5 of our favourite fruity autumn scents

Ahhhh … autumn. It really is a special time of year in Australia. As the weather finally cools and the leaves turn, the intense smells of summer dissipate and more earthy scents emerge. The first rains wash away the grime of the long hot months – then, depending where you live, a dampness settles over the fallen leaves and produces its own sweet elixir.

The cooler weather is gentler on our olfactory system. There are fewer smells in the air – as the temperature drops, odour molecules are less likely to be released from the environment around us. This makes autumn the perfect time to think about lighting scented candles or opening a new diffuser, and welcoming beautiful scents into your home.

Question is, which aromas are best in autumn? It can depend on the mood you’re trying to create. For us, it’s all about seasonal fruits and veg – many of which have been ripening beautifully over summer, ready to release their heady scents.

Here are five of our favourites.



A freshly picked fig is juicy, indulgent and richly aromatic, combining the scent of the sun-ripened fruit with that of its woodsy leaves. With its hints of sweet jasmine, spicy anise and sandalwood, the aroma of figs will create the sense that summer is lingering longer in your home.



The tangy smell of lime refreshes and invigorates, offering the perfect pick-me-up as the weather cools and you’re tempted to linger under the doona for longer in the mornings. It’s known to stimulate your immune system and boost your concentration, too.



This warm, spicy scent energises body and soul. It restores balance if you’re feeling nauseous; its warming properties help with cold muscles; it relieves headache; it aids in digestive issues. And, paired with another vibrant scent like lemongrass, it is an incredibly uplifting fragrance for your home.



Deliciously juicy pears are coming into season in autumn, and we can’t get enough of their sweet scent. Whether you have fruit ripening in the bowl or not, you can celebrate the crisp aroma of pears with a candle that captures the scent perfectly.



We start craving the zesty aroma of oranges around now. We suspect it’s got something to do with the fruit’s restorative properties – renowned for its Vitamin C content, an orange is a great immune booster and just what we need coming into the colder months. The scent of orange is energising and refreshing, too; and helps to promote a positive mood.

Ready to infuse your home with the scents of autumn? Head over to Oscura to discover the scents of the season.

Christmas Day survival tips


6_cover_1200x600As kids, it’s that one magical day we spend all year looking forward to. But for many adults, Christmas loses its lustre and turns into a source of stress and anxiety. The collision of scorching summer temperatures, the arrival of extended family, and perhaps one too many glasses of champagne can leave you with a festive hangover … in more ways than one.

Short of booking an overseas holiday, how does one survive the big day unscathed? Here are our top tips to enjoy the festive season.

1. Be sensible about gifts

Finances can get stretched to the limit at Christmas, particularly if you’ve got an extended family and friends you want to share the joy with. This year, set yourself sensible price limits and think about practical, useful gifts you could give instead. Set up a Secret Santa tradition with the extended family, too, so you don’t have to buy gifts for all the nieces and nephews.

2. Get outside

We’re lucky enough in the southern hemisphere to have some glorious summer weather over the festive season. If you aren’t eating your Christmas meal outside, make sure you take time to step out and enjoy the sunshine. Tempers can quickly fray and family tensions surface when the clan is cooped up around the air-conditioner. Take a walk to burn off Christmas lunch and breathe in some fresh air.

3. Share the jobs

Make sure whoever is hosting your Christmas gathering doesn’t end up saddled with all the tasks – from stuffing the turkey to baking the perfect pudding. Guests want to feel useful, so give them something to do to help the day run smoothly. Share out the meal preparation in advance, and get everyone to help with table clearing and cleaning up.

4. Limit the booze

From champagne breakfasts to brandy soaked puddings, it is easy to overindulge in alcohol on Christmas Day. It might be the great social lubricant, but we all know it does your old Uncle Arthur no favours. You’re probably not going to be able to control what everyone else drinks, but try to limit your own alcohol consumption and make sure there are non-alcoholic beverages on offer. And maybe give Uncle Arthur a wide berth…

5. Make your own traditions

Sometimes Christmas can start to feel like one long marathon social engagement, fitting in all the family lunches and dinners. It’s not always possible to do it all, and you’ll end up exhausted. Take the time to reflect on what you most love about the season and start your own traditions – perhaps a simple picnic at the beach or a rousing rendition of Christmas carols around a campfire. Whatever works for you.

(And, if the turkey’s drying in the oven and the kids are going feral in the backyard, don’t despair. Keep a soothing sniff box up your sleeve and take a few deep breaths. Christmas calm will be restored in no time.)


Gifts that make sense this Christmas

You don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars to show someone you love them. In fact, some of the most beautiful gifts are the most simple – carefully crafted or personally chosen to show your mum, brother, niece, neighbour or BFF how you feel.

Here are some of our ideas for gorgeous, useful gifts this Christmas.

1. Candles in glass jars


Once a divinely scented candle has run its course, the glass jar that it came in can be used for all sorts of practical or crafty purposes. A mini-terrarium. A stout little vase of daisies. A drink tumbler. This versatility is one of the reasons why candles are one of the most popular gifts on the market today.

2. Herbs in a pot


Herbs smell so good when fresh! If you are giving to a keen cook, then they are sure to love a gift of fresh basil or mint in an oh-so-cute little pot. They can pop the pot on their windowsill and think of you every time they take a snip off its endlessly giving greenery.

3. A home-sewn heat pack


If you’re at all handy with a sewing machine, then a homemade heat pack makes a wonderful present for anyone likely to get muscular aches or pains. Filled with rice or wheat and covered with funky fabric, it is an inexpensive, thoughtful gift that soothes the aches away.

4. Heavenly hand creams


Gardeners, golfers, home cooks … there are so many people out there that appreciate a good hand cream to slip into their bag or beside their bed. Gorgeous hand creams don’t cost the earth – you could pair one with a beautiful hand wash for a very pretty little present to pop under the tree.

5. Homemade food

Preparing Christmas Gingerbread Cookies

There’s a tradition in our house at Christmas (don’t tell Sarah Wilson, as it’s loaded with sugar). The kids stock up on blocks of best quality chocolate and turn it (along with other goodies) into rocky road to give to friends and neighbours. It’s a fun, simple activity that we love and (we hope) our friends love too. Cooking up Christmas treats is a wonderful way to wind down after a busy year.

6. DIY voucher


Craft cute little vouchers for all manner of services – babysitting, lawnmowing, a coffee-and-cake date, a game of tennis followed by a glass of wine at a local bar … you name it. Think of what the gift recipient would really appreciate as a favour from you, or something that they would love to do with you.

If you’re still stuck for gift ideas, pop over to Oscura to get some scented inspiration.

5 tips that make scents these holidays

Scents of the holiday season can be incredibly evocative. Citronella and sunscreen take us straight to summer holidays spent by the water; while cinnamon and cloves transport us to family kitchens where delicious Christmas feasts are lovingly prepared.

Of course, every family in Australia will have its own scented memories of the holiday season. It depends very much on your family’s culture and traditions – while the redolent waft of summertime barbecues fill some people’s homes, for others the rich scents of roasted turkey and Christmas pudding pervade.

If you are looking to create new memories for your family, here are some ideas for introducing beautiful fragrances into your festive season.

1. An aromatic Christmas tree


How good does a real Christmas tree smell? There really is nothing quite like the natural, earthy pine aroma of a freshly cut tree – it fills the house with the scents of Christmas and puts everyone in a festive mood.

Or, if you don’t have the space or inclination for a real Christmas tree, you could get crafty and make a eucalyptus wreath to adorn your front door. Get your hands on some fresh cuttings of the dusty green leaves, weave them into a grapevine wreath, and enjoy the distinctive scent every time you come home.

2. Guestroom heaven


Welcome your holiday guests with a divinely scented candle in their room and a freshly washed towel on their bed. Little touches like these go a long way to making your guests feel extra special.

And don’t forget to pop a diffuser in the bathroom. It can get a little busy in the bathroom over the holidays, with so many people coming and going. Choose an aroma reminiscent of Christmas to keep the festive vibe going throughout your house.

3. Gingerbread delights

Bee on Lavender

When was the last time you baked gingerbread? This delicious festive treat is a Christmas classic! It’s heaps of fun to make and decorate with the kids, or go solo and enjoy the rich gingery scents wafting from your oven as you bake another tray.

You could wrap up cute collections of gingerbread stars or angels to give as gifts to your neighbours, or keep a fresh stash in the pantry for when guests drop around for a festive cuppa.

4. Light up the room with candles


There’s no better way to end a long day of festivities than with flickering candlelight. Choose candles with relaxing aromas and light them up to help everyone unwind after a long day of celebrating. Or go with spiced aromas to perk everyone up … with a glass of bubbles in hand, you’ll all be singing carols by candlelight well into the night.

5. Wrap it up


Add a sweet, scented touch to your Christmas wrapping. Instead of going for gaudy colours that have rolled off a production line, give your gifts a beautiful homemade touch by using recycled brown paper with your own unique touches. Eucalyptus leaves and raffia; lavender and twine; or perhaps sweet cinnamon sticks secured with string. With brown paper as your canvas, you’re only limited by your imagination!





Meet Leanne, co-founder of Urban Rituelle

Bee on Lavender

Spending your working life surrounded by invigorating scents is a pretty good gig, we reckon. No wonder the team at Urban Rituelle are so happy all the time! Here, we take a peek into this highly successful, award-winning home fragrances business.



1. 100% Australian made
What’s not to love about a company that began in 1999 at an inner city Sydney market? Urban Rituelle’s handmade soaps are made in Australia and sold around the world.

2. Enviro credentials
Urban Rituelle is an environmentally aware company, with the credentials to match. They have never tested products on animals. Their beautiful ingredients are completely natural and ethically sourced. Their packaging is completely recyclable. And they continue to reformulate existing products as more sustainable options become available. What’s not to love about that?

3. Bright and bubbly team
We adore the fact that founders Leanne and Scott always have time for a chat, despite the fact that they are running a global business. And the fact that our main contact, Lauren, always makes us giggle. It’s nourishment for the soul.



Do you have a favourite fragrance, and can you describe it in three words?
It’s very hard to choose and my ‘favourite’ changes from week to week! This week, it’s our Flourish Organics Lemongrass blend. It’s made with a divine blend of lemongrass, lemon myrtle, grapefruit and eucalyptus essential oils. I would describe it as uplifting, invigorating and fresh!  

What is the favourite part of your daily ritual?
I love calling in to my local café, Sister Fox, every morning after school drop-off and before I hit the office. Here, I cross paths with many wonderful people in my community.

What are you most excited about right now?
I am super excited about the launch of our new collection, Scented Offerings! It has been a dream of ours for years to design and create our own unique and individual glassware for our Home Fragrance collections. We took a risk, and it has paid off. The finished product looks sensational, and we are so proud of the quality.

Browse Urban Rituelle’s range


How to bring bees back into your garden

Is your garden looking a little bereft? Is there a silence where once there may have been a healthy humming of buzzing bees? Are you struggling to produce a decent crop of vegetables? It makes sense to bring the bees back.

Bees are the bee-all and end-all of thriving gardens. If it weren’t for them, our lives would be bereft of the beautiful scents we enjoy in our lives today. These hard-working little creatures pollinate up to 80% of all flowering plants in the world, steadily buzzing from one plant to the next collecting and spreading the pollen that is essential for plant survival.

Without bees, the world would look pretty grim. In the words of Barry B. Benson from The Bee Movie:

We’re the only ones who make honey, pollinate flowers, and dress like this. If we’re going to survive as a species, this is our moment. So what do you all say? Are we going to be bees, or just Museum of Natural History key chains?

 Bees cannot become Museum of Natural History key chains. Nope. We need them, more than many people realise. Here’s how you can do your bit in bringing the bees back into your garden.

1. Give bees what they want: pollen and nectar
Like any species, bees need food to survive. If you create a garden that is full of appetising pollen and nectar, then you are more likely to attract them. And, by attracting the bees, you are more likely to have a healthy, humming garden as the bees do some of the most crucial gardening work for you.

2. Choose the plants that bees love best
Did you know that bees prefer blue, purple and yellow flowers? Some flowers are tastier than others for native bees, and some colours are more attractive. The key is to ensure a steady, year-round supply of pollen and nectar for your bees, so aim for a variety of plants that flower at different times of the year.

Some of our favourite bee-loving plants include a mass of lavender, a copse of flowering gums or hakeas, or pretty little leptospermum. Grevilleas and callistemon are classics in native gardens; and don’t forget to let a few of your herbs and vegies go to seed. Bees find their flowers delicious.

3. Steer clear of pesticides
Bug spray of any kind is going to repel or, worse, kill off the bee population in your garden. Avoid garden chemicals and insecticides if you can. Or, if you must use them, then try to steer clear of spraying near flowering plants. Get to know where your bees are buzzing, and keep these areas as spray-free as possible.

4. Give them a drink
Bees need a drink every now and then. A garden with a reliable source of water is going to be more appealing for buzzing bees than a parched one. Add a cute little bird bath with a shallow supply of water, and plenty of pebbles so that these fragile little creatures won’t drown.

There you have it. Four easy ways to encourage bees back into your garden so you can enjoy their quiet hum and the gorgeous scents they produce for many years to come.


Vanilla ain’t no plain jane

Vanilla is one of the most evocative flavours in the world. Who doesn’t love a spoonful of Sara Lee vanilla ice-cream straight from the tub? Or that delicious waft of sweet scent when you measure out a teaspoon of vanilla essence into your baking? We certainly do!

And yet, the word ‘vanilla’ is much maligned. Somehow, somewhere, someone started using the word to describe things that were ordinary. Boring. Plain jane.

That’s not fair. Vanilla is a far cry from being boring. So we’ve decided to do some sniffing around and share the truth about this fascinating scent.

Vanilla – which in Spanish translates as ‘little pod’ – has a rich and complex history. It was first discovered by a tribe called the Totonacs on Mexico’s east coast way back before the 15th century. The Aztecs conquered the Totonacs, and took the vanilla with them. Then the Spanish did the same.

Back then, vanilla was scraped into hot chocolates for added flavour (it was another couple of centuries before ice-cream was invented). Today, vanilla is not only a pantry staple that’s added to most baked treats – it is cherished for its aromatherapy benefits, too.

Before we dive into why it’s so good for you, let’s take a look at its remarkable creation.

Vanilla pods grow on a beautiful orchid vine native to Central and South America. Their very existence is remarkable – the orchid flowers open for just 24 hours and, if they are not pollinated during this brief period, they wilt and fall from the vine.

Pollination is an extremely delicate process that is done by hand (unless the orchid grows in Mexico, where native Melipona bees do the job). No wonder vanilla is the second most expensive spice in the world after saffron!

Vanilla is celebrated in the aromatherapy world. And for good reason. We love vanilla essential oil for its soothing and relaxing properties. As well as chilling you out, it is an antioxidant, aphrodisiac, anticarcinogenic, febrifuge and antidepressant. So many good reasons to add a few drops to your daily blend!

Speaking of, vanilla blends beautifully with the essential oils of orange, lemon, neroli, jojoba, chamomile, lavender and sandalwood. Mmmm …

Nope, vanilla is certainly no plain jane. And that’s why we love it.