When I was nineteen...

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When I was 19, I thought of myself as a worldly feminist. It was 1997. I was halfway through my university degree in Sydney, and already by that age I had travelled the world and lived in more countries than most people visit in a lifetime. Between the ages of 13-15 I lived in a village in northern Italy and was appalled by the sexism that ran rampant in the culture…why did that old man just pinch my bum? Why is it ok that those boys are whistling at me as I eat ice cream with my parents? And why does that newsreader on TV have her body squeezed into that tiny dress and her breasts pushed up to her chin? When she speaks, why is she trying to seduce her viewers? What I saw and experienced felt very strange to me. I struggled to integrate. And it was this reaction that defined me as a feminist.

As I grew into this label, it made me feel different to the other girls around me, like I must be less naïve, less vulnerable than them. After all, I was worldly, and I was apparently a feminist because I believed women deserved the same rights as men. It made me feel strong.

On top of being worldly and a feminist, I was also experiencing deep love with another human, my boyfriend. And although we had our ups & downs as young lovers do, fumbling our way along the paths that others had paved for us to walk, I knew what it was to be in love, and this made me feel not just worldly, but also, mature. So here I was at age 19: a worldly, mature feminist. In the cocoon of this understanding of myself, I felt safe.

Then something happened that shattered my world…

……………………………………………..

This is an extract from a very personal piece I wrote on Monday, August 12 & Tuesday, August 13, which, as it turned out, was the beginning of the full moon phase. I have never had the words to express what happened at this time in my life, and in the early hours of Monday morning, I had a beautiful dream. During the dream, the words formed. Although the nature of the event is traumatic, I followed my intuition and took the time on Tuesday to write it all out. It is incredibly personal, and after writing it I realised my website is not the place to publish it. I may, in time, consider publishing this piece in a publication as I know it is powerful and needs to be read by as many young women as possible, in the hope they may understand how to listen to their intuition. For now, it is available to read in full in my patreon collective. And I’ve also made it available on my new password protected journal, for those who are on my mailing list.

“Does your family have secrets? Or maybe you have a secret from your own life experience that you have never shared with anyone? Today Pia and Shona talk about the undeniable link between secrets and shame and how this can stop us from being truly ourselves and also from becoming the strong, powerful women we were meant to be.”

Secrets & Shame is the latest podcast episode on It’s All Up From Here! Click here to listen xx

New Work: Mud Play for Happi Kids

Laly in her mud pit making a Mud Café…

Laly in her mud pit making a Mud Café…

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A diary of a worm, something we had a lot of fun working on together and included playing with real worms found in the garden.

A diary of a worm, something we had a lot of fun working on together and included playing with real worms found in the garden.

In April this year I got one of the most wonderful photographic story commissions for a magazine I’ve ever had… when I read the phrases in the email “make things with mud”, “kids getting dirty”, “do you love the subject?” I barely held back my excitement and I was quick to reply YES! It ticked all the boxes for me and I couldn’t wait to schedule it in & get thinking on what I could create for this story for the summer issue of Happi Kids.

Do you remember when Laly was around 2 years old, I made her - by hand, spending no money (yes I’m proud!) - a sandpit in our back garden? Here is the post to jog your memory. Well, she’s now a regular beach goer, no longer afraid of the vastness of the ocean and loves ‘surfing’ on her body board. She’d outgrown her mini backyard beach so, inspired by the story for this shoot and in need of the perfect location, I turned the sand pit into a mud pit! I dug out the sand, and collected some buckets of dirt from the back area where our first chickens used to roam (we now have chickens again, but that’s another post for another time! We may live in the city, but that hasn’t stopped us from creating a mini farm it seems). I cleared the area around the pit and planted a few hardy flowers and pretty palms. I needed to create a space big enough for a couple of kids to play in, as well as a painting area. It was a lot of fun to build this set, gathering vintage kitchenware for the mud cafe, and mixing mud with beetroot, spinach and turmeric to create mud paint. I spent a glorious hour or two by myself making the tiny mud house (inner child meets grown up job - the best)…

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I had three wonderful young models for this shoot. With the fabulous production assistance from my friend Celia, she found two boys from Laly’s school, Zephyr and Luka, who came over with their mums Eliza and Narelle, one afternoon and basically hung out in the mud for 3 hours while I snapped shots of them playing. I only needed 3 hero shots from the boys, but there were many more created, they had so much fun and it was pure joy to capture them in action. I don’t think they could quite believe that this was a real job, and all they had to do was play and cover themselves in mud! Shona was my styling and photography assistant for the afternoon, so it was certainly a relaxed and joyful shoot…

Zephyr painting with mud!

Zephyr painting with mud!

Luka and Zephyr following my instructions to get dirty!

Luka and Zephyr following my instructions to get dirty!

The boys making ‘dirty denim’ with some op shop denim clothes I sourced for the shoot.

The boys making ‘dirty denim’ with some op shop denim clothes I sourced for the shoot.

Luka loved making mud ice creams.

Luka loved making mud ice creams.

Zeph covered in mud and pretty happy about it!

Zeph covered in mud and pretty happy about it!

At the end of the shoot, while Zephyr’s mum Eliza was hosing him down, I saw him look up at his mum and say “I will never forget this day!”. My heart exploded.

The next day was Laly’s turn, and she took on her role with not just enthusiasm but surprising skill, as she doubled as my photographic assistant as well, helping me set up certain shots and gathering materials, and restyling the props when needed. This is the first time she’s worked with me or seen me work as I have only ever brought her with me to a shoot once - when she was 6 months old, and it was a disaster, so I never did it again! Until now, at 7 years of age. She was so great, and I think I may have myself an ongoing assistant for as long as she finds joy in it! I’ve noticed she’s a natural behind the camera actually - she took a video of her friend the other day singing, and I couldn’t believe how still she kept the camera and how she followed her friend around, patient and mindful of how she was placed within the frame - there were even natural light flares from the sun, it was like a professional film, I couldn’t believe it! I’ve never taught her so I was pretty blown away - let’s just say she gets that from me, because as we know, it’s not one of Romain’s many talents.

Mud sandwich anyone? A bit of stale bread and some pretend ‘micro herbs’, yum!

Mud sandwich anyone? A bit of stale bread and some pretend ‘micro herbs’, yum!

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Having so much fun making sand slime!

Having so much fun making sand slime!

The article is out now in the Dutch edition, summer issue. And I cannot recommend highly enough to play in mud. I may even turn it into a mud bath for myself, that will be some serious earthing!! Ha.

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Here is the mud-inspired-but-completely-edible energy balls recipe for the article, which I made up from ingredients I had…

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup  of almond meal
3/4 cup of pitted dates
2 tablespoons of raw cacao powder
1 tablespoon of almond butter (or any nut butter - I used peanut butter which was delicious)
1 tablespoon of coconut oil
Pinch of salt

METHOD

Place the almond meal in the food processor with the dates and coconut oil and pulse until they are nicely crushed. Add the nut butter and cacao and then mix again in the food processor. Add a pinch of salt if desired. Take a tablespoon of the mixture and roll into a ball. Continue doing this until the mixture is finished. Place the rolled balls into the freezer for an hour, then remove and store in an airtight container in the fridge.

Makes 8-12 balls (depending on how big you make them).

A big thank you to everyone who helped me on this shoot: Romain, Laly, Shona, Celia, Eliza, Narelle, Zephyr, and Luka!

With Love,

Pia xx

How to not be an Influencer...

Something fun for everyone! I’ve been a busy bee making this over the past few weeks, in between end of school term meltdowns, mentoring and grieving. Oh, it’s been a wild ride this month but not without funny bits. And how timely is it that I’ve been working on it and then all those articles just came out this week about influencers. People right now are feeling confused and lost, so this lovely little guide I’ve created has come at the right time, to put you back on track! I do hope you enjoy it. It’s FREE. Would you like to know more? Click on the button below to get your free copy…

With love, Pia xx



DUST by Organic Merchant...

Chocolate Nut Muffins  by Organic Merchant, Photographed by Pia J B.

Chocolate Nut Muffins by Organic Merchant, Photographed by Pia J B.

It’s no secret that I’ve been an enthusiast of naturopath Chalimah Jeanne’s organic teas for many years. I first came across her collection when we moved to Sydney in 2011, while wandering through Paddington Markets. Chalimah has such a beautiful energy and incredible wealth of knowledge, and I found myself coming back for more. For those who’ve been around for a while, you might recall I featured her teas in a story I wrote for Country Style back in 2013, and have continued to use her teas over the years for styling projects and as gifts for clients.

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Last year I had the pleasure of collaborating with Chalimah to photograph both her new packaging (you’ll see these sensuous images soon) as well as the recipe cards for her new Dust Collection. Dust is a range of healthy & delicious raw cacao infusions, designed to improve mental focus and physical performance. There are six infusions in the range: Super, Sex, Soothe, Spark, Shine, and Spirit. Each one is designed specifically to enrich the characteristics we need to strengthen within us.

Chalimah wanted to create some beautiful recipe cards that show the many ways you can incorporate the infusions, as they are not only wonderful as warm elixirs but also scrumptious in pancakes, muffins, smoothies and popsicles. So one morning, she made an incredible array of some of her favourite foods and I came with my camera to photograph them all on her long wooden dining table.

Would you like to see some of the photographs? I took many, it was such a beautiful setting. And there was a gorgeous natural coppery light that came through, infusing everything with a warmth and glow. Here are a few of my favourites…

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Chalimah has been sharing a few of her delicious recipes on instagram and on her website, and I’ve included a few here for you. They are all so yummy…

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Nourish Bowl…

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup buckwheat hulls

  • 2 cups plant mylk

  • 4 heaped tsp DUST infusion of your choice

  • 2 tbsp chia seed/flaxseed

  • 1/2 cup fruit – currants/raisins (optional)

How to assemble:

  1. Combine ingredients into a bowl and soak overnight to allow hulls/seeds to soften.

  2. Once soaked, transfer to saucepan and cook over low heat for 15-20 minutes or until thick and creamy. Add more mylk or water if needed.

  3. Serve into bowls topped with your choice of suggestions from the list below.

Suggestions to add…

  • Grated apple with cinnamon

  • Fresh figs with honey and walnuts

  • Poached pears with vanilla

  • Pomegranate jewels and pistachios

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Cacao Pancakes…

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup buckwheat flour

  • 4 heaped tsp DUST infusion of your choice

  • 1 tsp baking soda

  • 2 tbsp coconut sugar (optional)

  • 1 to 1.5 cups plant mylk

How to assemble:

  1. In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients and stir well.

  2. Whisk in mylk to create a batter.

  3. Set stove top to medium and add butter/coconut oil.

  4. Gently pour 1/3 cup of batter into pan using ladle/large spoon to create pancakes roughly the size of an orange.

  5. Flip pancakes over once bubbles have risen on the surface.

  6. Set / stack cooked pancakes on wire rack or plate and continue until batter is finished.

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Chocolate Nut Muffins…

Dry ingredients:

  • 2 cups buckwheat flour

  • 1 cup ground seed/nut meal

  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar

  • 1/4 cup DUST infusion of your choice

  • 1 tsp bi-carb

Wet ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup plant mylk

  • 2 eggs or chia egg replacement*

  • 2 ripe bananas mashed

  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts/frozen berries

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil/butter melted

*Chia egg replacement = 1 tbsp chia seeds + 3 tbsp of water. Combine and set aside for approx. 10 minutes.

How to assemble:

Preheat oven to 180 ̊C.

  1. In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients and stir well.

  2. In a smaller bowl, combine all the wet ingredients and stir well.

  3. Add wet mixture to the dry ingredients and combine (It’s OK if the mixture is a little lumpy).

  4. Spoon mixture into muffin tray or baking cups.

  5. Cook for 20-25 minutes or until skewer comes out clean.

  6. Cool in tray for 5 minutes then transfer to wire rack.

Store in airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. 

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There are more wonderful recipes at Organic Merchant so please head on over, along with more details about the full Dust range and where to purchase them. And Organic Merchant’s instagram is here.

Enjoy!!

With Love,

Pia xx




A Butterfly In My Hair...

Vibeke curates a beautiful blog called A Butterfliy In My Hair, and the other day she shared with me on patreon the you tube video she made to share my piano piece called All This, Yes with her readers. I love it, and so appreciate all the sharing so please have a listen, and head to her beautiful blog for more inspiration. These gentle, quiet worlds in the ether, they truly are gifts that I hope we can all acknowledge and be grateful for, like butterflies they need our full attention in the moment, they are our magic. xx

Amy's Wonder-Walking world in the palm of my hands...

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In October I wrote about Amy T. Won’s kickstarter campaign to produce her beautiful wonder-walking card deck. It was very successful and Amy was able to get the cards made and all the orders have been sent out - I received mine this week and wow, I knew they’d be amazing but not this amazing!!

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Amy’s attention to detail is incredible, so I knew the quality of the cards and her watercolours would be nothing short of stunning but I wasn’t prepared for the level she would take it - the box in itself is a work of art, with exquisite gold foiling in all the right places. Amy’s concept with the cards is to connect us to nature (and in doing so, our intuition) in new ways. The idea is to pick a card from the deck before you head out for a walk, and the card, along with Amy’s notes, will trigger new ways of exploring and seeing your surroundings.

Nature needs to be at the centre of all our attentions these days and I am all for enabling pathways for people to make connections any way they can. This deck for me, is an incredibly creative way to ignite that all important connection…

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In my patreon collective, I do an ancestral card reading for each new moon, and now I will be adding Amy’s card reading as well to enrich the connection. The idea of these readings is to connect each member to their intuition, to make more intuitive choices in their work and home life throughout the month. I am thinking about adding individual readings for each member too, so I’ll be talking about that over there soon. Serendipitously, this was the very first card I pulled in the deck while I was in my studio…

HOME.

HOME.

I’ll be sharing the meaning of this on Patreon later this week.

Thank you Amy for sharing your beautiful world with us in these wondrous ways. X

Panoramic Bushscape: bookbinding & watercolour workshop...

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Last Sunday I spent the most wonderful day at Eramboo Art Studios, learning all about bookbinding and watercolour techniques with photographer & book maker Sam Mackie, and watercolour artist Ingrid Bowen. I knew Sam from years ago when she ran my favourite cafe on the Northern Beaches, The Cook’s Larder in Avalon. And Ingrid I’d met online and admired her work, but had never met in person until Sunday. They are both incredibly talented women who are so generous with sharing their knowledge and time, it was such a treat to spend the day with them, learning new skills and meeting new people…

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Sam had set out all the materials we needed to create one of her stunning accordion books, using beautiful watercolour paper, explaining all the varying qualities of different styles of books along the way, what to use them for and why she uses various materials. We also learnt how to make the different cover pockets. Sam has an incredible eye for detail and is so generous in sharing her passion & knowledge gained over her years of making books. I can’t wait to try making another book with Sam’s instructions, I have a few ideas to try out.

After a delicious lunch and chat, we all eagerly observed Ingrid paint in her signature style - using the bush as her inspiration, she creates watercolour scenes often using only two colours. Ingrid shared her tools, techniques, watercolours and inks, and encouraged us to play with these techniques to see what would come about. Like me, Ingrid works intuitively - her tools and techniques are uncomplicated, her style is completely her own. It was so much fun to sit and paint using her tools and techniques to see what would transpire. Both Sam & Ingrid’s aim was for us to paint directly into our newly created books, and I think most of us did manage to do so - I loved walking around the room to see how unique each person’s book was, what a treasure. I didn’t finish my book as I wanted to come up with a specific idea for it, and I knew it would take a little time to evolve. I have the idea now, and am looking forward to finishing the book, it will be a gift to my daughter and I’ll show you when it’s finished.

Here is where we hung out for the day at Eramboo, nestled in the bush. As soon as I got out of my car and took a breath, I reconnected with the land of my youth…

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For more information you can head to their websites, I’m sure they’ll be sharing new workshop dates soon, it was a hit and I know it will be popular! So check out: Ingrid Bowen, Sam Mackie & Eramboo Artist’s Environment. I would also recommend joining the newsletters so you don’t miss out on upcoming workshops and events. Thank you both for such an inspiring, nurturing and soul-nourishing day! xx

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