March 2012

This is my man…

…a month ago on his birthday. At the Bathers Pavilion cafe in Balmoral.

I’m not quite sure why I held off on posting this photo for so long. Yes, this is Rick. My husband, and my best friend. He knows the best of me, and the worst of me, and every day without fail, he loves me, laughs with me, cooks for me, trusts me, and looks after me. He is truly my one and only, and I pray that we have at least sixty more years together.

Hope you’re all having a wonderful weekend!

To market, to market…

We did a rare thing on the weekend: we actually headed out to the markets. Rare because I’d never thought of going to the markets as a particularly kid-friendly thing to do. However, my (very) stylish friend Kitty was setting up shop for the day at the Kirribilli Markets, so we decided to show some support and try to make a day of it with the boys.

One of the first things I noticed as I walked around, trying to locate Kitty’s stall, were these cool totes selling for only $10 each. The shop owner was incredibly friendly, and didn’t mind me taking photos at all. The doggy ones were cute, but for some reason, I was quite taken by the lemon one (all the yellow from Jamie’s birthday party has no doubt brainwashed me). Anyway, the owner told me that she’s usually there every Saturday so if you are in town and in need of a simple, weekend tote, head to the Kirribilli markets and grab one of these!

Whilst I did cast a quick glance at a couple of vintage dresses, I found that I was more drawn to items for the home, like the vintage typewriter (clearly, I’m still after one of these), the little mint-coloured teapot for only $5, and the potted chilli (yes, more yellow!). Due to lack of time, I didn’t get to explore the art stall as I would’ve liked, so I see a return trip in the near future.

In between rushing to a nearby cafe to buy some much-needed caffeine for Rick and yours truly, I spied this unique set of crockery that mimics the look of paper. The guy at the store was both the designer and maker, and we had a quick chat about his work. His name is Hayden Youlley and the eye-catching bowls, cups and vases at his stall were part of his ‘Paper Series.’ Prices start at $40 for a dessert bowl, which is quite reasonable considering each one is handmade. A perfect birthday or engagement gift, in my opinion! You can read more about Hayden’s designs here.

And of course, I couldn’t leave without buying a couple of eye candy pieces from my friend Kitty: a cocktail ring that I’m wearing right now as I type, and a dragonfly necklace which was too pretty to ignore. You like?

Happy Tuesday, everyone!

The eternal mother

My best friend from high school gave me this necklace last Sunday at Jamie’s birthday. She’d told me that it was called The Eternal Mother necklace as she placed the gift wrapped package in my hands. When I opened it at home, later, I was so very touched by her gift: it was a bird on a branch, protecting her egg – her baby – in the nest below.

The name of the necklace seems so appropriate, because motherhood changes us. Permanently. Once you become a mother, you forever remain a mother. Whether our child is two weeks old, one year old, in primary school, at university, or forty years old with their own children, he or she will always be our baby. And for those of us who have lost a child (or children), you never stop being their mother either. You never stop loving. You never stop caring. You never stop pondering. You never stop yearning. You never stop mothering.

I don’t have many necklaces that I consider to be all that precious, but this one is definitely a keeper. Thank you, San, for thinking of me. Motherhood is indeed a precious gift, one that I will never take for granted.

I know, I know, this second room tour has been a long time coming. But hey, it’s here so take a seat and let’s get right into it…

For every room, there is usually a starting point: whether it’s furniture you already have that you want to incorporate or some specific functional purpose that you have in mind for the room. As this was our very first ‘formal dining room,’ it meant that we had no furniture whatsoever to go into this room. In other words, it was a completely blank canvas.

My starting point was therefore the use of the room: apart from the obvious ‘formal dining’ aspect of the room, I knew that Rick would also be having a lot of his church meetings here. This meant we needed to be able to seat at least 8 or 10 people at the table. Also, as with every other room in the house, I had to bear in mind the colour of the walls and the colour of the carpet – neither of which we were going to change.

The first thing I searched for was the dining table since, in my mind at least, this would determine the rest of the room. Rick and I are very much still in love with mid-century furniture, so it was a no-brainer when we found this Danish inspired, extendable dining table on eBay that could seat between 8 to 12 people.

It took me a long time to decide on the chairs. At first I considered having a range of mismatched secondhand chairs, but decided against it because I didn’t want to risk the room feeling stale – plus I still think the ‘mismatched chairs’ look works much better on floor boards than on carpet. Once I’d chosen the replica Replica Pauchard Tolix chairs, the next consideration was colour choice. Rick liked my idea of different colours, but in the end, I decided that we would get them all in yellow to create a bright and solid contrast against the wooden table and the brown carpet. When the chairs arrived, I was so happy and relieved with my decision, because the yellow completely lifted the room and added just the right amount of cheer.

As for the end chairs, I’d originally wanted replica Philip Starck Ghost chairs, but ultimately decided on replica Verner Panton S chairs. I think these ended up being a good choice because the matt plastic contrasts well with the metal of the Tolix, while the simple ‘S’ shape provides some relief from all the table and chair legs. (Tolix chairs from Sokol, S chairs from Matt Blatt.)

For a while now, I’ve been keen to hang this Perfect Twist poster by Debbie Carlos somewhere in our home and the large dining room wall seemed to be the perfect spot. I love that down the track, I can easily swap this poster into one of the boys’ room or my own studio. Here, I’ve attached the poster with Blu Tack and added a piece of yellow washi tape at the top to give the impression that it’s hanging from the top.

I don’t know about you, but I find it incredibly hard to locate a good floor lamp: one that stands up straight, that isn’t too short, isn’t too expensive, isn’t too boring… you get my drift. After extensive Googling and even ordering this tripod lamp that ended up being too short (thank goodness for money back guarantees!), I found this Space lamp from Online Lighting that reminded me of those cool industrial studio lights but it was only about one-tenth of the price. Score! No, major score!

The sideboard was a bargain buy from eBay. If you’re after something similar, just add ‘retro sideboard’ to your saved searches and wait till a good bargain trundles along. We drove one and a half hours to pick this up, which equated to a three hour tear-our-hair-out round trip with the three boys, but it was totally worth it.

The spotty canvas artwork was one we made for our third home. Back then, it adorned the wall of our studio/nursery (yes, remember that?). In our last home, it added colour to our meals area, and now it has been ‘upgraded’ to the formal dining room. If we didn’t already have this canvas, I would probably have chosen something quite different for this wall but I quite like the playfulness it adds to the room – the perfect counterpart to the yellow chairs and a nice contrast to the monochromic ice cream poster.

The ‘CREATE’ letters were from my old studio, and the ‘Y’ letter was from Freedom (yes, there are a few of these floating around our home). The green lamp is an old IKEA one – you can still buy it in white but they no longer sell it in green.

Oh, and the empty corner on the right of the sideboard? That’s the ‘naughty corner’ for the boys when they deliberately choose to disobey mummy or daddy’s orders. Works wonders.

This is the other end of the dining room. The oil painting on the left is one which we’ve had since our third home. We bought it at the Glebe markets while we lived in Newtown. It’s by a Melbourne artist called Bob White and it’s a painting of a rainy day in Melbourne. I just love the colours in it, as well as the richness and texture it adds to any space.

The tall canvas art is one that I designed myself and had printed through The Online Framing Shop. They’re not only affordable in their pricing, but their service is amazing. The owner actually drove to our place to deliver the canvas himself at no extra cost because he didn’t trust the couriers with such a big item! I was thoroughly impressed.

The artwork itself is simply one of Rick’s favourite passages from 1 Samuel 2 in the bible. I used an unusual typeface called Parkitecture to make it more visually interesting and to make people look a bit harder to work out what the text says. I was originally inspired by Elise’s big script art but I quickly worked out that I didn’t have the calligraphy skills to create anything like Elise’s artwork and a computer script font just didn’t have the same effect. Rick and I both love our final product.

The swivel armchair was another bargain find, this time from Gumtree. I was a bit hesitant about the green clashing with the yellow Tolix chairs, but it’s all come together just fine. I’d also stuffed around trying to create a small side table for the armchair by using a stack of magazines, but in the end, keeping it simple was the best solution. The cushion was probably the last item to be added to the room and yes, it’s also from A Cushy Number!

We’re almost there – well done for staying with me. Just some more detail shots…

..and we’re done! I do hope you enjoyed the tour. Let’s hope the next one doesn’t take three weeks to prep. Have a lovely day, everyone!

Iced, iced coffee

Here’s one fact about me. I love coffee milkshakes. And I love Dare’s entire range of iced coffee in a bottle. This summer, however, I discovered – for better or for worse – that an average milkshake from a cafe has about 500 (or more calories), whilst a bottled iced coffee drink from Dare has on average 450 calories. That’s more than a third of the calories that I’m meant to be consuming in one day!

Anyway, all this to say that I’ve been forced to create my own low-calorie version of an iced coffee and it’s pretty good if I do say so myself. And ridiculously easy too. If you have two minutes to spare, you can make this at home:

Mix a teaspoon of instant coffee in a splash of hot water (use more coffee if you need a stronger drink, or as my friend Monica suggests, use decaf if you’re just after the taste). Add the tiniest amount of sugar if you prefer something slightly sweeter (I’m talking less than half a teaspoon). Throw in a few ice cubes and then pour in one cup of cold milk.

And that’s it: just coffee, ice and milk (and a few grains of sugar if you’re feeling sweet). And if you use low fat milk, a glass of this is only about 160 calories at most even with the added sugar. My favourite milk at the moment is Paul’s Smart White Milk which has only 2% fat but tastes just as creamy as full cream milk. The best of both worlds!

And there you have it. Iced coffee for two. Baby’s yoghurt sold separately.

Last minute party

There was once a boy called Jamie, who had the most amazing hair. This Jamie’s mummy was lazy, and left only one week to prepare….

I know, slack, right? Still, it’s meant I’ve been ridiculously productive – at least I like to think so. To be honest, I’ve never been one to put any major effort into any of our boys’ birthdays to date (ie. no party decorations, no party favours, no party games, etc.). Mainly, it’s been to preserve my own sanity. Because I know I’m such a crazy perfectionist, I’ve always figured that if I don’t set myself any expectations, then I can’t kill myself trying.

(Edit: My lovely mother-in-law just reminded me that I was heavily pregnant for both Angus and Pete’s 1st birthdays. So it seems that my laziness was ‘legit’ after all! Thanks mum, it’s nice to have some semblance of an excuse…)

Well, this year, I’ve decided to step it up. Bring it ALL on, I say (apart from the cake baking – I’m still outsourcing that one.) And might I add, I’m having the best fun!

Here are some sneak peeks of the chaos (yes, for some one who loves zero clutter, the above is currently what the floor of my studio looks like – oh well, all in the name of love for my awesome-haired boy):

Wish me luck: less than 48 hours to go!

Anyway, may you have a lovely weekend and here are some Friday links from me to you:

(Other creative spaces here.)

Frankie issue 46

I’ve known of Frankie for a long time now, but have only recently started buying it for my own perusal. The stories are intriguing, the photography captivating. The design is minimalist, the paper is recycled and each issue seems filled with all sorts of vintage and eco-friendly goodness.

In this issue, I particularly liked ‘The Wallpaper Escape’ feature about Christopher Patrick Ernst’s photography and the brief coverage of The Schoolbag. And how about that quote?

The Healthy Chef

When we’re out with the boys on a day off, Rick and I usually opt for milkshakes and club sandwiches. However, on one particular occasion last month (namely, after we realised we needed to change our somewhat unhealthy eating habits), we stumbled upon The Healthy Chef in Avalon Beach.

Four things I noted amidst the chaos of eating out with our boys (clockwise from top left):

1) The quinoa tabouli was good. And healthy.

2) The window seating was very cushy, with lots of cushions.

3) They had high chairs. Big tick.

4) They served Campos coffee (can you spot the famous green cups?). Double big tick.

Also worth a mention is that the staff were extremely patient with us, even though there is no doubt in my mind our boys exceeded the standard threshold of ‘noise making’ for about three quarters of our time there.

Yes, I had to sneak in a photo of my boys. And yes, they make me smile. (Your guess is as good as mine what Pete is accusing Angus of there.)

The Healthy Chef
17 Avalon Parade, Avalon Beach, Sydney
Open 7 days a week for breakfast and lunch
6am – 5pm

Unlikely beauty

Clover. It grows so quickly.

From a distance, it’s a weed. Unwanted and unpleasant.

Yet up close, it’s quite pretty. Almost beautiful.

Happy Friday, my friends.

In the bag

At long last, I give you…a dissection of my handbag!

Here’s what’s inside: my wallet, my sunglasses, a black point pen, my O-Check notebook and a small zip-up bag for my little bits and pieces.

The less stuff there is, the lighter my bag is, the easier it is to switch between my handbag and my ‘kiddy bag,’ and the less time it takes to find what I’m looking for!

Here are my tips for de-cluttering your handbag:

  • Empty the entire contents of your bag onto the floor, table or bed.
  • Go through every single item and sort them into three piles: 1) keep 2) put away 3) throw out. The key here is to make the ‘keep’ pile as small as possible.
  • So go through the ‘keep’ pile and organise them into compartments by using those coin purses and make-up bags that you have lying around. (Pencil cases would work too!) The less loose stuff lying around inside your handbag, the easier it is to find what you want and the more organised it will feel.
  • Though you may be tempted to think of your wallet as a ‘single time’, who are you kidding? Empty your wallet onto your desk now and chuck out all those old receipts, movie stubs, expired coupons and parking tickets, and file away those store discount cards which you know you never use.

If you feel inclined to take any ‘before’ and ‘after’ shots, leave a link below so we can all come and see and shout ‘Hurray!’