Wasps in my Garden

Wasps are common in Australian gardens and can be quite beneficial in pollinating flowers and controlling insect pests.

They can also deliver quite a sting if disturbed, which I discovered recently when I decided to do a spot of pruning around my jasmine vine which is growing on the side of the cats’ catio.

I didn’t see that there was a wasp’s nest hidden in the leaves. I see it now! Before I realised what was happening, two very angry wasps flew out of the nest, one promptly stung me on my hand, and the other chased me inside the house! It was right behind me and I had to shoo it back outside!

Luckily I was wearing gardening gloves, but even so, the sting was painful for about 20 minutes and by next morning my hand was quite swollen. It was also very itchy, but after applying some cream the itch went away and the swelling disappeared within two days.

Some people are very allergic to wasp and bee stings but now I know that I am not. The nest will probably be active for the rest of the summer, but I am okay with that. Everything has its place in the garden and it just means that I won’t be pruning the jasmine for a few more months.

This is as close as I wanted to get. Normally the nests that I see around the house are small, rounded nests made of clay or mud. This nest consists of layers of papery hexagonal cells and many active wasps.

New Year’s Resolutions, Anyone???

Here we are well into January and I haven’t heard anyone discussing NY resolutions. Have you set any goals for this year?

I’m not into it myself, only because I’m a list writing type of gal and I normally have three going all the time. I find it quite motivating to list and prioritise what I want to achieve, short and long term, and I love when I get to cross off an item. So satisfying!

So a once-a-year list would never work for me.

My lists on the go are shopping, gardening and craft which are all on my phone, giving me instant access. Very important when you actually get to complete something.

If you want to check out the apps, I use “Out of Milk” for shopping and “To Do List” for everything else. Pretty simple. I’m sure there are plenty more, but these ones suit me. For someone who doesn’t have a particularly good memory, it all makes me look quite efficient and keeps me motivated and on track at the same time. That has to be a win-win!

Land of Extremes

Drought, heatwaves, floods and fire – we seem to have experienced it all in Australia so far this year, and so it was with great relief that we welcomed the rain the day after my last post.

This is my citrus that I posted last time, with its leaves curled up in the prolonged heat – and here is the transformation the following morning, looking like a completely different tree.  There were even a few blades of green grass that popped up during the night.



Before the rain


and after!

So now our tanks are overflowing and it has been raining on and off ever since.  Amazingly, the grass, which was brown and so dry that it was painful to walk on barefoot, is lush and green and needing to be cut.

I love the sound of the rain falling on the roof and to have some relief from the heat at last.  Blue, cloudless skies are all very well, but for now, my favourite colour is grey!

Summer Catch Up

So the summer is over and I am pleased to say that the tasks that I set myself for the New Year are underway or have been done.  Much crafting has taken place, but more on that later.

More important has been the gardening that I started in January.  Up and out each morning for a couple of hours’ work, mostly weeding and mulching, before the temperature started to soar.  By mid morning it was just too hot to keep going.  Temperatures in the mid to high 30’s have been pretty constant, with some days topping 40 degrees Celsius.  Not much fun when the pool is too hot to swim in and it takes several minutes before the water coming out of the hose is cool enough not to burn.


I have gone from gardening for pleasure to gardening for survival – survival of the plants.  One of our two water tanks is empty which we use for watering the gardens.  Lucky we have town water and not reliant on them for supplying water to the house but it has made it difficult to keep the water up to the trees and shrubs.

We’ve hardly had any rain this year and each day we have our hopes up, only to be disappointed when we see another cloudless sky.


This is one of our poor, sad looking orange trees.  I am watering them when I can but unfortunately citrus like lots. The rest look about the same with their leaves curled up.  Citrus is not a good choice for this region, but as they were already here when we moved in I have been trying to look after them as best I can.  Our grass (I could not even loosely describe it as lawn) is so dry it crunches underfoot.  However the frangipanis, petunias and most of the other plants are surviving.

We are supposed to get rain today and it is looking very overcast  Is that thunder I hear in the distance?  I hope so.

Find the Joy

marie kondoThat’s the message in “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo, a charming little book that I happened to come across about a year ago.  What’s it all about?  Basically, decluttering, or as she quaintly puts it, tidying.  I only noticed this book as it came up in my “Recommended” list on my E Reader, and the Japanese author caught my eye following our two trips to Japan.

This is not a book review per se;  if you want to find out more, Google has numerous sites which explain it all in more detail, or better still, buy the book!  Rather, I wanted to convey how reading  this book has been life-changing for me.  So follow along and you might just learn something! (LOL)

Basically, the idea is not to try to decide what to discard, but instead what you want to keep, by sorting out everything in strict categorical order.  Ask yourself if you love it;  if not, give yourself permission to get rid of it.  That’s it in a nutshell, but there is so much more to it than that.

As to the order of sorting, you start on the easy things, such as clothes, where it’s not too difficult to make quick decisions, then work your way through to the hard stuff, such as personal papers, photos and mementos.  By that stage, the idea is that you would have honed your skills enough to make some big decisions.  How do you get rid of unwanted gifts and expensive clothing mistakes?  Marie explains how – and no feelings of guilt!  That has to be a miracle!

However, be warned …. this is not a job for the faint-hearted.   It really is hard work and once begun, Marie recommends sorting out one category at a time and not stopping until the entire house is done.  All up, it took me a couple of months.  I started with my tee shirts and donated two-thirds of them immediately.  Everything that I have kept, I love.  The strange thing is that I have no desire to replace anything that I have discarded.  Although, on second thoughts, maybe not so strange, as I was probably only wearing the ones that I kept anyway!  Along the way, I discovered a couple of forgotten brand-new items still with tags on and somehow it seems that I had unknowingly bought two identical tee shirts!  How did that happen?



Obviously I don’t need to buy any more black, white or striped tees for a long time!  There’s even room for the yoga gear on the far right.


What if you are the only one in the family who wants to give this method a try? It’s very achievable;  Marie covers that as well.

Because of space constraints in Japan, Marie recommends folding a lot of things for which she has certain techniques, for example, underwear.   I followed her instructions, even to the extent of arranging them in colour order, light to dark, so now I can see at a glance what I have instead of searching through messy, untidy drawers.  Tea towels are now folded and stored in shallow baskets.  No more storing items in piles where the things on the bottom never see the light of day.



Easy tea towel storage – put in at the back and take out from the front!  A year on and still looking neat.


When it came time to sorting out all my cleaning gear, this involved collecting it from everywhere in the house, putting it in a pile on the floor and going through it all individually.  I’m always running out of paper towel in the kitchen and much to my surprise,  found a forgotten supply in the laundry!  How long had that been there?  Now I store the paper towels all in one spot.  That is one of the benefits of sorting by category, rather than by one room at a time.

This method is so different from anything I’ve tried in the past, which usually involved buying yet more containers to fit into every nook and cranny,  and I was surprised to discover that this particular decluttering book was a bestseller and the Konmari Method is well known in many countries.  Some research about Shinto beliefs helped to clarify what Marie was referring to when she writes about respecting possessions and thanking them for the work they do for us.  Yes, I must admit that I thought this sounded a bit “out there” at the time, but now I understand that in Japanese culture, inanimate objects have a spirit, so hey, if thanking them (silently, in my case!) helps me to respect my possessions and be more organised, I don’t have a problem with that.

I don’t know why, but just reading this book makes you want to get started straight away, and Marie goes into such depth, it’s like having her at your side as you embark on your tidying “festival, as she puts it.

I went on to read the second book, “Spark Joy” which is an illustrated Master Class.  So when it came to organizing socks, it felt good to smooth each one out and fold them neatly into three instead of those horrible, tight balls I was responsible for.  I must be getting into Marie’s mindset – while I worked I started to think how much they (the socks) would appreciate it!  No hope for me now!!  The thing is, though, it works!

After completely filling my entire car three times I stopped counting, as I took unwanted possessions to the op shop.  I sorted out my craft studio – sold all my jewellery making gear that I was no longer interested in and donated at least 4 bags of craft books, not to mention the collection of unwanted dressmaking fabric.  The result is that I now have much more space for everything that I actually use and I was able to donate a huge pile of containers to the charity shop, for which they were extremely grateful.

So what have I learnt on my “tidying”journey?

  • Less is definitely more, no question
  • Let it go, it will set you free … really!

Obviously, I have embraced these books and feeling very happy and empowered with what I have achieved.  I highly recommend reading them, but just as one size doesn’t really fit all, this method may not be for everyone as you will see from some of the reviews.  You need to (as a Westerner) be prepared to read them with an open mind. Some people have not and a few of the comments were a little bit unkind (in my opinion anyway).  That’s also the reason why I waited so long before jumping in with my opinions.  I wanted to see if it worked long term or would I go back to my previous untidy habits?

Well, the “tidying” took place nearly a year ago, and the result?  Very happy to say that all the hard work has paid off.  It was amazing how quickly I forgot about the mountain of stuff that I donated, sold, gave away or threw out and it hasn’t been replaced.  No regrets and no more “spring cleaning” – ever!  I’d say that it’s been a big success, wouldn’t you?