The Ever-Evolving Wreath Tutorial...

 My ever-evolving wreath for 2018: it’s wild & free, like my heart.

My ever-evolving wreath for 2018: it’s wild & free, like my heart.

How are you feeling as we near the end of the year? The frenzied energy is well & truly upon us! For those like me, who feel… what’s the word… resistant? Yes, that’s what it is for me - resistant…we might feel inclined to retreat and search for solace at this time amidst all the busy-ness. That is what compelled me to write my new book Festive Season Reimagined - to find ways to reconnect with our inner strength, resilience and joy. That’s our intuition - it’s something we all have, something that no one or no thing can take from us: it’s our heart, our jewel, and I absolutely love supporting people in finding their heart and letting it take the lead in making their everyday decisions. It’s a way of life that is unique to you and when you are living it, you’ll know. It’s a wonderful feeling.

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Last week Diana Moore from Home Beautiful wrote a lovely post about Festive Season Reimagined, featuring an extract on the “ever-evolving wreath”. If you have signed up for my emails and instagram after reading the Home Beautiful post, welcome! I then posted on social media a photograph of my ever-evolving wreath for 2018. It took me only a few minutes to make, and it now adorns the front door. I asked if anyone would like a tutorial and the answer from many was yes. Then I realised what I’d said!

One, I’m not great at tutorials because I work in such a free-flow way and two, it’s the end of the year and life is hectic enough! But it is so much fun to make these wreaths and it’s one of the most effective ways to connect to our intuition, the nature around us and embark on the journey of reflection, so here it is, my super simple tutorial which is just as much a tutorial on intuitive play than it is making the wreath. I’m a 3-stepper, which means whatever I create needs to fit into 3 easy steps because anything more I find we lose our intuitive connection. So, are you ready?

STEP ONE: FINDING…

Find yourself a loop of some sort - it can be a discarded embroidery hoop, a piece of heavy wire that can be looped (even a coat hanger pulled into a round shape, leaving the hook at the top for easy hanging), a bendable branch, anything at all. This one I have is the top of an old basket that someone had thrown away. I love the organic shape of it…

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The other part of the FINDING is to collect your botanical materials! Find something in abundance that can be the backdrop for your wreath. This year, I decided not to go with green as the backdrop and instead was inspired by a dried up patch of seeded grass in our neighbourhood, a place we have walked by hundreds of times this year, never thinking much of it until I began looking more closely at the flora along the walk to school and found the beauty in it. What can you see when you walk in your neighbourhood?

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I picked big handfuls of it for the wreath, and also gathered whatever else touched my heart - some beautiful wattle, a few kangaroo paw, golden reeds, flowering lemon verbena, and the star of the wreath: a branch of fuchsia bougainvillea. Then I found some ribbon to hang it with, a few bits of string and my scissors…

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STEP TWO: ASSEMBLING

So for the assembling, I gathered the grass into three bundles. I wanted to have an off-centre wreath, allowing the basket loop to be exposed, so 3 bundles is all I needed, but if your heart wants to have a full covered wreath then you just create more bundles! With the 3 bundles, I tied them onto the loop with string. No fancy floral wire required, just use what you have on hand. And don’t be too precious, perfect or neat. I find the quicker you work the better, otherwise you start to overthink it and criticise your work - if you realise you’re doing that, let those thoughts float away like clouds - there is no place for them here!

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Use the grass bundles as well as the string you’ve used to attach the bundles to the loop as your place of attaching the accent pieces - just stick those pieces into the string and thick grass, it will hold them in place and if it doesn’t, tie a bit more string around to hold it in place. You can keep adding foliage to cover the string until you are happy with it.

STEP THREE: REVIEW

For this step, you need to hang it up either in the place you want it to go, or just on the wall with some tape so you can step away and see it in place. When you step away, you’ll see some empty areas, or you’ll see where you need to tweak the foliage or add more foliage. As my main art medium is photography, I tend to ‘look’ through the lens so to speak, when I look at something I’ve just created - not literally, just in my mind… it’s an automatic thing for me from years of working in photography, but what might help for you is to put your hands up in front of you in the shape of a square camera lens, to allow you to block out all other distractions around the wreath and see it ‘through the lens’. You could also cut a square or rectangular piece of cardboard out of a larger piece of cardboard to act as your ‘review lens’. It might sound silly but it honestly works! It just helps you to focus on what you’ve created and not get caught up in what else is going on around.

When you step back, you may also see bits of grass hanging loose and out of place, so grab your scissors to cut those bits off - don’t pull them, just cut them, otherwise you might end up pulling large chunks out of place. Again, I tend to be loose and free here, not making it too neat, because the beauty is in the freedom (as it is in living whole-heartedly)…

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After I hung mine in place on the front door, we had a huge storm sweep through the area, but it held up well, there were a few bits loose but I just pushed them back into place. And I still add to it when I see something I like, that’s why I call it ever-evolving, because it’s something you can continue to play with over the season.

I’ve posted more about the making of this wreath in my stories on instagram if you’d like to check it out, my handle is @piajanebijkerk, here it is.

In book news, Festive Season Reimagined sold out of its first print run in less than a month! A huge thank you to everyone who purchased a copy last month. I’ve ordered the second print run which will be ready in the next week or so, for those who are patiently waiting with your orders, thank you! And if you’d like to purchase a copy, please click here for all the details.

But for those who really want to read the book now but aren’t feeling patient, you can purchase the ebook. And today, I’ve decided to do a flash sale for the ebook - just for 48 hours, it’s on sale at only $10. So if you’ve wanted the book but haven’t been able to purchase it for whatever reason, here it is now for you in ebook form, at the lowest price it will ever be, please enjoy…

Reflection is a BIG part of growth at this time of year, and I’m delighted to let you know that Shona Smith - my fabulous podcasting pal & I have released a bonus episode for our podcast “It’s All Up From Here”: it’s all about how to reflect on your parenting. It’s a fun, thoughtful, raw & honest episode, I hope you enjoy it, click here and scroll down to the end to have a listen. You’ll also find our last episode of the season there, all about Christmas or as I call it, the Festive Season. Shona and I couldn’t be more opposite in our feelings about this time of year, so if you feel like a laugh, have a listen! And tomorrow, I have another wonderful announcement that is also for your listening pleasure, to get you well and truly inspired to reflect.

And on Patreon, I have uploaded the next piano composition, with another one coming in a couple of weeks - when you join me there, you are able to download all the songs for the year so far to create a playlist designed to connect you to your intuitive heart space, and learn more behind the scenes of what I’m working on and where I am on my personal journeying.

With love,

Pia xx

Swarm Studio, Amsterdam...

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Those who’ve known me for a long time will know that artist + founder of Swarm, Leslie Oschmann, is a dear friend of mine. We got to know each other ten years ago when I was living in my houseboat in Amsterdam and scouting hidden ateliers for my second book, Amsterdam: Made by Hand. We soon became friends, and went on many adventures together around the city and beyond. I’m drawn to people who see the world around them in a unique way, and can transform something overlooked into something extraordinary, which is what I call Everyday Alchemy. Leslie is one of those unique people.

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 My daughter Laly, taking in the atmosphere of Swarm & ready to paint, 2016

My daughter Laly, taking in the atmosphere of Swarm & ready to paint, 2016

Each time I’ve been back to Amsterdam since moving to Sydney, I spend time with Leslie and her sidekick, McDuff. I love being immersed in her creative world - her home & studio, which is always filled with her latest projects. There are chairs hanging from the ceiling, piles of found oil paintings ready to be transformed into something new, paintbrushes, textiles, leather straps, ropes and the most incredible found objects from her travels - many of which she sells in her online store.

When I visited her new studio in 2016 with Laly, Leslie had just embarked on the epic journey of writing and making a book. She’d been approached by Rizzoli to write a book about her creative life in Amsterdam, centered around her muse, wire hair fox terrier McDuff. The book was inspired by Leslie’s fun photographs on instagram of the sometimes obscure places her and McDuff would visit, and the playfulness of exploring these interesting landscapes together. Because wherever Leslie goes, so does McDuff - when she heads back to New York, he’s on the plane with her, and travelling to her new studio-in-the-making in France known as Q, he’s sitting beside her in her van. I remember when Leslie and I went to Beaune in Bourgogne for New Year’s Eve some 8 years ago, and McDuff wandered the frosted cobblestone streets with us.

With this book project, Leslie wanted to find a way to create the unique visual layout she had in her mind, and we’d discussed the idea of creating them by hand - each page spread as an assemblage which could then be photographed. When I got there, she had the page layouts pinned up on one of the studio cabinets. It was an honour to be able to see the book in progress at this early stage - to see how Leslie’s visual directing translated into book form, and I couldn’t wait to see the final result….

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Earlier this year, her book was published. It’s called Me & McDuff, and it’s filled with her creative energy & love for her sidekick. Every page is an artwork in itself, with each assemblage created by Leslie & photographed by Sarah van den Bosch. The book tells the story of Leslie & McDuff’s creative companionship in her way - minimal words, maximum visual effect…

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With some of her favourite captures from the book, Leslie has made some into pouches which I love, you can find them in her store.

While on my trip to Amsterdam this year in August, I took my camera with me to photograph her studio for one of my book projects. I won’t be able show you many of the incredible captures (her space is seriously amazing), but here are a few of the photographs from my shoot…

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 …in her zone. 2018

…in her zone. 2018

 Laly & I playing, Swarm Studio, 2016.

Laly & I playing, Swarm Studio, 2016.

Okay here is one more…

 The Alchemist’s kitchen, in all it’s utilitarian glory.

The Alchemist’s kitchen, in all it’s utilitarian glory.

You can click on the links to have a look at Leslie’s new objet d’art, her new book Me & McDuff, and her latest bag collection is stunning. They are one of a kind and they sell fast, so if you see one that pulls at your heart strings, you’ll regret it if you don’t get it (believe me, this has happened a number of times to me and my friends and we still lament over the ones we missed out on).

Thank you Leslie for continuing to be such an inspiration in my life & for sharing your world with us in all that you create!

With Love,

Pia xx

Episode 6 Podcast : Redefining Success...

 Laly and her friend Mya enjoying some intuitive mark-making together, reminding me of Shona & I 'at play'. In fact, a photograph I captured of this joyful moment between the girls became the backdrop for our podcast logo. The beginnings of beautiful collaborations!

Laly and her friend Mya enjoying some intuitive mark-making together, reminding me of Shona & I 'at play'. In fact, a photograph I captured of this joyful moment between the girls became the backdrop for our podcast logo. The beginnings of beautiful collaborations!

All 8 episodes of the first season of Shona Smith and my podcast titled “It’s All Up From Here!” are now available. I’ve just finished having a listen to all of them - Shona does all the incredible behind-the-scenes stuff that is involved in making a podcast, so I don’t listen to the episodes until they are out there! It does make me feely slightly vulnerable but hey, I’ve had plenty of practice at allowing myself to experience vulnerability when it comes to putting things out there, so this is all part of the journey.

I can say with all my heart that I have enjoyed being in conversation and listening to every single episode. It’s a big deal for me to say that - artists tend to be hyper-self-critical and nothing ever reaches ‘perfection’ (that’s because there is no such thing, but we forget that!). So I hope that comes through in the podcast and that you enjoy listening in.

One thing I’ve thought about since listening to the episodes is that we have said this is a ‘parenting’ podcast because it revolves around our experiences with our own children along with Shona’s extensive experience & knowledge as a youth worker, however it occurred to me that it’s broader than that - it’s as much about parenting of ‘self’. Because essentially, while we are parenting children, a huge part of it is that we are also learning so much about ourselves, and this is strong in our conversations.

The episode topics for this season are:

How to set rock solid boundaries
Intuition -How to use this powerful parenting tool
The Teenage Years - how to approach them with excitement and lose the dread
Redefining Success
The Mother Rage
Doing Christmas + Festive Season Reimagined

And I’ve just written up some show notes for “Redefining Success” as I mention a number of resources in it that I wanted to be able to link to. Shona and I haven’t intended to include show notes, but I think I will write them up slowly when I have the time as I see the benefit of the notes. I’ll let you know when the other notes go live, but for now here are the notes for “Redefining Success”. So, if you haven’t already subscribed, you can listen on apple podcasts or whooska, and I’ve also included each episode on my website here.

A big thank you to Shona for being my co-host and for all that she has done to make this happen - it has been such a joy to work with her over these months and I look forward to many more collaborations together!

With Love,

Pia xx

Happi Health photoshoot: vitamin boost...

 Vitamin B6: Coconut & Red Quinoa porridge with nuts, seeds & edible flowers

Vitamin B6: Coconut & Red Quinoa porridge with nuts, seeds & edible flowers

Here are some of photographs I produced for Happinez, for a story on how to boost your vitamin intake with certain foods, in the special edition called Happi Health that was published in The Netherlands a couple of months ago. It’s been years since I worked with food - I used to work regularly as a food stylist for magazines, catalogues and books around the world, sometimes styling the food myself, other times working with wonderful cooks & stylists like my dear friend Yvette van Boven, as well as Michele Cranston and Emma Knowles, and photographers Petrina Tinslay and Jeroen van der Spek were among my favourites.

I had forgotten how much I love working with food until this shoot. As I got creating, I was thinking, why haven’t I done this for so long? To be honest, I think it was because of the over-abundance of cookbooks, food magazines, food shows… it felt to me like there was enough already, and that it feeds that consumer energy, that need to fill up ‘the void’ in us with so. much. Also, there is so much incredible talent out there already, I felt like it was well and truly covered.

But I have a genuine love of eating well, sharing my love of nourishment with my daughter and her friends, and enjoying a beautiful meal with my friends and partner (we are often talking about food, as the French do!) I’m not an entertainer - I am not that friend who always has a fridge full of everything and can whip up something amazing any time of day or night. I’m not always in the kitchen. It’s more that it’s one of the mediums of creative expression for me - like painting is for some.

So having said all that, I do absolutely love shooting delicious food! Focusing on taste, texture, colour and nourishment. It’s why I am so looking forward to co-hosting the kids tasting workshop in a couple of weeks!

This shoot reignited that passion within me. With this story, it was the first time I’d photographed, cooked, and styled at the same time - I’ll just say this, it was bloody challenging to do all roles. A little bit nuts really, in hindsight. But the challenging aspects did not take away the joy! My studio was in full swing- every part of it was in use, the kitchen was abuzz - the oven on, the blender going, chopping boards and utensils in action. The walls were lined with canvas backdrops and wooden tabletops. There was music. There was mess. It was beautiful chaotic order - just the way I love to work.

I thought you might like to see the shots in their entirety, and to share with you some of the recipes I created to be able to get the full benefits of each vitamin I was asked to represent…

 Vitamin K: roasted purple-skinned sweet potato with Japanese natto beans

Vitamin K: roasted purple-skinned sweet potato with Japanese natto beans

 Folic Acid: roasted dark leafy greens & sprouts with sesame oil & micro herbs

Folic Acid: roasted dark leafy greens & sprouts with sesame oil & micro herbs

 Vitamin E: avocodo topped with seeds, wheatgerm oil and edible flowers. Vitamin B12: homemade nori chips

Vitamin E: avocodo topped with seeds, wheatgerm oil and edible flowers. Vitamin B12: homemade nori chips

 Vitamin A: roast carrot, pumpkin & sweet potato soup topped with micro herbs

Vitamin A: roast carrot, pumpkin & sweet potato soup topped with micro herbs

 Vitamin D: delicious sun beams - soak them in! Vitamin C: grapefruit slices.

Vitamin D: delicious sun beams - soak them in! Vitamin C: grapefruit slices.

Here are the recipes for the roasted sweet potato dish and the red quinoa. Everything else is pretty self-explanatory (if not let me know and I’ll happily answer questions in comments)…

Roasted purple-skinned sweet potato with Japanese natto beans…

Cut a purple-skinned sweet potato in half lengthways and roast in the oven with an oil of your choosing (olive, coconut, whatever you like!), with a little salt. Top with warmed baby spinach leaves and natto beans which you can get in asian grocery stores. The texture is a little unusual - its very sticky, but don’t be put off, as with the combination of the sweet potato and the spinach, it’s delicious and so very good for you! Garnish with micro herbs (which are also full of nutrients).

Coconut & Red Quinoa porridge with nuts, seeds & edible flowers…

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 cup rinsed red quinoa

  • 1 cup coconut milk (or milk of choice)

  • 1 cup filtered water

  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • maple syrup (depending on your sweetness needs, but for me it was about 2 tablespoons)

  • pistachios, pecans, whatever nuts you have on hand, activated and if desired, slightly roasted or warmed.

  • edible flowers if you have them

  • shredded coconut for garnish

Directions

  1. In a saucepan, bring quinoa, milk, water, salt, and cinnamon to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low, cover and simmer for around 15 minutes, until liquid is absorbed,

  2. Turn off heat and let stand covered 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

  3. Transfer to serving bowls. Top with the nuts, petals and shredded or toasted coconut.

With love,

Pia xx

Sweet Nourishment: a tasting workshop for kids...

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A few months ago, I was having a chat with my daughter Laly about the amount of sugar in snack foods, and what she calls “treats”. She loves to snack, and I’m fine with that as long as the snacks are nourishing. We got talking about why there is so much sugar in these packaged snack foods, and what the difference is between a nourishing treat and one that is, well, the complete opposite.

It’s a hard concept to explain to a 6 year old! That’s when I got an idea: Children (and us too!) learn so much through experience, so I suggested we make time on a weekend to create a nourishing treat tasting platter and she was so excited, she began brainstorming about all the foods we could put together! It went from being a ‘boring’ conversation to planning a visual feast!

Soon after, I attended one of my friend Emma’s events, which was in collaboration with a beautiful new local waterside café called The Galley. Emma is a renown naturopath with a passion for food. The Galley team was celebrating their arrival into the neighbourhood and wanted to share some of the wonderful dishes they offer on the menu, their focus being on fresh, seasonal ingredients. It was a beautiful sampling experience, with Emma sharing her incredible knowledge and passion for nutritious, delicious food, introducing us through our senses to the 5 best foods for cleansing during the spring season.

That’s when the next idea struck me: in collaboration with Emma, we could share the nourishing treat tasting with other children, creating a fun, interactive workshop! She loved the idea, and within an hour discussion we had nutted (perfect pun!) out the details. So here there are!

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If you have a child between 6-10 years old and live in the Inner West of Sydney or beyond, and want to empower your child to make healthy eating choices, we would love you to join us!

It will be on Saturday November 24, from 3-4:30pm at Emma’s beautiful clinic, Studio You, in Balmain. 

In between Halloween and Christmas, this is a great time to teach them what it means to nourish their mind & body through food, and to learn the difference between healthy sweets and damaging ones. They will be sampling all sorts of delicious treats, and you will both come away with your senses filled, empowered and ready to enjoy the approaching festive season in a nourishing way!

 You’ll find all the details here, please click to find out more and place your booking.

Here’s a little more info about Emma & I:

Emma Sutherland - Founder and director of Studio You, an integrated clinic supporting kids to thrive and grow into healthy adults. With over 15 years clinical experience working with families, Emma is a wealth of knowledge and inspiration. Emma is mum to 6 year old Sophia.

Pia Jane Bijkerk - As well as being a published author and photographer, Pia has worked as a food stylist for publications around the world, focusing on taste, colour, texture and nourishment. Her passion is to connect people to their creativity and intuition through her work. She loves working with children, creating interactive workshops that ignite creativity through play. Pia is mum to 6 year old Laly. 

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I LOVE creating interactive, intuitive workshops for kids, and I can’t wait to host this one with Emma. Hope to see you there! Let us know if you have any questions.

With Love,

Pia xx

It's All Up From Here! podcast is now live...

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I’m so thrilled to let you know about this collaboration, it’s something that I’ve been working on in the background for the past 6 months and here it is…

Welcome to Season One of the It’s All Up From Here! parent podcast, hosted by radio producer/presenter + ex-youth worker Shona Smith, alongside me, Pia Jane Bijkerk. This is a refreshing, unscripted & honest podcast opening up discussion on issues and topics of today, with the focus to bring back the fun to our parenting.

What I love about this is that both Shona & I have very different parenting styles, backgrounds & personalities - while Shona is effervescent and knowledgeable, I am, well, the heart wanderer: travelling along my parenting path led by my intuition & creativity. We are very good friends, and this collaboration came about after many wonderful discussions. I found I walked away from our conversations feeling uplifted and empowered to be on this wild parenting journey. There was so much great information shared. And after hosting some parenting workshops together in Sydney in 2017, we soon realised a podcast was in the making…

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Shona’s passion is to bring the joy back into parenting, for so many of us who feel overwhelmed and pressured to ‘get it right’. And my passion is to live wholeheartedly, guided by intuition. In this podcast we come together with honesty, openness and reality, without the bells & whistles or smoke & mirrors of social media. In fact, that is the topic of one of our upcoming episodes.

 This is Shona Smith! I love this photograph - it captures the humour, joy and warmth she brings everywhere she goes.

This is Shona Smith! I love this photograph - it captures the humour, joy and warmth she brings everywhere she goes.

Each time Shona uploads an episode, I’ll post it here on this page, but you can also subscribe via Apple Podcasts and Whooshkaa. Without further ado, a very big welcome to It’s All Up From Here! Bringing the joy & heart back to parenting.

With love,

Pia xx

UPCOMING EVENT: The Alchemy of Creative Intuition

This Saturday, October 27 from 4:30-6pm I’ll be on the talks stage at Turn Out, a fete for grown ups! I’ll be interviewed by my dear friend, presenter and podcaster Shona Smith, about the alchemy of intuition - what it is, why we need to prioritise tapping into it now, how we can benefit from it both creatively and in our lives, and what it has to do with developing a ‘bullshit-free zone’.

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Shona will be asking some great questions! She’s a lot of fun and such a great presenter, so I can’t wait to answer her questions and meet the audience. I’ll be doing a Q&A at the end, and there will be time to chat and sign books as well. I’ll have all copies of my books, including (hopefully! It’s still at the printers!) my new Festive Season, Reimagined - of which there are only a handful left to purchase, thanks to everyone who has been pre-ordering up a storm! All books will have a special fete price, and can be individually signed.

 Here is a peek at the book sample I received earlier this week. I’m so happy with the colours and paper stock - it’s beautiful matte paper, not too thin and not too thick, 100% recycled, printed locally.

Here is a peek at the book sample I received earlier this week. I’m so happy with the colours and paper stock - it’s beautiful matte paper, not too thin and not too thick, 100% recycled, printed locally.

I don’t do many events through the year as you know, much preferring to be hunkered down in my artist’s retreat, allowing my ideas to run rampant! So it’s a rare & special occasion to be out under the spotlight for a moment or two, I hope you can join me.

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Shona & I have also been working on something fun (“and very useful!” says Shona) together which we will be announcing on social media as early as this afternoon! And we will be talking about it at Turn Out too. The above pic is a little clue!

Happy full moon to each of you.

With Love,

Pia xx