Book news, cottage news, garden news. All the news.

In the last Q and Q Friday video, we talked about writing picture books via the illustrations. In other words, an alternative way to write a PB is to start with the pictures. Lots of creators, especially illustrators, work this way.

Pictures first. Words second.



That’s what I’m doing here.

I’m pulling some pics out of my phone and writing a blog post around em!

I’m so desperate to catch up with you, dear reader, but for some reason I’m incapable of writing anything without visual aids.

Weird, hey?

Programme interruption! If you’re only here because you’re interested in the girl and duck Institute, scroll to the bottom, darling!

little tweet


Last week we went to Melbourne for a few days.

I helped launch Caroline Magerl’s magical new picture book, Maya and Cat.


This is us in conversation at The Little Bookroom, Carlton, with Leesa Lambert (far right) our esteemed host.


Meanwhile, Truly Tan: Trapped! came out in audio. That’s all six Tan books now available on audio.


While in Melbs, we caught up with our boys and had dinner with my publisher. I bought a new frock and some vegan lipstick.

And we all got hailed on.


Oh, yeah. On the way home I bought an old print from a junk shop in Kyneton.


Isn’t it fab? It’ll look loads better when we paint the dining room walls. (We’re painting them dark blue). At the moment they’re just, well, erm, Old Denture White.

While we were away, our almond trees (we have two) went from this:


To this:


And this:


This corner of the yard (where I’m going to create a secret garden), now smells like my childhood. And the bees! They’re going nuts. I’m obsessed with bees. The entire purpose of my up-and-coming garden is bees. People assume I’m all geared up to plant veggies. Nope. I can buy all the veggies I need from the local farmers. That way we still get to eat well and at the same time we’re supporting ‘them who are good at growing veggies’.

Meantime, I prefer to plant for bees and birds. They need our love. Big time.

Our new birdhouse is a hit with sparrows, silver eyes and  finches. They all SERIOUSLY hate the corn by the way. Too big for their little beaks. Sorry lads. I’m still learning…



Someone told me that in order to neutralise our carbon footprint we should each plant two trees for every year we spend on the planet. I don’t have room for 114 trees, but I can definitely work towards some kind of ode to Mother Earth; some kind of healing. Thank you to Colette O’Neill for her constant inspiration and guidance when it comes to  goddess permaculture and my growing awareness of What Can Be Done about the mess we’re in rather than all that is wrong.

We won’t get anywhere without optimism, compassion and action, right?

We salvaged a new bedroom window. It took three men to lift it. I couldn’t watch. It gave me ocular hernias. (Is that a real thing??)

Here it is:


Here’s Elsie (LC, Little Cottage) from the front. Ahem. She’s a 1920s faded beauty. Shabby chic. Always trusted in the kindness of strangers…

Okay, so one needs imagination.

But we’ll get there.

I’ll post some ‘after’ pics as soon as we’re in the ‘after’ stage…


We started replacing weatherboards and window sills this week. And the painter is here. And the builder.  Along with some very vocal power tools that bellow PROGRESS.

The weather is clearing so everyone’s coming to life. Just like the willy wagtails.


Like many of us beyond a certain age, soft lighting adds to Elsie’s allure. And hides some of her life-ache… This is ‘Elsie Through the Lemon Tree’.


A couple more of the back garden. There’s been so much to find beneath the oxalis, including garlic, sage, Jerusalem artichokes, asparagus, thyme, oregano and WORMS! I squealed when I found the first worm.




Garden Tally

So far I’ve planted several Callistemon, a dwarf bay, a couple of Buddleias, a heap of lavender, a gardenia, some wax flower, an Escallonia, spearmint, blueberries, a pomegranate (that I’m hovering over like a stage mother), and a few other bits and pieces. I’ll really get cracking once the weather warms up and Old Man Frost racks off.

Okay, dear reader, that’s it from me.  I hope you’re well and that your little world is turning confidently on its axis.

Until next time

Sending love

Jen xo

PS We are DAYS away from launching the girl and duck Institute. The first tutorials, Picture Book Fundamentals, parts one and two, will be on sale soon! If you’re a subscriber (ie on my mailing list), I’ll send you an email so you don’t miss the OPENING SPECIAL! More soon! Click here to join the mailing list.

Coming soon - insta









11 Replies to “Book news, cottage news, garden news. All the news.”

  1. Maya and Cat is such a sweet book. It reminded me of a childhood cat, Snowball. Snowball was of course all white, but also deaf. She also like to go into the bush across the road from our house and have her kittens which she would then bring back home once they had grown into fierce little feral bundles. Loved her to pieces though. Your garden and house look very restful, even with the renovations underway. You appear to have landed in the right spot at the right time. Enjoy.

    1. I love the sound of Snowball. I think there’s a PB in there, Kerri! Glad you enjoyed the post. We really are very settled here. It feels like home already. x 😉

  2. coming from south Australia, the driest state in the driest continent, I looked at the lush green vegetation in the photos with envy. oh what a dream. Please keep the photos coming, I’m loving following your change to a non- urban(?)area……

    1. It’s all a bit of ruse, Bronwyn. Summer here is very harsh, we’re enjoying the green while we can and wishing we had our water tanks in, it’s been an unusually wet winter. Will definitely keep the pics coming. Thanks for dropping me a line! x

  3. Well that was just a delight to read Jen. So chuffed/envious of your country retreat and love hearing about your garden!!!!!!!! Gigi and I dream of a house with a garden one day, hurrayyy! Good luck with the Institute!

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