Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Artist Series with Anna Walker

If you have children, chances are you have several Anna Walker books in your home. Filled with whimsical illustrations and lovable characters, her books are keepsakes worthy of display when not being read.

Subtle colours, approachable, pink cheeked faces and endearing story lines make them some of our favourites. In fact, as soon as I knew my young Pippi was a girl, I bought the first copy of 'Birthday Surprise' I could get my hands on. Peachy pink and filled with love, it's a story we treasure to this day.

As we approach the birth of another baby at The Beetle Shack, I'm incredibly honoured to feature Anna's work in my header. A reading girl and her bunny friend - a joy filled face brimming with contentment.

A prophesy?

I asked Anna some quick questions which you can read below- I was speechless at the beauty of her responses, in fact- this hormonal pregnant woman actually shed a tear or two... or three.


EB - what inspired you to to be an illustrator?
AW -Looking at picture books when I was little inspired me to be an illustrator. My mum was a librarian, which I imagine had a big influence on my love of books before I could even speak!

EB - What is your favourite colour?
AW - Colours are transient things in my mind and attached to the light and moment. My favourite time of the year is winter because of the beautiful soft greys and greens. The cloudy, gentle colour of rain and deep puddle colours come to mind when I think of my favourite colours today.

EB - Is there a symbol that you find yourself using repeatedly in your work? Can you explain it to us?
AW - I think rather than an actual image repeated I probably repeat feelings. In my work I enjoy exploring quiet moments within the busy world around us. Times in which a character is stopping and looking around taking in the way a beetle crawls across the pavement or a small chook is watching her reflection in a window. Characters amuse me and I love to explore those tiny moments that make me smile.

EB - What is your happiest childhood memory?
AW - Some of my happiest childhood memories are:Christmas time, when all the family was together in Sydney, there was swimming, cicadas singing and Nanny's Christmas mince tartsPainting and sewing with my GrandmotherSeeing the pink cake that was made for me for my birthdayClimbing the cherry tree in our front garden with my cat

EB - What is your greatest achievement?
AW - My beautiful children, Olive, Joseph and Sam.  

EB - Did it take long to truly develop your own style? It is so unique and identifiable.
AW - I never think of myself as having a unique style. I love working with ink and pencil but enjoy exploring other mediums including printmaking and sewing. When I look back on my work from over ten years ago it has developed and come a long way! The illustration journey takes time, I feel like I am not at my destination yet, and always looking to develop the images and stories further. Luckily I have some lovely projects underway to be able to do this!


Thank you so much for your time Anna, what a privilege it is.

You can explore Anna's blog here, find her on Facebook here and please, do yourself a favour and print some beautiful activity sheets here (hello Primary School teachers and Parents alike, i'm talking to you). It's a visual feast, I promise. Enjoy being a child again, my friends - Anna Walker will take you there!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Zipping Up The Baby Bag

I seriously can't believe it's that time already. My baby bag is packed and READY to go - filled up squished down, and overflowing with ready-ness.

Baby Beetleshack 3's arrival is imminent- as I type this, the heart burn and simultaneous hunger pains confirm it (hold on, i'm getting a snack).

Since I know i'm going to be in hospital and away from my creature comforts for at least 4 days, i've taken extra time and care in packing my bag, ensuring i'll have everything I need to be as relaxed and comfortable as possible.

Lets cover some of the basics, shall we?

Number One - Undies (or do you prefer knickers?). As ridiculous as it sounds, undies are the item i've spent the most time considering this time around. Why? because past experience tells me that they must be black and they must be comfortable. Having a caesar means that wearing regular hipster undies can be rather painful. The elastic seems to end right where the scar is positioned- not a happy coincidence. While the midwives and my mother suggest waisted 'full briefs' to be the solution, I prefer to think that super soft lace tops might be perferrable. I stocked up on extremely large, extremely soft underwear from Cotton On Body- i think it will do the trick**.

In addition to amazing undies, fabulous maternity bra's are also essential. Personally i'm a fan of Bonds (or k-mart brand) maternity singlets- they seem to do a nice job of staying in place and keep that jiggly post baby belly in check... as much as possible anyways. K mart also have a really great cross over sleep bra for $5,  I've packed a couple as they are very comfortable, very soft and hold a glamorous breast pad in place like a pro.

Pyjama's are next on the list. Each time i've checked into hospital for baby birth, I've included a new set. They are a little luxury just for me - something to make me feel a bit better about all the waking and feeding and leaking that my body will be enduring. This time around i've packed Arabella Ramsey's 'babmi' for Target p.j's along with a beautiful organic cotton set sent to me by the lovely sisters at Sorella and Me. Both offer easy access to the ol' breasts and as an added bonus, they totally co-ordinate, see! BAM!

Like everything else, clothing needs to be loose fitting and soft. I've packed a couple of pairs of floaty harem pants (including my favourites) and relaxed cotton knits that i've collected from Supre over the duration of this pregnancy (not as bad as they sound, really). I'll also be packing this amazing shawl* once I can take it off my body for long enough...  in fact, i think i'll just wear it in. It's deliciously warm and unbelievably snuggly. Whenever i'm wearing it Pippi climbs in for a snuggle cuddle, I'm hoping the new baby will do the same. A couple of brightly coloured scarves have also made their way into the pack, they are sure to provide a touch of modesty when breast feeding and visitors coincide!

Because i'm vain, i've also thrown in the basics of my makeup kit* as well as this amazing Paul Mitchell shampoo - pregnancy makes my hair so flat and oily and this is the only product i've found that gets me two days without a wash, well worth the extra spend at priceline. I'm looking forward to long, silent showers (please little baby, be a good sleeper) and more than 25 seconds to apply mascara. I've also packed this toning/ moisturising mist* to help combat the dry skin that comes with being in an air conditioned environment.

It's a given that i've packed a bazillion teeny tiny 0000 wondersuits- it's safe to work on a about 3 changes a day, right!? My mum has made some beautiful wraps that are also safely tucked away ready to be filled with baby.

It can also be assumed that the remaining 50% of my bag is filled with maxi pads, breast pads and other glamourous personal hygiene items.

All I need to do is put that bag by the door and wait.

What was the best thing you packed into your baby bag? Did you take your own pillow? Any Luxuries you can suggest?

If you're interested in the baby bag pictured, it's one I collected on this trip to Melbourne. I can't recall the name of the market stall I bought it from but you can find similar here.

* these products have been gifted to me
**okay, okay- so i bought a ten pack of nanna undies from target too. 

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Stills- A Weekly Collection

1. Dave has been on leave since ANZAC day and each and every morning this has been the scene I've enjoyed when I lazily follow the family to the kitchen for my coffee. It's pretty much the same as when he's working- the man is a saint, i tell you.

2. Oh, hello darling! That would be my new washing machine 1 minute in to it's amazing 15 min cycle. It's snugly sitting under the kitchen bench. Naturally, I simply can't find enough stuff to wash and have been stripping beds and washing towels.

3. Bounce

4. Pretty creepers for the front yard. Gotta get some floral around all that veg.

5. I had a major craving for steamed fish. Dave indulged me with this amazing Snapper stuffed with ginger, bay leaves, lemon and spring onions. Roasted potato chips and a garden salad sealed the deal and was followed by about 9 hours of uninterrupted sleep. Oh mercy, the goodness.

6. Sneak peak of the baby room. I'll blog the rest this week.

I'm looking forward to seeing what you guys have been up to this week. I hope it's been beautiful :)

Oh and if you missed it, here is my very last 52 post with two portraits!

Saturday, April 27, 2013


Zephie: While Pippi has her day time rest, you and I have been keeping busy with conversation (you talk, I listen) and lego construction.

Pippi: Tutu and tights. Victory.

Next week there will be a 3rd portrait in my 52 series. BAM. So bloody excited :)

Joining in with Jodi, as always.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A Wearing Roundup at 38 Weeks

Well, thats a wrap. It's been fun (not to mention awkward) to document the growth of this baby.

 Dave and I have had many a laugh at my expense over the past 22 weeks or so - starting with the hilarious unveiling of my ham bone at 14 weeks to my more recent heated demands to 'just make me loooook GOOD' and his exasperated responses regarding the many and varied difficulties he was facing with his temperamental 'model'. 

I'm over 38 weeks now and I plan to wear exactly the same thing every day until I meet this baby. That includes the largest pair of harem pants I can find, this wool cape c/o Fawn and Fox (thats my Pippi curled up under it in the image above and there is a profile shot on the 3rd row) and any range of stretchy, stripy t-shits in my wardrobe. It won't be glamorous but it will be comfortable.

I'll leave the wearing posts here for a while I think.  Dressing post baby is easily the least inspiring time in a woman's wardrobe while laziness (and breastfeeding) will ensure that i'll be carrying excess weight for many, many months to come.

You can see the full Maternity Series here.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Freeze Time - The Nowness

Each morning as we rise before the sun, the Autumn air is fresh and crisp while it's breeze rustles the leaves of the camellia that's in bloom right outside our bedroom window, but not so much as to disturb the pair of lorikeets that snuggle in it's branches. Inside, there is anticipation on our breath, it's everywhere. In our eyes, our hearts, our words and our steps. The children ask me if the baby is coming yet, has it grown? Is it moving? Maybe it's a baby possum, or a puppy? Maybe it's a baby boy or a baby girl?

There is so much to discover, so much to learn and uncover in the coming weeks. Everything will be new again. New life.

A brand new human being that has never felt the prickle of cool air on pink skin or experienced a belly full of warm milk. Never taken a breath or cried a single tear. But it's coming, little human - soon.

For now though, I'm savouring every moment while it's just the four of us.

We have a young man who is maturing right before our very eyes. He is gentle and kind and thoughtful and I know he will truly thrive with the responsibility of being the biggest brother. He can change a nappy and dress himself. He can sit still for significant periods of time (major achievement) and with a little training, he will find pleasure in NOT verbalising every single thought that runs through his active mind. He makes Dave and I abundantly proud - once he is all tucked up in bed we discuss his hilarious antics and inquiring mind long after slumber has enveloped him.

Little Pippi is the most delicious 'terrible two' imaginable. Her attempts at tantrums are predictable and tame at best. A fun loving nature and an insatiable urge to be just like her big brother guide her through the days- that and the need to change her clothing every twenty minutes. Boys clothes only, thanks. She lavishes kisses on my tummy and snuggles in for the longest time when she wakes from her day time nap. For her, being a sister is a completely new role and one that she will have to warm to. I can hear myself saying 'gentle hands' and know we will have to guide her as she discovers what it means to share the attention and affection of her parents. She will thrive and blossom and grow with each day and every new opportunity. She will love this little sibling as much as she loves her big one and she will find her place as the kid in the middle, knowing that she is cherished as much as the others.

Then there is Dave, that dinner cooking, laundry washing, chicken farming, vegetable growing, garden tending, child raising, bread baking husband of mine. He is quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger. He is patient beyond all measure (except at 4am, then he's just plain g.r.u.m.p.y.) and cares for his family in the most practical of ways. He lives an inspiring kind of selflessness and one day, when the babies are raised and grown, I'll pay him back with endless long surfs, unlimited hours in the garden and maybe, just maybe i'll get a job and earn some money or something.

Together the four of us are a family. In a week or two, our family of four will become a family of five. We'll be good at being five- it will be hard work and there is growing to be done- but five we shall be.

Over the coming days I'll continue to make an effort to pause and be grateful for the abundance of good things in our life right now.

* the winner of the Little Tienda Giveaway has been announced as well as a discount code valid for a limited time.

Monday, April 22, 2013

That Magic Moment - Tips from Tim Coulson

One of the most impacting things I learnt at Tim Coulson's 'The Nursery' was the importance of capturing emotion. Tim's all about emotion, just read his blog - it's over flowing with love and beauty.

Yes, we learnt about light and shade, exposure, aperture, shutter speed and ISO. We talked about composition and framing and filing and sorting and archiving too. But mostly, Tim talked about love.

He talked about those magic moments of human connection.

Tangible love that can been felt and seen - rarely staged. The organic meeting of hands, little faces coming together as they gaze upon a common object or the subtle connection of lovers eyes.

Fleeting moments.

With toddlers around the opportunity to capture such magic is vast. They are uninhibited, natural and innocent in every encounter. But with my 'developing' level of skill I often find that the light is wrong, the composition is poor or the subject blurry.

I recently asked Tim to share some of his top tips for photographing our children, this is what he said;

1. An awesome way to get a terrible photo of your kids is to force it. My Mum always taught me that force creates resistance and that's not a nice emotion. Be patient and know that if you missed something special, you're better off being patient and waiting for it to happen again.

2. Get on their level. Show their perspective. It's super important to remember that if you shoot from where you are, you're always going to be shooting from the top down - and that's not the way your kids see the world. Bend those knees and work those squats.

3. Observe, hang back and notice the small things. More often than not, it's the little details in life that are the most beautiful. Getting the shot of your little one standing out the front of school on the first day is hardly as important as your tears and Dad's embrace of assurance. That's what I prefer to shoot, anyway.

Ever since attending The Nursery I've been careful to notice these tender, love filled moments and capture them when I can.

If you're keen to attend a session with Tim, he has just released the dates for his next tour here.

Hopefully, in the next couple of weeks i'll be capturing my toddlers sloppy lips connecting with the fuzzy head of a newborn. I simply can NOT wait for those magic moments!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Stills: A Weekly Collection

1. Fresh Flowers. For $5 a bunch at aldi, who can resist?
2. oooh hello! Thats my hospital bag zipped and ready to go. 
3. My favourite pants (that's 'soft pants' to you Nikki)
4. The smoke box. We've been getting right into smoking since seeing Hugh do it on River Cottage recently. Autumn is the season to rekindle your River Cottage love, my friends! I think I shall have to reinstate River Cottage night, recipes included.
5. Rainy day travels to near by water side locations.
6. Rainy day hot chip car pic nic. Best thing EVER.
7. That's dave strapping the boards on the roof for his last surf in a little while. Poor dude!


Zephie - Shark Boy! Zeph has formed an inseparable bond with his Paul and Paula 'shark' hoodie. It was part of a beautiful selection of children's clothing we received as a gift a few weeks ago. I can't speak highly enough of the quality - hand made by a stay at home mum in Melbourne. Exceptional cuts and beautiful, durable fabrics.

Pippi - Oh, still so much a baby and not at all ready for the competition that is to come. In the next couple of weeks there will be one extra person to cuddle and love and the same amount of time to do it in.

Not long till there is a 3rd portrait to include! Eeep!

I totally thought i was going into labour last night when it dawned on me - I'M NOT READY!!!! Today I got  little bit closer to being organised, hung some pictures on the walls in the baby's room (essential) and squished down the maxi pads in my baby bag so I could zip it up.

Let's hope I make it to m c-section date!

See you soon for the Still Collection :)

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Baby Moon - Beetle Shack Style

My delicious p.j pile consists of organic sleepwear c/o Sorella and Me (the pants are exactly the right length, if you're a shorty, you'll know how awesome that is) and a cute Bambi set by Arabella Ramsey for Target.

I often read beautiful stories of blissful baby moons where mothers and their new-borns bond at home over breast milk and cups of herbal tea. In these stories, they stay in the quiet comfort of their bedrooms while friends and family nurture them with hearty meals and back rubs.

These women walk out of birthing suites (sometimes hours after giving birth) with a new born babe in arms, ready to hibernate in the comfort of their own bed, with their own linen and their own pillow. Their husband and additional children quietly coexist in the home beside them.

While I simply adore the sound of the above, it's just not reality for me.

My kids are LOUD and they move so quickly- like lightning. They jump on the bed too, can you believe it? Each and every morning they climb from the foot of the bed to centre, right between Dave and I. There they wiggle and squirm and kick until someone gets them a cup of milk.

For me, a baby moon in the hospital hotel is just perfect*.

Four days of dinner deliveries, ready made cups of tea and semi stale biscuits in plastic wrappers is my idea of bliss.

Four days a beautiful, nurturing midwives popping in for chats and blood pressure checks- maybe even a nappy change if i'm lucky!

Each morning Dave will arrive fresh faced and well slept (ehum, not) with a hot cappuccino from the cafe down stairs. Together we will sit and watch our new human and talk about the perfection we've created whilst drinking our caffeine. Our children will be lovingly entertained by our friends and family while we enjoy a few very sacred days of new born bliss- in the hospital.

While I love the notion that home is the best place for a woman to recover from birth, I can't help but propose that maybe, just maybe every woman is different, every birth is different and what is 'best' is diverse and varied.

Yay for motherhood and diversity and modern medicine and acceptance and hospitals and semi stale biscuits!



In all seriousness, I have had SUCH positive experiences in the hospital after the birth of my babies.  The midwives have been exceptionally caring, patient, understanding and nurturing. It's such a happy time for me, those first few days of new life where everything in slow and simple and quiet.

Tell me, where did you recover from your birth/s? What was it like?

*and a requirement of the necessary caesar that i'll be having. Gotta make the most of it right, positive thinking and all that ;)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Beetle Shack gardening Column - April 2013 {a video walk through our patch}

Well hello everyone,

Welcome to the third installment of The Beetle Shack Gardening Series. As we’re well into Autumn, I thought a little video that Em & I made of our front garden at the end of summer / early autumn would be in order.

We were harvesting eggplant (two different varieties), green beans and chillies (cayenne & a thai variety that I don’t remember), and also checking out some of the early autumn planting.

Since March we’ve got garlic, kale, broccoli, leek, coriander and silverbeet on the go, along with a few varieties of bush and climbing peas.

Late tomatoes are now about to come out and potatoes will go in where they were (spuds are great crop to break the cycle of Solanaceae (tom’s etc) and Brassicas (kale, brocolli, cabbage etc) and give the soil a rest (tomatoes in particular are hungry little bastards and will suck up every bit of goodness they are planted in).

As many of you probably know, crop rotation is a critical part of organic vegie gardening; it’s the first line of defense in the fight against pests and disease, and also critical to the building up of nutrients in the soil. The general idea is that different plants suck up different nutrients from the soil, and also have different pests (a cool side note is that often one plants enemy is anothers defender and so multi-cropping selected plants gets the bugs working against each other).

Planting the same crop repeatedly on the same patch allows a build up of disease, perfect conditions for pests along with the depletion of nutrients needed in the soil to grow fully developed veg (this is just one reason why industrial row monoculture row cropping is a bad idea and requires so much chemical fertilisers, herbicides & fungicides).

Enough with the lecture. I hope you enjoy the little snippet into our garden.

If you're interested in learning more about our approach to gardening and self sufficiency, head over here and read an interview with Dave about just that- Living Differently (adorable illustration included).

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

A Little Tienda Photo Shoot and Giveaway {CLOSED}

 1. Senora Las Flores - RRP $99, 2. Mexican Blanket - RRP  $99, 3. Vida Clutch - RRP $70, 4. La Flor Blouse - RRP $69

About a month ago my beautiful sisters and I embarked upon another fun filled photo session for Little Tienda. The last one was in the heat of summer, naturally we were accompanied by mozzies, marigolds and ice cold beer. 

This time, the mermaids were crowned with woollen pom pom's while coloured tights covered their legs.  Vintage leather ankle boots provided protection from the dewy grass and bespoke satchels carried our essential items, you know, like lip gloss.

I for one will be wearing my Las Flores with tights and large layers of wool throughout the winter months.

Em from Little Tienda doesn't want you to miss out on the floral goodness either, so she has prepared the above deliciously fruity giveaway for you!

You can find all the details on how to enter at the bottom of this post.

all items pictured are available at Little Tienda

One fruity follower of The Beetle Shack will be lucky enough to win the following package from the beautiful Em at Little Tienda.

1. Senora Las Flores - RRP $99
2. Mexican Blanket - RRP  $99
3. Vida Clutch - RRP $70
4. La Flor Blouse - RRP $69

You can enter this giveaway is open to followers of The Beetle Shack and can be entered a maximum 4 times by completing the following;

  1. Be a follower of The Beetle Shack via Google Friend Connect (via blue button on the right)
  2. Like Little Tienda on Facebook
  3. Like The Beetle Shack on Facebook
  4. Share this give away on any social media platform (instagram/facebook/twitter/pinterest)

Simply leave a comment for each.

If you can't see your comment below, just click 'see more' and it should appear.

Winner will be announced on this post one week from today. Please make sure you are contactable via social media or email.

Of course you can still enter if you aren't on facebook, you just need to leave a comment below and make sure I can contact you via email.

EDIT: THE WINNER IS  Imogen EveApril 16, 2013 at 11:03 

please contact me on the email :)

Em from Little Tienda is offering readers of The Beetle Shack a 10% Discount off ALL stock using the code 'beetleshack' - valid for one week only. 

terms: this giveaway is open to all followers of The Beetle Shack world wide. All entrants must provide a first name along with your comment entry and ensure I can contact you via your blog/social media or email  (you can subscribe via email if you don't want to list your contact details publicly) . Once the giveaway has ended and winner is chosen they will be contacted via email and put in touch with the sponsor. Giveaway items are not distributed by The Beetle Shack, they are directly distributed to the winners by the sponsors themselves. 

p.s the winner of the Oliver's Twisty Tales giveaway has been announced back here :)

Monday, April 15, 2013

Stills: A Weekly Collection

1. A daily ritual - the egg collection
2. I've been making the family fresh juice in the mornings to ensure we can all be as healthy as possible before the 3rd child arrives. Cute jars c/o Rainy Sunday
3. hey Autumn, you sexy thing
4. It's all part of the nesting. Fresh flowers for every room.
5. Last night we cooked up a delicious River Cottage feast in the wood fired oven. Smoked fish and beetroot salad amongst other things.
6. The last scraps of my craft room about to be removed. We are making way for baby.
7. See, thats a COT. Seriously, this is happening.

Sorry it's late this week- i'm getting more and more behind on life in general. I do however have a nursery that is almost ready to go and a baby that is almost ready to pop. e.x.c.i.t.i.n.g.

Also, tomorrow is the last day to enter this giveaway. I have one more (very deliciously fruity) giveaway to launch this month and then that will be it for a while. If you're not a lover of the giveaway, thanks for hanging in there with me!

Feel free to add your link below, I'm looking forward to seeing what you've been up to :)