Tuesday 26 February 2013

show & tell - megan kinninment


Megan Kinninment lives on the north coast of NSW, where my parents live. Its a place where I spent time growing up and where we spend Christmas holidays every year. So one of the first things that attracted me to Megan's blog were her beautiful photos of the landscapes around Byron and beyond.

This part of the world has a strong hold on my heart and her pictures immediately conjure for me all that is wonderful about it, the green, green hills and small village halls, the rattly wooden bridges and expansive views of ocean and coast. It speaks to the wonderful mix of farm and new age, tradition and innovation, the markets, the beaches... it's no coincidence that Megan also works as a  journalist and digital producer on the local paper. She manages to show the best and most inspiring parts of this beautiful area.

Like many of my other favourite blogs, Megan's also chronicles a creative and loving family life, lived simply and close to the earth. She shares her ideas and practice for natural and creative living, her successes and challenges alike. Megan is a gardener and a maker as well as a writer. A recent rainbow party was full of wonderful ideas for a colourful, handmade birthday.

There is much to love about The Byron Life and it has a permanent place on my reader, so if you haven't spent time there do go and visit, it's the next best thing to being there!

Thanks again Megan for being part of Show & Tell, especially this week when the local floods kept you so busy at work!

Megan Kinninment
Byron Bay
The Byron Life

1. Can you give us a short description of your blog/style/work
The Byron life is a personal blog about living life simply and creatively as a mum to three girls. It’s heavy on photography, a passion I rediscovered through blogging. I make stuff, grow stuff, photograph stuff then write about it. I’m a journalist who has had to unpick her training in objective reporting to writing as “me” on the blog. Liberating, if a bit scary sometimes.

2. Why blog? How did you start?
I started blogging when I was on maternity leave from my job as a regional news reporter. There was never anything strategic about the blogging, I just started for the love of writing and photographing and the ease of being able to publish my own work and connect with other creative women and mothers. Interestingly though, everything I’ve learned through blogging I now apply to my work as journalist/digital producer, so maybe it was a strategic and clever move after all!

What has been amazing about blogging for me is the way it has connected me into a community of creative people and motivated me to do something creative in my life every single week.


3. Family taught/Self-taught/Trained?
Journalism: Uni, then did a traditional newspaper cadetship; Photography: self taught; Craft: mostly self taught, but I also studied fine arts/ceramics at East Sydney Tech (as it used to be known); Gardening: my mum.

4. Workspace - studio or kitchen table?
I have a “special” writing desk that is never used for writing. Instead I write from the living room, with my kids playing and yahooing around me and I sew/craft on the kitchen table because the “studio” aka garage is currently a shambles. Like many mums, I’ve learned to create from the centre of the action while still cooking, talking, rousing on yahooing children etc.

My kids will automatically start making stuff next to me, or else hassle me to get off my own computer so they can watch Peppa Pig and totally not get that I have a deadline… and yet somehow it all comes together, despite the chaos. I also stay up late some nights, when the house is quiet, to get that “me” space for creating away from busy little hands and yahooing kiddos.

5. Blog/Shop name, where does it come from?
My blog is about my life in Byron Bay, so I wasn’t terribly imaginative there!


6. Favourite writing/ photography style? 
I love realism; non-fiction; reportage and photo-journalism.  Blogging was very hard to get my head around at first because I was trained to write in the objective third person. Now many of my paid published pieces are written in a similar style to blogging - first person accounts.

Photographically, again journalism informs my photos. My photos move between being published on my blog, to being published in the print or online edition of the paper. Sometimes I have a go at something more abstract and atmospheric, but I always come back to a photo-journalism style.

7. Ambitions/future directions/future projects you'd like to try?
I would love to have a book published (non-fiction) and I dream of having some photographs exhibited. I’m ever-so-slowly working towards those dreams.


8. Are you neat and organised or, ahem, creatively messy?
Ahem, creatively messy! (I like the way you phrase that, Susie. “Creatively messy”.  So guilt-free. Thank you.)

9. Favourite handmade, handcrafted item you own not made by you
My girls all have crocheted blankets made by my mum and given to each girl when they were babies. I treasure those blankets so much, knowing the hours and hours of work/love that went into each one.


10. Favourite food/recipe?
I love spicy, Asian food and I am trying my hand at growing as many of the ingredients for those recipes myself. I blogged this chilli and lemon grass salsa recipe a year ago and since that time I’ve got to the stage where I can nearly pick all of the fresh ingredients from my own garden: chillis, lemongrass, basil, coriander and ginger. I live in an environment where the Asian-style plants grow well, so I want to keep expanding this aspect of my garden.

11. Favourite colour?

12. Star sign?


13. Favourite place, landscape (not necessarily Australian)?
I can’t go past my beautiful Byron Bay, but Kakadu also has a special place in my heart. I love the intensity of these places; the sometimes maddening heat and relentless rain of the tropics and the fact that everything grows like crazy in these environments.

14. Any tricks for juggling life/work/family with creative pursuits?
I don’t know the trick for how to juggle these things; I’m still tweaking it. My only advice is to keep on with your creative life, no matter what. Even if it is in small ways, five minutes here or there; an idea written down on a piece of scrap paper; a project that sits on the table waiting for you to come back to it over a period of weeks… it’s important to carve out that time for yourself. And, embrace the mess! Creative work wins over housework at my place.


15. Favourite designers/artists/crafters/writers etc?
Kim Wallace is a new discovery to me (I found her work through Instagram) and I really love what she is creating – very delicate,  subtle ceramics using lace textures. I love her IG feed too.
The other artists listed are all women whose work I have long-admired. They are all strong, passionate women; ahead of the game in their fields.

Favourite writer: Helen Garner; Favourite photographer: Gemma-Rose Turnbull; Favourite designer: Rachel Bending from Bird Textiles; Favourite crafter: ceramist Kim Wallace, from Udessi.


16. Your favourite thing you've made/written/done?
I was happy with this interview I did with Julian Assange’s mother, Christine and my favourite ‘thing’ would be a simple stoneware bowl I made 20 years ago on the wheel at college. I still use it every day in my kitchen for fruit.

17. Three words to describe yourself?
Creative, determined, sensitive.

18. What do you like to do besides creating?
Sleeping is fun and quite novel these days, so I do that whenever I get the chance! Gardening is also my thing. Spending time in my garden, just pottering around, is one of the ways I unwind.


Monday 25 February 2013

these days

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Phew, life has hit the ground running since the holidays finished. Suddenly everything is happening at once, carnivals, assemblies, music lessons, sport teams, bills to pay, paperwork, meetings, camp...

In between the busyness though I've squeezed in some time to catch up with friends, so good for the brain! A week or two ago I had lunch with blog friend Lamina (doabit) and also got to meet Jo from Bubala at last too. It was so nice to talk 'shop' with these lovely, talented girls and we followed it up last Thursday with the abcd meetup at trade show Life InStyle at the Hordern Pavilion.

What an interesting night, the first part was free entry to the show and wandering the aisles of makers with their beautiful wares. Then at dinner afterwards we heard from crafty business owners who were attending the show about the wholesale thing, and the nuts and bolts of that.

It was my first abcd (Artists + Bloggers + Crafters + Designers) meetup, but definitely not my last. Many thanks to Steph and Lisa for organising these events. It is so nice to catch up with like minds and share ideas and it was such an interesting night. And thanks to Sophie from Scoops Design who was so generous with her knowledge in our little group.

I've had lunch out a couple more times since then, one a belated birthday yum cha where I scored this great Anna Laura brooch and then last Friday after the Mr and I watched our girl speak at the Sydney Town Hall at school presentation day (so proud!). I may have wiped away a tear or two, it was so great to see her up on stage in this amazing space. Afterwards we bought lunch and walked down to Circular Quay to see the Anish Kapoor exhibition at the MCA (which was wow!).

I have managed a small amount of making in between, I cooked these delicious sticky date cupcakes with salted caramel icing one day and I made a batch of homemade laundry liquid over the weekend. I've also been making quite a few batches of yoghurt - I think I've got the hang of it now.

There's been some good mail, I bought some of this great Julia Rothman print Type to make something with (must use stash!) and my Society6 tshirt print came, modelled here (under sufferance) by Miss A. I like it and the quality's great, must print some more of these.

So there, that's what I've been doing, what about you? What have you been doing? How is the new year treating you?

Hey and guess what!? I have a lovely surprise for you all (a surprise for me too!). Tomorrow I'm posting the first of this year's Show & Tell interviews, number 31 in fact!

To tell the truth I wasn't sure I'd keep the series going this year, its a bit of work on top of everything else and I was thinking maybe I needed a break. But when it came to it, I'm really proud of the series and I love all the wonderful bloggers I've featured, so I'm not quite ready to quit. So come back tomorrow and meet another inspiring blogger!

And if you have any ideas about other bloggers you'd like to see in this space, I'd love some suggestions, tell me and I'll see what I can do.

Wednesday 13 February 2013

my creative space - shibori

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I'm early with my creative space this week, I couldn't wait to share. On Saturday I finally got to a Shibori workshop which is something that I've been wanting to do for ages. Somehow though the workshops always clashed with other commitments. Even better it was held at Koskela, a great new creative showroom space in Rosebery which shares digs with a big cafe called Kitchen by Mike and Megan Morton's The School.

This great workshop was run by professional textile artists Karen and Pepa of Shibori. They took time to talk about the history of shibori and explain some different methods of resist techniques, made up the vat of indigo dye and then turned us loose on the fabric!

The three techniques we got to play with were:
Arashi - pole wrapping shibori
Kumo - spiderweb (the circles)
Itajime - shape resist

Shibori is a surface dye which means that only the parts on the outside, in contact with the dye solution will dye at full strength. So the pattern is composed of different shades of blue against white depending on which areas are covered.

Here are some photos from the day, one of my lovely friends Janet and Marg holding up their kumo shibori, and even a (rare) photo of me with mine. I loved Marg's square itajime print which she made at the last minute, the square pattern up top. The effect of the dye on the dry fabric was wonderful. I also loved the pole wrapped singlet top that one of the girls made, the picture below mine. Actually there were lots of great results on the day, and lots of oohing and aahing as some of the prettier effects were revealed.

At the end of the lesson the three of us bought a dye kit to make up our own vat. I can't wait to play more with this fascinating technique. The great thing about Shibori is the random way the different variables come together for a unique result. Unwrapping each fabric parcel is a wonderful surprise.

After the workshop we queued up to have lunch at Kitchen by Mike. Luckily this slow cooked Lamb Tagine with couscous was worth the wait. Add in a little stop at Remnants Warehouse (just around the corner) on the way home and you have a perfect day!

Thank you to everyone who entered the Planner Giveaway, and Personal Planners for giving us such a great prize. The winner chosen by the old reliable random number peeps is Carly from the Crafted by Carly blog. In a nice coincidence I see she has a Donna Hay giveaway going on now, so if you missed out why not try your luck over there.

Thursday 7 February 2013

my creative space - yellow

Perfect day for a #swimming carnival!yellowyellowyellowyellowjust found these beautiful #feathers wrapped in paper in my glovebox from can't remember when #foundexcellent advice #left #type #yellow #arrow #signyellowyellow

This week has been about yellow and I've been seeing it everywhere. D and J are house captains this year for their school house which is imaginatively called Yellow! I used the excuse to get a bit of crafting on with a big painted banner, and then even managed to slip in a bit of bunting which made it along to the carnival too (yes, I somehow resisted floral patterns).

Who knew bunting was so easy, and so addictive. Well most of the internet is the answer to that! Somehow though I had never managed to get round to making it. Fear not, I'm sure there is more in my future.

I am proud to say that all materials for the banner and bunting came from the stash. The fabric was recycled from an old cotton curtain and painted with acrylic paints from the craft box. The boys helped me fill in the lettering and paint the rays which we traced from large print outs.

I'm not sure how the paint would survive any rain, but luckily the day was perfect, sunny and bright, but not too hot. Fingers crossed the Athletics day is equally fine.

It was most rewarding when Yellow house got six extra points for their cheering which the teacher said was because she liked their banner! Three cheers for crafting!

I am joining in for the first time this year with My Creative Space which lives over here.

And don't forget to enter the Planner Giveaway which is open till Monday. I meant to say that the planner comes as a gift voucher so you could always gift it to someone if you don't need a planner yourself.

p.s. the fishy there on the right is the surprise visitor from last year, who surprised me again last week when I found he'd changed from his boring brown to this lovely orangey yellow colour. His sister is still drab so I will be watching closely to see if she changes too. Its funny because when I first discovered them I was checking often to see if they would change but they waited till I was away to do it!

p.p.s. Like many of you I am sending some special love today to our friend Cam, a lover of bright colours like these yellows!

Monday 4 February 2013

Planner Giveaway!

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There's something about the start of the year that makes me want to get organised, really organised. I love the idea of a clean slate, an empty calendar, a new start. The shiny new year inspires in me a desire to write lists, organise stuff and clean out drawers! You too?

To be really organised I need a calendar, and I need a diary. This year I have a lovely Klimt calendar, a small diary to carry in my bag and a diary/workbook for our business/family/life.

What I don't have is a separate diary/planner for Flower Press, which means all those important dates, orders, wholesale enquiries, giveaway details, communications, business contacts and 'to do' lists are floating around on pieces of paper, in notes on my phone or in random files on the computer. Even worse some important things are committed to memory and usually surface last thing at night and then get forgotten for another week!

So it was serendipity when the people at Personal Planners contacted me about hosting a giveaway on the blog. They've offered me my own personalised planner and one to give away to one of my readers. I thought it might be something you guys would like.

I realise its February and some of you might have already bought a diary, but one of the nice things about Personal Planners is you can personalise them to start from any month. I quite like the idea of a planner that doesn't end till February, so I don't lose track of things over the holidays, or you might prefer one that runs from financial year to financial year.

In fact the personalisation is the great feature of these planners and how they get their name. You choose the format (from four different sizes), the layout, the design of the pages, colours, both front and back cover images and even the colour of the elastic closure. There are optional boxes for to-do list, gym session, preschool, idea of the week and weather. Friend’s and family member’s birthdays can also be added to the inlay directly from Facebook or as a typed in list. They then print and deliver the finished product directly to your doorstep.

My biggest problem is choosing just one design for the pages, there were a few that caught my eye. My second problem will be choosing a cover image. As you can see I spent a little time this morning trying out some different ideas.

Personal Planners are giving away a planner to one lucky winner, choose from any size and format and personalise it to your heart's content, shipping is included. The giveaway is open for a week ending next Monday my time. Just leave your name and contact in a comment below. Here's their facebook link if you'd like to see other examples or read a review, and maybe like their page while you're there. Or go to the website and have a play around with layouts, I've chosen square days but you don't have to, see if there's one you'd like to spend the year with!

Oh and I forgot to say, the giveaway is open to anyone, anywhere.


Friday 1 February 2013

leaving the nest

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Do you remember the other day I told you about the birdie neighbours who moved in while we were away. The spot they chose was right next to our back door. Unfortunately for them, not only are we noisy, but we are nosy too! We couldn't resist sidling in close a couple of times to peer inside the nest, to see how those cute little babies were going.

I am pleased to say Mum and Dad BulBul were fantastic parents, really wonderful. The feeding schedule they kept up with insects and berries was very impressive. And when they couldn't fly in for a feed they would sit patiently by until the coast was clear. That was usually our cue to get out of the way, however by the end they got much braver and would fly in whether you were sitting on the deck nearby or not, and whether I was pointing my camera at them or not. So I managed to get a couple of pics as the babies grew.

And grow they did! All too quickly it seemed they were growing out of their little nest, opening their eyes and stretching up to ask for food. I wasn't ready for them to grow up so quickly! (Every mother's lament!)

Suddenly the other day they were sitting right up on the edge of the nest, stretching their wings, it looked precarious. And then one of them ventured out on to the surrounding branches. The rain had just started and the forecast was for torrential rain and strong winds. I tried to explain to them it wasn't a good time to be leaving that warm hidey hole!

You can see in my photos that those loving parents though were urging them on. Suddenly one of the babies slipped through the leaves and flew across to the nearest tree, and then the next and then the last.

They sat for a while, bedraggled, in the rain and I managed to get some photos. They looked way too little and defenceless to be out there on their own. I kept going out to check on them but all at once the family had disappeared into the darkening afternoon.

The storm came after that, perhaps it came to your place too. It was wild, and wet and fierce. I lay awake and worried about them as the rain beat down. The next day I searched the sodden garden but there was no sign of them.

Today, I heard twittering outside my room. A camellia and magnolia grow right beside the window and sometimes the birds come inside to feed on the flowers. I crept up to to look out through the blinds and look who was there. Just two babies I'm afraid, but growing strongly and accompanied by their careful parents (below).

I've been watching this week on instagram other babies leaving the nest, off to preschool or prep, to kindie or high school. I've watched their mothers care for them and guide them on their journey, often with tears in their eyes. My boys started year six this week, which is hard to believe. Its taking some getting used to all round. Love to everyone with new beginnings - I wish you the happiest transitions!

Next week I'm hosting another giveaway here on Flower Press, with a creative prize to get you organised for the year. So please come back and join the fun next week.

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