Nest Design Studio with Bel

For the Spring issue of Bendigo Magazine I had a chat over coffee with designer and author Belinda (aka Bel) from Nest Design Studio about her first book, Beautiful Babies' Rooms. If I had to pin down what it was about design for kids that I love so much, it would be the chance to play with colours, patterns and finishes (hello glitter!) that you wouldn't normally see in grown-up design. I love anything playful and different...and to find a local designer with her own book about all of the above...I was drawn to Bel's world where she works her magic with all of the above every day.

Source: Nest Design Studio

Source: Nest Design Studio

On getting started in interior design for nurseries and kid's rooms...

Having already been a qualified interior designer for over fifteen years, Bel was on maternity leave with her first child and was putting together ideas for her own you'd find most Mums doing. Then she started blogging (writing) about it, and readers started asking her for advice. Fast forward about six years, and she's giving her advice and styling expertise professionally to families across the world for over 300 rooms and counting. It's not uncommon to spot her work in magazines (see also: House & Garden's Top 50 Rooms of 2015 List)...and she also provides imagery for branding and social media campaigns. Oh - and then there's her book! :)

On what the book is about...

The book is a closer look at the design components of each nursery she has chosen to include, focusing on why the pieces were chosen and how they were brought together to complete a cohesive individual look. It's just as important for the space to allow her smallest clients to dream and grow, as it is for the parents to include pieces that are meaningful to the family as a whole. The books also gives advice in areas such as how to style shelving (aka shelfies), how to choose a designer, and how to lay out a gallery wall.  The clients amongst these pages are all Australian based, and the book took about 3 months to put together.

Source: Nest Design Studio

Source: Nest Design Studio

On her clients and readers...

The book and her design services are helpful to her regional clients as they don't always have the access to metro stores and services. She loves that every client has something that is meaningful to a song from their wedding, a family saying, pets or heirlooms...and learning all about these pieces of the family is what often gives cues for a design theme to set the tone for the space. Bel understands this first hand, as she has incorporated wooden pieces from the family farm into her own nurseries.

On her favourite story...

She loves discovering the different backgrounds of the families she works with. One client played for an Italian soccer team and had Italian royalty in their background. The aspects of this heritage that formed part of her final design, and the heartwarming response from the family seeing nods to past and present is what she loves most at the end of the day.

On her signature style...

It's about gaining insight into the family and what is meaningful to them, reflecting on those finds, and creating a room that is timeless. Rooms can be "on trend" but not just for the trends sake. Weaving together threads from these different sources is what makes her rooms both fresh, unique and nostalgic for the family.

Source: Nest Design Studio

Source: Nest Design Studio

On design inspiration...

Pinterest! Not just for bringing together potential design boards, but cataloguing her finds along the way helps with sourcing items when the time comes. She has a 2000 piece cushion library! What about in the days before Pinterest? You'd be amazed what you can do with Excel when collecting/tracking designs...but we both agree Pinterest is pretty much the best invention ever :)

On the services she provides...

Bel is available for consultations or design kits (design boards, shopping lists, styling notes and floorplans). Or the client can engage her for the full design from start to finish including on-site consultations, ordering, installing, liaising with trades and styling right through until the finished product.

On what's next...

Now that she's written about nursery design, the next book will focus on kid's rooms. The best part about designing for families is the constant evolving of the spaces...tweaking existing designs or dreaming up new ones for babies that are now ready for their big kid room. But a sibling is following along behind ready for their own take on the's always changing!

On where to find her book...

Locally, Organise My (in Bath Lane) and Gathered (in View Street) are both stockists. Her website, Nest Design Studio has more stockist details, including an online store, as does her local publisher Of The World Books.

Click to visit store.

Click to visit store.

I Have a Worry by Tanya Balcke

For the Spring Issue of the Bendigo Magazine, I got to sit down with Tanya Balcke, writer and illustrator of the popular children's book I Have a Worry ...and navigator of the self publishing world! Her book struck a chord with I love whimsical illustrations, a story with a practical message for kids, and someone who has the gumption to decide they're going to write and illustrate....AND publish their own book. Plus, she has a pretty cool name ;)

Photo supplied by Tanya Balcke

Photo supplied by Tanya Balcke

On the inspiration for...

I Have a Worry was inspired by many young children I have taught as a Primary School Teacher. As our lives become busier and move so fast, many children feel pressure from friendships, education and family. This book was written to start the conversations with children about anxiety and hopefully, empower children to address their worries. I Have a Worry was written to help build a child’s skill set when considering a worry. The little purple worry allows the children to think about their problem using a concrete tool. They are then able to ‘give’ this worry to someone else for some time, empowering the child as to whether they will allow the worry to control them or not. The feelings in this book have been shared by the children I have worked with over time.  These are their descriptions of how some worries make them feel.

On the process of writing...

Term 1 school holidays 2015 – I was extremely selfish and spent most of the 2 weeks at my kitchen table illustrating with water colours. I sat down and wrote the story quite quickly, the words just tumbled out and sounded right. I didn’t do too much to the text after the first write, which is quite unusual.  The voice of the story is very naturally how I speak to my children at school, and most of the book is what the children have told me over time so I had no reason to change it.

The hardest part was becoming a self-publisher, as I was independently scanning my paintings into my computer, loading them into a graphics program and compiling it myself, with extremely limited knowledge. Then, sourcing a company that I felt understood the integrity of my story, who could print it and cared about quality. This process took me on a life lesson, learning patience from setbacks, and persistence to believe in the message of my book.

The time frame from what I thought was a finished book, ended up being about 5 months of back and forth emails to my printer who keep pushing me to ‘make it better’. I was very fortunate to find a printer who was patient and expected the best. It was the 48th time I sent my book through that I received the ‘thumbs up’ from them!

Photo supplied by Tanya Balcke

Photo supplied by Tanya Balcke

On the illustrations...

I would not call myself an artist at all. I am a person who has liked drawing and ‘playing’ with arty things all of my life. To be honest, the illustrations happened due to my inexperience in this world of publishing, and I just felt it was easier if I drew them myself. After I drew the first few, I tested them on my three boys, just casually asking them what they thought. Their response was ‘Yeah, they’re cool Mum,’ which to me meant ‘If the boys were happy, I’m happy.’  I do like the idea that the children are connecting with the simplistic nature of the illustrations.

On the best part...

I don’t think I can narrow it down to one...

  • The personal messages I am receiving daily from parents and children who have received a copy of I Have a Worry and have taken the time to let me know that they have gained something from it, be it, connectedness with each other, the children opening up about their stresses and fears, the recognition that it’s okay to have worries and lots of people do.
  • Showing my three boys that aiming high and following a dream can actually be successful, and that ‘having-a-go’ is the main part of this journey.
  • The incredible support my family and friends have shown me through this experience. When I had my book launch late last year, I honestly thought a few people may turn up. It was truly heart-warming to see so many friends, colleagues and supporters attend on an incredibly wet and cold night to celebrate this book with me.
Photo supplied by Tanya Balcke

Photo supplied by Tanya Balcke

On what's next...

Super excited about my next two projects that are underway.

  • I Have a Worry Colouring-In Book – currently being printed and should be here and ready to go in about 1 month. This book wasn’t in my original plans, but I have received so much feedback from customers that they would love something like this, that I had to listen and make one. I have made sure that I have made it very personal for the children, as it is quite reflective and encourages children the think and reflect a little deeper about their feelings. The whole original story is there, and also pages of mindfulness and relaxation. It has been designed to complement the original story really well. After they have read the original book, the children can personalize their own copy through the colouring-in book.
  • My Pet Worry – This book is developing really well, and will be available shortly. This book encourages children to take what they learnt through the first book, and think a little more about their worries and developing strategies when dealing with them. My Pet Worry has a very strong voice when speaking about the different sizes of worries. Hopefully, the story will leave the understanding that it’s okay to have small, or large worries, they are all normal. We just need to deal with them differently. As a self-publisher, I am funding each new book with the proceeds from the previous one. My Pet Worry will be sent to print as soon as we can raise the funds through the sale of the other two books.
Photo supplied by Tanya Balcke

Photo supplied by Tanya Balcke

On her favourite thing about living in Bendigo...

Bendigo is a wonderful place to live and raise a family. We have incredible schools, wonderful sporting clubs and organisations, terrific shopping and a community feel that is welcoming and appreciative. There are so many opportunities for success and joy. My favourite thing about Bendigo is the Easter weekend. It brings everyone together in a relaxed way that celebrates our community, with the Dragon Mile and the Easter Parade.

Where can I get these books and support Tanya?

Dymocks, Spring Gully Post Office, Education Plus Bendigo, Strath Village Newsagency and Bookstore, Eaglehawk Post Office and online here.

Ballerina Illustration

In which I share my own ballet illustration: softly textured ink tutu folds and ballet shoes with pencil detail and shading....and remember my first Mum-Made tutu in Calesthentics class...probably where the obsession began.

8 x 10 illustration available as a print in store here.

8 x 10 illustration available as a print in store here.

I've been a little obsessed with ballet since forever.  I trace it back to my Calisthenics class (it sounds like something Scientology related but I swear it was a dance thing back in the day...maybe for kids like me who were clearly never going to make it in ballet!) I have a vivid memory of rocking up and everyone was wearing these soft flowy skirts that accentuated their dance moves...and I was tugging on a skirt Mum sewed out of a stiff old curtain over my little leotard. Bless her, she probably knew I wasn't going to stick with it and didn't want to waste money on the fancy skirts everyone else was wearing. Let's just say this curtain had no flowing hindsight it would've probably made an excellent tutu. But in my head, though I noticed the differences between the rest of the class and myself...I was miles away in my own little ballerina fantasy, galloping around the hall in my curtain. Fast forward many years, and I dragged that fantasy all the way to NYC where I sat spellbound watching the American Ballet perform The Nutcracker. In between then and now, I just pinned my favourite ballet photgraphy and watched every ballet/dance documentary and movie ever made....

From my pins.

From my pins.

Lately, I've been teaching myself how to draw using online tutorials and just messing around with a tablet and the Apple Pencil. I don't know why I left it this long, I loved lettering by hand...and used it as a kind of therapy to self medicate my panic attacks. The soothing comfort of tracing predictable shapes of letters, and then shading them with was kind've a little refuge against the storm. Now, figuring out the shapes and pencil strokes that make the things in my head, like this ballerina, come to life on a canvas is my absolute new favourite thing to do. And don't get me started on the colouring stage...just as soothing as the lettering...who knew those mindful colouring book people were onto something. 

So yeah, something different to my usual quotes, maps and buildings. Hope you like it! She'll come in more colours in the future, but I'm off to find something new to draw now :) If you'd like to get a print you'll find it in my store here: Ballerina Illustration

Wholefoods Kitchen

I’m sitting at the corner table in a pool of sunlight, sipping on a green smoothie, watching the comings and goings of Bendigo through a giant window. I wonder how many passers by have discovered the “crunchy punchy stuff” or the “dips, dollops and drizzles” to be found in here. Some of them burst through the doors, meeting friends, settling into their favourite perches with the same relaxed vibe you would in an extension of your own home. Others might be crossing the doorstep for the first time, yet to discover Zughetti noodles or kale chips. Whether they’ve drifted through from the store next door to thumb through the cookbooks and listen to the banter of one of Bendigo’s beloved baristas;  or have grabbed a “peckish pot” and a cold pressed juice on the run…this little patch of goodness looks after all of them. Daz takes a seat at my table and I’m about to hear the story* of how Wholefoods Kitchen came to be...

*this is an add-on to the article in the current issue of the Bendigo Magazine...the extra bits, in Daz's words, that wouldn't fit the official word count :)

Wholefoods Kitchen is...

A space next door to Bendigo Wholefoods, the original store that gave customers a place to source ingredients and products that matched this whole approach to health (e.g. coeliac) and lifestyle (e.g. paleo). The kitchen continues the focus on foods as close to their source as possible, with minimal processing or intervention, and no (or low) additives and preservatives. But where the store provides the products themselves, the kitchen provides a menu and space for eating in or taking well as inspiration for what is possible when combining and experimenting with wholefood produce and recipes. Daz and Nicole have had the store for nine of its 29 years, and their expansion into the Wholefoods Kitchen more than cements their enthusiasm and commitment to this approach to food and lifestyle.

Source: Facebook Page for Wholefoods Kitchen

Source: Facebook Page for Wholefoods Kitchen

On Daz's passion...

Big picture and a business focus are always going to be important, but Daz loves to focus in on the details, the balance of flavours, the freshness, what he's tasting right this very moment. So before Wholefoods Kitchen became what we know it as now, Daz took his detail oriented perspective to Melbourne. Here, he donned his sneakers and walked the streets of Melbourne, dropping into to 80+ cafes to introduce himself and his ethos, observing and having conversations with like-minded people who already knew what it would take for this venture to succeed.

On one of the great joys of the kitchen...

Witnessing the collaboration and conversation between two staff members, one vegan and one more traditionally meat focused, the bond and relationship between them is they connect and share ideas around food, it's one of the great joys of the kitchen

The responsibility of being part of the community...

There was an interesting moment when we realised that the food community has a responsibility for education too...not just on what we have available but how convenience and good food can co-exist,  the links between how you eat and your mental health, the benefits of getting greens back into the mix...there's a lot to explore in that space too.

On the workload...

Sometimes worry can creep in, about the workload that comes with expansion and trying new things. But at the same time, it's also exciting. Nicole and the kids are excited about what's coming next, what's our next stage, and how they can help. The kids can see that busy lives can also contribute in creating jobs in a regional in finding meaning in what you do. The kids get to grow up in an environment where they can see this happen.

On the customers...

Their customers are as loyal and passionate as Nicole and Daz, the store so well known people travel from as far as Mildura to participate in vegan shopping nights complete with tastings and recipes. Finding meaningful purpose in your work doesn't happen without the customers. I make a conscious effort to remind myself that everyday, they give me the confidence to get up and take the next keep going and keep growing. That's very rewarding and a very good reason to come to work. We have great customers who give us real feedback. They want us to do well, we're both committed to the same cause. 

So whether you're after a seasonally influenced Wholebowl full of salads, grains, protein and crunch...or a delicious salad on the go...some sweet treats, some good coffee (roasted just down the road!) or so many other nutritious goodies in between...pop in and say hello to Daz and his extraordinary team. You'll find them at 314 Lyttleton Tce, Bendigo. Or on Facebook and Instagram.

P.S. Breakfast coming soon! Read more in the current issue of the Bendigo Magazine xx

Nourishing Our Health

A little while back I got the chance to meet Jacinta, creator of Nourishing Our Health. The idea was based on her love of sharing whole-food recipes, and passion for investing in the health and nourishment of her family, her customers, and herself. Word of mouth + social media + yummy food = the business is continually growing and evolving. As I love nothing more than chatting to people who are doing what they love, and doing it well, I sat down to have a conversation over coffee with the gorgeous Jacinta...and here is some of what we talked about...

On her reasons for starting...

Being pregnant with her third baby, and having worked in finance for 10 years, Jacinta was looking to move in a new direction. Having always been conscious of what her family was eating, and wanting to be sure she was making the right choices for them going forward, she knew that whatever direction she took it would have to be flexible and fit in with her number one priority of being a Mum. 

Photos provided by Jacinta of Nourishing Our Health

Photos provided by Jacinta of Nourishing Our Health

On what the first step was...

Jacinta took a course that fitted in with her commitments at the time, studying to become a Health Coach. Having always been interested in nutrition and experimenting with writing recipes, and tweaking traditional favourites to become healthier without losing their taste...she found she enjoyed the health/nutritional focus of the course a little more than the psychology/coaching side.

On what Nourishing Our Health is...

Because sharing recipes to encourage others to become healthier has always been a big part of what Jacinta loves, starting "Nourishing Our Health" was the perfect avenue to pursue this passion. She now provides cold pressed juice cleanses and nourishing wholefood lunch packs to the Bendigo area via a delivery service and the occasional pop-up event. Above all else, she just wants to promote healthy living to you and your family, whilst providing a convenient source of nutritional food/ addition to inspiring and educating via her online presence.

Photos provided by Jacinta of Nourishing Our Health

Photos provided by Jacinta of Nourishing Our Health

On what is actually involved...

A lot of work and a nice big kitchen bench! She creates the recipes and meal pack ideas, and then sources all the ingredients from the best possible sources (she loves local!)...and then puts everything together herself. That's right, down to sauces, dressings...and of course her popular cold pressed juices...she believes in knowing exactly what is in your food and prefers to make everything she can from scratch. Pause for a moment to appreciate that! Then, she packs it all up and delivers it in and around the Bendigo CBD.  The delivery side alone takes about three hours...the brainstorming, creating, testing and making all happens first. it would be fair to say that Jacinta is the perfect example of someone who has a strong belief and passion for something, and that drives her through all aspects of the approach from start to finish. 

So, how many meal packs does that mean?

Initially she had plans to cap the orders at 45, but after moving into a house that had a bigger kitchen she found that number increasing to 60...and recently a little closer to if you're following her on Facebook and you want to become a regular, you need to get your orders in ASAP because it doesn't take long at all for every available place to be filled. She's only human after all :)

Photos provided by Jacinta of Nourishing Our Health

Photos provided by Jacinta of Nourishing Our Health

On creative meets technical meets love...

That the whole thing is both creative and technical at the same time. Think of the math involved in figuring out how much of each ingredient is required for all those meal packs, what changes can be made for different dietary requirements Then there's ensuring the nutritional content is balanced and maximised for her customers, and the planning that goes into creating juice sounds like a lot because it is :) But then, Jacinta has been smitten with cooking ever since she was small, so nutritional value aside, those meals and juices are also jam packed with love!

What she loves the most...

Meeting her customers! Her smile becomes extra glowy when she talks about the little pockets of "Nourishing our Health" devotees that she's discovering all over Bendigo...and particularly getting a peek into what their days are like. There's a bit of mutual appreciation involved because some people can't leave their jobs to source lunches like those Jacinta has made for them, and clearly get excited by her visits. Yet she is witness to their professional dedication, for example when visiting Bendigo Health, and has a deeper appreciation of their work days as a result.

On her online presence...

Social media is an essential part of Nourishing Our Health, allowing Jacinta to make connections with her customers and reach new ones. Building relationships based on a common interest is what she's all about...and recipe sharing, communicating about orders, giving behind the scenes looks into her world of writing and testing providing inspiration and all all comes together into a beautifully real social media feed.

On her favourites...

She loves a good green juice, particularly the one that she's incorporated into her pressed juice cleanse...which uses apple, lemon and ginger to make the beautifully intense nutrition of the greens tasty.  When it comes to a favourite recipe or ingredient combination? She really just focuses on what is seasonal as that helps with finding the best produce.  But she can't go past a good rainbow salad in summer :)

What Jacinta wants you to know...

That eating well and looking after your nutrition is not as complicated as it might feel, even when our days seem to be short on time and our arms are busy juggling family, work and life in general. You don't even technically need a recipe. Combining whole-foods into filling and nutritious combinations can be a simple as you need it to be...and she'd love nothing more than to help you with ideas and practical approaches to living a healthy life.

What I love about her...

Not only does she include something sweet-but-healthy into her meal packs (because you know I'm all about the treats!) ...but her enthusiasm and cheerfulness is can tell she's doing something she loves, and it's growing as a result.  And that, dear reader, is just about my favourite thing to discover and write about.

Where can I find Nourishing Our Health?

Pop on over to Facebook to find out everything you need to know, and to respond when she posts about ordering. You can also see what she's been up to lately on Instagram @nourishing_our_health and she also has an official website. Keep an eye on her social media for recipe sharing, and a potential recipe book may be in the works xx

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Custom prints with handmade details for nurseries, weddings or anything in between, 
I focus on creating whimsical designs that embrace the positive and beautiful imperfections of our stories.

Locally designed. Locally printed.