I wanted to make a personalized guest book for our wedding. As I enjoy crafting and have lots of supplies on hand I decided to see what notebooks I could find that I could cover and embellish.
I found an artists sketch pad with unlined quality paper that would be perfect for our guests to sign.
I chose a very pretty gift bag that I’d saved from my birthday for the foundation. The heavy weight paper made it perfect for covering the front and back covers of the book.
I had some fabric roses on hand. To make them suitable for attaching to the front of the book. I took them off their plastic stems which let the layers of petals separate so I sewed them together with a needle and thread.
I did a white rose this way also. In their centres I glued some sparkle embellisments. I also added bought flower emberlishments. Which you can see in the in the picture below behine the butterfly
I had a gold butterfly in my stash and I backed it with the butterfly shaped, paper gift tab, but I had to trim the gold butterfly down to fit. I did this by separating the wings and cutting off some at the base where it joins the body, then I glued them onto the paper butterfly and then glued the body back into the center.
Using a scrap-booking reel of roll on glue, I attached the covers of the book. The front and back leaves first.
Then I glued the pink pearlised A4 paper over the spine, making sure to lap over the top of the front and back cover paper. To go one step more I threaded a pink organza ribbon through the spine and tied it in a bow.
I arranged the flowers and butterfly on the front cover but decided it needed more. I found some lace that I’d bought awhile ago and attached that to the top using the roll on glue. I added half a small gold doily so that it peaked out from the lace for added dimension.
To give added interest and make it look more like a garden scene I purchased some fabric carnation like flowers. I arranged all the flowers on top of the lace. To the center of the roses I added some bling and last of all I placed the butterfly on top.
Adding the ivory lace gives this very pretty pink book provides a touch of bridal elegance. The overall cost to me was less than $20 and I love it. I adore the fluffy flowers and the glamorous gold butterfly. The gift bag was so beautiful and now I'll be able to enjoy it every time I read the messages from the guests at our wedding.
Dora writes heart-melting, passionate romance.
While gardeners in the northern hemisphere are enjoying the first rose blooms of Spring and Summer, my Australian roses are putting on its last display before the chill of winter sets in.
Although it isn't a bloom, I'm adding this coleus because it's a splash of pink which brighten up this spot. The white geranium has almost finished flowering.
Although a lot of shrubs and perennials are shutting up shop for the winter, the camellia's are just beginning to start their stunning displays. I can't be without them to add winter cheer. This pretty pink sasanqua variety is the first to start flowering in my garden.
No matter how cold it gets, while I can see the bobbing heads of pretty pink flowers from my kitchen window, I'll always feel the pull to rug up and get out into the garden so I can enjoy these lovely flowers close up.
Dora Bramden writes heart-melting, passionate romance.
Luck was with us on the day we'd planned to have lunch at the Bankvale Run Restaurant at Marnong Estate. A rare warm day in late Autumn made the day perfect, from the drive through Melbourne's northern rural outskirts to enjoying 180 views of the country side.
Alpacas roamed in the field as we perused the menu and sipped a glass of sparkling wine. From the many GF options I chose Calamari S&P crust, chorizo, soft herb, hydroponic tomatoes for entree and Butterflied whole spatchcock Tuscan rub, olive oil, lemon, oregano for my main. Each dish was flavor packed and was complimented by the shared sides of GF chips and roasted carrots.
Good company, food and wine combined with 180 degree views from the dining room made this a very special day.
The walk around the grounds after lunch was a final delight.
A surprise on the way back to the car park. A giant chess board adding whimsy to the formal grounds made me want to stay and play a game but it was time to go.
Even the walk to the car park is a treat for visitors. The charming views around the estate just keep going.
I hope you enjoyed this tour of Marnong Estate with me. Something about being in the beauty of the outdoors is so refreshing that it feels more like I've been on a holiday than just having lunch out.
Next blog is about my garden in late Autumn, talk to you soon.
Dora Bramden writes heart-melting, passionate romance.
It's a lovely day to celebrate all the wonderful women who raised us. Yes, they are a part of us now. All the love that they gave us resides within and will never fade. Every school lunch they made and every night they sat up with us when we were sick was love in action.
It only takes a moment to think of your Mum on Mothers' day. If she's like mine, it creates a warm glow that lights up your heart and spreads to your cheeks.
Two years since my mum passed and I'm doing okay. I miss her like anything. A hug and a cup of tea with some of her home baked cake would be truly heaven. However the light she shone in my world continues to glow in my memory and I'm blessed with many wonderful times to remember.
If you still have your mum here to visit on Mothers Day take a moment to be really grateful for the time you're sharing. Give her an extra hug from me.
I know that lots of readers have children of their own, as I do. It's your day today also and I hope you've planned some downtime to enjoy being spoiled by the next gen. I'll be putting my feet up after dinner and let my visiting children clean up.
If you're stuck for some last minute gift ideas here's a few of my favorites and they were my mum's too. It's lovely to receive presents and I think the inexpensive ones are best. A picture of my kids in a frame is always a winner with me. A home decorating or gardening magazine that I can flick through with a mug of tea is a treat. Speaking of tea, special Twinnings tea bags are also an easy pick up from the supermarket. You should also be able to snag a card there too.
My children sometimes make a card which is soooo special and they write a little bit of how special I am to them. This is the absolute best part of Mother's Day. So take a moment to really think about what you're grateful to your mum for.
I hope you all have a really lovely day on Mother's Day and enjoy the special moments and celebrate the amazing work mothers have done and continue to do, loving, guiding and raising the next generation.
Dora writes heart-melting, passionate romance
Creative people will experience it at some time or another. A deep gut reaction preventing them from starting a project, completing it or worse, making them perform poorly. The later becomes a self fulfilling prophesy that they aren't talented enough.
This deep gut feeling brings a sense of impending doom. A warning to not proceed because danger lies there. Anxiety driven decisions follow which feel deceptively right. 'Do it tomorrow', anxiety says or 'Have something to eat'. If strong enough to ignore this horribly uncomfortable feeling, the constant thoughts of 'Is this good enough,'accompanied with feelings close to panic, while doing the task, can undermine the ability to finish. Because anxiety driven thoughts are dominating the creative part of the brain, it lowers the quality of what can be produced.
Unfortunately this anxiety can become worse the more proficient people become at their craft. More knowledge means anxiety can judge more harshly. Work that is a baby waiting to grow up can be tossed aside as useless because it hasn't arrived fully formed. Judging has to happen after the work is produced so that it can be refined and developed further. But performance anxiety, armed with knowledge, disparages the seedling for not being a fully bloomed rose.
I have asked myself the question, if I did this before, surely I can do it again. But asking questions is dangerous because anxiety will answer. It will say, that past success was luck, you can't do it again. This time is different and you won't be able to do it again. Blahhh. That's enough of that.
I've tuned to inspiring writing quotes, and I've seen a lot in my ten years of writing. They have their place but when it comes to performance anxiety there really aren't any that help me. But the words of prolific romance author, Maisy Yates, stayed with me. I heard her speak about her writing life at a Romance Writers of Australia conference. She said that she protects her joy of writing because her writing supports her family. That is the clue that led me to finding a practical way to get the words flowing. Remember the joy.
What I did, is remember how good it felt to be sitting and typing at my desk. How amazing it is to me that something that never existed before is now here. I don't communicate with my performance anxiety, I shift my focus away from worry to what I enjoy doing. A simple remembrance of a time I was enjoying my writing seems to beat that performance anxiety energy. Joy is powerful, it has energy changing properties. It builds a desire to turn on my computer and sit in the chair and start typing.
It's the process of being at my computer and typing that I like. I enjoy being a writer and eventually there will be a story. The baby will be refined and edited and even grow up into something surprising. I don't think about if it will sell, if I will like it. I stay in the present and enjoy writing. Eventually the characters start to take form in my mind and they starts to say and do things like I'm watching a movie. I'm typing as fast as I can so that I catch it and bring it into the physical world where it can be shared with others.
This brings me to the other element that helps keep me coming back to my computer. That writing my stories instead of letting them just play out in my head means I'm sharing them with others. It's an act of generosity to tell stories and that energy is loving. It matters that I am willing to share and have made a contribution. It's my contribution for others to enjoy or not, that doesn't matter really, only that I was willing to let something of my creation go out into the world.
Being an author means I will not be liked by everyone. I can't know exactly how much pleasure my work might bring to other people or for how long, but that's not my concern. Writing the stories is my business, and I enjoy doing it.
My next project is to start the second draft of a story about a girl born into a musical family. When her mother dies she is sent to live with her grandmother in another state. Now grown up she's come home after inheriting her father's nightclub.
However, she discovers the guitarist from her father's band has already made a home there and expects her to sell it to him. She finds out that he's become the adopted son her father always wanted.
This romance explores how our sense of home informs our identity. It isn't just a place on a map but a place that holds the secrets of who we think we are.
I'm going to enjoy developing this story and bringing it into the day light. It's the joy of creating that is going to bring me to my keyboard, open the file and pick up where I left off each day.
Dora Bramden writes heart melting, passionate romance.
My most treasured things are second hand. Even though new things are very nice, there's nothing like the character only a second hand find delivers.
This second hand cane lounge suite is my favorite possie to drink my morning coffee. I looked everywhere to find an affordable romantic looking outdoor setting for this space, without any luck. This second hand suite was given to me after my sister sold her beach house. Her husband originally found it in an op-shop. I find that to get the character I want, second hand is most often where I find it.
When searching for a shabby-chic mirror, I went online to the usual home ware sites, like Ikea. I had no luck at all, but in the second hand Facebook market place, I found the one I adore.
The roses and ribbon that crown this curvy mirror say romantic, shabby-chic to me. Although I love the gold, I need a light and bright color scheme in this room. There are veranda's outside both windows which can make it quite dark. I have plans to paint it white using a little pot Annie Sloan chalk paint. The dark brown lounge is too dominant for the space. I'd really like a new one but I can't afford that. I'll make do with what I have and recover it in a cream or beige fabric.
You can see the chandelier refection in the mirror. This will also get painted white.
I've been visiting op-shops (thrift stores) in search of cardigans for winter. I did find some, but I also found some shabby chic picture frames and some very pretty tall glasses. The picture frames will be painted white and I'm going to get out my paints and create a still life of pink roses from my garden to go in them.
When walking in my garden I love noticing my second hand plants that add character. Plants I've taken from diving clumps of iris in Mum's garden and lambs ears from my sister's garden have taken off very well.
Cuttings of hydrangea, a neighbors gave me, have all grown well this year. A little burnt in our very hot summer, but they are budding up beautifully for next spring.
Dad gave me his grandfather's crown of rhubarb. It makes a lovely show of foliage in the border and I think of Dad every time I see it. Recently, I harvested some for a Rhubarb sponge desert to have for Easter lunch.
I harvested about a dozen stems and washed them well before cutting them into one inch peices. I placed them into a saucepan, covered them with water and added half a cup of sugar. I let this come to the boil and simmer until the Rhubarb was soft. I overcooked it a bit but it still worked out great. I added a little cornflour dissolved in water to thicken the syrup before turning off the gas. I spread it into a greased lasagna dish and then set it aside to cool a bit while I whipped up a packet mix of GF sponge cake.
I tipped a ribbon of cake mix over the top of the Rhubarb, moving the bowl up and down until the top was almost all covered. I lightly filled in the gaps with a spoon.
I baked it for about 40mins on 175C until the top was golden and the sponge bounced back when pressed in the middle. I can't believe how nice it tasted. As I'm writing this I'm sorry to discover that I don't have an after picture to post. It was Easter Sunday and I'd had a few glasses of wine so I'll hope you forgive me.
Imagine the sponge puffed and golden with the sweet and tart stewed rhubarb base steaming hot. I served it with whipped cream and it was very popular.
Because I feel bad, I'm posting this pic of some Easter eggs instead. By the way, they are sitting on a marble table that I bought second hand.
Creating a romantic home and garden doesn't have to be prohibitively expensive. Not only do I get to have fun seeing how far I can make my money stretch, decorating and creating a garden in my romantic style, but I also find the character filled pieces that bring my home and garden to life.
It's not something you can achieve quickly. A romantic home and garden is curated over time, but it's absolutely worth it and you always have a reason to drift through your local thrift store and see what treasures you might find for a song.
I hope you all had a lovely Easter and I wish you happy thrifting for items that will add character to your romantic home.
Dora Bramden writes heart-melting, passionate romance.
In the last few weeks, I’ve been to hospital twice. But in between, I've still been planning our wedding.
A chronic health condition, that I’ve had since childhood, decided to make its presence felt. I needed a couple of days in hospital waiting for that to pass. Fortunately, I recovered in time to attend a food tasting at our wedding reception venue but then had to go back for a day procedure. All is under control now, as long as I make sure to get adequate rest periods, all will be well.
Fortunately, feet up with a laptop counts as rest and as my head is clear of strong pain killers and anesthetic residue, I can get back to normal. I managed to put together a post for my regular spot on Romancing the Genres, about an adventure I had on my way to Jane Austen’s house. Follow the link to read that. It was the inciting incident that sparked my book the Scottish Billionaire’s Secret Lover. It was my first time overseas and I was on my own. I got hopelessly lost and had to rely on ‘the kindness of strangers’.
As I’m writing this blog, it occurs to me that the heroine of that book, Natalie, is an event planner. Like her, I’m in full-on event planning mode, organizing Sam’s and my wedding. As it’s in July I need to get cracking. So have laptop, will wedding plan. The other day, Sam sat beside me on the couch and we researched at least ten different photographer websites. We settled on Peter Layton and made an appointment to see him.
We sat on a comfy couch and watched samples of his photography on a big screen TV. He takes very romantic shots and is familiar with our wedding venue. We chose a package that suits us which includes a printed wedding album. He also helped with working out the timeline for the day because he needs to plan to be at the best man's house first and then go to my sister’s where I’ll be getting ready and then arrival at the chapel for the ceremony and reception after.
The night out at the tasting exceeded my expectations. Ballara Receptions is a beautiful venue with stunning gardens. The walk from the car park goes through them, past the central lake and mini waterfall. We were able to walk through the chapel again which sent shivers of excitement through me. We mingled with other couples and enjoyed a glass of sparkling wine and were served can-epees in the foyer. We went into the main reception room for a sit down dinner and had the experience our guests will have. Sam and I enjoyed the food samples very much, and tasting the wines. It helped us make our menu choices easy.
They had sample table settings and also a variety of place cards and bomboniere. I really liked the idea of chocolates as a thank you to our guests for coming. I wanted something I could put together myself. I also took a photo of the table setting that I liked, the crystal ball bling is so beautiful. I love sparkles and flowers.
My girlfriend is going to do the table flowers as our wedding present so she can use this photo to see what will work well.
Sam was very keen to have a singer at our ceremony so after some research, we engaged the services of a wedding singer called Sharon Crossman. She sings while the guests are arriving and then during the service. We chose a DJ who is also an MC for the reception. Grant from Le Grand Style Weddings is on the Ballara preferred supplier list and so offered a discount as well. The internet was terrific for choosing these musical people. Sharon’s website has samples of her singing some lovely songs and she has a suggested list of songs for different types of weddings. If you look for her on YouTube there’s a lot more clips of her singing.
The bridesmaids are wearing navy dresses which have been purchased. Sam and the groomsmen are going soon to order their suits. The Next job is to order invitations and mail them out. I’m still looking for a package I like that includes place cards and thank you tags for the bomboniere. I also still need to find a makeup artist and hairstylist for the morning of. I have yet to decide if I’m going to make my own bouquets or get a florist to do them.
For the reception I need to get photos of my mum and Sam’s parents ready for the memory table and a guest book. I need to make a seating plan and have it printed out on A2 paper. Ballara has a lovely white frame to put it in but I’ll have fun with fonts and graphics . I’m going to fill organza bags with a few chocolates for the guest gifts and attach a thank you tag but I haven’t sourced these yet. So it’s on the list.
The color palate for the day is navy and pale pink which I absolutely love. I’m enjoying this journey to our wedding day. I believe all of our care and attention to the details will make the day a rich experience that will stay with us throughout our marriage.
Dora Bramden writes heart-melting, passionate, romance.
Since I blogged last week, I’ve had a Birthday and was lucky enough to be given a lovely bunch of pink roses. They are a delight and have been giving me a lot of pleasure, which I’ve needed because I’ve also been struggling with the run up to the anniversary of Mum passing away on March 20th 2017. I’ve been in need of all the uplifting flowers can do this week. Those roses have been in my dining room reminding me of the dear friend who gave them to me and her a warm, loving hug that accompanied the gift of the flowers. She knows that birthdays are a little bit hard for me now.
The garden has been barren of blooms for a while, but has finally put on a little early autumn show which entices me out to smell and admire the rose bushes each morning. It helps to lift the veil of sadness I’m waking up with every day. I picked some roses and made a posy which, you might have seen if you follow me on Facebook and Instagram . Each time I walked past that posy I smiled.
Roses have always been my favorite flower. There’s something so romantic about this drama queen of flowers. Scented roses are the most heavenly smell on earth. I have to shut my eyes as I inhale their sweetness. They’re so spectacular and attention grabbing that they bring me into the present and provide relief from somber thoughts.
The grief I feel over losing Mum is less than it was at first but this anniversary is accompanied by a physical pain in my heart. Two years since I heard her voice. Two years since she put her arms around me and I held her in mine. Two years of Mondays without our regular morning phone call to chat about our weekend.
I feel her with me in other ways and that is very comforting, but I miss her physical presence Only after she was gone did I become sensible to how big a place she filled in my life. The emptiness is huge. So a thoughtful bouquet of flowers from a friend is felt deeply.
The gift of a flower arrangement was a special treat that Mum always enjoyed. So I’m glad my sister rang this morning and asked if I’d like to go for a coffee and buy Mum some flowers for her grave. We chose a stunning basket of flowers. It’s consoling to be able to still buy flowers for Mum.
I’d planned on taking a posy of roses from my garden, and I still will, as I think she’d like that also. She loved gardening so much that not only did she keep a gorgeous formal English style garden looking beautiful she also used to weed my garden and my sister’s as well. She was always ready with gardening advice and no visit was complete without a tour of the garden.
Before, I said that I feel her in other ways, it’s usually when I’m meditating or when I’m in the garden, I can feel her essence nearby. As if she’s there next to me but I’m not looking at her. So I have many reasons to believe in the healing power of flowers. They help to uplift me through inspiring appreciation for the present moment and create connections, between friends and sisters and to my dearly remembered mother.
Dora Bramden writes Heart-Melting, Passionate, Romance
When I need some calm and beauty I head to a garden center, preferably one with a cafe. 'Lillies on Brougham' has long been a special place for me to visit. It's french provincial garden, cafe and shop are a delight for my senses so it's here I headed when I wanted to take the afternoon off.
I love this muted pink linen dress.
Balance is what they do so well. That is what makes it so calming and serene for visitors. The shop contains, soft textured clothes, dolls and cushions which contrast with and shiny pottery, glass and jewelry. Even a meal in their cafe is gorgeous to look at. Of course it tastes amazing as well. A perfect balance of sweet, savory and acidic flavors married with herbs and a mix of creamy and crisp textures to entertain the palette.
The seating area is a long space with views through to the established gardens that beckon diners to wander the pathways after breakfast or lunch.
After browsing the shop and eating a delicious lunch it's time to walk the grounds and take in the carefully considered, elegant garden.
An ornate urn draws you down the path toward a stand of pencil pine and globe shaped shrubs. Here the path turns and leads the wanderer to the area where plants are for sale, so you can purchase a little bit of French flair for your own garden.
Even this area is laid out in a way that shows style and balance has been carefully considered. A decorative pond provides a stopping point before rambling among the permanent plantings interspersed with bays of pots of trees and shrubs for sale.
There are a few concrete garden ornaments in the classic style which can be purchased to give your garden a distinctive French Provincial character.
A mud brick cottage creates an overflow space for diners and a focal point. It creates planting opportunities and is positioned so that the garden can't be viewed all at once. The meandering path encircles it.
The time passed quickly and eventually I needed to get back home to normal living but the serenity and elegance of Lilies on Brougham is inside me and is coming home with me.
A last view of the main building before I leave. I just love the simplicity and elegance of those box plants in white urns.
Wendy Fraser-Boyle and Melissa Walder run Lillies on Brougham, they stock the shop with their Lily and Lulu collection procured from France. They also run exclusive ladies tours to France. Oh my goodness, how I would love to do one of those. Maybe one day.
You can find Lilies on Brougham at 62 Brougham street Eltham in Victoria, Australia. Their contact details are T: 0394316622 or E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dora Bramden writes Heart melting, passionate romance
Do you ever get overwhelmed by the hugeness of the mess? I do. I get paralyzed. I walked into this room and straight back out again repeatedly for three days. I finally just had to get it done in the morning of the day my Dad was coming to stay.
I'd been doing a lot of crafting and getting out bags of projects and not putting anything away. Then other things started to be dumped here, notes, travel brochures, even the box I keep the Christmas cards in found it's way onto the bed. Ahhh.
I decided to begin by putting away the sewing projects. The bags were removed and stored in another cupboard in the kitchen. I took the half filled hobby box at the end of the bed and stored all the fabric pieces in that. Then I gathered up all the paper pattern pieces and put them in a shopping bag. Odd bits of embellishments were stored in the sewing box. I rejigged the shelves in the wardrobe and put the sewing machine and the hobby box away.
Also at the end of the bed, I had an overnight bag with slippers and a nighty, still not put away after a weekend at the beach. I took care of that too. Now the end of the bed was clear. One space cleared, felt amazing. I was energized to push on. A plastic bag was filled with old notes and other papers I no longer needed along with scraps of fabric that were unusable. The important papers were filed and the CD's were put away in their proper storage box.
Nearly there. About now I want to dump what's left in a bag and sort it out later, but I didn't let myself do that this time. I kept going and put everything back in it's proper place. That was the hardest bit. Finishing isn't my strongest skill.
I love that the bed is clear so that side of the room is finished. I'm getting a proud-feeling payoff at this point. I also have made progress on clearing the corner where my notice board stands against the wall. I can get the two wardrobe doors open at this point. The storage boxes are stacked neatly.
However, you can see a corner of the desk which is still messy. This is supposed to be where I write but it became a dumping ground too. Very uninspiring. This last area was tidied up with everything being put in it's proper place and any rubbish thrown away.
Here it is looking all tidy and cute. I'm writing this blog late because I couldn't face this room. It's been such a huge effort that I couldn't resist making it the subject of this week's blog. The clean up was a massive challenge but I love that I got there.
My inspiration/notice board needs a makeover, stay tuned for that, but at least I've pinned up the current year's calendar. It still had 2018 before the clean up. This years calendar was some of the flotsam that had washed up on my desk.
Now this space is lovely again, I plan to try very hard to keep it tidy. I think I need to invest in some shelving for the wardrobe so that when I access things from the lower boxes, I don't put off putting things away due to the difficulty of getting to it and packing away after.
I found that focusing on clearing one area at a time very helpful. I also searched for categories of things and put those away all at once. I was ruthless in chucking out stuff that I really didn't need. I had to do some reality checks like, 'You've had this for fifteen years, do you really thing your going to use it? If the answer was no, out it went.
I can breath in this room now. I think I avoided making a start because the sight of it drained me. But knowing my father couldn't sleep in this mess made me panic a bit. The adrenaline hit energized me. Once I got going it wasn't too bad but near the end exhaustion was winning and I had to really push myself to finish.
Now that I have enjoyed my Dad's visit, and by the way he said he slept very well in here, I'm enjoying writing my weekly blog and I hope you've enjoyed this little journey of mine. If you have a space that you'd like clean and can't get yourself to do it, invite someone over to stay the night. Works like a charm. :)
Heart Melting, Passionate Romance.
Romance author and lifestyle blogger
My whole life is inspired by romance. I write romance novels of course but also love creating DIY's and decorating in a romantic style. I'm rejuvenating an old garden, recusing roses and planting new ones.