Sunday, December 4, 2011

Iain's tips for caring for a cut Xmas Tree

When we were kids our parents worked for the Forestry in Tumut. They were given a cut Christmas tree every year.

Nothing beats the look of a real tree with decorations sitting in the corner of the room. Oh and the smell!

Over the years we became quite good at keeping them alive and looking good for a long time. Here are some tips:

1. When picking the tree up take a plastic bag and rubber band to place over the trunk. This helps the trunk to stay moist on the drive home.

2. When you get the tree home cut about 2cm off the base of the trunk and place straight in water. This is not crucial, but it will improve water uptake and keep the tree fresh for longer. Place the tree in a stand that can hold at least 5 litres of water. You should expect the tree to take up additional water.

3. Always keep the water topped up. If the base dries out, resin will form over the cut end and the tree will not be able to absorb water and will dry out quickly. If the base seals over, you will need to re-cut the trunk, not good if it is fully decorated. You don't need anything other than regular tap water. Commercially prepared mixes like aspirin, sugar and other additives introduce into the water are not necessary. Research has shown that plain water will keep a tree fresh.

4. Check for worn Christmas tree light electrical cords and always unplug at night. Use Aus standard electrical decorations and cords. Using miniature lights produce less heat and reduce the drying effect on the tree or any chance of fire. Never leave the lights on when you go out.

5. Air conditioning can quickly dry out your tree. If possible place the tree out of the direct air flow.

6. Take down the tree before it dries out. Many fresh cut trees if properly cared for (using the first five steps) should last at least five weeks before drying out. Some species keep their moisture longer than others.

So there you have it. Follow these tips and you will enjoy your freshly cut Christmas tree right up until boxing day.

Monday, November 21, 2011

SEEDLING have arrived...

Colour Me Gnome and Make Your Own Snow Globe $29.95ea

Good Things For Boys and Good Things for Girls $39.95ea
Make Your Own Tugboat $29.95 and Make Your Own Indie Bangles $24.95

New to Bliss this month is the 'hands-on' kids range of toys from New Zealand company Seedling. Each product is designed to engage and nurture your childs creative side. They're all about making and experimenting. Here's just a few of the great kits we have in stock. Priced well too they're a great option for the Xmas stocking this year. Most will post easily for the little people in you life that live afar.

Visit the shop or purchase online here.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Design tips from Josh & Jenna

On Sunday Iain & Kylie and the kids had the opportunity to attend a design workshop hosted by The Block's Josh & Jenna. Aside from getting a pic taken with the couple (aren't they cute?) Kylie also took a few notes from the day. Here's some of what the design guru's had to say.
  • Do a floorplan of the room you plan to decorate (can use free online software such as SmartDraw).
  • Ask yourself, what’s the purpose of the room? A room to relax and unwind or be inspired and motivated?
  • Choose your style. Create a mood board of the style you like from magazines and take with you shopping! This helps greatly and will reduce any random purchases that won’t work in the overall style you’re creating.
  • Use occasional chairs and place them facing towards the main sofa, this creates a more social and intimate space.
  • Use pendant lights to create warmth and purpose in a room and they create striking features.
  • Keep larger purchase items, ie. Sofa and dining table neutral colours that you can work around. You will find you’ll hold onto them for longer.
  • Have a focal point in the room and then all other things in the room need to compliment that piece. ie. wall papered wall or multicoloured bedspread (not both).
  • Soften your rooms with rugs, feature lighting, soft throws, vases.
  • Scandinavian and homemade style is in, this can be introduced inexpensively with cushions, art etc.
  • Be bold with colour but keep it in the accessories so it can be updated inexpensively.
  • Don’t over clutter, love the space your in without being overwhelmed.
  • TV’s should not be your focal point in a loungeroom.
  • Practical and comfortable can still be beautiful, sit on the furniture you’re going to purchase!
  • Add soft furnshings to soften hard surfaces such as timber and steel.
  • Timber doesn’t have to match.
  • Blank walls? Use art, mirrors, photo collage, mix up the frames to create a more dramatic and artistic look.
  • Small space, low ceilings. Use narrow furniture to give the illusion of more space and low lying furniture.

More information about Josh and Jenna go to

Friday, October 21, 2011

New b.sirius is at BLISS

"Get lost in the garden of b.sirius this Spring/Summer. Dive into a field of posies or be whisked away by a whirlwind of blissfull berries and opulent oranges. This range is bursting with fresh colours that go hand in hand with the glistening sunny skies and budding blooms."
The new range from B.sirius is now in stock at Bliss and by gosh, they've outdone themselves again, it's pretty as ever! Annabelle and the team have made some gorgeous new fabrics this season and some very clever bag designs as well. Clever enough in fact, to earn them a Melbourne Design Award last month.

The extra special part for you, is that we're the first in the ACT to get the new season stock. So if you're keen to get your hands on it then come and see us quick before they all get snapped up.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Perfect for Pots - Sago Palm

The Sago Palm (Cycas Revoluta) is native to Japan and is not a palm at all but a cycad. It's a very striking plant with it's symmetrical circle growth and lush dark green leaves and certainly looks great in a pot. It doesn't need a lot of water or fertilizer just a large pot or deep soil with good mulching.

Maintenance is quick and easy as it only needs the lower yellowing leaves removed. They are largely pest resistant if kept outside but if kept inside they are prone to mealy bugs and spider mite.

The good news for us Canberrans though is that they are tolerant of frosts up to -10c (there's a Cycad planted at Bliss which gets the full frost, come and see it!).

Thursday, September 15, 2011

New at Bliss : ECOLOGY kitchenware

One of our more exciting finds at the gift fairs last month was the Ecology serving and kitchenware range. The classic white ceramics mixed with gorgeous acacia wood pieces caught our eye immediately and we just knew we needed them in the shop. Why? Well there were several reasons. Firstly, It’s the kind of range that will fit easily with whatever taste or style you my already have in your home. Secondly, as the name suggests, all the materials used to make the products, including the packaging, are ecologically responsible and designed with our earth’s future in mind. They are made in energy-efficient factories and are virtually free of chemicals. Thirdly, we were genuinely surprised at the price, considering the style, quality and finish.

So, let me tell you a bit about some of our favourite pieces. First, there’s the 4 piece ‘Seasons’ mug set featuring a different tree illustration on each mug to represent the four seasons ($24.95 a set). Then there’s my personal favourite, the Acacia wood bowls, platters, salad servers and cheese boards. Acacia is a fast-growing hardwood that is extremely durable and naturally resistant to water, but besides all that practical stuff they just look GOOD! Salad servers are $9.95, large salad bowls only $59.95. Lastly, the set of 3 nested bowls are pretty, stylish and only $24.95 a set.

These are just a few of our favourites from the Ecology range (oh look, who are we kidding, we kinda like them all) so if they sound like your kinda thing too then come visit us for a looksee. Selected lines available in our online store also.


Wednesday, August 31, 2011

How to care for Daffodils

Daffodils are the classic heralds of spring. They
bring an element of surprise and excitement
each year as gardeners eagerly await their
emergence from the soil, closely followed by
their breathtaking floral performance.

Daffodils are easy to look after in the Garden

·    They grow in full sun to semi-shade but do best in a position with sun during winter and spring, when they bloom.
·    Daffodils also need plenty of sun when they've just finished flowering, as this is when the bulbs are taking in energy for the following year's display.
·    While they are dormant, daffodils should be left un-watered. If your summer climate is wet or soil is poorly drained, they can be lifted and stored in a cool, dark place and replanted in autumn. Otherwise they can be left to grow and multiply.
·    Daffodils are extremely drought hardy, however, to have them performing at their best I advise to mulch well. 
·    Resist the temptation to pull off or cut back leaves before daffodils have died down completely. Leaving them allows the goodness to return to the bulb in preparation for next season's flowering.

Daffodils are easy to look after in the Pots

·    The main key to success with daffodils in pots is to choose suitable bulb varieties, which are sturdy and not too tall, such as "tete a tete"
·    Always use a well-drained potting mix or a potting mix that has been designed especially for bulbs.
·    If you do bring pots of daffodils inside and you wish to keep the bulbs growing for as long as possible, place them in a cool position in the house, away from any heaters.
·    To have these pots of daffodils looking great year after year, it's necessary to renew the potting mix with slow release fertilizer and wetting agent annually, or to replant your bulbs into new potting mix.
·    Alternatively plant the bulbs into the garden after they've finished flowering, and replace them with new daffodil bulbs the following season.

Daffodils are versatile

·    Daffodils suit all styles of gardens, whether cottage or formal, small or large, and they can even be used successfully in contemporary settings.
·    Grow them in clumps in the garden, as borders, in containers, mass plant them in drifts, or let them naturalise - whichever way, they look stunning.
·    They are an ideal choice as an under-planting for deciduous trees that are bare-stemmed in winter.
·    Growing daffodils in pots enables you to show off the plants while they're looking their best, then move them to a  less prominent position while they're not putting on a show.
·    Dwarf Daffodils such as "tete a tete" look great in pots!

So there you have it. Daffodils look great, they're tough as nails, and they're  even cheap to buy!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

S.T.A.M.P.S Watches = Uber Cool

We’re really enjoying our new S.T.A.M.P.S watches here at Bliss. We have been exclusive ACT stockists of them for several months now and just love having them around. So pretty to look at, yet so practical and useful at the same time (there's a joke here about husbands I think but I'll refrain...)

So what makes these watches so super marvellous I hear you ask? Well firstly, they look like a stamp and secondly, they’re a choose-your-own-adventure type watch which you can mix and match to suit your mood. There are heaps of funky faces to choose from as well as bands in all sorts of great colours. Simply choose your favourite face, match it with a band, snap it on and BAM - you're looking mighty fine!

You can also wear them around your neck with the nifty necklace 'stripe' accessory or just stick the face to the fridge, dashboard or computer. The ‘Full Metal Jacket’ accessory is a square metal frame that can be added around the face and is designed to appeal to the male consumer but not exclusively, many gals will love the chunky look it gives.

Founded in 1997, S.T.A.M.P.S are of German & French design and have spread in popularity around the world, with many artists clamouring to design for them. But beware - with the price of a face and band combo starting at just 60 smackers you may get addicted...

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Preparing a new vegie garden

As August rolls on there seems to be a
few warmer days and a distinct whiff of
spring in the air. But before you go ahead
and start planting, there’s a few things
you need to do, and August/September
is the perfect time to start.   

Do a Vegie garden Plan
  • Think of the location. You’ll need maximum sunlight, protection from the wind, water close by
  • Taller vegies should be at the south end, so as to not shade smaller ones
  • Allow space for later plantings, ie tomatoes, capsicum, egg plant
  • Allow space to walk through to weed and pick
Manure and Mulch
Really these are the two key ingredients. Cow, horse or chook manure is fine. Aged is best. If it's fairly fresh you need to give it a few weeks and try to dig it through. If you have terrible soil, ie. rocky or sandy, you might need to introduce soil. Most landscape yards will do various "manure soils" which would be great. If the ground is hard, just place this on top and plant straight into it.

Pea or lucerne straw is the best mulch in this situation. Not only will it keep your soil moist, but it is great organic matter for the garden structure, and is full of nitrogen which will release as it breaks down.

Vegies in Pots
Don’t have room for a vegie garden? Try putting vegetable plants in Pots! I think in some ways it’s easier, especially no heavy digging! 

The principles are the same as a normal garden. 
  • Choose a nice garden pot - The beauty of this is you can make your vegie garden a feature with a nice pot, but practically, a long trough is the best, especially if you want to line them up at the edge of a balcony or deck. 
  • Good potting mix - not garden soil. A good potting pix available at Bliss is Martins Premium. It has all the goodies, including slow release fertilizer, wetting agent, crystals, trace elements, and coir. But it certainly wouldn't hurt to ad some blood and bone too. 
  • Regular watering – It is also helpful to incorporate a soluble fertilizer weekly when watering. For leafy vegies, use something with a lot of nitrogen like Miracle Gro. For the fruiting vegies like tomatoes, use something with a lot of potassium like Phostogen. 
  • Most will need as much sunlight as possible.
 It’s so rewarding to grow your own Vegies. Give it a try this season!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Plant of the Month - Cymbidium Orchids

Cymbidium Orchids are winter flowering plants that can be kept indoors for stunning and cheerful display over the colder months

Since they are native to Asia (eg. northern India, China, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines and Borneo), they will cope with very cold conditions over winter but can also handle monsoon type conditions easily in the Summer. 

They generally have a reputation for being difficult to look after but are actually very easy. A local grower gave me some very simple tips for getting them to flower every year.
  • After flowering, place them outside where they get lots of sun although preferably not the harsh western sun
  • Give them regular watering, maybe even place them where a watering system comes on regularly
  • Place slow release fertilizer on top of the soil during summer
  • Bring inside in June when the buds appear
  • Give small amounts of water 2-3 times a week, making sure they don’t dry out
  • Feast your eyes on their beautiful flowering display all winter long
And yes, I have tried this and it worked!

We have plenty of Cymbidiums in stock right now at Bliss, they have been our bestsellers over the last month with gorgeous pinks and yellows the pick of the bunch this week. 

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Keep the kids busy these winter holidays…

With the help of Bliss mum’s Sarah and Kylie we have compiled a list of ideas to keep the kids busy and having truckloads of fun these school holidays.

What free activities are there to do in Canberra?
(not from Canberra? no need to leave... just scroll down)

If it’s a sunny day then pack up a picnic and head out to one of Canberra’s great parks. Oh and don’t forget to throw the bikes and helmets in the boot if you’ve got room. 

Here’s our top picks... 
Kambah Adventure Playground, (Springbett St, Kambah) is a top spot for kids of all ages, from toddlers to teenagers. There’s several flying foxes, a ‘tarzan’ swing and a space net as well as a picnic area, toilets and a bbq.

Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve is an easy 40min drive from Canberra and a great spot for the kids to explore, with lots of walking trails, a playground and a visitor centre. Check out for more info.

Yerrabi Pond, off Gundaroo Dr in Gungahlin is great pick for those on the northside. Again, there’s an ‘adventure’ playground complete with flying fox and a skate bowl that caters to beginners and experts alike. If your kids get a kick out of wildlife it’s also a great place to hang out with the ducks. We were going to suggest taking some bread to feed them but on further investigation this appears to be a bad idea (not good for the duckies little tummies it seems!) So, after a quick google, we found these interesting alternatives.
  • Grapes cut in half 
  • Cracked corn, barley, oats, birdseed or other grains 
  • Frozen peas that have been defrosted 
  • Duck feed pellets available from farm supply stores

There’s also the Botanical Gardens at Black Mountain, John Knight Park in Belconnen and Commonwealth Park at Lake Burley Griffin. Lake BG is a great spot for older kids to ride their bikes along the paths. 

But what if its too cold to be outside?

Let’s be honest - this is going to be the case more often than not here in the nations capital isn’t it? If you still need to get out of the house then try these options:

War Memorial - free AND educational! 

Monkey Mania at DFO, - bit pricey, particularly if you’ve got more than one but a great spot for all ages. (Older kids can even be left to run wild while parents go shopping) 

Got a dino-mad toddler? The National Dinosaur Museum at Gold Creek might take their fancy. Again, it requires a bit of $$ for adults and older kids but is free for under 4’s. Bear in mind though that they aren’t open on Fridays. 

Now here’s the cool bit. 
(Non-Canberrans start reading again here...)
Our Bliss mums' top picks for staying at home and having good old fashioned fun!

In the Kitchen...
  • Ice and decorate Arrowroot biscuits or cupcakes with lollies, fruit, nuts or sprinkles.
  • Grab a cheap packet cake mix from the supermarket and teach them the fine art of adding eggs and milk. (Cook it in the microwave and they will see it rise before there very eyes.)
  • Using a pancake batter, make letter shaped pancakes using a pouring jug. Adult supervision required obviously but Kylie says this is her tribes all-time favourite activity.
  • Use a popcorn maker or buy microwave popcorn packets and let the popping begin! There’s nothing quite like the smell of fresh cooked popcorn is there?
  • Play a beginner’s version of Ready, Steady, Cook. Grab 4-5 random ingredients from the pantry or fridge and have them come up with something yummy for lunch.
  • Make play dough - 
Craft / Make&Do
  • Every kid loves a cubby house. Grab blankets, sheets, chairs and tables and create your very own Grand Design. 
  • How about paper aeroplane races?
  • Use water-based paints to paint pictures on the windows. Washes off easily with Spray and Wipe.
  • Raid the recycling bin and make cities/towns, animals, farms, drums, maracas etc. with milk bottles and cereal boxes. Also grab some texters, tape and scissors. A hint learned from experience here is to give them masking tape instead of cello tape – easier for little fingers to find the end. If they're really serious about their recycled creations then we have some awesome little 'connector systems' at Bliss that might take their fancy -
  • Balloon juggling balls = hours of fun and the chance to learn a cool new party trick. They make up really quickly and easily too. Find a great set of instructions here - 
  • Ever made a ‘Grassy Head’ – Yet another uber cool activity. Check out 
  • Grab a bag of pipe cleaners from the craft shop and let them go crazy.  Google ‘pipe cleaner craft’ for loads of inspiration.
  • If you’ve been blessed with the talent of crochet, knitting or sewing spend an hour or so passing on the art to your cherubs... lots of patience and that aforementioned bowl of popcorn will possibly be required.
  • Or there’s always the easier and simpler form of French Knitting for the rest of us. 
  • Lastly, get them to perform a play or musical using the instruments they made from the recycling. Film it on your camera or phone and then have Movie Night and play it back on the ‘big screen’ (ie. tv or computer)

Games and puzzles etc – oldies but goodies.

  • Hide & seek
  • Jigsaw puzzles
  • Treasure hunt
  • Board games arvo with their homemade goodies and fresh squeezed OJ
  • Turn the music up load and have a dance party.

Oh and finally, we can’t go without mentioning possibly the most exciting thing to hit Canberra this season – ICE SKATING in Garema Place? Yes, it’s true! for more info.

Hopefully we’ve given you a few ideas to help you get through the next few weeks.  We welcome little people at Bliss too so if you're wanting to come and visit us for a browse then feel free to bring the kidlets. Tulips Cafe next door has a small playground so you can recharge with coffee and cake while they play. Happy holidays. 

The Bliss team.  

Sunday, July 3, 2011

FAQs on Choosing and Caring for Potted Plants : Part 1

By Iain Eaton
Owner and Horticulturalist (ie. expert garden dude) at Bliss.


Is there any reason I should go for a tall pot or squat?
If space is a consideration then yes, go for a taller narrow pot.
If the pot and plant are going to be exposed to wind, then a shorter wider pot would be safer. You’ll need one with a wider base touching the ground and a lower center of gravity.
As far as the look, this is up to you. It can be so hard going to the shop to buy your Garden Pot and not having a clue which one will look the best. One idea is to pick a few shapes and colours you like, and then paint and cut out cardboard to emulate the shapes you like. A little effort, but much easier than lugging ceramic pots home and back again when you don’t like them! Some shops will let you buy the smallest version of a pot you like to take home and try the colour out, making it easier to bring them back when you know what you want.
Some plants, such as camellias, have a shallow root system and will be better in a shallow, wide pot.

Do darker pots get hotter in the sun?
Yes. Therefore the moisture in the potting mix will evaporate quicker. Also consider how thick the wall of the pot is. Pots with a glaze or with thicker walls won’t heat the soil as much, therefore less evaporation occurs.


Do I need to seal my garden pots?
My advice is to seal any pot you buy, be it terracotta, glazed, Fibreclay or fibreglass. This will do a few things.  
  • Reduce evaporation and keep your potting mix moist for longer.
  • It will also stop salts and lime leaching out of the pot and depositing on the exterior. Yes, I have seen this before. It doesn’t happen all the time, but when it does it can be quite unsightly.  
  • If you get frosts, the less water leaching into the wall of the pot the better. If it freezes, depending on the quality of the pot, it may crack.
How often should I water a plant in a Garden Pot?
Unfortunately there is no ideal watering time as there are so many variables. Size of the plant, size of the root ball, the season, direct sun or shade, type of garden pot  (ie glazed/terracotta), size of the pot, type of soil, mulch or no mulch… see what I mean?

The ideal way to know how much water to give a plant in a pot is to give it a good soak and then check the potting mix every day for a few weeks. Do this by digging down at least half way to the bottom of the pot and feel the mix with your hand. The potting Mix must be moist, but not wet. If you let it dry out completely it can be very hard to re-wet, even with Wetting Agent.

If you’re game you can also give your plant a good soak, then wait till it starts to droop. If it takes 3 days then water every 2 days. The problem with this method is that some plants don’t droop, they just die, like conifers.

Watering a newly potted plant
Any newly potted plant must be watered  with the same regularity as it was when it was in its original pot. Of course the roots will spread out into the fresh potting mix in time and as this happens you will not need to water as often.

Do I need pot feet/saucer?
Saucers are obviously good for catching excess water so it doesn’t run out onto your nice deck or paving. However usually they aren’t deep enough to hold excess water for the plant to use. Even if they are, the plant may not always be able to reach it, so don’t rely on this. Also bear in mind that if you expect the saucer to keep the spot under the pot dry, you may be disappointed. They are rarely perfectly water tight, so you will often have a wet patch below the saucer. If you need to keep it dry, don’t put a pot there.
Pot feet are actually better at keeping a spot dry. Yes the excess water will run onto the deck/paving but it will be allowed to dry since the pot is held off the ground.

Do I need to have stones in the base of my pot?
No… but it doesn’t hurt. Potting Mix is designed to drain well. If your pot has adequate drainage holes you don’t need stones in the bottom of the pot.

Can I use soil (dirt) in my pot instead of Potting Mix?
No you shouldn’t. There are a number of reasons, but the main one is water holding capacity/drainage. Garden soils will hold a lot of water. However, when they dry out they will shrink and it is very hard to re-wet them. The water will run straight through the dried out cracks or the down the inside edge of the pot and out the bottom.

Can I use half dirt / half Potting mix?
No, if you want to make it cheaper, use a cheap Potting Mix in the bottom of the pot with the good one at the top. Alternatively if it is a large pot and you want to save on Potting Mix, use old bricks or rocks in the bottom to take up room.

Can I use a cheap Potting Mix?
Yes…. But in my opinion a potting mix must have 2 key ingredients. Slow release fertilizer, and wetting agent. Usually cheap potting mixes won’t have these. Basically a cheap Potting Mix will be composted  bark chips only (hopefully...)

So in short
  • You need Wetting Agent, renew every 6-12 months
  • Slow release fertilizer, renew every 6-12 months
  • If you’ve got an expensive plant, don’t buy a cheap potting mix
  • If you’re planting Pansies or Petunias, it doesn’t matter so much
What potting mix should I use?
How much do you care for your plant? Is it a keeper, or just annuals? If it is a keeper, ie a lemon, or a standard camellia, choose a quality potting mix. The things to look for are

  • Australian standard ticks,
  • Good slow release fertilizer, ie osmocote, nutricote
  • Trace elements
  • Wetting agent

What fertilizer do I use?
The best fertilizer to use in a Garden Pot is a “slow release”. These release fertilizer by osmosis – were you listening in High School science class? Basically it releases as the plant needs it, not harming the plant with an excess of salts burning the roots. These fertilizers will last up to 6 months, unlike normal garden fertilizer which will virtually leach straight through.
For heavy feeding plants, ie Fruit trees, it can be beneficial to use a soluble fertilizer as well as the slow release. These are usually a powder which you mix into water in a watering can.
It doesn’t hurt to add manure, blood and bone, or seasol. But I think the best value of these are as soil conditioners. They add organic matter and nutrient to impoverished soils. 

Stay tuned for Part 2, where I'll go through some suggested plants for pots and what special requirements each may have.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Your Winter Checklist

Well there’s no denying it – Winter is well and truly upon us, but that’s certainly no reason to pack up and hibernate. The cold outside is the perfect excuse to freshen up your interiors and create a feeling of warmth and cheer. We’re in for the long haul guys - so here’s a few simple but effective ideas for getting your ‘cosy’ on this year.

The Heart of the Home 
Firelight will not let you read fine stories but it's warm and you won't see the dust on the floor.  ~Irish Proverb

Nothing says ‘warm-inside-when-it’s-cold-out’ more than a fireplace right? If you have this special luxury in your home you know it’s often the centre of your family – where everyone gathers in the evening, where you entertain guests, where you snuggle with the one you love... What better reasons are there to make it look super snazzy?

Add a decorative fire screen and fire set (practical as well as pretty!) and a big woven basket or vintage crate for storing firewood. If you have one, use the mantle for photos and vases, the kid’s latest masterpieces or even your collection of ceramic cat figurines. Mix it up whenever you get bored of it. How about hanging a beautiful piece of artwork or even a stunning mirror or oversize clock above the mantle? Or, if you’ve got the room, roll out a shaggy rug and a couple of beanbags in front for long evenings chatting and gazing into the flames.

Snug as a Bug
Home, the spot of earth supremely blest, a dearer, sweeter spot than all the rest.  ~Robert Montgomery
Don’t forget to bring out the flannel sheets and pj’s. Or if you’re feeling cashed up, splash out on a new set in a colour or pattern you’ve never had before... Oh and for the next few months slippers are going to be your best friend so best grab a pair of those too (may we suggest some Aussie made uggboots?)

Ps. If you’re an electric blanket user make sure you check it regularly for damage or wear.

Smell the Roses 
Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.  ~Chinese Proverb

Ok, so you’re all toasty in your new pj’s and you’ve settled down with a good book... or maybe you’ve got the neighbours over for dinner and you’re all relaxing in the lounge room with a cup of tea and some chocolate pudding - Is it not the perfect time to light a scented candle? Actually, you don’t even need a reason do you? Stock up on natural soy candles for the winter months and treat your nose to something spesh! Vanilla bean, lemongrass, raspberry, French pear, cedarwood, coconut...

It’s all about the ‘ambience’ darling...
Light is good from whatever lamp it shines.  ~Author Unknown
Can we be bold and say lamps are possibly the single best way to make a room cosy and inviting? Have you got one beside the bed? Have you got one in the kids room? Have you got one in the lounge room? Study? Entry? If you answered no to any of these here is what we suggest you do.... GET SOME NEW LAMPS! Now ‘new’ doesn’t necessarily mean expensive either. Op shops are deadset treasure troves for old lamps and if you stick with a reputable chain (Salvos or Vinnies etc) they are generally always checked and tested by a qualified electrician before being put out for sale. Easy peasy lemon squeezy!

Evenings with the TV
There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort.  ~Jane Austen
Add a few extra cushions to your couch and pull out a throw rug or two for snuggle time in front of the TV.  The added bonus to this is that you could turn your heating down a degree or two and not even notice – and if you listen carefully you will hear the ‘ka-ching, ka-ching’ from all that money you’re saving...

If you’re in the market for new cushions don’t  be afraid to go for bold patterns and rich colours for added warmth. If you’re a dab hand with a sewing machine you could even churn out a few new cushion covers in a couple of hours (search YouTube for hundreds of how-to vids.)

Oh, and while you’re on YouTube, search for tutorials on how to knit or crochet. A handy skill that not only keeps you entertained on cold winter evenings but will keep you and the family in constant supply of scarves, beanies, cushion covers, tea cosies, jumpers, cardies etc.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

What to get for Mum this Mothers Day

 "The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new."

Even the cluckiest woman alive doesn't truly know what it feels like to be a mother until that little miracle is placed in her arms, and her journey of giving begins! Years of wiping noses, tears and bottoms and dishing out cuddles, meals and pocket money is all in day's work for Mum, with little thought of herself.

So don't you think Mum deserves a little something in return? 
Even when she says 'Don't go to any fuss!' she's really thinking 'Wouldn't it be nice if they did?' So the main thing to remember is that it's Mum's extra special day, so do something for her that she will love (even if it sounds a bit tame for you!).

Here's some suggestions: 

Treat Mum to a family meal. In a recent study of Mother's Day spending, this was at the top of the list. It doesn't matter where you go or what you eat - just make sure Mum doesn't have to cook! Gather the whole clan and head for a beautiful park or café for a long, lazy brunch, lunch or dinner.

A lot of Mums like a bit of physical pampering. A trip to a day spa, massage, or beauty treatment, will often go down well. What about letting her have a sleep in and then bringing her breakfast in bed? An oldie but a goody.

Does Mum like a wrapped gift? How do you know what to get? Take note of her taste. What colours dominate her house? Does she have a hobby? Does she entertain guests? Is she an indoor person or a gardener? Does she like to wear a bit of bling?! These are good questions to ask yourself before gift shopping for Mum. 

Now what about those Mums who don't live nearby? A bunch of flowers ordered over the internet will surely bring a smile to her face. Small gifts like jewellery are easy to post. Or what about sending some updated photos of yourself and/or the kids? Maybe in a frame or an album?

Most popular Mother's Day gifts at Bliss
  • Unique handmade jewellery
  • Designer doormats
  • Dainty plants in ceramic pots (a living bouquet)
  • Pretty heat pillows
  • Iron wall decor
  • Unique kitchenware
  • Beautiful handbags
  • Gift vouchers
Gift vouchers can seem a bit impersonal, but if your Mum likes to browse and choose her own luxuries then it's as easy as choosing the right store for Mum to indulge herself in. Make it an outing for the both of you!

Treat your Mum this Mother's Day and make her day special.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Bliss & Ecoya - Back Together Again!

We're a little bit smitten with our latest squeeze Ecoya. We had a brief fling early last year but it didn't last... We were shattered to say the least so when the aforementioned delicious dish looked our way again recently we jumped at the chance to bask in that glorious puppy love once again. We're now looking forward to a long and harmonious union!

We have stocked up an all the beautiful fragrant candles Ecoya have on offer and we really want to share them with you.

Ecoya are an Australian company based in Botany Bay who make all natural soy candles and beauty products.  Here's a quick rundown on why soy candles differ from others. Most candles on the market today are made from paraffin wax which is a by product of petroleum refining and as such can often emit unpleasant vapours into your home.  Soy candles burn cleaner and are non-toxic. They also burn at a lower temperature than other waxes and any spills can be cleaned easily with hot soapy water. Because they burn slower than other candles they will last longer too. And finally soy, unlike paraffin, is a renewable resource.

So, now you've had your science lesson lets get to the good bit. The fragrances...

WILD FRANGIPANI - voluptuous with complex buttery intricacies and subtle nuances of rose. A fragrance that builds in layers throughout burn.
FRENCH PEAR - spicy cinnamon, star anise characteristics reminiscent of stewed apples with crumble. Hints of all spice, juniper berries, cranberries, nutmeg and tropical fruit.

LEMONGRASS & GINGER - clean and refreshing citrus, lemon thyme and lime. Well balanced - not heavy handed. Hints of African mint.

LOTUS FLOWER - elusive, pineapple, sweet cotton candy notes with a light floral aspect, almost lavender. Warm floral and comforting.

SWEET PEA & JASMINE - light, refreshing, watermelon and cucumber tones, refreshing notes of lavender.

VANILLA BEAN - butterscotch and vanilla tones, mouth watering and edible. Rich, luxurious, dense and full with hints of caramel and toffee.

Need we say anymore?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Plant of the Month – Cordylines

Cordylines add a permanent spark of colour to the garden, and mix beautifully with green foliage plants such as palms and cycads. Although they will survive in quite low light, they need a brightly-lit position for best foliage colour. They are surprisingly hardy and there are several frost-tolerant varieties that grow well in Canberra.

While Cordylines like regular watering for optimum growth, once established they will tolerate dry spells better than most plants. Another great aspect to these plants are all the different colours available. There's everything from black to pink to burgundy to green and yellow. One of our recent favourites at Bliss is the Electric Pink (pictured) - yes it looks just like it sounds!

Cordylines are super easy to propagate as well.  A great solution for when they start getting too tall. Just cut the stem about 5cm from the base. This stump will then produce new shoots and a brand new plant. The cutting you can then divide into 'logs' about 7cm long and plant in propagation mix or even regular potting mix and they will soon strike. Once established they can be moved to garden or pot. The top part of the plant with the leaves can just be pushed back into the soil. It should grow if you plant it in a sunny position, keep the water up to it and perhaps reduce the size and number of leaves.

Unfortunately, cordylines are not just attractive to us though. They're also quite appealing to grasshoppers and snails. If you find you're having problems of the slimy variety give these ideas a try. As far as snails go, it's easy - use traditional control methods like pellets, beer traps or just squishing... (eww!) But for grasshoppers, boil up a cup of hot chillies in a litre of water. When it's cooled, strain the liquid and add a third of a cup of soap flakes. Then spray the plant with this mix. Some like it hot, but grasshoppers don't.