The Sweet Meadow

The Good Oil - How to Use Essential Oils Everyday

essential oilsAishe Besim
I believe that for every illness or ailment known to man, that God has a plant out here that will heal it. We just need to keep discovering the properties for natural healing.
— Vannoy Gentles Fite, author

My introduction to essential oils was a practical one. I was about to open The Sweet Meadow in 2016 and was looking for a healthier peppermint flavouring to make our peppermint slice (if you're in the cake decorating aisle at the supermarket, have a look at the ingredients list in the 'peppermint essence'- it's alarming!). 

Through my research I stumbled on an essential oils brand called doTERRA, went along to an introductory workshop held by Wellness Advocate Sammy Morgan, and the rest is history! I would now use at least 20 different oils every day, which help to support me physically, mentally and emotionally. 

The key with essential oils is to use less oil, more often, rather than a lot of oils once or twice during the day. Ways I like to use oils on a typical day include:

Peppermint or Lemon - When I first wake up, I like to place one drop of an invigorating oil on the palm of my hand, rub my hands together and take a few deep breaths. Usually I'm still so tired when I wake up, so a zesty oil really helps to get me in the mood to get going!

Clove, Oregano, or OnGaurd - I'm a big fan of oil pulling (an ancient Ayurvedic medicine practice), and rather just use plain coconut oil like I used to, I now add a drop or two of one of these oils with my coconut oil. All are anti-bacterial and help to remove germs, although clove is especially high in antioxidants and is great for oral health. I tend to opt for oregano if I feel like a cold or flu is coming on.

Wild Orange - Sometimes I add a drop of this oil to my oats or granola for breakfast - yum!

Tea Tree, Lemon, Lavender, Geranium, Frankincense - These are all amazing oils for the skin. I add Tea Tree to my cleanser, Lemon to my toner and a mix of Lavender, Geranium and Frankincense to my oil-based moisturiser. I only need to add the oils once, when I first purchase the skin product. Generally I work off a dilution ratio of 5 drops of essential oil for every 10mls of carrier oil. So, if my bottle of rosehip oil (moisturiser) is 20ml, I would add 10-12 drops of essential oil once, and use as normal until the bottle was empty. 


Frankincense, Copaiba - I place a drop or two of both of these oils under my tongue every morning. This is the closest I'll get to taking a multivitamin. I seriously think these oils are gamechangers and should be used by every single person on this planet! They both help build and maintain healthy immune, digestive and cardiovascular systems. They are also amazing for skin health and on an emotional level, can help soothe anxious feelings. There are countless studies about the positive effect both of these oils have on our internal health - do your own research. 

Diffusing - As I'm getting ready for work, I like to mix a few different essential oils into my diffuser. I change up my blends daily, but usually I like to incorporate a citrus oil (for energy), a woody oil (for grounding) and a floral oil (to make it smell nicer, basically!). My favourite combo is Citrus Bliss (citrus), Hawaiian Sandalwood (woody) and Ylang Ylang (floral). 

Pure-fume - I still use conventional perfume on my clothing (Santal 33 is my fave), but essential oils are the only perfume-type products I'll put directly on my skin. At the moment I'm layering Jasmine & Rose oils on my wrists, neck and chest. I also like placing 2-3 drops of the oil blends Balance and Elevation on the soles of my feet as I head out the door. doTERRA's Balance blend helps to lessen stress (I need A LOT of help in that area), while Elevation is the perfect blend to increase energy. 


DigestZen - This oil is magic! I place one drop of this oil mixed with a little coconut oil directly onto my stomach after meals and gently massage it into the skin. As the name suggests, this oil blend aids in the digestion of food, helping to reduce gas or bloating. Hands down one of my favourite oils. 

Diffusing - When I get home one of the first things I do is get the diffuser going again. My oil blends at night tend to be more soothing. I like Lavender Peace, Vetiver, Cedarwood, Whisper or Console at night, and generally steer clear of any zesty, citrus oils. 

Tea Tree, Citrus Bliss - These oils are my go-to when washing the aprons for The Sweet Meadow! I add a couple of drops of each to the water as it's filling up in the washing machine. Tea tree is known for its purifying properties, while Citrus Bliss is an energising oil that can help uplift people's moods (hopefully it rubs off off on the staff!). 


Cooking - The herb-based oils like Coriander, Basil, Lemongrass, Marjoram, Oregano and Rosemary are great to use in savoury dishes in the kitchen. A little goes a long way though. These oils are potent. Start with dipping a toothpick into the oil and adding it into your sauce/curry/dish and go from there. I use about 6 drops of peppermint oil when making a batch of our peppermint slice, but that feeds about 30 people! 

Aromatic Dressing -  I've been using coconut oil as a body moisturiser for years, now I just add four or five drops of essential oils to the mix too and call it an aromatic dressing! Like my diffuser blends, this changes daily, although I generally find a way to incorporate my favourite smelling oils, like Hawaiian Sandalwood, Ylang Ylang, Elevation, Citrus Bliss, Whisper, Jasmine and Bergamot. 

Geranium, Tea Tree, Lavender - I've pre-added drops of these oils to my shampoo and conditioner, as both are great for hair health. 

Manuka - I love earthy scents like Manuka to help me wind down and de-stress, but I also mix Manuka with coconut oil and apply it directly on cuts, burns and any eczema on my hands (the joys of working in hospitality). 

Hawaiian Sandalwood - I've mentioned this oil a few times in this post. I think this is the most heavenly scented oil I have ever smelt. It's been used for centuries as an aphrodisiac, and while I love to use it on my skin for it's health benefits, I love adding a drop or two to my pillow so I can take in the aroma as I fall asleep. This oil also happens to be one of the most expensive in doTERRA's range, but even if it were double the price, I'd find a way to purchase it. I honestly think I will use this oil every day for the rest of my life. 

So how do you get your hands on these oils? doTERRA works in a similar way to Costco (stay with me here). Purchase a yearly membership fee ($35, or choose an enrolment kit instead to waive the fee) to create your own wholesale account. Order the oils online at wholesale price and wait for the magic to arrive! More details and instructions here

What are you waiting for? Lift the lid off the bottle and get smelling!

Video - The Smallest Detail

videoAishe Besim
To create something exceptional, your mindset must be relentlessly focused on the smallest detail.
— Giorgio Armani

I'd been admiring the work of former Echuca local Beth Morrison for a long time. I thought our first birthday would be the perfect time to approach Beth to create a short film for The Sweet Meadow.

I gave her a pretty vague brief - I just wanted her to produce a film that felt like viewers were "peeking over our shoulders". I wanted people to see the finer details that all come together to deliver a Sweet Meadow experience. 

I think she nailed it. I'm so glad I had the opportunity to work with Beth now before she gets way too famous for me and I can't afford her! Check out more of her work here

Filmmaker Beth (left) with florist Lisa from Wallingford Flowers (aka the dream team). 

Filmmaker Beth (left) with florist Lisa from Wallingford Flowers (aka the dream team). 

Chapter One

brandAishe Besim
Starting a business is hard. You’ll work like a crazy thing and have to sustain that over a long period of time. Poor pay. Terrible hours. Tons of stress. Any normal, rational person would quit. And that’s what happens. When things get tough, and there will be a point when they do, sane people quit.

But purpose-driven entrepreneurs are different. They fall in love with the change they are making, so have to find a way to make it work. Their love stops them quitting. Love makes them persevere. Love blinkers them to all the worry and stress. And it’s their purpose that fuels that love.
— David Hieatt

A long time ago I was given the book “Starting A Restaurant For Dummies” (I’m sure there was no pun intended). One of the opening lines in the book is this: “This isn’t a venture for the faint of heart. If you want to own a restaurant to have a place to hang out with your friends and get free drinks, we say pay the bar bill and avoid the hassles.”

But honestly, that’s exactly why I had the idea to build The Sweet Meadow in the first place! I wanted to create a space I felt was lacking in regional Victoria – a health-conscious, vegan café where people would want to spend their time, not just their money.  I love how cafes become a central hub for communities and I don't believe we should have to travel to the city to experience conscious, sustainable alternatives. I wanted to make a change in my life and create a space where I could grow and start something afresh, where I could be creative and where I hoped to inspire others to be creative too. 

A year ago today, on Thursday, 20th October 2016, we opened The Sweet Meadow at 7.30am. I had left the café at about 2.30am that morning, prepping burger patties with my mum (I accidentally added non-gluten free breadcrumbs into the mix, so mum ended up driving home and making them from scratch herself).

I was back onsite at around 6am after barely sleeping, because I was so paranoid that nobody would come. I had rostered on five other staff members that day, with most of them working eight hours or more (!). As it turned out, we had over 150 people visit us on our first day, most of whom continue to visit us regularly.

One of the only photos I took on our opening day. I was cooked. 

One of the only photos I took on our opening day. I was cooked. 

Interestingly enough, the best selling menu items on our first day are still some of the favourites twelve months on - Creamy Avocado, Roasted Veg & Chickpea Burger, Vanilla Waffles, Acai Smoothie Bowl, OJ Simpson, Chocolate Mylkshake, and our Caramel Slice.  

Both our menu and our team have grown since then, but making the move from having an “employee” mindset to a “business owner” mindset has been the steepest learning curve for me personally. I have learnt so many lessons this past year, lessons that I think are crucial to creating a sustainable, successful business.

Our busiest day ever, Easter Sunday 2017. 

Our busiest day ever, Easter Sunday 2017. 


“You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world and there’s still going to be somebody who hates peaches.”

Dita Von Teese

It’s a bruise to the ego realising that not everyone is going to like you (or your food, or your milk selections, or the names of your juices), but I’m learning to let go of perfectionism. Running my own business has taught me a lot about that. It’s messy and humbling, and I am learning to show my mess.


“You have to break, take breaks, or both.”

Yrsa Daley-Ward

I always used to say that you only have to take time off if you have a boring job. Then I became a small business owner. Yung Pueblo said “While in the midst of serious internal growth, respect your need to rest.” It took my car blowing up on a Sunday morning in High Street to wake me the fuck up to that lesson. It really was just a reflection of what was going on internally (inflammation). Now I make it a point to take time out every week – my brain needs some rest.  I love turning everything off, staying away from social media and being with nature. It helps bring me to that other part of my brain, where creativity lives and innovative ideas are formed.

A shot from my first holiday in 18 months this August - four days in Queensland. 

A shot from my first holiday in 18 months this August - four days in Queensland. 


“Chase the vision, not the money.”

Tony Hsieh

While I have an extremely strong support network, never losing sight of why I started this business is ultimately the reason why I overcome the obstacles that get thrown my way daily.  The authenticity of my “why” is what resonates with the people visiting. Lots of people travel hours to visit our café specifically, so I want them to have the same experience they have read or been told about. I’m sure my team roll their eyes whenever I change the music selection because I don’t think it’s “The Sweet Meadow’s vibe”, but it's the music, scent, furniture, entrance, toilets, even the cutlery, that all work to set our guest’s expectations and set us apart from other eateries. I will always stay true to The Sweet Meadow’s vision, and choose menu items, products, decorations and team members who align with that vision.




"Traveller, there is no path, the path must be forged as you walk."

Antonio Machado

A Chinese philosopher once said a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. The truth is, if you are clear enough with your intention, you will always get to your destination – it’s how you enjoy the ride that counts. You can choose to be distracted, absent, stressed, overwhelmed. I spent most of my first year at The Sweet Meadow feeling this way.

Instead, I’m heading into The Sweet Meadow’s second year with a focus on making mindful decisions and living in the moment. Making space for the good people, good things and good times. It’s the same life, the same journey, the same road…the difference is how you choose to travel it.

What a ride it’s been so far.

I chose this. Thank you.


P.S. Thank you to the hundreds of you who have shared a photo, video or status about your time at The Meadow. We love seeing your creative shots at the end of a busy day. Much love X