I think I saw a Pukeko – New Zealand Picture Book about birds, words, arguing and not always having to be right

I wrote a book and then I illustrated it and here it is!

This is a fun and funny little story about the words we use to describe things (in this case birds), about how to tell things apart and about fantasy versus reality but it’s also about how to give up when an argument is not really going anywhere…

I published this book with the help of The Copy Press in Nelson, New Zealand. It’s a fully local production – it’s New Zealand made, New Zealand inspired AND it’s about an iconic New Zealand bird, the Pukeko.

Here I am with my daughter reading it via a quick video shot by Reuben from Shoot-Edit-Video in Piha.

I have learned so much going through the publishing process and I am so pleased to share ‘I think I saw a Pukeko’ with you.

You can purchase a copy here and I can ship anywhere in the world.

Thanks for reading and thanks for watching. X

P.S. I would love your comments too, so please feel free to add some words below and/or click ‘follow’ before you go.


OMG! The Best Organic Cotton Baby Blankets Ever!

The title for this post comes from a customer’s review. It’s pretty nice of her. Thanks Katy.x

So what is it about Outie’s organic cotton baby blankets that makes them the best?

1) Designed in New Zealand

I studied Fine Arts at Elam School of Fine Arts at the University of Auckland, New Zealand and I have always loved drawing. Prior to opening Outie, I taught English, Art History and Art (painting) in secondary schools so it makes me happy to still be drawing every day. My inspiration is often locally sourced (Kowhai hearts, NZ native flora) because a good day for me starts with a bush walk and I use my walking time as thinking time of ‘what could be cool’ for someone’s baby.

Kowhai Native NZ designer organic cotton blanket

Native New Zealand Kowhai heart patterned organic cotton baby blanket by Outie

2) Original Illustrations

I am also an illustrator (have you seen my first published book? Squee! It’s a fun practise run for my button baby coming soon.) and I like to keep a hand-drawn vibrant feel to all of my designs. Some imperfections in my drawings are left in as part of the process (sometimes I have a toddler on my knee or I am feeding my baby late at night (we do not talk about sleep club) – and, for instance, now I am writing one-handed with my 11 month old wriggling on my knee). Some drawings start out as scribbles on the back of bills and then I digitise them whenever I can find the time. I love how each drawing has a story that is so much a part of my life at home with my kids. The popular Saurus. Raurus. print, for example, happened because of the way my son learned to say ‘dinosaur’ as ‘saurus ‘ and then called ‘lion’ a ‘roarus’.

aleep aid mini organic cotton baby blanket comforter

Dinosaurs and lions are called ‘saurus’ or ‘roarus’ by our two year old and so this fun little design happened for this organic cotton baby blanket comforter or sleep aid.

saurus mini blanket

3) Made to order

There is a three week wait time for most orders because I don’t like to keep stock stored for a long period of time. I also find it hard to predict what will be popular because I have my own quirky sense of style that might not be to everyone’s taste. Philosophically I also love how each blanket is actually printed with purpose so it is made for the right reasons from the get go. I am also aware of babies and dust allergies so keeping storage time down at every part of the process is important to me.

organic cotton custom baby blanket hippos

A custom organic cotton blanket design featuring hippos for a nz customer . “Hippo Dreams” for Kristin.

4) Certified organic cotton

Fabric is sourced from the United States and it is a natural white organic cotton interlock knit. I love how it is not pristine ‘Persil white’ and that is has more of an unbleached colour to it. They are certified organic cotton baby blankets as the fabric is certified in the USA by Global Organic Textile Standards.

5) Water based inks

Outie organic cotton baby blankets are printed using eco-friendly water based inks. No additional chemicals are used in the printing process so they are a safe solution to swaddling your baby traditionally.

organic cotton kids bedding cot sheets

Custom cot sheet sets and single bed sets available by request.

6) Sewn in my home studio

Outie is currently just me. That means you can imagine your blanket being cut by me and sewn by me and it won’t just happen in your imagination. This is a weird additional detail, but I also never sew when I am in a bad mood because I believe that projects can absorb the energy that was around when they were born. That might be a bit hippy dippy but I can happily say that every single Outie thing is made with love and happiness.

7) Little blankets too

We use all of our fabric and this means that we also offer soother blankets, cuddlies, snugglies or mini comforter blankets to help older children sleep. My organic cotton baby blanket mini blankets can be a great comfort for babies with separation anxiety or to help them to feel secure in general. Mum or Dad can tuck the smaller blanket inside their shirt so that the blankies absorb their smell and this makes the comforter blanket more comforting because it smells like a parent. Some people like their teddies or dolls to have matching blankets rather than using them as a comforter blanket. They are 45cm square.

organic cotton comforter soother woogie cuddly sleep aid

Mini organic cotton comforter blanket or teddy/doll blanket featuring my ‘Little Hunter’ print.

8) Inspired by my children

I never planned to open a ‘baby’ business… but it is all falling into place because my two children are my constant inspiration and I love being at home with them. Everything I make/have made for Outie is because I wanted to make it for them (or me as their mum) first.

comfort blanket sleep aid attachment prop

We call our daughter’s dinosaur organic cotton comfort blanket her ‘woogie’ but they are called all kinds of other things traditionally.


9) Custom designs

I can match nursery colours, add names, use symbols or family motifs that are important to you to make your blanket extra special. I love coming up with designs that are special for my customers.

10) Thick cotton

The thickness of our organic cotton baby blankets is like a ‘thick T-shirt cotton’. The organic cotton we use for our baby blankets is soft and foldy and delicious. “I can vouch for how soft this fabric is. It is amazing.” – Melanie

11) Breathable/absorbs smell

As a natural fiber, cotton absorbs smell which is why cotton (and merino) are such staples for babies. Our blankets are also breathable so that babies who like to put their comforter over their face (why do they do that?!) can still breathe. It is best to remove it all the same…

13) Generously sized and suitable for swaddling

The organic cotton fabric we use has a crosswise stretch of about 25% making it a nice soft stretch for swaddling purposes. The size of the big blankets (90cm square) is also a nice swaddling size to give a nice sense of security right from the newborn stage.

14) Matching reusable wipes

I make sets of 6 reusable wipes up out of smaller off cuts of our organic cotton and these make an amazing money saving extra. You can just wet them with water and use them for all things baby. Because they are thick, you will find that you will use one wipe (maybe two) per change. They can be rinsed and washed just like cloth nappies and are a real money saver long term. We have only ever bought TWO packs of wet wipes in nearly three years…

organic cotton reusable wipes by Outie

Organic cotton designer print reusable wipes come in a set of 6.

15) NZ Made and Local

Although we get our organic cotton fabric from the United States (no cotton fields in NZ!), everything else is done right here in our home studio in the Waitakere Ranges in West Auckland, New Zealand. It’s all done by me (Katrina) from design through to packaging… so you can feel good about supporting a local business and a stay at home mummy (me) doing her thing too.

 Get your designer organic cotton blanket here.

Why not knowing what you are doing can make you more brave (Thank you)

Since becoming a Mum I have realised that most of the time I have no idea what I am doing… there is no ultimate parenting guide after all.

But I have taken heart from this and become a bit more brave in general. As a consequence I am doing lots of other things I never knew how to do before either…

And my latest thing is actually ‘doing something’ with all the writing and drawing that I do. So I am self-publishing.

Here is a sneak peek at my favourite illustration.

Maybe you saw a blue chicken? - sneak peek inside 'I think I saw a Pukeko' by Katrina Ward.

Maybe you saw a blue chicken? – sneak peek inside ‘I think I saw a Pukeko’ by Katrina Ward.

I’m qualified to write (and draw) I suppose. I used to be an English, Art and Art History teacher. I have degrees in all those subjects. I won the senior English prize at Auckland University. I also recently won the KBR Unpublished Children’s Manuscript Award International Category with my story ‘The Lost Button’ – and all of this has given me a bit of a push in the right direction.

So here it is:

MY FIRST Illustrated Kids Book up on Amazon.

It’s called ‘I Think I Saw A Pukeko’ and it’s a conversation between two kids, or a kid and an adult, or a ‘believer’ and ‘non-believer’ (you decide). It’s fun and very short and my kids love it and I hope yours will too.

Please get in touch if you want a hard cover print copy ($20)

You can take a look at my first book here.

Thanks for all your support everyone. X

The cover art for my debut Picture Book.

The cover art for my debut Picture Book.

Love Katrina x

Oh and to celebrate with you – I have extended a sale on all A5 prints (all $10!) for you on my outie page.


One brave little button

I’m writing this because I want you to hold me accountable and I want you to share in my story.

Recently I wrote a children’s book called, ‘The Lost Button’ and on a whim, I entered it into a competition. The prize was a full page critique of your submitted manuscript by KBR (kids-bookreview.com/) and your manuscript being forwarded to Penguin Australia. There was never any guarantee that they would publish it, but still I thought ‘Wow – wouldn’t it be cool if someone ‘proper’ would read one of my stories…”

I don’t publish my kids stuff really and feedback would have been prize enough.

So anyway, I sent in my manuscript and I won!

I won the International Category and I was swiftly transported to Cloud 9 in a state of disbelief. (Goes to show it’s worth putting yourself out there sometimes).

A few months later Penguin Australia came back to me.

The critique they gave me was amazing.

Here are some highlights:

” I found the rhythm and concept of this manuscript lovely, and was impressed that it worked well without visuals”

“The premise for the story is charming and fresh, who hasn’t lost a button themselves and then found it in the oddest of spots?  Buttons can be cute or striking, large or small, square or round and, as the author has so obviously identified, they are curiously anthropomorphic.”

“I found the section of the text where the button is rejected as being particularly clever and the words were great visual clues.”

“I would advise keeping an eye on, and in contact with, this very talented author.”


A slightly disappointing outcome was that they don’t feel like the book was right for them in its then-current form and they suggested some changes.

So… I have reworked it and loved it up some and have decided to go down the self-publishing route. (I also cheekily sent them back a revised copy while I work on illustrations so you never know).

And this blog is inviting you to share in the process.

Who knows where this story might lead?

The certificate for my winning manuscript.

The certificate for my winning manuscript.

And just for fun, I am writing a story a day as a self-imposed challenge. I’m up to day 6 so far.

Here is one of my favourites  called ‘Silence Except’ that I wrote yesterday. It’s got nothing to do with buttons this one but you might find you like my writing and want to read more of my stories… (I’m feeling brave sharing this so please be gentle).

And if you like it, please share it because this little button-loving mummy could use all the support she can get.

SILENCE EXCEPT… (a draft – copyright Katrina Ward 2014).

Our house is usually quiet at night. Except on curry night it can be much noisier.

It’s mostly silent except Fweeeeeeeep

That was Mum.

You can also hear the clock ticking and then PWAAAAAARP.

That was Dad.

Sometimes there are footsteps. Pad pad pad.

And the fridge. Errink.

And something pouring. Ploid ploid ploid ploid

And somebody drinking. gulp gulp gulp then Aaaah. And Pad pad pad. Then Kaploomph.

And then silence again.

Silence except for Pfooooff.

That was the dog.

And Squeee-fweep.

That was mum again.

And Feeeeeeooorrrrrp.

And Plurrrrrrrrrthorrrrrrrrrp.


And mum giggling.


That was me.

And then the house is silent again.

Like? Please tell me what you think X

Love and Buttons.

Love Katrina (Outie)

This is how we roll

Slap, fire or hire? Why I want to slap my cleaner

washing lady

At the end of cleaning day, I look around my house and find myself weighing up the competence of the cleaner I am currently paying to clean.

I see missed spots.

“Gah, she missed those cobwebs”

“Sigh, she didn’t dust the side table”

“Grrr, she didn’t finish wiping the shower”

“Ugh, the vacuuming still has to be done.” (etc.)

This is why my cleaner is in the dogbox . She needs a bit of a slap (I wouldn’t actually slap her) but she needs a wake up call – because it seems like she isn’t taking her job seriously enough.

How can she miss so many spots? We pay her for two hours and that should be enough to dust, wipe, sweep, vacuum, mop, clean and scrub both bathrooms, clear bins, replace towels, change linen, make beds, clean the kitchen and fold the laundry shouldn’t it?

I expect a good job and that’s why I pay her well.

But she is clever and always has a good excuse. She even claims that sometimes there is too much grub and simply not enough time to do the job properly.

This is why my cleaner needs to be fired.

Yet I keep her on.

With a softer approach and in a calmer state of mind, I like this cleaner and would hire her above all others.

She gets on well with the kids, knows my house well, prioritises thorough cleaning of some areas over a half-ass overall clean and she really does do her best most of the time.

In her defense: today she has done a detailed job on the main bathroom, there are fresh towels and the bin liner smells like eucalyptus telling me that she cleaned IN the bin (woah!) She has folded the toilet paper so that it feels like a hotel, the mirror has no streaks, the bath is scrubbed smooth and is grime free. She has even disinfected the door handles and the light switch is squeaky clean too.

The kitchen is wiped and the floors have been swept and the second bathroom is gleaming everywhere except half of the shower which she apparently ran out of time for. The laundry is mostly done even if not all folded and there is fresh linen on the kids’ beds.

So which is it?

What will I do?

Slap her, fire her or hire her?

It doesn’t matter what I do – because the cleaner is me.

The thing is, I need to slap myself for being such a hard employer and having expectations of perfection when, let’s face it, two hours is not enough time to achieve anything close to perfection. I need to let myself go a bit and effectively fire myself. I need to hire a new version of me who can still try hard to get everything done who, at the same time, isn’t burdened by the expectation of being everything.

P.S. I pay myself for what I would pay a cleaner for the same job. I get some extra pocket money (staying in my pocket) AND I keep track of the time I spend cleaning as if I am on a contract so that I don’t spend too many precious hours stressing about trying to be squeaky clean. It seems weird but it works for me and stops me getting resentful of being undervalued for doing the dirty jobs.

What about you? Would you clean or do your chores differently if you were paid to do them? Do you expect too much of yourself like me?

-Katrina (Outie)

Like this post? Click ‘follow’ or join in the fun behind the scenes on Instagram or facebook. Links to your right. X

Outie – Life is supposed to be fun.

What do they do with the real children?

I love magazines and I love pinterest. I also love browsing baby stores and looking at gorgeously dressed nurseries. Sometimes I am shopping, sometimes I am getting inspiration but mostly I am thinking, why doesn’t my house look like that? And I am weighed down by the little green monster as well as the toddler climbing on my shoulder and the baby pulling at my breast. (Really).

I have to read the magazines with a virtual green monster fork in my hand so that I can stab the little green monster in the eye and tell it firmly, ‘real life is not like that’.

Or is it?

When I come home from an outing with two kids, I come home to a house that looks like I have real kids. They are real live and kicking mess-makers. Little miss has left little white spots over my lovely woollen rug and mister two has made noodles go where no noodle has gone before because he was swinging them like a helicopter earlier that day…

I have a Splat Mat that gets pretty well splatted every day and I have a kitchen that gets full of dishes from our baking adventures. Mister two’s room has a few cool designy elements – wall decals, another Splat Mat and some neat things that I have made for him – but the bed is tousled and covered in books and the tee pee is a bit lopsided due to being climbed on.

So here is a quick critique of some of the enviable nurseries that I have seen lately.

Nursery One has stacks of vintage books placed in beautiful piles of three. It has vintage teacups on display and a Baboushka cushion with long tassles.

It has white carpet and colour-matched walls and curtains and I love it.

But real children can’t live there, can they? Vintage teacups would be smashed in my house and putting them on top of books is a disaster waiting to happen. Putting books out that are not for touching is like toddler torture.

And tassles on cushions get pulled at, torn off or sucked.

I can meet them half way though…

My vintage books are on the top shelf for ‘special reading’ when mummy can help and the vintage teacups are also well ‘away’. My son has melamine teacups from my grandmother’s old picnic set (sweetly nostalgic) and they are ‘allowed’ (just).

Once I had a Cars and Trains Golden Book that I thought might be nice for mister two to go to bed with. It didn’t last and now I only have loose pages that I am either going to have to make bunting with or decoupage onto something one day when I find some time…

Nursery Two is themed with black and white and everything matches. The babies even wear the same designs and can be camouflaged in their own bed. There are no fingerprints on any of the shiny white things and the black and white styling looks, simply, rad.

But my kids go to the beach and go puddle jumping and are often too muddy for white things. Sometimes I put my toddler to bed with jam still on his face and sometimes, we aren’t supposed to talk about it, but sometimes he poos and it goes everywhere and his sheets are not spared.

Once I even put him to bed still wearing his gumboots because I was too scared to yank them off his feet for fear of waking the little beast up.

The black and white nursery also has low shelves with precious things on the bottom shelf. There are porcelain ornament out for display.

Porcelain ornaments?

Do the children that live there have no hands?

I don’t think real children live there either.

Nursery Three has a crane mobile hanging artfully above the cot. There would be close to 100 cranes and they must look lovely swaying and bouncing in the breeze.

I recall hearing a strange noise when my son eventually ‘caught’ his mobile and sent the fish shooting up to the ceiling because he liked the crashing sound it made and how it bounced so well on elastic. Imagine the sound of 100 cranes…

These nurseries must have hidden storage that is out of shot. In addition to all of the stuff that they have clearly swept out of the way and climbed on to take the shot, the real children must be hiding too. Or am I missing something?

Where are the real children?


Here are some tips for your nursery if you, like me, have real children.


1)      Choose a few ‘signature things’ to make the room fun

2)      If you buy white, buy more than one if you want it to stay white.

3)      Invest in more storage than you think you need (and then some more)

4)      Predict a climbing, yanking, drawing monster and try to provide spaces that allow for this growth

5)      Always have an Outie Splat Mat on hand for an eco-design option for messy play

6)      Hang mobiles higher than you think your child can reach

7)      Install high shelves for precious things and/or vintage books

8)      Add your signature with cute nursery prints (free set of six available too!)

 baby elephant crown of butterflies grow wise me love muchoarohagrey and yellow with copyright shinebrightlittlestar

This is how we roll – things we do during nap time

dance four eyes frankly my dear helens buttons she be fierce This is how we roll you and me clairvoyant clicky cardigan


Button Life – the second installment. Apparently, this is now my favourite thing to do while the babies sleep. Ah well. 🙂

This post is brought to you by the Outie Trinity Nursing Wrap. (Something simple with so many uses…)

Love and Buttons and a bit of sewing too.

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Love Outie.