Mother’s Day cards you want to give… and receive

When I have time, I do enjoy making greeting cards. There’s something really gratifying about it. But, of course, I don’t always have time. So if I ever buy a card I always try to pick one that reflects something of the person I’m choosing for, and it has to be beautiful. Increasingly I also try and buy one that is printed with green principles in mind.

The range from Raven & Lamb is printed in Australia (no carbon-guzzling shipping transportation effects), uses vegetable-based inks and Forest Stewardship Council certified paper stocks.


Doll’s house to love

I recently created and styled 3 nursery rooms for real living magazine and I searched high and low for an affordable doll’s house that could be customised with wallpaper offcuts and bunting that I made. But do you think I could find one! I’d been inspired by this amazing one from Jacqui Lewis that she had created with her daughter. Of course, today, after the mag has gone on sale I find one! And it’s affordable. It’s from a recently opened online stationery store called Upon A Fold. The house comes flat and can easily pop open. It’s the design of Joe Freedman and Ilisha Helfman of Leaf Display who also create pop-up toys and cards (and check out their patchwork doll house too).

Oh, and if you want to check out the nursery rooms I styled you can see them here.


Lego Love

We have a bit of a joke in my house that my husband enjoys playing with the Lego more than our child. He makes all sorts of weird and wonderful creations – from spinning tops to cars and temples. So we both had a good laugh when I found this cool book on Lego – I Lego NY. Lego must be cool again because recently we went to see an exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney to see the work of Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson and we had a great time with Little C because not only was there a “mist room” but a table full of millions of pieces of white Lego. The creations were amazing: minarets, skyscrapers, skulls and all sorts of other futuristic buildings. It got me thinking how cool it would be to have an installation in a child’s room of only white Lego. We checked it out on eBay – you can buy people’s collections by the kilo, although didn’t come across any in just white… not yet!


Seasonal choices

elkiIt’s amazing how much of an impact the time of year your baby is born has on sartorial choices. My son was born in June — which is winter-time in Australia. So woolen hats outnumbered any other gift (other than socks, for some strange reason). But I was talking to a friend recently who had a summer baby and she said her son lives in nappy cover shorts. Unfortunately I never got the chance to buy these for little C… but maybe next time I’ll have a summer baby (am I really talking next time?!), and I’ll be able to buy bloomers such as these. I saw this range recently from Elki. Sisters Emma and Georgina import fabric directly from Liberty of London to hand-make their products. Just beautiful.

– Natalie

Finally — affordable maternity jeans

jeansIf you live anywhere but Australia you might be thinking, “what is she talking about?!”  But maternity clothes are SO expensive in Australia. I didn’t buy any maternity jeans while pregnant because I couldn’t justify forking out $200-plus. So I walked around in my regular hipster jeans with the top button undone, and I wore a long top.

Now, finally, a high-street brand has come out with a range of maternity jeans. THANK YOU Just Jeans, especially as they are going to retail for $89.95.

– Natalie

Cool things to do in Sydney… with kids!

DSC00703It was lovely to meet Courtney recently as she began her big adventure along Australia’s east coast. It’s funny the feelings it stirred in me. I really wanted her to have a good time in Sydney. And I wanted her to love my neighbourhood of Bondi as much as I do. So I sent her off a quick list of things to do with children, and I thought it might be useful for anyone else visiting Sydney.

Of course, this list is not exhaustive and is skewed to areas near where I live. So I’d love to know your suggestions if you live locally.

Nielsen Park, Vaucluse – a Harbour pool that is kid-friendly with the most amazing view of the Harbour Bridge while you swim. There is a kiosk where you can get takeaway food, a café or you can just take a picnic. There are a few walks in this area too. There’s loads of great advice on this blog – Family Fun Sydney too.

Watson’s Bay – you can get ferries here to the city or just enjoy the park and wander around the streets which have the cutest cottages – used to be a fishing village although now highly coveted for real estate so everything is made over. But still has lots of charm. You can eat with your family at the pub there – Doyles or get takeaway fish n chips. (more…)

House swapping

barcelonaOver the summer break I spent a bit of time decorating my home. (No, the pic above is not of my place — but somewhere I might now be able to stay.) One of the reasons was that I wanted to take some photos so I could list it on a house swap website.

We featured an article on house swapping a couple of years ago in the magazine where I work. It seemed like a great idea. But I always wondered — is it too good to be true?

Well, I believe that you should “give it a go” — as Aussies like to say. So I took the plunge and listed with two sites. Creative Caravan tags itself as “Craiglist for Creatives” — the idea being that you can swap with like-minded people.

The other website is Homelink. I did a bit of research and was attracted to this one because there is strong membership within Australia so if I want to take a trip to Byron Bay or Tasmania then I can swap with people who live there… as well as people in Italy. And within a week of listing I got a message from someone wanting to swap in Martinique!

– Natalie

Scootering with style

kiddimoto 3It takes something special for me to want to buy it in the way of kids’ toys. Don’t get me wrong. Little C doesn’t live a deprived existence — it’s more a matter that he plays with the washing basket and items in the utensil drawer more than his actual toys.

However, at Christmas he got two tricycles (mad, I know) — one from my mum and one from an aunt. And he LOVES them. So as he will be turning two in June I’d love to get him one of these Kiddimoto. Yes, they’re not cheap but I figure he’s going to get many years’ use. And I’ve got quite a few months to start saving. They’ve just become available in Australia, and here’s the UK website.

– Natalie

Love Poems

lunch poemsI have to confess that I don’t usually do anything on Valentine’s Day. Many Australians cynically call it “Hallmark Day” — it’s pretty much seen as a commercial exercise. However, I am a romantic. So I thought I’d share a story about one of the best “gifts” I ever received…

One day I was sitting in a cafe waiting for my boyfriend to arrive. All of a sudden a man sat in the chair opposite and started talking to me. I was a little confused about what was happening. Perhaps he had mistaken me for someone else. Or maybe he was a little mad. But little by little I started to recognise the words he was speaking. They were from one of my favourite poems by American poet Frank O’ Hara. Now this was really weird. And then I realised. My boyfriend had been up to this mini performance. I started looking around for him. Sure enough: at the end of the poem he came into view. Smiling a big gummy grin. And I couldn’t stop laughing. All this, for me?

Yes, love can be grand. And has nothing to do with money – he asked an actor friend to recite the poem to me! I hope this inspires you… or your loved ones.

– Natalie

Babes in the shade

babes in the shadeA big issue for parents in Australia is protecting your child from fierce UV rays, especially in summer when the sun burns skin all-too-quickly. Many children (and adults) wear “rashies” at the beach. These tops provide high UV protection and saves you having to reapply sunscreen every couple of hours. The only problem is that they don’t always look good — or they can be quite expensive. Enter Babes in the Shade, an Australian business that has come up with some cool and affordable designs. They also have shirts with easy-to-use zips.


An odd obsession

scoop_bunkI’m obsessed with bunk beds. There. I’ve said it. I don’t know why. It’s a strange obsession to have, especially as I only have one child. I think it’s because I live in an apartment and if I was to have more than one child then they’d probably have to have bunks. Perhaps it’s also because they look like a lot of fun, and I never had one as a child.

Either way, I love this one by Lilly & Lolly — a great Aussie company that designs and manufactures the products locally. In fact, this bunk is made from Tasmanian Oak. Beautiful.


Stripes save the day

Polka KidsIt may have taken me a few months to twig on, but I have learned a valuable lesson. Stripes hide a multitude of sins. I’m a busy working mum and I don’t have time to change my baby boy a hundred times a day (he is a very, very, very messy eater). And he’s still crawling along the floor and getting dirt all over everything he wears. So if I put him in a solid colour, it shows up dirt instantly. And, I have to confess, that I have a bit of a thing for stripes. And dots, but that’s more for me. Anyway, when I was checking out the colourful and fun designs of Polka Kids I noticed that they not only have some great striped tops and jumpers but also other multihued designs which will be perfect for my little one.


Babyccino Birthday — Cheap and cheery decorations

lanternsI love a bargain. I always have. And so I was excited to discover the website (thanks to one of the stylists at work) Chinatown. It’s an online website that sells all things Chinese – such as lanterns, parasols and decorative boxes – for a great price. Plus, they deliver so you can shop during your lunch break. For Little C’s first birthday I bought white, aqua and red lanterns to hang from the ceiling ($7.95 each) and then filled party boxes with some of the smaller lanterns ($24.95 for 24 pieces) along with black paper, coloured chalk and lots of stickers and balloons. They were a huge hit.


A new favourite

Tiny MammouthI never thought finding cool boys’ clothes would be so tricky. When you don’t have an unlimited budget, that is. So I’m super excited to have just discovered Tiny Mammoth by Melbourne designer Beci Orpin. While she has girls’ clothes in the range, you can tell that she’s a mum to two boys because she gets it. She gets that not all boys (or mums) want to embrace preppy or middle of the road, and that boys clothes can strike the right balance between humour and edginess. Love it!


Are these shoes made for walking?

converse all starsI’m curious to hear your thoughts. A couple of months ago I bought my son a pair of Converse sneakers. My mum rolled her eyes and told me that the soles were too flat and not good for his feet. But they look so good! She tried to buy him a pair of Clarks sandals but his feet were too wide for them and so she had to return them (which I was secretly glad of because they were soooo old fashioned). Soon I’m going to have to buy him another pair of shoes and while I’d happily buy him another pair of Converse I do wonder if they’re perhaps not the best thing for him. But I want something stylish. I know many Australians love the Walnut brand, which Sara has written about here, but I wonder if they’re too “flat” as well. Another friend has a pair of Birkenstocks for her little boy – but all the ones I’ve seen have been close to $100 each, which seems a lot of money for something that Little C will probably grow out of in 2-3 months. Would love to know what you think — and if you can recommend any cool kids (supportive) shoes.


Stylish boys’ rooms

C ad.jpgI’m like hawk-eye now when it comes to boys’ rooms. Since I had a little boy, I’m always on the lookout for spaces that are sophisticated but with a masculine edge – and yet still playful. Perhaps it’s a big ask, but I’m slowly getting a good clippings file. While this room, showcasing a new wallpaper from Australia’s Porter’s Paints, is a little old for Little C, it’s a good one to keep in mind as he grows up. I love the grey camouflage wallpaper. It looks great against the lime green, too.


Inspirational Ideas

pavement paintingYes, simple ideas are often the best and two of the places I go for them are the blogs of illustrator, interior designer and all-round creative Antonia Pesenti and Brooke Reynolds from Inchmark Journal. Antonia once did a post on painting with water on concrete, and often I think of it because it’s simple, easy and completely un-messy. Likewise I really enjoy the books Brooke shares on her blog and her craft and cooking projects too. Well worth a look.


Multitasking homewares

tub trugsThe time has finally come to stop washing Little C in the bathroom sink. He’s 15 months old now (how did that happen?!) and we almost have to oil him to get him out of the teeny tiny basin. In our new apartment we don’t have a bath, and I don’t really want to buy a baby bath – after all, what on earth do I do with it once he’s finished with that! Space is at too much of premium to just store things. So I’ve taken the plunge and bought a Tubtrug from the Australian storage mecca of Howards Storage World. I know some of you probably have a Tubtrug already to store toys, but I was won over by the new shallow design (and that sunny yellow). It kind of reminded me of the paddling pools I had as a child and thought it would make the perfect bath… and washing basket, and toy storage…


Sleep tight

sunshine rockKideko is one Australian children’s brand that just gets it right. The super stylish owner Shelley Mason has extended her range of bedlinen to include pyjamas in the distinctive retro-inspired print she has made her own. The pjs are made with cotton jersey, which means they’ve got enough stretch for those of us who have wriggly worms for children. Plus, they’re affordable – gotta love that! – at $35 each. The only catch – you’ll have to wait until October to be able to buy a pair. In the meantime, check out her bedlinen – my fave is Sunshine ROCK.


One for the must-do list

giraffe manorI’ve still got the travel bug. I’m off to Africa to write a travel article. And while I’m not taking my family, I can’t wait to do so one day. You see, during my research I came across a photo from Giraffe Manor in Nairobi and I thought, “wouldn’t this be the most amazing place to take my child”. In my opinion, it would beat Disney Land hands down. I can just see the wonderment on my son’s face when a giraffe pops his head through the window. Priceless. If any of you have been there, I would love to hear about your experience.


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