Making a Succulent Wreath

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This succulent wreath is becoming a bit of a tradition of mine. Though I love the old-fashioned twig wreaths too (some of my earliest Christmas memories are of traipsing around behind my mum as we collected suitably spindly vines and twigs and worked them into a circular shape), here in Australia, a wreath like this will last a good month*. And the best thing is, it’s a pretty inexpensive way to give a really gorgeous and unique festive accent.

First of all, you need to source the wreath base. I get mine from a local florist and they’re between $14 and $20, depending on size. A word to the wise – they get HEAVY so while you might like the idea of doing an enormous one, bear in mind the hanging support you have for it first.

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Lay the wreath, foam side down, in a tub of water until it’s nicely saturated. Fasten a ribbon around the top and make sure it’s really well tied. Hang it up somewhere to decorate. (NB this matters! Last year I did mine lying down and when I lifted it up, the balance was wrong and a heap of pieces fell out.)

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Gather your greens and dig them in. I’ve used succulents here but last year I was in the UK and my nephews, children and I recreated this with holly, ivy, and other locally scavenged pieces. There is limited space in the foam so you don’t want to crowd the stems. Also, the foam does damage so you don’t get to keep re-doing this stage. I cut the stalks on an angle to give them a little sharpness as I push them in.

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Getting there! Fill it out with big offerings then …

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Add some frizzy, frivolous smaller pieces to make it look a little wilder (this is just a personal thing, of course!).img_7786

Don’t forget the sides, which will be visible. But at the same time, leave a few hints of foam visible – I’ll get to that in a second.

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The finished product – a very Merry Christmas wreath. Below – you can see that I added fairy lights. I love them.

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This is last year’s wreath … it was completely different but equally lovely, and so fun to assemble with some of my favourite small people in the world. ❤️

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*Wreaths will still need a bit of TLC. I spritz mine every couple of days, or daily if in a heatwave (see below!). Aim for the flowers but also for the foam, as it will absorb and nourish. These wreaths can be laid on the table top on Christmas day, used as a centrepiece for a candle, or kept up on the wall as a nice background to your festivities. After Christmas, you can pull the succulents out and pot them up – they should have a few fine roots and be ready to go.

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Eye Spy … Nothing. I spy nada.

Last week I posted about diabetes and here I am back again with yet another medical trauma tale… I’ve been sidelined this week by the weirdest thing.

I got bleach in my eye. Yes. Bleach. And rather a lot of it. I was rushing around Tuesday morning, getting children ready for school, house tidied, lunches made, dishwasher stacked (I’m sure you know the drill). I dropped the bottle of open bleach, while getting ready to soak a shirt, and caught it reflexively, which was probably the worst thing to do, as it shunted a whole jet-stream of the stuff straight up into my left eye (actually, both eyes, but I didn’t realise that until later).

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My bin … a whole lotta saline pouches and empty coffee cups. I was there.

It was >> a g o n i s i n g<< in case you’re wondering. Like my eyeball was being simultaneously burned and pounded. And once you’ve got bleach in your eye, there’s not really an easy way to resolve it. I had to go, in an ambulance, to the emergency department. I spent six hours having my eyes flushed with a saline drip (OUCH – seriously, I think I was half-way to water-boarded). 16 Litres of salty water later and I was done. The damage isn’t permanent, and that is extremely lucky!

 

But you know what else is lucky?? That I live somewhere that makes it easy to access emergency medical treatment when you need it. If you’re not from Australia, we have a two-tier system. Public and Private. Though we have private health insurance to cover my diabetes, the paramedic said there’d be

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Arrrhhhhhhhh. 

better specialist treatment for something as obscure as bleached eyes at the local public hospital. And it was PHENOMENAL. The entire day’s jaunt cost me $0. Nothing. That includes a tube of antibiotic ointment, and two follow ups in the eye clinic. I was in hospital for a full day, using a specialist emergency optical room, and basically had a nurse with me the whole time, flushing my eye.

 

Anyway. My access to the computer is going to be a little limited for the next week as I slowly let my eye get back to normal. There are two silver linings to this disaster. 1/ My husband is sticking close to home given that I can’t tell the difference between our children at the moment. 2/ My six year old son’s friends think my blood-shot, weeping, bruised eye is ‘AWESOME’.

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Diabetes.

It all started with sticky eyes.

We’d been living in Australia for a couple of months, having spent time travelling home through Europe, and then driving cross-country through Australia to get to Adelaide, where we intended to live for around a year.

My then fiance and I had become ill – but I guess that’s not uncommon when you travel through loads of airports and train stations. We came home, got jobs and began to settle in. I was working in the Barossa. Despite the two hours drive each way, I relished what I was doing and the incredibly inspiring atmosphere I was in.

But those sticky eyes! On warm evenings, crossing the Adelaide plains, coming into heavy traffic outside the city, I would literally splash water into the palm of my hands and douse my eyes in an attempt to unstick them.

My fiance and I had been living together for nine years and we knew we wanted to start trying for a family as soon as we were married. A routine GP appointment revealed something completely untoward, however.

A healthy person generally has a blood glucose reading of between four and eight. Mine, on that Friday afternoon, sitting in a doctor’s office, was twenty eight. The GP told me that if I didn’t go to hospital immediately I would likely end up in a coma. Strange, strange indeed, to be sitting  opposite someone saying something like that when you feel utterly, absolutely fine.

I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes around three o’clock the next morning.

That’s the insulin-dependant one.

It completely turned my life on its head. I lived for food and wine, friends and socialising. I was hedonistic to the extreme: eating whatever I wanted, enjoying it, savouring it, rarely regretting it. All of a sudden I had to account for everything I ate! I had to plan meals, prepare for hypos, carry bags of insulin and other diabetic peripherals at all times.

Worse, I was told that it would be  very difficult to conceive a baby (it wasn’t) and that pregnancy would be high-risk (it was). I was told nursing would be hard (it wasn’t) and that my sugars would go haywire during pregnancy (understatement). I have had two high risk pregnancies, two healthy babies, carpal tunnel surgery; I’m now on an insulin pump – which, while a significant improvement with sugar control, is like being trussed up 24-7.

Seven years into this journey and I have days of marvelling at the wonders of modern medicine and days of absolutely hating that I have to live with this. Days where I wish I could simply be without always entering an equation for life into an external device. But being proactive and positive is key, in my opinion, with any chronic condition. I’ve assembled like The Avengers of Health. An awesome super team of people who generally keep me on the straight and narrow . Regular visits to my diabetes nurse, an endocrinologist, a pathologist, a GP, a podiatrist and optician are all essential and I guess I’ve learned to like catching up with the people I now think of as friends …

Oh, in case you’re wondering, the sticky eyes are because when you’re an untreated diabetic, your blood is so full of sugar it can’t process that the tiny vessels inside your eye lid literally become sticky! How weird is that!?!?

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