Saturday, December 29, 2012

the 52 project

In late 2011 I started thinking about a portrait project. I was in awe of Georgia and her 365 photos of the year; even more enamoured with the thought of a hard-cover printed album at the end of it all. But I know what I'm like, and I knew that a photo-a-day would fast become a chore. From the beginning I wanted to create something that was rewarding and achievable. I loved the idea of taking a portrait of my children each week, capturing an expression, an emotion, a gesture. 

52 weeks later and I have 104 portraits; photos that tell the story of Che and Poet's year. It's quite overwhelming to scroll through the weeks and see such growth and expansion. I think my favourites are the unportraits; the ever-gorgeous top-knot, the hesitant boy on the edge of the pool, the twiddling of toes (a family trait). 

While some weeks I had a number of photos to choose from there were times when I spent late-Saturday afternoon taking photos (in preparation for my Sunday deadline). I often smiled at the unity of the portraits when they came together, especially the gaze, the blue, the bubbles, the polka dots, the light and the connection. This project was perfect for improving my photography skills, for understanding when to stand back and observe and when to engage. I learnt a lot about the light in my house too - its softness and its colour and how it changed with each season.

Mostly, I learnt about the importance of memory keeping. Because honestly, this year felt like 22 weeks, not 52. It was abundant but quick, a brimming blur of routine, school, work, play, love, life and sleep. And I'm so grateful I stopped to capture the little people amongst it all. I dog-eared a page in Happier At Home a few weeks ago and it seems apt to share it with you. Gretchen Rubin says:

One night, as some friends and I walked out of our book club meeting, I said, "Lately I've been feeling very wistful. Childhood is speeding by so fast. It's such a cliche, but it's true."

"I know exactly what you mean," one friend answered. "Whenever I get annoyed by the mess stuck to our refrigerator door, or about having to keep a stroller in the hallway of my apartment, I remind myself that these are the good old days."

"Yes," I said. "Now is the time to appreciate it."

As I walked in the door of my building, I thought, yet again, of how much I wanted to make my home a haven of comfort, warmth, and tenderness. We were in the rush hour of our life now, and everything was moving so quickly, and every day seemed so crowded - more reason to remember to slow down, stay patient, take photographs, and play Hide and Seek.

When I look at the photos I took throughout 2012 I see real life in still life, our busy weeks encapsulated in one moment. Memories that made up our year.


I'll be posting my first portraits for 2013 on Sunday, January 6th. If you are joining in, here's a button (created by the ever-so-talented Rebekka Seale) to place on your sidebar. You can link it to all your "52" posts or you can link to Che & Fidel - I'll leave it up to you. The first button is 250px wide, the second 170px wide.

Just one question: would you like me to include a link icon at the bottom of each 52 post, so you can leave a link to your blog?


"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2012."

Che: Waiting for her (she's smelling the daisies).
Poet: Waiting for him (he's chasing the ducks)

And there we have 52 (104) portraits, one for every week of the year. Pop back later today for a little summary of 2012. I'll also be posting the beautiful "52" button in a few different sizes for those joining in throughout 2013.

Poet's shoes c/o Saltwater Sandals

Saturday, December 22, 2012


"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2012."

Che: Lazy afternoons reading in bed. I see so much of Daniel here. 
Poet: Completely mesmerised by Sunny and Scout - featured in Lou's announcement

You may have noticed the beautiful "52" button over there to the right. The lovely Rebekka Seale created it for me, and for you. Next Sunday I'll post a few different sizes so, if you are joining in for 2013, you can place it on your sidebar too.

The first 52 for 2013 will be Sunday, January 6th. 

Thursday, December 20, 2012


And just like that it's Christmas time.

2012 has been abundant - with opportunity, travel, growth and love. I'm wandering into the festive season feeling incredibly content and overwhelmingly blessed.

Thank YOU, for coming here, reading my words and leaving kind thoughts in return. I hope your celebrations are heartfelt and meaningful; peppered with decadent feasting, the clink of glasses and at least one skewiff paper hat.

Festive blessings lovely ones; may your Christmas be safe and joyous.


Favourite captures of my favourite people (top photo by Tim).

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

last day

This morning, as I filled his water bottle and packed his lunch, I remembered so clearly the first day when I cried into his little box of grapes and rice crackers. 

We were quiet on the drive to school today and when it came time to get out of the car and walk up the path I saw his sadness. For the first time in months he held my hand instead of running ahead; like he wanted it to last for as long as possible.

We've come full circle and the end is just as momentous as the beginning. At his graduation last week he cried during the photo slideshow. "I just have so much love in my heart for Montessori," he said. Indeed, Montessori pre-school has been a seamless extension of our home - a nurturing place for him to grow and learn; to the beat of his own drum. 

I'm so proud of him and his big, big heart. I'm so sad that this beautiful journey is over.

...and now I'm crying.

Monday, December 17, 2012

summer : gratitude

On Sunday evening I stood in the kitchen at 5:30pm, took one look at the mess and ordered everyone to get in the car. The ocean beckoned and I was so grateful for its pull; an opportunity to escape the humidity and end-of-weekend routine, a chance to wander and run on the sand.

There is no denying the heavy heart of our world right now, the universal sadness evident in news reports and candle flames. 

This Christmas, as we prepare to gather and celebrate, we do so with gratitude - for who we have, not what we own. 

Saturday, December 15, 2012


"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2012."

Che: Sitting outside the laundry, wondering what to do next.
Poet: At the rock pool, running in and out of the water, holding her little hand high. 

Che just received his once-a-year hazyjane delivery - two pairs of vintage cotton pants in size 5 (he also has two pairs in size 0, 1, 2, 3 and 4!). Poet wears sweet bloomers from udder

Thursday, December 13, 2012

summer : notes from my naturopath

At the beginning of every season I drive over the hill to visit my naturopath. She lives in a country cottage that borders a small river; chooks, ducks and geese call the garden home. I usually spend an hour with her, sipping chamomile tea while she talks about a seasonal diet and nature's medicine.

Summer, she told me, is all about the heart - strengthening and protecting this vital organ. It's the season for laughter, the time where we dance to music and celebrate outdoors. Imbued with happiness, it's the season of love (no wonder so many babies are born in spring!). 

The sun is vibrant in summer, incredibly energising, but we must be wary of its bite. Our diet should include bitter foods to cool the blood and to ultimately cool our body. These include:
  • cucumbers, lettuce, pears, grapefruit, celery
  • dairy - especially fetta and yoghurt
  • coconut, in all its forms
Other seasonal suggestions for a delicious and healthy diet include:
  • stone fruits in their rich shades of crimson and orange - peaches, nectarines and apricots are tonics for the heart
  • a fresh fruit and vegie juice is always a good thing (I'm currently drinking cucumber, carrot, ginger, apple and celery)
  • meat eaters should gravitate towards more seafood in summer (there's a lovely recipe for wild snapper here)
  • to aid digestion at night I drink a pineapple, ginger and mint juice just before dinner - strong, sweet and spicy 
  • lemon tea is perfect for summer to refresh and to cool -  try lemon myrtle, lemongrass or lemon verbena. 
Of course, with the warm weather comes the mozzies and I'm all for using a natural repellent. Burning lavender, or even rubbing some lavender oil around your window frames, keeps the mozzies and flies away. But be mindful that rosemary attracts them. Did you know that rosemary should always be planted on the hottest side of the house? - when the sun hits the leaves an oil is released which produces a vapour that ultimately cools the area. A trick the Ancient Egyptians used, apparently.

For bug bites try a little calendula oil dabbed on the skin or ice and aloe vera gel to cool and soothe. 

spring : notes from my naturopath

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

counting down the days

I'm wrapped in a cardigan and scarf tonight, listening to the chorus of rain and crickets and frogs. It's surprisingly cold here at the moment; strange to be wearing woolens and simultaneously admiring the Christmas tree (that sweet pine scent). 

I'm counting down the days, and the stories, till December 21st - the final deadline before Christmas. Then I can switch off and step away, make peppermint bark and wrap last minute gifts. Perhaps we'll go to the carols, perhaps we'll sing at home. Celebrations will be small and cheerful, beautiful people and good food.

Whilst the excitement of Christmas is building; all that wondering and anticipation rising, I'm also feeling the end-of-year lull that calls for early nights. I adore Christmas but I also love those days just before New Year where, with full bellies and happy hearts, we lounge around the house reading new books and snacking on leftovers. 

What are your Christmas plans? And if you are in the Northern Hemisphere, do you think you'll be blessed with a white Christmas?

Saturday, December 8, 2012

summer : 3 natural sunscreens for the whole family

I grew up with the "slip, slop, slap" slogan emblazoned on my mind. Summer was a blend of pool days and balmy nights, bubble-o-bills and Sunday afternoon barbecues. We always had a big pump bottle of sunscreen in the laundry and we'd cover ourselves in it on those 30+ degree days. Then my brother and I would run barefoot across the asphalt to the neighbour's pool and swim till we were wrinkly and exhausted. 

Che and Poet have both inherited my milky white skin and I'm absolutely vigilant when it comes to sun protection. We only go to the beach in the morning or late afternoon, they always wear a hat and I prefer to dress them in light long-sleeved clothing than lather them in sunscreen. I've also been reading a little about the importance of good fats in your diet; how they can help build up natural sun protection in the skin. Coconut oil is getting a good wrap for an alternative to sunscreen but I'm not completely convinced just yet. And of course, we must be mindful of the importance and beauty of the sun and Vitamin D - absolutely essential for health and well-being  Most health professionals recommend 20 minutes in the morning sun each day without protection. 

I always carry a bottle of sunscreen in my bag so I've been looking into the best natural products available. Here's my favourites, tried and tested (and perfect for those with sensitive skin*):

Soleo Organics : touted as the most natural sunscreen in the world, Soleo Organics is made in Australia from organic and all natural ingredients according to Naturopathic principles. There's absolutely no nasties in this lotion; it's active ingredient is 22.3% zinc oxide combined with a lovely combination of beeswax, macadamia nut oil and roman chamomile (to name a few). Soleo is completely water resistant, 30+ spf and contains organic botanical extracts to moisturise the skin. $26.60 for 80g 

Invisible Zinc - Junior Clip-on : I'm pretty sure a beach-going muma designed this bottle. Perfect for attaching to your keys, bag or pram, this sunscreen offers the UV protection of Zinc Oxide without any chemical UV actives or parabens. It's low irritant and feels good on your skin - 30+ spf. $19.95 for 60g

Wotnot : 100% good for you, this broad spectrum protection is one of many fabulous products from this Australian brand (I love their facial wipes). Wonderfully natural, imbued with the scent and holistic properties of organic beeswax and aloe, Wotnot is smooth and gentle on the skin and perfect for little ones. However, it's not waterproof so you do need to reapply after swimming - 30+ spf. $25.95 for 135g

If you're looking for light summery clothing for children I highly recommend Hazyjane's vintage pants, kurta tops, dresses and hats from Haveli Design and linen and cotton goodness from Kokonor

*of course, if you do experience skin irritation from sunscreen, you should stop using it immediately. Most sunscreens aren't suitable for babies under 6 months of age - always check the bottle for recommendations. 

summer : a seasonal series


"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2012."

Che: Wrapped in a serape, watching the children play on the sand below. 
Poet: She watched the big kids from afar; so many squeals.

*if you came here earlier today you may have noticed different portraits to the ones I have here now. A lovely American reader pointed out that wearing an Indian headdress is offensive to their sacred culture, hence why I took the photo down.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


wabi-sabi: the Japanese aesthetic that embraces the flawed, incomplete and ephemeral.

Underplayed beauty is so appealing, is it not? The delicacy of a pot amongst wilting vines, the deep green rosemary sprouting from the wooden stalk, vivid blooms above the muted ground. 

At this time of year when the conversation turns to gifts I am often stuck for suggestions. Apparently I'm incredibly hard to buy for; I'm an idealist with a very clear idea of what I like and what I don't. In retrospect the best gifts I have received are those imbued with the thumbprint of their maker, the patina of age or the essence of nature; a handmade teacup with the grooves of the potter, an old mirror, a succulent plant in a vintage pot. Last week a friend gave me a collection of vegetables and herbs from her garden; their roots wrapped in damp paper towel, their stems tied with string - the perfect gift. 

I always favour tradition over trend. I prefer colours that I see outside the window; those that appear naturally and then fade -  olive green, smoky grey, unbleached white and I like to bring them into the home. Right now there are five shells lining the balcony rail, dried herbs hanging from the kitchen window pelmet and lilac hydrangeas on the table. I light a beeswax candle every night to smell the sweet, clean scent and watch the wax soften and melt. It's all simple decoration, placed with intention. 

Wabi-sabi is simplicity but it's also being mindful of what you buy and recognising what you already have. It is the ultimate lesson in sustainability - to mend and make do. I first came across the concept of wabi-sabi in a design magazine years ago. I tore the article from the book and placed the dark, filmic images in a box for keeps. The pages are frayed and the author's name is long gone, but here is a little excerpt:

"The word 'wabi' literally translates as poverty. It looks to remove the concern about material things, of having 'stuff'; to find a balance between the pleasure we get from things and the pleasure we get in finding freedom from things. 'Sabi' acknowledges simple realities - nothing lasts, nothing is finished and nothing is perfect."

Che, in his innocent ways, unknowingly practices a little wabi-sabi. He gathers ephemera, round stones and fallen gumdrops and he carries them in his pockets. He places them on his bedside table, arranges them for a while and then they disappear, only to be replaced by a petal, a shell, a stalk. 

Wabi-sabi doesn't have rules; it's born from intuition. Do you have any wabi-sabi ways?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

quince clothing : artistic collaboration

this is a sponsored post

Two years ago, when Daniel and I took that leap of faith, we had hopes of working together on creative projects. Whilst I am a dreamer, and a good one at that, there was a small part of me that really questioned the possibility of such an endeavour.

Taking risks makes my heart beat a little faster; but then I get to experience the beautiful work that is collaboration and it all makes perfect sense. Earlier this year Daniel shot this short film for Quince Clothing. Come January he will be making another and I'll be alongside him with my camera, taking photos for the 2013/14 children's summer range. 

Jodie, owner and designer of Quince Clothing, is an inspiring woman. Mother of four children - Ella, 17, Augusta, 9, Solomon, 7 and Celeste, 2 - she and her English husband became insta-parents five years ago. All-of-a-sudden she was attempting to navigate the child/tween clothing dilemma, looking for quality fabrics and beautiful prints but not finding anything that was just so.

She started making clothes but soon realised that she thrived on designing them - Quince was conceived from a wonderful blend of necessity and passion. The family-run company is based in Sydney and has stockists dotted around the globe. Inspired by fabulous pattern and determined to create clothing that is both beautiful and durable, the range (size 0-16) is fun and contemporary. 

Augusta, Solomon and Celeste are the faces of Quince, real-life inspiration they help choose fabrics and model every range. Jodie admits that whilst the lollipop-payment is losing currency, she takes their suggestions on board and often integrates them into the design. 

Right now Jodie is juggling the demands of motherhood and Quince, harbouring dreams for a new maternity collection and hoping to make a tree-change with her family. Whilst early mornings and late nights are her norm, she is embracing the fun of it all (and looking forward to a festive break).

The current summer collection is inspired by salt air and classic sea motifs; perfect for the Australian summer. Quince is offering Che & Fidel readers 20% off full-priced stock with the code: CHE. 

Saturday, December 1, 2012

the creatives | a photography and writing workshop

A few months ago, on a rather ordinary day, I received three emails. After the general hello and introduction, each email asked the very same question: "Would you consider running a photography/writing workshop with Tim Coulson?" I just couldn't ignore that kind of serendipity..... 

I'm giddy to announce that Tim and I have created a one-day workshop to inspire the storyteller within you. Together we will share what we know about photography and writing; how we document experiences, the importance of intuition and the technical aspects involved. 

We'll spend the day chatting about the following:
  • recording the experience - why and how Tim shoots (why he never orchestrates his subjects) as well as some tips for shooting on manual
  • emotional shooting - how to connect with your subject and get amazing photos in return
  • gathering inspiration and observing moments - why I love writing and my note taking process 
  • threading words together - how to engage the reader, share your thoughts and eloquently express ideas
  • the experience - a live shoot using your new-found photography and writing knowledge - find the story and document your experience 
  • theory - how and why we choose specific shots, creating a sequential story and writing to bring it all together
  • q & a - we're happy to answer all of your questions (about photography, writing and blogging)
The Details:

This is a workshop for people passionate about documenting their everyday; those who want to improve and broaden their photography and writing skills. 

The workshops will be held in Sydney (location to be confirmed) on the following days:

  • Friday, 3rd May 2013
  • Friday, 26th July 2013

We'll meet up at 9am and work together till 6pm. A decadent lunch and afternoon tea will be provided, as well as drinks and pick-me-up snacks. To reserve your spot email me -

Hopefully chat to you soon...........


"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2012."

Che: "Mum, I'll be the sun and you are the earth. Move around me in circles but don't get too close, you'll burn!"
Poet: circa 1968? No, it was taken in 2012, promise.

For those of you joining the 52 project in 2013....I've commissioned illustrator Rebekka Seale to create a beautiful "52 - a portrait a week" button for you to place on your sidebar. It will be ready at the very end of December, just in time for 1/52. 

Tell me, are you joining in next year? If so, are you excited?