hummed with the noise of knitting machines producing the latest fashion garments, all madly keeping up with the demand for knitted pieces.  Once we were the nation that was known for “get wealth” associated with the golden fleece…but sadly, the bulk of our beautiful wool is now sent overseas, to offshore manufacturers who spin beautiful creations.  Many of the old factories have been converted to swanky, stylish abodes, or very sadly torn down and replaced. Otto and Spike have bucked the trend and are still hunkered down in Postcode 3057…

otto and spike floral

This season, the scarves come in a range that covers very pretty, like these floral ones featured above, stripey, as featured below!  There is also a range of everything in between!!  Made from soft, cuddly lambswool, that has been stockpiled for many years.

stripes otto and spike

otto and spike socks

Super cute socks are also a highlight of the range. Even the most conservative person loves a crazy pair of socks!  Sometimes in a work environment, it’s the only way we can express of individuality!  I always underrate the pleasure found in wearing comfortable socks… These are almost tempting enough for me to rest my old faithful explorer socks for a while!  After all, like most iconic brands, they too, are now an import.

Otto & Spike are always a popular range, whether they are for  a great present or an overseas gift. It’s quite challenging to find something locally made, that doesn’t cost a fortune to post!  If you see anything you like, as always, we are happy to send more photos and details, and post out to you!  We can be contacted via email at,  or you can always try the old fashioned way and give us a call on the landline – Healesville 59 62 4042, or Heathmont 9729 1263!  Or even better, take a cruise out to the delightful Yarra Valley!


Busy Bees…Yarra Valley Maker

Thursday, April 23rd, 2015

Today, we would like to introduce to you Lorraine Parrott, business woman extrodainaire!   By day, Lorraine is a jet setting executive, but by night her alter ego comes flying out from the hive!  Yes, thats correct, if you have popped into mb lately, you would have seen Lorraines beautiful bee soaps, her creations made under the label Julor Basics…   We were smitten by Lorrianes gorgeous soaps, and wanted to know more about how they came in to being…we hope our chat with the Queen Bee of Julor Basics leaves you feeling as inspired as we are!…

My husband and I are passionate about enjoying the basic things in life.  Our home is our haven and nothing gives us greater pleasure than digging up the latest season’s crops from our vegie patch, collecting fresh eggs from our hen house, gathering a bunch of flowers from our lush garden or simply enjoying it all with our closest friends and family.

Sourcing beautiful home wares is also a hobby of mine and local shops like Morris Brown provide a constant supply of interesting and unique items.  My professional background lies in the corporate world but my dream is to establish my own business that contributes to our local community.   Julor Basics enables me to combine my personal interests, my business skills and my local ideals into the one complete package. There is nothing quite like the joy of sharing with others something that you have created using your own hands and something that you are very proud of.

mass of bee soap

How did Julor Basics come into existence?

Learning to make handmade soaps began as a hobby to help balance the pressures of my daily job.  Right from the beginning I loved the process of experimenting with different soap recipes and then sharing them with family and friends.  Before long, Julor Basics had taken on a life of its own as it sparked my creative outlet and placed a greater focus on quality local products.  They say it’s not work if you love what you do!

The name Julor Basics is a combination of what’s important to me.  Julor is a blend of my husband’s name with my name and Basics keeps the focus on traditional methods and simple pleasures.  In our busy modern lives there is a certain luxury in the simplicity of these products.   It’s definitely about quality, not quantity.

Does your day job help you with your night job?

My dream is that one day Julor Basics will transform my weekend passion into my everyday reality.  Until then, it helps bring balance to my professional life and a creative outlet to my personal life.  I like to think these two very different worlds are independently helping the other’s success.

The bee soaps are so gorgeous, how did you come up with the design, and do bees have a special meaning to you?

Yes, it’s all about the bees.  They are absolutely fascinating creatures who play an important role in sustaining our local ecosystem and food supply.  It has been said that humans would survive no more than 4 years if bees suddenly disappeared.  So it’s important that we look after our bees and promote their busy work.  Healthy bees, healthy planet.

The interior of our home is filled with many bee inspired home wares and treasures.  During spring our garden is also full of busy bees, my favourite time of year.  I love to arrive home and see them working hard, buzzing around the lavender patch.  The bee design for Julor Basics just felt so right.

sunflowwr bee

All your products are natural/organic, is this of a particular passion for you?

Absolutely, how many times do you look at products only to find a long list of unrecognizable ingredients?  We need to be a lot more considerate about the products that we use on ourselves and around our home.

At Julor Basics we have made it our focus to return to artisanal methods, creating luxuriously mild soaps without the long list of chemicals and preservatives that can affect the harmony of our skin’s natural oils.  Ideal for cleansing and moisturising the most sensitive skin types our busy bee fragrance free soaps are based on a centuries old recipe from the Spanish region of Castile using extra virgin olive oil, buttermilk and lye.  Yes, that right … just 3 basic ingredients.

The smooth and velvety texture on your skin is one of the most distinctive characteristics of olive oil soaps and simply has to be experienced to be fully appreciated.  As a natural moisturiser olive oil soaps won’t leave your skin feeling dry and itchy like many commercial brands.

single bee soap

We all need inspiration in our lives – where do you go to be inspired?

The answer to that question is simple.  The entire Yarra Valley and everything that it represents is a big inspiration for me.  I have been incredibly fortunate to travel the world during my studies and now with my career.  In fact, as I write these words I am on board a train travelling through the picturesque European countryside blanketed in striking autumn colours.  But, as they say, “home is where the heart is” and my heart really does belong to the Yarra Valley where I have lived most of my life.

Otherwise, I love being surrounded by beautiful things.  Mixing the old with the new, the simple with the decadent, the French style with the English style, treasured times with old friends and meeting new friends … 

Lorraine Parrott

What is your favourite Yarra Valley destination, and why?

I adore visiting local restaurants for a leisurely weekend breakfast followed by stocking up on great quality bread to be devoured over the next day or so.  For many years I have loved the magnificent kitchen in Bella Verdere absorbing the atmosphere and pretending it was my very own kitchen.  I am thrilled to have recently discovered the newly opened Coombe Farm in Coldstream and Burnham Beaches in Sassafras.  My husband works as a viticulturalist in the wine industry so for us it’s all about great food and even better wine!


We have fresh supplies of Julor Basics beautiful bees in both shops at the moment; but they won’t last long, especially with Mothers Day around around the corner!  Thanks Lorraine, we wish you every success with your business and hope that your dream does come true soon!


Up, up and away..Balloons in the Yarra Valley!

Friday, April 17th, 2015

We had lots of visitors glide past last week… Their presence was announced via the distinctive blast of hot air being released as they floated past…




IMG_0935So beautiful… One day I might be the one looking down, not up as they wander through our beautiful Valley! Dreams are free!!


Oxfam Walk 2015

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

I have often passed the people with sticks vigorously walking along the Warburton Trail at various times of the year, and never dreamed I would be one of them…but I am.  And in about ten days, I along with my family, will be jostling for position with approximately 2996 other people, making up close to the 800 teams, who are walking 100 kms in 48 hours to raise money for Oxfam.  This amazing world wide society  fights poverty at the grass roots level,  in teaching and providing basic farming techniques, equipment, animals, and even fresh, clean water – all things, we take for granted every day.  We have all heard and seen the adds, especially around Christmas, with the buy a chicken, goat etc campaign!


My first world problems of  blisters, aching feet and sleep deprivation will only last for a few days, not a lifetime as it for many people who live in a poverty I struggle to even contemplate.  Im not sure if I will make the 100kms, but I will do my darnedest – but I am extremely grateful for the time it has given me to spend with my family, the re discovered joy of walking through the amazingly beautiful Yarra Valley, Dandenong Ranges and beyond. Of course, doing a tiny bit to raise money too- although I do struggle with the irony that we have made most of our money via sausage sizzles…


1000 steps


So, if you feel like it, here is the link to our Oxfam donation page- we are called The Latecomers, quite apt as most of our training and fundraising has been in the past few weeks!!


Peppermint Grove Candles

Friday, March 13th, 2015

New stock is arriving from our brief trip to the Sydney Gift Fairs last month, with lots more arrivals to come.  One particular item got us just a little excited – Peppermint Grove Candles…

peppermint grove 2peppermint grove 2


We have nearly turned ourselves inside out trying to find a great candle, that ticks all the boxes.  Strong scents, soy, Australian made and beautifully presented.  Two price points, large at $39.95 and small at $18.95.  Lovely gift, especially the very cute small size.  Very sweet!  The lovely fluted vessels used for the candles have been custom made especially.

peppermint grove candles

To quote from Peppermint Groves website

“Inspired by the opulence of grand old estates, stunning private gardens & heirloom antiques, Peppermint Grove Australia brings luxury and timeless sophistication to modern day contemporary living.”

Handmade in the exquisite Southern Highlands of New South Wales, Peppermint Grove Australia captures the remarkable beauty and exquisite charm of Australian living. Each and every fragrance has been carefully created to encapsulate a unique part of the Australian landscape; it’s beauty and the memories and experiences they invoke.

Stock is available at both our Healesville and Heathmont stores, so come in and have a sniff!

Newly Arrived- Autumn and Winter Clothing…

Wednesday, March 11th, 2015

Just a few quick teasers of our newly arrived  Autumn and Winter clothing…my favourite season for dressing!  Lots more still to arrive, including Evas Sunday and the winter drop of Elk Accessories.  The first drop has been a big hit and we can’t wait for their beautiful knits to come…

winter clothesThis is a new clothing brand which is just a bit of fun, with gorgeous tweed waistcoats and lovely jackets which are great with a pair of jeans and boots- speaking of boots, we have both the Elk Wedge boots and Nancy Bird Tahli boots in store currently.

winter clothes 2

Lots more to arrive, we are keeping the delivery man hard at work currently!!