terrarium DIY Sesame Ellis dot com

I have been obsessed with terrariums for a long time. I have even accidentally pinned the same image of one twice several years apart. I clearly need them in my life. I think they also make a great gift, so in the spirit of a Hand Crafted Happy Christmas this year, I set out to learn how to make these beautiful tiny worlds.

And I am sharing now, just how easy it is with this little tutorial magazine hosted on Steller. You don’t need the Steller app to flip through, just click below and you will be able to turn the virtual pages right here on my blog. (Have I mentioned today how much I LOVE Steller?)

I shopped locally for the plants going to Bay Road Nursery for the essentials, Molino’s Nursery for a great selection of little plants and various op shops for the glass containers. You could probably go to the big box gardening and home centres for the supplies as well, but the help I got from the local guys was so worth paying them a visit. I popped into the closest model train store for figurines, but I think I will have a look online to see if I can’t find a wider selection of characters. Maybe I can even find some second hand because I think they are the dearest bit of the whole thing, but they are essential to the character.
DIY terrarium Sesame Ellis dot comNow, get out there and make some little worlds where everything is just like you need it to be and where it is always peaceful. And then share the love.

share tweet pin email


I was in Perth when the news of the Paris terror attacks broke. I had managed to wake up, eat breakfast, hail a cab and make it nearly to my destination before knowing anything of the events. A mention on the radio sent me to my phone to read the accounts coming in. I was early for my workshop and had never been to the west coast of Australia before so I walked until my legs were in the water. I could not stop the tears from welling up in my eyes.

Standing on the pale sandy shore of the Indian Ocean with the warmth of the sun hugging my shoulders and the happy chatter of weekend friendships floating out to my ears from the cafe behind me, I tried to grasp the fact that Paris was waking at the very same moment to the end of the world as they knew it. Over and over the lines of a Ben Folds song played in my brain.

On a plane
Far from the united states
Dropping in from outer space
Takes a day

And you know the earth could turn
Or crash and burn
And you would never know it

Of course Ben Folds was writing about Adelaide, but his words are true of nearly all of Australia and certainly could not have felt more so in that very moment where I stood with my toes safely covered in warm salty sand.

I am back in Melbourne now and I can’t stop thinking about it all. How lucky am I to be standing right here? I know that deep down. It is simply a bit of luck that I was even born at all when my mother and father had long thought their family was complete. Luck again really that my husband grew up in Australia after fleeing the Soviet Republic with other jewish families in the time of the cold war. It was pure dumb drunken luck that I found Alec online when he was living in New York. All of the luck rolled together that had me standing in that moment on the west coast of Australia, my three children safely at home…probably on their individual iPads.

Even in such privilege of safety, more safety than many other privileged people are feeling at the moment, I have sparks of real fear. Of course I do because this shit is scary. But it would be wrong of me to let that small fear set down roots in my bubble of privilege and like a petulant child cross its arms and refuse to share. What right do I have as a human on this planet with other humans to say my life is worth more because of pure dumb luck?

I call myself an ex-pat, but that is just a fancy term for my privileged position. I am an immigrant. I was lucky and married into the Australian way of life. My husband’s family were immigrants. They were lucky because the world let them find a better life than what they had in Russia.

How can I do something with all of that luck? Something good? I have no idea, but I will start at home. I will teach my children to not take their beautiful lives for granted. I will show my children that I do not fear things I do not understand by always seeking to learn. I hope they will grow up to be loving and kind with open hearts and minds. We don’t pray to an organised God, but my children will learn to respect those who choose to do so. And they will learn to respect the earth. We will be quiet at the sea and revel in its glory. We will lie in the grass of our backyard and literally count our lucky stars. We will give what we can and create hope for the future. I can’t control things in the world, but I can guide these people who have luckily been given me as their mom.

The terrorist attacks in the Middle East and Europe have not touched my life directly. Like Ben said, “(the world) could crash and burn and you would never know it.” I just feel the need to share my thoughts because the lives of those people in the tiny leaking rafts are worth as much as mine is and they deserve to be safe and free to live their lives. My children need to know that I love them so much, but not any more than that mother pressed up against a border fence loves her children. The mother who is running with her child through the night so that they can be free from a life of daily fear. I would run with my children. I would flee in the night to keep them safe. I would walk for days to give them a life safe from war, but thank God or the universe or just plain old dumb luck, I don’t have to.

share tweet pin email

I’m at the airport excited to catch a flight home to my family, but I want to appreciate this overwhelming feeling of pride for what Chantelle from Fat Mum Slim, Olympus Australia and I have offered this year. I am so honoured to have worked with such a funny, clever and generous soul as Chantelle. I am deeply grateful for the support and enthusiasm from Olympus. And I am in awe of all the mums who came and realised the power in sharing their love of photography with their kids… Those who realised the present is a present.

Above is my heartfelt story.
I look forward to developing this into something even bigger in 2016…

share tweet pin email
  • Annette Hill via Facebook - Sensational shots and words.ReplyCancel

  • Dee - I’m so glad I was one of the lucky ones to share this day with my big boy. Declan (and I) had the best day and fire that has now been set in his belly is fantastic. Thank you to all 3 of you for helping this fire to ignite.ReplyCancel

I appreciate tutorials and I enjoy lusting after cleverly decorated homes. I even bookmark vegetarian recipes and pin crafts, but I miss stories. I miss blogs that connect me to the heart of the writer or at least offers me a small bit of who they are alongside what they love or are excellent at doing. I know that there are still some out there and I am guilty of slacking too. I just want to discover more. I am going to try to be better at sharing the multiple images I create instead of just picking one for Instagram. I will put it out there on this blog and let people back in again.  I am working on learning how to make short films and I have also stumbled onto Steller where you can build tiny virtual magazines online to share.  sesameellis.com

Below is my Steller story from the weekend when we got out to walk through our neighbourhood to the beach, practice for the coming summer days and remember just why we love our chosen spot on this planet.



share tweet pin email
  • Renee | About a Bugg - Love this. Stories keep us connected. Bring it on.ReplyCancel

  • Naamah - For the record I think you do a good job sharing the stories with your words and photos. It’s what attracted me to your blog and is what keeps me coming back.ReplyCancel

  • Makayla - I am a long time follower and a rarely commenter haha. I know what you mean. I go to read some blogs i love and all i find is recipes and printables and tutorials. While that is fine, i miss the photos and the stories. I think that’s what keeps me coming back to your blog time and time again. I love it so much, and love your photos! Please keep it up :)
    p.s. i am awful at blogging, but i still love it haha.ReplyCancel

Eight years ago on Halloween, Alec, Gem and I left a party early to go home and make sure I had my injection. It was to be perfectly timed or everything could fail. Again.

On that 1st of November, eight years ago, we drove to a fancy doctor in Beverly Hills to try. Again.

It was my best friend’s birthday so that should have been the first good sign that things were different. This time.

This time would be the last time. We both knew it without speaking those words to each other. Even if it went wrong. Again.

So eight years ago today, we waited for our life to change for the last time. We waited for numbers that meant the doctors would smile. Numbers they would tell us out in the open and not behind the closed door of their office. Numbers they wanted those around us to hear so they too could be hopeful that it could work for them. This time.

And five days later, another good number because you want five not three, we returned to that same office to complete this part of the IVF journey. Again and for the last time.

IVF success stories

There were four embryos, but we would only be allowed three. As the embryologist, the twins first ever babysitter, entered the room with the bizarre transfer tube, there was a problem with the set up and he insisted that he would have to take them back until we were absolutely ready. We couldn’t afford to damage them. I began to curse fate because I was conditioned to disappointment by then. I knew it was going too well this time.

The doctor sorted things on my *um* end and called for the embryologist to come back. When he returned he announced that in the moments that he had them under the microscope again, one of the other embryos became a better candidate so he swapped that one with one of the original three. That little bit of trouble was a actually a good thing and to this day, I am convinced that little late bloomer was our lucky Clover. ivy success stories Eight years ago this week, we did our final round of IVF that resulted in the amazing and wonderful Clover and Kieran. While our delightful Gemma was a honeymoon baby who came as a happy and easy surprise after not really trying at all, there was a lot of heartbreak to complete our family. If you have been an online friend since the Flickr days, you might remember some of that darkness. If you are a more recent friend, you might not know, but it isn’t because I want to hide it. I often get asked if twins run in my family (and as it happens, my sister had twins as well) I say “No, they don’t really, but they certainly do run in IFV.”

ivf twins

Even with missed focus on a camera phone, you can see their connection.

So today I celebrate those who are brave enough to go through it again. One last time…again.

Help me celebrate by clicking VOTE in this link to push me towards my goal of donating $2500.00 to Postpartum Progress to help mothers survive the cruel twist of maternal mental illness like I did.

share tweet pin email