Julia Schafer


Basil – Twelve Health Benefits Associated with Basil

I have a great pile of basil growing in my garden at present, in fact, most of the time because let’s face it basil is prolific!  I love that it self seeds and always gives me a bountiful crop.  When the wind is blowing in the right direction we can smell the basil at our dining room table as well as the rosemary, a clever placement of plants which was definitely serendipitous not planned.

Basil pesto is one of those favourite gifts I make when I have an abundance in the garden.  Great on pasta and as a spread on a gourmet sandwich stuffed with roasted vegetables, it’s a much loved condiment in our house that’s for sure.  But it wasn’t until recently that I learnt about the health benefits associated with eating basil, so I thought I would share these with you on this short video, taken in my garden, right next to (you guessed it) my crop circle full of basil.  Take a look!

For those of you who would rather read than watch, here are the top 12 Health Benefits of Basil:

  1. Contains disease fighting antioxidants which fight free radicals and fights oxidation that slows down the effects of ageing, and you gotta love that!
  2. Acts as an anti-inflammatory
  3. Fights cancer because it contains phytochemicals that can cause the death of harmful cells
  4. Contains antibacterial properties
  5. Contains antimicrobial properties that fight viruses and infections
  6. Combats stress
  7. Fights depression by stimulating the nanotransmitters that regulate the hormones responsible for happiness
  8. Promotes cardiovascular health
  9. Supports liver function and helps detoxify the body
  10. Helps alkalise the body and improve bigestion
  11. Can act as a natural aphrodisiac, apparently the aroma is believed to increase libido!
  12. Helps protect from diabetes.  Helps lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels

Well, if they aren’t enough reasons to make you get out and plant some basil, then did I mention pesto, who doesn’t love pesto!

In the mean time check out some more of my other Gardening Videos on Youtube.

Until next time,





Make Your Own DIY Cutlery Wraps

Cutlery Wraps
Pop this DIY cutlery wrap in your handbag to help you avoid using single use disposable cutlery when you eat take out.

This weekend I got my “craft on” and decided to make a couple of these pretty cutlery wraps; one for me and one for the present box.

They are so easy to make and all you need to be able to do is cut and sew straight lines on the sewing machine.

Armed with some bright coloured cotton fabrics, a ruler and pencil, some cotton tape for the tie and a sewing machine and away you go!

To make it easy for you and because I am a visual learner, I created a short video tutorial, but for those of you who prefer to read a step by step, here are the instructions:


  • Cut two rectangles of coordinating fabric 50 x 25cm and place them right sides together.
  • Cut 50cm of tape and fold it in half.  Measure up 25cm on the long side of the rectangle and pin the tape so that the bulk of it is inside the rectangle parcel but the fold peaks out just enough be caught when sewing the side seams.
  • Pin around the edges and then sew a 1cm seam around the two long sides and one of the short sides.
  • Trim corners and turn the whole thing right side out pushing out the corners with the end of your scissors so that they are pointed.
  • Iron it flat and tuck in 1cm on the open end in order for you to sew it closed.
  • Sew a half centimetre around all four sides of the rectangle.  Fold up one short side 11cm and pin.  Sew the 11cm along both sides of the same edge at the half centimetre mark to create one large pocket.
  • Mark 4 x 3cm pockets from the left side (the fifth large pocket will hold your napkin). Sew along the lines to create your pockets for cutlery etc.
  • Depending on your cotton tape you may need to fold up and sew a half centimetre hem to stop the ends from fraying.
  • Place your cutlery, drinking straw, and napkin in the pockets, roll up and go!

If you make one for yourself please give me a shout out, and be proud that you are helping to alleviate some of the load single use disposable plastics have on our environment.




How to Get the Garden of Your Dreams

This week I was so happy to have one of my tips about urban gardening  featured in a great article by Ally Feiam for on How To Get the Garden of Your Dreams.

I mentioned how encouraging pollinators to your garden is vitally important and yet so easy to do with the addition of a solitary bee home, which you can make yourself from bits of left over wood you might have lying around.

The article features other tips and tricks to have a garden that you can enjoy for years to come.

Have a look at the full article here!

As you know I have a fabulous Bee B&B in my veggie garden, which I blogged about earlier with instructions as to how to build one for yourself.

If you have a go let me know!




Whip It Good! Body butter that is…

Bathrooms are a scary place, they seem to accumulate plastic packed lotions and potions, cellophane wrapped cosmetics and tubes and tubs of tinctures and treatments.  As you have probably heard me say before… “before I knew better” as a family we collected all those little single use guest giveaways, body products, plastic combs, toothbrushes and shower caps, mending kits, shoe wipes and even sanitary bags.  Ashamed I am.  So now I am on the band wagon of mitigating our waste I have accumulated recipes instead of freebies, replacing chemical laden creams with coconut, sweet almond, and essential oil bottles, boxes of bicarb, bamboo toothbrushes and home made cotton makeup remover pads.

You are probably wondering what the benefits are of creating your own DIY Cosmetics?  Apart from the cost saving, these homemade solutions contain no harmful chemicals and can be fragranced to suit the individual, I even dare to say that MY DIY natural deodorant is the BEST one I have ever come across.

Always on the look out for a new product to make that replaces it’s plastic packaged alternative, I stumbled across this recipe for Whipped Body Butter and thought I would give it a go.  If you are having trouble finding shae butter or cocoa butter check out your local health food store or go to Australian Wholesales Oils website.


Only four ingredients go into making this rich body butter you can make right in your own kitchen.
Body butter ingredients

Ingredients – in equal quantities (I used half a cup)

  • Shae Butter
  • Cocoa Butter
  • Sweet Almond Oil
  • Coconut Oil

Melt over a double boiler.

Place in the refrigerator to harden for about 1 hour.

Beat with electric mixer, scraping down the sides as you go, until it resembles whipped cream.

Add five to 10 drops of your favourite essential oil and mix well.

Scoop into bottles and store.

Take a look at the video for instructions and explanation as to the benefits of the essential ingredients. Let me know what you think!

No Sew Tote – Up-cycle a well loved tee shirt.

I’ve got this cute little project for you.  You know how there are some tee shirts that you just can’t let go of?  Perhaps a favourite saying, a memorable concert tour, or a souvenir from a place you will never forget.  This is a cool way that you can keep the tee shirt but repurpose it to be useful rather than collecting dust bunnies in a drawer.

Follow my quick little video to make your own No Sew Tote.

Have fun!



Biodegradable Bandages


There is nothing better than finding something ordinary that you wouldn’t have even thought of as BAD for the environment but someone somewhere has come up with a solution to make that product more sustainable.

Enter the Everyday Good Co with their Biodegradable Bandages.  Yes, most bandaids are made of plastic, the sort of plastic that could be part of the 13,000 pieces of plastic litter floating on every square kilometre of the oceans surface, the sort of plastic that sits in the gut of approximately 98% of all sea birds, the sort of plastic that you have to fish out of the skimmer box after your friends kids have been enjoying your pool this Summer.  However THESE bandages are made from 15% recycled materials and break down in 2 years, decomposing in 4. The packaging is made from 100% recycled material also!

Clear, Emoji and Nude Biodegradable Bandages.  I think I’m going to regret this…

Even better still is that the Everyday Good Co devotes 50% of it’s profits on the sale of these bandages to The Hunger Project whose mission is “To end hunger and poverty by pioneering sustainable, grassroots, women-centered strategies and advocating for their widespread adoption in countries throughout the world.”

Sensitive skinned people can rejoice in these sensitive skin adhesive bandages. The glue is made just for you, and the whole range of biodegradable bandages are latex free to minimise allergens even further.

So when the neighbour’s kids stack their bikes at my front gate and come in  with their skinned knees looking for a bandaid I’m going to send them home plastered with Emoji Biodegradable Bandages from now on.

Get on their website and stock up your bathroom cabinet with this sustainable alternative.


Zero Waster’s Traveller Companion 2nd Ed.

Travelling overseas as a Zero Waster can be a daunting experience if you want to stay true to your values and not take home unnecessary rubbish.  So I was excited and humbled to be asked by Inge Echterholter from the Zero Waste Bloggers Network to be a co-author for the second edition of the Zero Waster’s Traveller Companion.

Today was photo day and we made a family day of it travelling from Nerang to Southport and back, stopping at some regular haunts to take some images to upload to the ebook.

My thanks to all who participated and just know that all that you are doing, even the small things,  is making  a real difference to help individuals leave a lighter footprint on the Planet.

For more info and to download the ebook (first edition, second edition coming soon!), stayed tuned to this page or visit




Nicole from Brumby’s Bakery at Pacific Pines happily fills my home made bread bag with family staples.
Bliss Health and Bulk Foods has a huge selection of produce from bulk bins which you can pack into your own bags or they will weight the containers you are using and you can pack straight into those.
Lifeline at Southport has won Best Op Shop (Thrift Store) on the coast. A great assortment of preloved garments, books, homewares and even vinyl records!
My latest haunt is the new Stellarossa Cafe and Restaurant in Nerang where you can purchase a keep cup and receive a free upgrade or BYO cup and/or straw.

Hand Made Stockings for Christmas.

I had a walk around the shops yesterday, not because I wanted to BUY anything, but just to look in the hopes that I might gain some ideas for Christmas pressies to make for my friends and family.

Every year I love to hang our homemade Christmas stockings and look forward to Santa filing them with small but meaningful gifts.

You can guess which one is mine!  Made many years ago in a shoe fetish phase it gets no end of comments and compliaments from holiday visitors, many are envious and want a pair of real ones to match!

What bothered me most as I went up and down the aisles was the amount of plastic, fake and unthoughtful (is that a word?) decorations.

All together it was a bit disappointing so this morning while finishing up my Irish breakfast tea, I indulged in some Pinteresting.

So to give you some inspiration for holiday stocking projects from recycled tea shirts, jeans, tea towels and such, here is a selection of the ones that really sparked my creative interest.  I’d love to know what you think in the comments below.


These cute stockings are made from sweaters.
These cute stockings are made from sweaters.


From a pair of worn out jeans
From a pair of worn out jeans


even a tea towel!
even a tea towel!


This one is seriously cute BUT isn't really made out of an old Converse, BUT it could be!
This one is seriously cute BUT isn’t really made out of an old Converse, BUT it could be!


Giddy up, for the horse lover in the family
Giddy up, for the horse lover in the family


a grain sack and some lace.
a grain sack and some lace.


The real thing!
The real thing!

Yes last but not least is the real thing, a pair of socks.  Who would have thought.

Well I hope that provided you with some inspiration to get your sewing machines out and get creative with the things you already have on hand.  I can bet that in years to come these will be favoured ornaments of the holiday season, long after the baubles tarnish, the plastic fades and becomes brittle and the glitter on the tinsel dulls these homemade with love stockings will evoke memories, stories and be passed to the next generation.





Edible Six-pack Rings Developed by Brewery in Florida

For years now I have been cutting up these nasty little rings, hoping and praying that none slip through the cracks and end up in the waterways, potentially harming our beautiful marine wildlife and birds. Now a solution has been developed by the Saltwater Brewery in Florida that solves the issue of plastic six-pack rings.  Made with a byproduct of the brewing process, these rings are edible by the fish and totally biodegradable.  I hope that we see more brewing companies taking this sort of initiative.

 A six-pack packaging design that instead of killing animals, feeds them. Go figure.

Cash For Containers in Queensland by 2018!

Remember a time when we would buy a drink (usually in a glass bottle) at the local milk bar and drink it while hanging out the front with our friends so that we could go back in immediately and claim our bottle refund.  In those days I wouldn’t have thought of just tossing the bottle into the bin much less littering it on the street. Those five cent pieces were invaluable to a seven year old.

Fast forward many years and these days we have such a huge waste problem with 30 million bottles and cans littered or landfilled every day.  Many of our plastic bottles are discarded in the streets, parks, and ultimately end up in our waterways and the ocean.  Beach clean
ups conducted throughout Australia have ascertained that 90% of all waste washed up is plastic, mostly bottles, caps and straws.  The CSIRO predicts that by 2050 almost all of our sea birds will have traces of plastic in their gut.  If we could harken back to the days of the bottle refund, do you think it would make a difference to our pollution and landfill problems?

Well the good news is that there is a fantastic solution to the plastic epidemic within our grasp.  The Queensland State Government is looking at offering people 10 cents for each container returned to a collection depot or placed in a reverse vending machine.

Environment Minister Steven Miles said Queensland had one of the lowest recycling rates in the country.

After decades of campaigning and following the NSW government embracing the program the Queensland government will take on the program in 2018 and then along with South Australia and the Northern Territory who already have active refund programs in place, we should see almost 80% of our bottles and cans sent to recycling rather than landfill.

So how will Cash for Containers work?  When we buy a bottle or can of drink there will be a ten cent refundable deposit built in to the price of our beverage.  Once it is empty the bottle can be recycled at one of many reverse vending machines located at your nearest supermarket, shopping centre or community drop off point.  It’s such a simple process, you put the empty bottle in and the ten cent deposit goes back into your pocket.  The bottles and cans are then sent to a recycling hub and the money earned from the sale of recycled materials along with the unredeemed deposits, funds the entire system.  Pure genius!

A flow on from this is that thanks to the way the system works we can turn our bottles and cans over to charitable organisations and community groups which can then turn our trash into much needed funds for their projects.  Plus it will create 2,500 new jobs.  Now that is something to be excited about, a system of recycling that gives back, reduces our plastic pollution and funds itself.

If you would like to support the small team of staff and volunteers who have been tirelessly championing this cause you can watch their informative animated video and make a donation at .

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