how to create your own edible garden…
Posted in australia, creative ventures, food, nature June 24th, 2015 by pia

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Earlier this year on a drizzly and rather misty Saturday morning in February, I drove down to the very beautiful Glenbernie Orchard in Darkes Forest, in the Northern Illawarra of New South Wales. I had signed up to talented baker Tara Mills of Mill Lane’s workshop on “how to create your own edible garden”, encouraged by my dear friend Jenni who was also attending and lives in the area (I’ll be showcasing Jenni’s gorgeous home here in the (blog)house very soon, in the meantime you can have a little sneak peek here).

I love turning off the highway upon entering the Royal National Park, like other times I’ve traveled in that direction, I wind down all the windows in the car and take deep belly breaths to absorb the gorgeous air. On this occassion, I was playing the latest album of Tenzin Cheogyal called Heart Strings, and so by the time I arrived at Glenbernie, I was well and truly at ease and ready to enjoy the full day workshop ahead. It’s an incredibly rare treat to have an entire Saturday to myself, and to spend it with like-minded people learning all about permaculture and enjoying a glorious home made lunch by Tara made it very special…

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These seasonal workshops, hosted by Tara, take place in a large shed on the Glenbernie Orchard property, looking out over the apple orchard. It is taught by Narelle Happ, horticulturalist and garden designer, who has over ten years experience in permaculture, and is filled with knowledge which she passionately shares throughout the day. She’s a great teacher, very patient and willing to share everything she knows about creating beautiful edible gardens.

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Throughout the day Tara served a delicious array of dishes for morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea. At lunchtime we sampled the orchards own apple cider, as well as indulged in a glass of sparkling wine, which relaxed us into the afternoon. In the morning we talked about the principles and ethics of permaculture, designing our individual gardens, and creating health soil, while in the afternoon we learnt about specific seasonal and perennial plants, propogation, and seed saving and raising. Narelle incorporated a lot of hands on activity, so we were able to learn through experience which I have always found the best way to soak in information, especially for those of us who are visual learners.

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At the end of the day we each came home with an armful of gardening goodies including our propogated plants, seeds, companion guides, notes, a wooden handled trowel, and some of Tara’s delicious recipes.

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It was a wonderful experience, and to be able to come home to my own garden and see it afresh, implementing Narelle’s advice and teachings over time spent in my own little borrowed patch of earth. I have more confidence now with things I wasn’t sure about like my compost system and soil, as well as the needs of certain vegetables. And I’m inspired to keep trying, keep planting and experimenting, and then to cook as Tara does, with pickings straight from the garden.

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Thank you everyone who attended that day for the wonderful conversations and a big thank you to Tara, Narelle and Jo who owns the farm, for having me along. I am keen to get back down there for Tara’s baking workshop now, called “the art of making French breads” ah oui!

xx

 

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all photographs by Pia Jane Bijkerk

Kaspia’s Caravan…

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What a beginning to 2015, for all of us… much energy moving around, can you feel it? Old energy moving out, new energy moving in, big changes in the air. I have many thoughts on it that I’d love to share with you and I’d love to hear your thoughts, to see how we are shifting and changing as a collective. I haven’t been blogging much this past year, as many of you know who follow my instragram, there are a number of personal reasons for that. But I miss being here. I miss this space, I miss you.  And this year I have some ideas on how I can be here some more, with your help. Because I’ve come to see this is a special place, a creative passage I need in my life – a place in the past where I’ve been able to thrive, to create freely, to move forward. And it feels really important to keep it going, keep it alive and fresh, for all of us. It’s not something I take for granted, and I’m very grateful for it, for you, both silent and spoken readers – we share something together, something we can’t really see, or pinpoint. But it’s there, it’s present and strong and it needs to grow…

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Today though, I wanted to share with you a creative endeavour of a dear friend of mine. Her name is Kaspia, and for years she has been dreaming of opening her very own pop-up shop, filled with incredible treasures she has collected from her exotic travels around the globe over the years. Kaspia has an incredible, unique style. I’ve long admired her sense of colour, wonder and energy, and I’ve been so excited for her, to see her dream become a reality and be shared with the world. You guys know how I feel about taking risks and following your heart!  Kaspia opened her pop up shop last month in the heart of Sydney in Potts Point, in the stunning artist’s space known as The Yellow House

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There are rugs, cushions, quilts and throws from the most remote parts of the world. There are necklaces, bags, boxes and bracelets, tables, day beds, lamps and baskets from Mexico, the Far East, the Himalayas and beyond.

The collection is out of this world and I urge you to go and visit before it closes on February 1st, 2015, that’s only two weeks away.

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A big warm, all encompassing hug to Kaspia for making her dream come true and sharing it with all of us… If you’d like to learn more about her wild and wonderful life, read her interview on Daily Imprint, and for more information about the pieces in her store, you can read her blog, there is lots to learn about the collection, where each piece came from and how they are made.

To celebrate I’ve put a few copies of My Heart Wanders and Little Treasures: Made by Hand in her store as a package for $65 (instead of the normal retail price of $85) so that means you basically get Little Treasures: Made by Hand for just $5 when you buy both books together. I know that’s crazy, but I want to! It’s only for this two weeks, so I hope it will encourage you to get down to Kaspia’s shop pronto. Someone commented the other day that they received My Heart Wanders as a graduation gift from a relative and I thought that was a wonderful idea.

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Looking forward to hanging out here in my blog house this year, in between working on my next book. Here’s to the new year, to celebrating our connections, and to being who we are meant to be, with our hearts open…

Pia xx

all photographs by Pia Jane Bijkerk

our corner store…
Posted in australia, country style, creative ventures November 7th, 2012 by pia

There is a beautiful new store in Bangalow, in northern NSW called Our Corner Store. Inspired by the traditional corner store it has a little bit of everything and values good old fashion service. Owners Aneka and Miranda have a beauitful aesthetic, each item is carefully selected to fit into a natural, organic style.  “We are passionate about the home and celebration, and sell goods that make living simply better and more beautiful – wire storage and hooks, brass hardware, hemp rugs, jute baskets, canvas camping accessories and stationery.”

I interviewed Aneka and Miranda about their new venture for Country Style, you can read the full interview here. Thank you Aneka and Miranda for sharing your gorgeous space with us! And a big thank you to Natalie McComas for the stunning photographs, and Annique Rousseau for the beautiful styling.

dandelion: “bullying is for people with no imagination”…
Posted in apps, books, creative ventures June 29th, 2012 by pia

I’ve become increasingly interested in kickstarters these past months. I love the concept of being able to fund independent projects, to be directly involved in the making of something unique & wonderful. The other day I received an email about a fabulous concept for kids – an iPad app that explores the topic of bullying through the highly creative story of a young character named Benjamin Brewster. Dandelion tells the tale of Benjamin’s journey against the odds to defeat bullies. Through illustration and beautifully written text, the aim is to encourage dialogue between parents and children, inspiring the reader to interact with the pages of the book and help Benjamin’s wish to come true…

World, meet Benjamin Brewster…

“With all my might, you’ll all take flight… If I could but wish for better things, you’d all disperse and grow your wings…”, Benjamin Brewster, Dandelion.

Each scene in the app is pencil drawn, digitally painted, spliced and then animated. Benjamin himself has been drawn as a “blank canvas”, allowing each reader to be able to place themselves in his shoes. Click here to see a sweet little behind-the-scenes video of Benjamin’s magical world coming to life.

I love the idea of defeating bullying with “a little imagination”.  I’m passionate about both communication and imagination being key elements in the way we can better live our lives.  Not to mention the clever use of the technologies available today, allowing us to combine old crafts with new.

While the app is well under way to being produced and available soon, there is a special kickstarter project currently in progress to enable you to pledge your support for Dandelion and in return to receive any number of limited edition items like colour signed prints, wall decals, and signed hard-cover books. These extras are uniquely available for the duration of the kickstarter project. The deadline is July 23rd, which means there are only 24 days to go…

Thank you Luke for taking the time to email me about this fantastic project, and for giving me the opportunity to share it right here in the (blog)house.

xx

For more info on Dandelion, click here.
To pledge your much appreciated support, please click here.
And please feel free to reblog or share this post with your own social network, obviously the more support, the better.

amy merrick’s fairy tale flowers…
Posted in artists, creative ventures, nature, stylists December 9th, 2011 by pia

all images featured in this post are courtesy of Amy Merrick.

I wanted to write this post in time for Thanksgiving since that is when I first met sweet Amy last year. Shall we pretend I did  actually manage to write this in time for the occasion? okay yes, well then this is what I wanted to say:

“This time last year, I received an email from Brooklyn-dweller Amy Merrick, informing me of her upcoming trip to Amsterdam and how she’d like to meet up if I had the time. I’d admired Amy’s work, blog, and ‘living in’ posts (where she puts together a collection of homewares and furniture inspired by the sets of favourite movies) on design*sponge for some time, and was rapt to know that I’d have the opportunity to meet her in person. Amy was traveling with her dear sister Micha and they happened to be in Amsterdam on Thanksgiving day. So I decided to surprise them and book a table at the only place in the city that serves a fabulous Thanksgiving dinner – lovefood. Perhaps it was going to be more of a treat for French Boy and I as the last time I’d had a real Thanksgiving meal was 15 years prior when I lived in Pennsylvania, while French Boy had never had a Thanksgiving feast. French Boy, my dear friend Heidi and myself rode our bikes to the restaurant on the prinsengracht to meet the girls. It was a gorgeous, crisp Amsterdam evening, and we rode side by side, chatting and catching up on the week’s happenings.

In we all went, took our seats, and didn’t stop chatting for the whole evening, dining on turkey, homemade cranberry sauce and all the Thanksgiving trimmings that could fit on the table. It was such a memorable evening, I was captivated by Amy’s stories of recent travels and life in New York, and hearing about Micha and Amy’s childhood memories and ambitions. I’m so thankful for that evening, it meant a lot to me to enjoy that special meal with such beautiful people.

In the conversation, Amy mentioned her transition into a solo career in floral design.  She had ideas to start a website and work from her Brooklyn apartment. In August of this year, I was delighted to find out she’d done just that, and has created such a delightful online showcase of her work as a prop stylist and floral designer, take a look at some of her work in the following images…

Stunning, non?  Take a moment to read her post on how it all came about, and how she was inspired by her visit to Amsterdam. And while you’re visiting her blog, an apple a day, take a moment to read her most recent post about her visit to Florida with Micha, which tells of how their parents met (it’s the ultimate “Most Romantic Meeting Story of All Time”)…

Amy is not only a beautiful genuine soul, but incredibly talented as you can see. I’m excited to continue to follow her journey to see what she creates in the years to come, and how her creations will evolve over time.

“Happy Thanksgiving mes amis.”

So that is my very belated thanksgiving post featuring dear Amy. I figure, better to give thanks late than never, right?

xx

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+All images courtesy of Amy Merrick.
+To peruse Amy’s new website, click here.
+To read her blog “An Apple a Day”, click here.
+And to view her awesome ‘living in’ posts on design*sponge, click here.