I first met Shayna as her pinup persona, Miss Flirtatious Belle, when we were competing in the Miss Old Skool pinup competition at the 2013 Halls gap Rod Run. She took home the title! It wasn’t her first title and she has gone on to win a couple every year, including her most recent one; Miss Cheesecake Bombshell in the Miss Bombshell Pinup Pageant earlier this month – congratulations again Miss Flirtatious Belle! There are some pretty great photos and videos up on her Facebook page from the competition if you’d like to see her in action!
Shayna is a teacher by day in country Victoria with a pretty hectic schedule and I am a city gal so sadly we were unable to conduct this interview in person this time around but I have really enjoyed reading her responses and I hope you do too. I’ve always thought Shayna and I have quite a bit in common, more than just our love of mid-century vintage fashion; we both have a broad range of creative interests and have our fingers in many different pies – this is both literal and figurative for Shayna as she is a pretty great baker! She also loves to get involved with community events and amongst other exciting events, has been a volunteer with the Ballarat Apron Festival for several years. Events like the apron festival fit in perfectly with her love of vintage fashion, sewing and supporting her local community!
You are a very creative, craft-oriented person, if you had to pick one out of all of them, which would you pick as your favourite creative activity?
Do cooking and gardening count? My favourite creative activity would have to be growing, nurturing and harvesting my own food then turning it into a culinary delight in my kitchen. I read lots of recipes and collect recipe books, but I nearly always put my own interpretation on whatever it is I’m creating.
Why do you feel having a creative outlet is important?
I feel it’s important to have a creative outlet because it allows you to use a different part of your brain. Taking a break from your busy schedule to create something is similar to having a bath or treating yourself to a facial. Depending on what it is, it can be meditative, leaving your refreshed but with something to show at the end. Creating something, especially if it’s something that you’re going to give to someone, is incredibly rewarding; the sense of accomplishment and the knowledge that others are going to enjoy the fruits of your creativity is incredibly uplifting.
You make the most adorable little crochet hats for kids! How long have you been crocheting for?
I learnt to crochet whilst living and working in a tiny Scottish village called Achiltibuie on the Coigach peninsula in Scotland. A good friend taught me… that would have been about 13 years ago now!
What is your favourite thing to crochet and what do you enjoy most about the activity? Crocheting doesn’t require much concentration, so it’s a good activity to engage in whilst having some down time in front of the television, during transit or conferences. A ball of yarn and a crochet hook don’t take up much space, so it’s easily portable! I like to make small things like booties, beanies, tea cosies, scarves, shawls and ponchos. Crocheting appeals to me because it enables you to sculpt and shape without worrying about dropping stitches. You can experiment to achieve different textures and patterns too.
You sell your crochet work and other hand made items like shower caps on ‘Madeit’ under your brand name ‘with love, Shayna’, what inspired the name?
That’s a really good question. I regularly make things for people, and always sign cards and gift tags ‘With love, Shayna’, so it seemed like an obvious brand name.
You made your own cider recently from apples and pears from your very own trees – How much fruit did you harvest this year and how much cider did you get from it?
I couldn’t say exactly how many apples and pears I harvested… lots! It was a bumper season and the birds left most of the fruit for me. I made about 40 litres of cider (with the help of a few friends).
My great Aunt has a pear tree so I was thinking about making pear cider at some point but have never attempted it, how did you find the process? What was the trickiest part?
For me, the trickiest part is siphoning the cider into bottles; I have great difficulty getting the siphon to flow! I’ve been making cider for a few years now and highly recommend getting other people involved. The pressing or juicing process (I cheat and use a juicer) is quite tedious, but many hands make light work! It can also be a messy process, particularly in the first 12 hours of the ferment as this is when the yeast is at its liveliest. Making sure you have time to bottle the cider before the flavor is tainted is also important – I often struggle with this due to my busy work schedule and social calendar!
And most importantly, how does the finished product taste?
My first few batches weren’t great, but they were drinkable. This year’s batch is my best so far! Very drinkable. Nice and tangy with a bit of sweetness. The tang comes from the apples. The apples become sweeter the longer your leave them to sit; this year I made my cider early in the season as I had several helpers who were keen to lend a hand.
You don’t just have phenomenal apple and pear trees, have quite the produce garden, what else have you got growing there?
Whilst searching for a place to call home, I was fortunate to stumble across my delightful miner’s cottage which has a well-established orchard containing two different varieties of pear, the apple tree, two varieties of mulberry, a plum tree, an apricot tree, a nashi tree that grows two varieties and a prolific quince tree. I’ve since added an olive tree, a cumquat tree, a lemon tree and a passion fruit vine. There’s also my vegie patch in which I grow all sorts of seasonal produce.
What is your favourite thing to make from the produce from your garden?
Currently it’s quince paste. I have a fail proof recipe that cooks in the oven instead of requiring hours of slaving over the hot stove. I also make a lot of chutneys, jams and relishes… and who can go past a good old fashioned apple pie?
You have your very own customized ‘Baked by Shayna’ rolling pin, it’s completely adorable and a lovely touch for home baked goodies! Where did you get it?
Ah, there’s a funny story behind that. A friend came across an Etsy store selling customized rolling pins and posted a link on my Facebook page. Almost immediately another friend messaged me and instructed me not to purchase one (I’d already started to investigate!). When I saw her that weekend and a first birthday party, she handed me my very own, customized rolling pin. She’d planned to give it to me for my birthday, but couldn’t wait that long seeing as the element of surprise was gone.
What do you enjoy most about the autumn-winter change and cooking for that cooler weather?
Cosy hours by the fire, slow cooking, mulled wine, pies and puddings! I also enjoy getting into the garden, cutting things back and preparing the beds for the coming season.
Would you share with us your favourite winter recipe?
Chocolate and Walnut Brownies
150g self-raising flour
150g chocolate chopped
Preheat oven to 160 degrees C
Grease and line a slice pan.
Place chocolate, water and sugar in a saucepan and stir until melted.
Allow to cool for ten minutes.
Stir in the remaining ingredients, pour into tin and bake for 45 minutes.
Cool before cutting into squares.
Chocolate and Walnut Brownies PDF file