Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Craft Corner : Revamp

At the start of this year I mentioned that a guest blogger was going to be popping in each month as part of The Craft Corner for The Beetle Shack. Well today is the day! The day of our very first Craft Corner with The amazingly talented Tahnee of Milk Please Mum.

Tahnee is a blogger, mother, photographer and full on nut case. In between raising three children, keeping a house and running a brilliant photography business, she's agreed to share a monthly creative project with us here. Now if only I could get my children to be as compliant as Tahnee.


Hello again!

So good to be back at The Beetle Shack. I'll be dropping in toward the end of each month, all year long. Em seems to think I am full of good ideas when it comes to crafting/projects/photography.. perhaps the sleep deprivation was at an all time high when she asked me to jump on board, but too late now! I'm up for the challenge, so each month I will endeavour to bring you new projects/tutorials/tips you can try at home--with the kids, without the kids, as a family.. who knows what's coming. I don't! I'm making this up as I go along because apparently Em likes it that way. And she's the boss so I'll do as I'm told.

First up? The revamp. The reno. The makeover. The zhuzh.

Once the buzz of the festive season had passed, I looked around the house as I packed away all things Christmas, and some parts were just bleh. Cushion covers and throws that had stayed the same all year, furniture that had annoyed me but we had continued to use because it was practical. Lamps that looked tired. Tables that had been scribbled on. There was only one thing for it.


I love a little paint job and many a treasure I have saved from the tip shop or op shop has been brought back to life with a $5 sample pot of paint from the hardware store. If you've got favourite pieces around the house that are looking a little tired but you can't bear to replace them - paint them.

One thing that had been on my list for quite some time was the kids' play kitchen. It was a birthday present for our eldest when she was two. It has been used almost daily over the past four and a bit years. The dents and paint chips were solid proof. I picked the sink and oven pieces up on ebay, which needed some love. I sanded and painted them up and they really shone. About a year later I found a little hutch on ebay too but left it untouched. I think half my house is furnished with revamped ebay finds..

So, given my quality painting expertise (snort), I should pass on some of my wisdom.

PAINTING TIPS (which may or may not be correct - they just work for me)

/ Prepping your piece of furniture before putting your hand on a paint brush is important.
/ Remove all handles/knobs/hinges/screws that will be in the way. If this isn't possible, use a roll of painter's tape to tape the necessary pieces.
/ 98% of the time, your reno piece needs to be sanded. Level of sanding depends on the condition of your furniture.
/ If you are wanting to get a worn/vintage look with a fresh coat of paint, the sanding is usually done after your painting is finished, to purposely sand away patches of paint, giving it that preloved look.
/ If you're stripping the paint/varnish completely, obviously just keep sanding until you reach the original material underneath. I highly recommend a little mouse sander for this. Your back and hand will thank you. Sanding a big job by hand is THE PITS. I speak from experience.
/ If you're painting over an already painted finish, you need to sand just enough to make your surface rough enough for the paint to adhere to (like in above photo). A light sand with a medium grade sandpaper will do the trick.
/ If you are painting a raw surface, it needs to be primed. Head to your local hardware store and tell your helpful sales assistant what you're painting and they'll know what sort of primer you need.
/ Prepare your work area with drop sheets (old crappy bed linen).
/ Gather your materials so they are close at hand.
/ This includes a hot cuppa and music. If you're hiding in the garage from your children, these items are essential.
/ Cut in first. Cutting in means using a paint brush to get into corners and edges where a roller cannot fit.
/ If your reno piece allows for it, paint remainder with appropriate sized roller. Personally, I prefer to paint most small pieces (like the kids' kitchen) entirely with a brush. I find it really therapeutic, and it means I get to hide in the garage drinking tea and listening to Mat Kearney far longer than if I used a roller. My husband is none the wiser.
/ General rule of thumb - one coat of undercoat/primer, two coats of colour. If you're painting over a dark colour with something lighter, you may need three coats of colour.
/ Paint brands - I usually buy either British Paints from Bunnings, or Pascol from Masters because they give you the largest size tester pots for the cheapest price. Of course tester pots will only give you a matte finish (which I prefer) so if you are still trying to do a reno with spare change found between the couch cushions, you can buy yourself a varnish/gloss spray to go over the top.

If you can manage to follow most of these expert tips (snort again) then you will end up with a before and after that looks something like this.

It will cost you time and a handful of small change. Too easy.

The hutch deserved a little zhuzhing too - enter my trusty jar of Mod Podge and some fabric scraps from the sewing corner.

Mod Podge is a great craft cupboard staple. It's a waterbase sealer, glue and finish in one. For the hutch, I cut my pieces of fabric slightly larger than necessary, painted Mod Podge directly onto the backing board of the hutch, placed the fabric over the top, smoothed fabric out being sure to get into all the corners, then trimmed the excess away with a sharp blade/stanley knife. Once dry, I sprayed the whole piece with two coats of varnish.

Another idea for a quick, cheap makeover? Lamps. Shades and bases. Clearly, I like a statement piece. Colour is my life and you just can't find something bright and vivid and just a little bit different, straight off the shelf. So all of my bases were found at the op/tip shop and old shades were recovered to suit my colourful need at that moment in time.

Same rules apply here for painting (but if you are painting over a glossy ceramic base, you will need something called griplock primer). Unless you prefer to use spray paint. The yellow bases here were sprayed in high gloss. Personally, I prefer to hand paint than spray--I find I need to concentrate far more when spraying to be careful of even coverage and no drips.

When covering your shade, I do it the same way Em does. Only I'm far lazier and don't bother tracing a pattern and draw straight onto the back of my fabric with a fabric marker.

And finally - covering up those scribbles on the table that your kids pretend they didn't do.

Hey presto, new table. Everything old is new again!

So, pick your piece of furniture that's looking a bit tired, take your $5 to the hardware store for some paint - and you're away!


See, what'd I tell ya! NUT CASE! Look at what this lady can accomplish with $5 and a few spare hours… personally I struggle to complete a 'retro party mix' bag of lollies and an episode of Dawson's Creek in an hour (yes, it's been a good few years since I've had an hour to burn).

Can't wait till next month Tahnee! Keep up to date with the woman herself over here and make sure you check out her collaborative photography project here.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Wearing: Hungarian Folk Blouse

Yes, a european folk blouse and various white flecks on my jeans. Could be tissue, could be toilet paper. Who knows. 

I'm super excited to be bringing a few more classic european folk pieces to Bohemian Traders over the coming months - prefect to mix back with denim or floaty bohemian skirts. 


Folk Blouse | Bohemian Traders
Jeans | Levi's

Also, if you were after a Falling Flowers Kimono in one of our 'sold out' prints, you're in luck. Print one and six have just been replenished (but only a couple of each).

Righto, done!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Two by Two

Sometime, about a million years ago, I sent Zeph off to his first day of childcare. He wasn't yet 2.5 and I was riddled with guilt for sending him before his 3rd birthday. Zeph was a wild young boy and when at home with me all the time, I struggled to entertain him. He needed more than I felt I could offer so I bought him a back pack, made him some lunch and sent him on his way.

It was a horrible experience and one that I didn't document here in great detail. His eagerness for life and desire to move quickly were not well received by the day care centre he was enrolled in and he was often in trouble or isolated. Their preference was for subdued toddlers who liked mid day naps and afternoon t.v sessions and clearly my boy did not. The whole ordeal lasted less than 2 months at which point I pulled him out and continued on at home - muddling through with less grace and patience than I care to remember. 

Upon his 3rd birthday we enrolled him a local pre school and I can safely say that it was the single best decision we've ever made for our young Zeph. A teacher with fiery red hair, a kind smile and the most joyful disposition embraced our boy and under her delightful guidance, he thrived. She encouraged bug examination (and release), elaborate imaginative discussions and really fast running. She's firm but fair and on more than one occasion has frankly said to me 'we just love him here' and without a second of doubt, I believe her.

Today, 2.5 years later, Dave packed a pink and purple lunchbox with fruit, water and a jam sambo for Pip. I brushed her hair, talked with her about the importance of wearing undies and sharing before placing that lunchbox in her bag and putting it on her tiny back.

She was overcome with excitement and as we walked up to the front gates of Pre School. As the four of us (Elke was safely on my hip) followed the shadow of an experienced Zeph,  Dave held out his hand asking Pip if shed like to hold it - 'nope' she said with a little shake of her head. 

And there she goes, walking out into being three, going to preschool and wearing undies.

Three years ago, when I first sent Zeph to day care, I remarked that  'Babies are only little for a while. They muddle their words, talk about balls, jump into cuddles and splash in puddles for SUCH a short time. A short, magical time'. Now, all of a sudden TWO of my babies are at Pre School - of they go, marching two by two.

 I sit here now with tears in my eyes and I know I am blessed to be a mother. Today was just one of those days that I will remember forever. Her first day. The first of many.

 They grow up, I stay the same.
 I love them for ever.

Stills: A Weekly Collection

1. These two. The best of friends and the worst of friends. Brother and Sister- forever bound.

2. Hydrangeas on the kitchen table. The holiday house over my parents back fence is literally bursting with enormous, luscious butterfly blooms and I can't help but clamber over with the scissors and snip some off.

3. Butter cake for a tea party with my two big kids. Fine bone china and vintage linen too. So fancy.

4. 11 years since Dave and I have had a new quilt and I must say, it's rather lovely. I made the bed up with fresh linen and colourful pillows - even Dave approved given that Tontine make, you know, like roof insulation and stuff.  This one is a his & hers speciality - Venus & Mars - so great. Thanks for the gift, Tontine.

5. Reflection.

6. We bought Pip this little toy camera for her birthday. It's both a digital camera and projector. We've been having masses of fun taking silly photos before heading into a darkened room and projecting them up onto the wall.

7. The Birthday Girl's room.

8. That's my mum. Right now, standing next to me as I type and doing our ironing. A little bit later we'll pause for coffee. OOOH helloooo tuesday sans big kids, you're going to be beautiful.

It's been a VERY exciting week here at The Beetle Shack with my little Pip's 3rd Birthday and 1st day at Preschool. Can't wait to see how your week shaped up.

Shall we all raise our glassies to the end of the school holidays?

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Mysteriously Three

My Girl, even though I've grown and birthed another baby since your last birthday, it still feels as though you were just born. You're new and mysterious to me. Your bother wears his heart on his sleeve, talking loudly and often. His emotions are raw and explosive, never to be hidden or questioned. But you my darling, are as deep and as mystifying as the atlantic ocean. You're quiet and watchful and as sweet as honey.  You seek me out for big long cuddles and when I'm busy you examine me, studying my every move before walking away with one had on your hip and a swagger in your step, because you know, that's what I'm usually practising.

You are the consummate tomboy insisting on styling in your brothers boardies and rashies each and every day, changing into a new set at 20 minute intervals.

When socialisation becomes too much to handle you quietly remove yourself, preferring to sit quietly, chattering away to your toys and teddies and engaging in elaborate imaginative play.

A gaggle of 'your guys' follow you everywhere. A small Thomas the Tank Engine, a soft stuffed Captain Barnicles and a handful of Fireman Sam figurines. You're not fancy, you like things 'labeled' and easily collectable from Kmart. At times I'll find them carefully lined up on your bedroom floor and lovingly wrapped in discarded face washers all ready for bed. Other times you'll follow me around the house with arms laden, pretending to 'shoosh shoooosh' them to sleep.

You have short legs and dead straight hair just like your mumma.

When your dad and I ask you for a kiss, it's guaranteed to be passionate. You grab our whole heads with vigour and plant delicious kisses somewhere in the vicinity of our lips, but anywhere will do really.

Your voice is unusually husky.

You love sleep like a teenager.

When you loose your temper you do so with splendid extravagance. A shrill voice and steaming red face accompany stomping feet and bulging vein through your forehead.

Sometimes I still have to pinch myself. I can't believe I was blessed enough to get you, a daughter.

I'll be a very happy woman if you grow to love me as much as I love my own mother.

I'm filled with hope for your future. A future that I pray for daily.

Sometimes once I've tucked you and your siblings in for the night, kissed your plump lips and brushed the hair from your foreheads, I'm left breathless by your beauty.

I love you.

Happy 3, my little Pip.


Zeph: Casting
Pippi: Illuminated (and 3 today, details to follow)
Elke: Dreaming

Friday, January 24, 2014

The Frugal Mothers Guide to Shopping for Kids {a feature for Target}

There is no denying that kids are joyful creatures. Most of the time their pure delight for life can not be contained. Their approach is loud, effervescent and messy and they apply this to all areas – indoors, outdoors, their rooms, their clothes, their whole lives.
For this reason, we like to keep our kids’ style simple and minimal. 
Lets break it into two categories. Toys and clothes.
When it comes to toys that are essential for Summer – it’s all about the great outdoors and we’ve invested in the ‘golden trifecta’ if you will. Around here it’s the ‘classic’ toys that get used repeatedly day in, day out. Year in, year out.  You know, the toys that we 80s babies used to play with as kids – the toys that will go the distance. From baby to big. The ones that will last when left out in the weather, provide physical activity and facilitate happy, lasting memories. The items that slowing replace the baby essentials like bouncers, rockers and high chairs.
I’m pretty sure every one of us will recall bouncing luxuriously on the trampoline, filling our shoes and socks with sand in the sandpit and swinging for hours on the swing set.  It’s the eternal backyard trio. The sandpit. The trampoline. The swing set. Every backyard needs them! If you’ve got a spare $20 you can always throw in the great Australian Slip ‘n’ Slide to ensure your summer break is filled with sunshine, sweat and water- oh mercy, so good.
Kids’ clothing can be a costly essential and when you have children of both genders, the expenses are magnified. For this reason, I like to keep 'affordable quality' at the fore. I've also developed a very simple strategy when shopping for Elke and the bigger kids and adhere to the following rules with deep devotion. 
1. Always buy patterned tops - they hide all manner of dirt, grime and stains. Patterned clothing is a lazy mothers washing machine. Watch that pile of sorting disappear! 
2. Keep linens white - I only buy white bedding for my kids. It can be bleached time and time again, handed down as the kids grow and it looks beautiful. I just bought the pictured rocking horse cot linen and it's divine in Elke's room.
3. Never Iron - I have a no iron policy. Truly, if it needs ironing I won't buy it. 
4. Something for now, something for later - Whenever i'm shopping for my kids at sale time I always buy something for now and something for later. At any given time there will be bags of clothing, toys and books at the top of Dave's and my wardrobe. If it's on sale, I'll grab it.
Above is a little collection of goodies I bought for Elke. Clothes in stripes and spots and jersey in sizes 00 and 0. Linen in crispy white along with bargain priced muslin wraps and a plush cloud printed blanky. It's all easily laundered and good quality. The 30th of Jan marks Targets 'Everything for Baby' sale and you can bet your bottom dollar that you'll be able to gather a little something for now as well as some treasures for later.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Knowing My Limits, Asking For Help

a post from the archives / something worth remembering

When Zeph was born and Dave went back to work, I found myself in an unusual predicament - at home alone, recovering from a c section with a brand new baby. It was disorienting and isolating.  Zeph was an unsettled little dude with reflux while I was an unsettled new mum with anxiety. A cracking combination.

In my life before motherhood I felt I could conquer most things and find a way of being successful in many situations. Since the day I turned 14 and 9 months I had a job, earnt my own money and was pretty social. I had taken pride in my appearance and often indulged in unnecessary spending for, you know, unnecessary consumer goods.

Yet there I was, unemployed and poorly dressed with a crying baby in my arms, a pile of washing on the floor and a scar on my tummy.

Fortunately for me, I was surrounded by my family who were a pillar of support. My mum used to pop in after work with blueberry scones and make me a cup of tea before rocking the baby to sleep. Both of my parents provided a listening ear and a sympathetic hug in times of need. They would do odd jobs around the house and generally help out without my needing to ask.

Yet I remained anxious and all at sea. Being a proud person with a strong independent streak I desperately wanted to to be able to do this parenting gig on my own. I wanted to be able to do it all without any help. In fact, I expected myself to.

Surely only the weak and incompetent would need to rely on others to help them raise their children! Surely this kind of dependency only rendered me useless and inefficient!

Oh, how very wrong I was.

Last week was my hardest week of parenting ever. All 5 of us were sick with Elke refusing to be put down both day and night. Zeph and Pip felt the pinch of a severe reduction in attention while Dave and I struggled to manage their night wakings, bed wettings and temper tantrums whilst being unwell ourselves.

To think that I could've made it through that week without the support of my friends and family is utter insanity. Parenting is a community affair and without even realising it we support one another. Whether it be with a listening ear, a home cooked meal, a hot cup of tea or a sincere offer to sort another mothers washing - we do it together.

The longer I do this parenting thing the more I realise that the job is unconquerable. I'll never get it perfect. I'll never have a super human amount of patience or energy or time. I'll always need help and support and do you know what - if an offer for food, time or a hug is made, i'm right there, saying YES! And if I really need an extra pair of hands, these days I'm bold enough to ask.

There's no shame in asking for help.

It's empowering to know ones limits and respect them.

Tell me, are you comfortable asking for help or does part of you feel like you've failed if you can't get everything done on your own?

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Wearing: The Casual Kimono

I've always been a lover of the Kimono and for the longest time i'd been looking for one that could be worn every day. You know, a kimono to suit my lifestyle - cotton and casual. There's an abundance of lovely silky numbers out there but for the life of me I couldn't find one that would work equally well with printed tee's and floaty frocks.

When I started Bohemian Traders, I knew a Kimono would be part of our collection and I was thrilled to be able to have the Falling Flowers Kimono created. It's 100% hand block printed cotton voile and Fair Trade. It's a dream to wear over swimmers at the beach to with sweet cotton dresses and cut off shorts.


Kimono | Bohemian Traders 
Printed Tee | Cotton On
Shorts | Find Similar
Shoes c|o The Horse (currently on sale and the best shoes EVER)
Ridiculous sunnies and double chin | Stylists own

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Family Home Project - Jodi Wilson from Practising Simplicity

Photographed by Kristoffer Paulsen

Earlier in the year I mentioned that I was launching a new project on The Beetle Shack and here it is! The Family Home Project is about celebrating the dwellings of creative families. The living spaces of writers and crafters and makers and photographers. Of stylists, designers and ordinary folk. Each month during 2014 we'll take a walk through humble, creative family spaces - from the vivid to the subtle.

 I'm so excited to be kicking off  with the home of Jodi Wilson from Practising Simplicity.

Jodi, her partner Daniel and their two gorgeous children live in a sleepy seaside suburb on the east coast of NSW. Their home is thoughtfully decorated in muted hues and vintage finds  - Jodi is a blogger, photographer and writer while Daniel is currently traveling the world and filming an internationally acclaimed tv series. But I won't waffle on, lets allow the writer to do her thing…

Who lives here?
Jodi, Daniel, Che (6) Poet (2)

What is your style ethos? 
I tend to buy things because I genuinely like them, not because they're trendy. I guess you could say my ethos is "timeless, organic, simple, beautiful"

Who/what inspires your style?
I'm inspired by nature and like to imbue home with the colours I see outside - honey, olive, sand, terracotta, beeswax, sky

Where is your favourite place to sit?
At our beautiful timber table. From here I can see every room of the house as well as the towering gums outside. It's the heart of our home, as every good kitchen table should be. 

How does the layout of your home affect the way you live/function within it?
It's open plan and split level (three steps between the bedrooms and kitchen/dining/loungeroom) so it means we're always together - it's great for conversation and not so good if you want some time alone. It's a smallish house so I try to keep it clutter-free to maximise the physical and visual space.

What are your future plans/dreams for your house? 
We're renters so our future dreams involve a different home. For now we're happy where we are and hope this space suits us for a good while yet. 

Any tips for someone who might like to emulate your style?
A few years ago I realised that if I wait for something it will come to me. It's very true of everything I love in my home. The kitchen table was discovered in a deceased estate in my street (it came complete with scratches and imprints and teapot scolds) and I got it for $50. The dolls house was a garage sale find - $20 and my little desk came from the same estate as the table for an extra special price of $5. I think we live in an age where dream homes are plastered across pinterest and magazine spreads and it's easy to get confused about what we want; even easier to get caught up in what we don't have (or can't afford). I've found that my home style is a slowly evolving one; I find something here, something there, it never costs much and the purchase is always a considered one. Ultimately it means I'm creating a space that is practical, beautiful and original. 

When it comes to buying for your home ask yourself: "Do I need it? How will it fit in the space? Will I like it in one, two, three years time?"

What makes a house a home? 
Family, copious amount of tea, books, candles, conversation, herbs in pots, gumboots by the door

style guide

Picture Frames from Corban & Blair // Navy Wire Basket from Down to the Woods // Vintage Dolls House// Black tea pot found on Jodi's travels to Bali//White Mug from Piccolo Pear// dining chars from IKEA// prints in Poet's room - apple papple from Greater Good// Custom portrait of Jodi and Poet by Rebekka Seale// Paris Map from famillesummerbelle// Linen Quilt in Poets room from Hello Milky and Patchwork quilt in poets room is from Maggie and Sparrow.

I look forward to bringing you another instalment of The Family Home Project next month. You can expect to see a place filled with love and handmade treasures from another truly creative family. Stay tuned.