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!!


Weathered…Yarra Valley

Wednesday, January 14th, 2015


acanthus 2

side wall

verandah post

timber and blackberries


wooden wall B&W


Gardening in Faith…

Friday, January 9th, 2015

You have to have a good sense of faith to be a gardener- not the bended knee faith of praying, although a fair bit of time is spent on bended knees!  But the kind of faith that what you do now, will have an impact on the future at some point.  When you sow that lettuce seed, or plant garlic bulbs, there is faith and hope that in that simple act of gardening, you will be able to harvest a crop to feed your family and friends…Sometimes it works, and other times, for lots of different reasons, it doesn’t.  However, its always worth a try!

Months ago, late September, in fact, we planted a bed of dahlias and sunflowers at the rear of the house.  This has always been a funny area, a space which most people have, cluttered with rubbish bins, the clothes line, and a storage area for half used bags of potting mix and the like.  In our early gardening days, this area was home to beds made of galvanised tin, filled to the brim of collected oak leaves and manure, grass cuttings and boxes and boxes of fruit shop waste- no excursion beyond the gate ever returned without bounty of some kind.  I’m sure my mother was horrified as her precious grandchild was tucked in between bags of horse manure and grass clippings!  This was the home of many a great dahlia flower- with imaginative names, collected and preserved by a man called Hedley, who grew his dahlias in a place called Lima South.  In the height of summer you would traverse the highway, passing through golden pastures of scorched grass towards the Mansfield area.  Once over the bridge at Boonie Doon, which at that stage spanned padlocks of grass and gum trees, you turned left, then left again up a dirt track until you came to a paddock filled with all manner of dahlia flowers, sparkling like jewels , with Hedley, a gentleman in his late eighties presiding over them.  Tough decisions were made, notes exchanged and promises made of a letter later in the year, outlining the order taken…

Duly, as promised, the handwritten letter would arrive in October and later, after cheques were mailed in return, a box of dahlia tubers would arrive, and be lovingly planted into the beautifully composted soil.  A few months later, the jewels were our s to behold and rejoice in.  But time passes and with extensions and renovations, prolonged dry years and probably lack of attention to attacks made on the fresh new growth by snails and rabbits, our tubers from Hedley had all but disappeared.

PicMonkey Collagegarden then and now

Deciding this was the year to plan a dahlia frenzy, we remodelled the beds, spread lots of gravel and did a big tidy up- and again planted dahlia tubers in good faith of things to come.  Sadly, not Hedleys’ treasures, just a few random packs from Tesselars end of season sale, but still, nuggets of happiness!

PicMonkey Collagepachets of dahlias

The thing I don’t understand is generally, I have strong views of what is acceptable colour in the world of flowers ( and most things actually!)  but these views fly out the window when presented with dahlias- the gaudier, the better!  They also have the most random names, like “Bracken Sarah”, Formby Crest” or “Elma Elizabeth”.  They are, in some ways, the bogan of the flower world- loud and brash, the brighter the better- unashamed to strut their stuff, and if it makes you feel uncomfortable, thats actually your problem, not theirs…

PicMonkey Collagedahlias

Perhaps, Im a little jealous…

This year, we hope to get to the other side of town, just past Geelong to enjoy the dahlia display.  We do often promise ourselves these pilgrimages, but do find it a struggle to leave our patch of the Valley! If you feel you can  For more info, please visit Country Dahlias webpage.  Or if you are really keen and inspired head over to the Australian Dahlia Society, where there are lots of details of clubs around the country!


Christmas Decorations at morris brown, in store and online!

Saturday, December 6th, 2014

clown in grapeHave you put your tree up yet?  Ours at home has been up now for two weeks, living with a nine year old that has been asking for the tree to be put up since  Grand Final weekend, things tend to happen!! Lots of different christmas decorations are in store now, and we have even managed to snaffle a few for the Online shop too!  We seem to have a circus theme occurring…


clown purple 1