Monday, 30 April 2012

Some Classic Tales

I've been hitting the op shops for books lately.  That's what I do when the kids are restless. "They mustn't have enough books!" I mutter, as my husband snorts his disbelief in the background.
When is snorting ever attractive?
So as it is a family policy of ours mine, that there can NEVER be too many books in this house, I  head out on my mission: to bring back a many and varied collection of books to excite, inspire and head off the restlessness...
                                                Amongst the horde I arrived home with, was a number of beautifully illustrated classic tales: Snow White - retold by Joyce Dunbar and illustrated by Julie Monks (scholastic press, 2005). It is a really exquisite edition - about as un-disney as you can find of this story, and if the book hadn't been in such perfect condition, I would have been tempted to (um, cough) cut it up to frame the pictures as artwork.

Which is not to say I dislike the Disney versions, as I grew up loving this 1971 Disney Snow White Anthology - which I have duly passed on to my kids. It has great coloured pictures and I still remember when I was maybe eight or nine, laughing hysterically with my brother at a picture of the dwarves without their hats on. We were sitting unaccompanied in church at the time and got spoken too severely by someone else's mum.

Pinnochio - by Carlo Collodi and illustrated by Robert Ingpen (Purple Bear Books, 2005), is similarly wonderful. An extended version of the story with the most amazing pictures - it cost $6 at a Vinnies store, which in op shop $ is like, mega expensive!
The Centennial Edition of Seven Little Australians by Ethel Turner, was published in 1994 and illustrated by John Lennox, one hundred years, to the day, after the first edition! (Walter McVitty Books). It is an Australian classic,  and the illustrations in this edition are similar to Norman Rockwell paintings - superb! I remember crying my eyes out when I first read the story, way back when... who can forget the tragedy of the wilful Judy getting crushed by the falling tree. Agh it was terrible! I've just read it again, and it's possibly worse than I remembered.

I didn't have a current copy, so am very pleased to find this one. It is definitely one to put away for a rainy day, and I have visions of reading it to all the children as they lie quiet and still on the back lawn (so maybe not on such a rainy day then..). Obviously someone will have to feed them a sleeping potion first for this idyllic scene to ever occur... and I might have to omit the tragic death scene - at least till they're abit older, and when I can read it without choking up.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Eclectic Finds

I thought I'd showcase a few of the eclectic range of fun objects, clothes and pieces I've found recently in my trawls. At the moment my brain is fried (something to do with school being back and again having to keep track of library/sport/excursions for three different children) and I've given up on trying to compose something more ordered or profound. Maybe next post... This great cutlery with patterned handles was $2 a piece in a homewares shop in the mountains. We're always short on spoons (why? why?) but I've always been reluctant to buy new ones that didn't match everything else.  These delightful  mix and match patterns just look so great on their own it was no longer an issue. Soup and dessert have taken on a whole new meaning..     blue and cream stripes                                             red gingham                t a r t a n   t a r t a n   t a r t a n  t a r t a n  blue and cream stripes 
When I found this nautical jacket in a local op shop I got very excited as who didn't have a sailor's dress/outfit when they were little? I loved mine and have always been so sorry it wasn't kept as they were generally made out of wool and seemed to last forever! I bought this not being entirely sure which girl would (if either) want to wear it. However Mim has taken a liking to it. It seems to be vintage (like myself), is fully lined in dark red silky polyester and has real brass buttons and toggles - no junky plastic here! I wouldn't have teamed it with a disney princess skirt myself, but what can I say? The girl has style!

okay, this definitely needs something taller in it..

I've really liked the glass cloche/dome as a decorating item for some time, but finding them in op shops hasn't been easy. They are a beautiful way of displaying interesting objects and putting things under glass seems to conjure up an aura of special. The women at my favourite haunt, "Note to Self" ( have made up some beautiful displays of silk thread bobbins and velvet flowers under glass domes, and covered the timber base in velvet which looks so romantic and victorian looking. The more industrial/scientific style of Sibella Court ( is also suited to the look, although she uses much more serious looking speciman type jars than my '70's cheese board/dome above!

I am definitely on the look out for more glass domes and just have to remember that they need to stay out of rooms where any bouncing of balls or sock wrestling is likely to occur. Similarly, they also need to be kept away from cute mini inquisitive destructor beings like this one I found unravelling rolls of my ribbon.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Baby Days

I was busy telling friends over Easter that Arch was now 14 months old, until it struck me that if he was born in December 2010 (he was) and it was now April 2012 (it is) my maths didn't add up. He is 16 months old and I'm slightly panicky that it's going to be hard for me to legitimately call him a BABY for much longer...

He is walking, pointing, making a thankyou noise (da di), has a light head of hair and for the last 6-8 weeks has slept through the night!! Hoorah!

Yes, he is eating chips. What can I say, he's a fourth child!
 He is into everything, loves being outdoors and getting dirty, still sniffs a blankie, loves his brother and sisters, and is ready for big boy shoes!

So I thought I'd take a moment to showcase a few items we've enjoyed during the treasured baby period (which is almost over, but not quite yet):

Handcrafted in Tasmania, these soft soled leather shoes have been worn by all my children ( and the range of colours and styles means there's something to suit every baby/foot/style. So much smarter than just wearing socks - and unable to be pulled off! Look on ebay if you don't want to pay the (reasonable) retail price.

The wooden train rattle by HABA ( was a gift from my sister-in-law. This Danish brand is imaginative, well made  and generally just gorgeous. Perfect to give as a gift and available from all snazzy toyshops/websites.

The cardboard Peter Rabbit blocks were actually a gift for Jesse, nine years ago. They sat on top of a bookshelf and looked nice, but I must admit I thought they were a bit useless. However, Archie has LOVED them. He spends ages stacking them one inside the other and carries them around the house. He initially screamed with laughter at knocking down towers we'd built, and now finds it equally hilarious to knock down the towers he's built himself!  (

And finally another firm favourite was my peanut sling. I'd tried other baby pouches in the past, but had found them cumbersome and uncomfortable. I'd decided I was just too small to carry the weight of my babys that way. However, with two children at school and one at preschool last year, I desperately needed an option other than capsule/stroller/pram for the multiple times I was in and out of the car with a new baby both morning and afternoon. The fabulous fabrics of the peanut sling caught my eye first. It's easy to find gorgeous designs for baby girls, and next to impossible to find anything attractive to suit baby boys (especially if like me, you have an aversion to cars, trucks and tractors..). The design of the sling was the next compelling factor. It was so simple and there was no need to be a contortionist to put it on/off. Here is a picture from the website, there is actually a new design that is adjustable (mine was just the one piece of fabric, and I started with a size small when Arch was new, and bought the next size up when he turned one). We're still using it and though choosing a pouch is a highly personal thing, I can't recommend these highly enough!

Friday, 20 April 2012

all things floral


We're a rather fragrant household at the moment - due to the happy occasion of a 15th wedding anniversary!
I love having flowers around the house, particularly the strong scented oriental/day/tiger lillies. They provide a visual and atmospheric lift - and natural bright scents sort of leave candles and other manufactured options (however lovely) in their wake. Note to self/husband: must have more fresh flowers around the house.

And speaking of all things floral, I thought I'd highlight a few lovely flowery things we're enjoying at the moment. These rather adorable tealight candles are in the shape of hyacinth bulbs, and the base wax looks like real dirt! I love them too much to light them so far. I fear they will not last long once the wick is lit!

While in the mountains, I got to check out a few of the wonderful quirky clothes shops and after a tip off from a friend, visted Rare Birds in Wentworth Falls to check out these fabulous socks/tights/leggings.
They are made by Dub & Drino and the designs are amazing!
Mim wanted to wear hers straight away and I think the brand should come with a warning: DANGER! Wearing these socks may lead to uncontrollable waving of arms and prancing legs!

And finally on a floral note: Sydney has had A LOT of rain in the last few days. So the current season's footware of choice, ballet flats or fabric wedge heels, were proving woefully inadequate. I had no choice but to wear my gumboots. Penny Scallon designs always make me happy and her kids stuff is fantastic. (N.B. I would not recommend wearing gumboots while driving, as ankle movement is quite restricted. Just saying..)

Monday, 16 April 2012

Mountains Magic

We've had a busy Easter. I've returned home to MOUNTAINS of washing, a messy house with school stuff strewn all around (we kind of left in a hurry) and a week to get on top of things, and get rested, before the start of Term 2.

For the Easter long weekend, and a couple of days either side we attended the Katoomba Easter Convention (great enrichment and blessing for grownups and fabulous kids program for the littlies), while staying in a gorgeous restored home, that overlooked Mount Solitary and truly stunning views.

Seriously, this was directly across the road!
It was a sight to behold and the weather stayed gloriously good for the ENTIRE week and a half we were there - which is practically unheard of!

We managed to fit in a few trips to crowded coffee shops, bookshops, antique stores (to protests from kids) and even some not-too-long and rather enjoyable bush walks (to mild protests from me - I didn't take appropriate footwear - yes probably on purpose!)

The girls got addicted to hot chocolates and so did I after trying a chilli cinnamon hot chocolate at the Gourmet Deli in Leura.

I had high hopes of taking wonderful photos of so many great things while there (not ALL of shops, but well, some) - but I was either in the right place without the camera, or in the wrong place with it. I have a lot of shots of the kids pulling faces, pouting and grizzling. Don't worry, I have no plans to share them.

We celebrated Jesse turning 9 as well - and as he doesn't like cheap sponge cakes from the supermarket (love sophisticated tastes in primary aged children, don't you?) we went to the delightful Hominy Bakery in Katoomba where he chose a delectable Chocolate Truffle Cake.

All round had a merry and blessed Easter where the busyness was tempered by some blissful moments of (relative) quiet to stop and smell the roses, and stare at the wonders of creation. So enjoyed catching up with family and friends while temporarily stepping aside from city life and all of its distractions. Of course, it wasn't long enough, so am already looking forward to doing it again next year.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

What matters at Easter time

Have you noticed some shops have stocked and displayed easter decorations en masse in the same way we are used to seeing christmas decorations in all their many and varied splendour?
Does anyone go all out for easter decorating in the same way they would for Christmas?

I must admit to enjoying placing a few rabbits and an egg or two around the house - and I did bring out some of my treasured Victoria magazines to become inspired about wonderful ways to use eggs/flowers/hats/bunnies to adorn the table/home.

I even toyed with the idea of trying to make these extremely cute baby chics (from the Design Mom blog), I mean aren't these just the most adorable things you've ever seen? (And they're so small, so how hard could they be?)
But in the end, between packing for going away, and the general chaos of life, the easter "trimmings" seemed just a bit too much to be bothered with.

Far more important to me has been taking the opportunity to read the Easter Story from the Bible, with my kids in bed each night. Because after the shock and sadness of Jesus' betrayal and death, when darkness fell and all seemed lost..

...comes the great joy of reading about what came next:

something I wouldn't have missed for the world!

John 3:16
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
(New International Version)

Monday, 2 April 2012

Decorating with Books


Well I just can't tell you the wealth of inspiration I am finding on It is a decorator/book lover's dream! From book nooks to libraries to cosy cabins, playrooms, bedrooms and beyond, the world of interiors is on show - and what a show there is!

The top picture illustrates how to decorate an attractive but rather austere and definitely clutter and book free room (of which I do not have any - but that's not to say I can't appreciate them!) with a dreamy painting of a book. Which isn't quite the same as decorating with books, but is still lovely, don't you think?

And the multitude of ways to decorate rooms for kids using books is seemingly neverending. Pinterest is full of the most inspiring photos of rooms to capture the hearts of minds of children, through books. What better way to help reinforce for kids that books are fun than by bringing them alive on their walls?! And it makes perfect sense to show off the covers of your children's books. I'm starting to feel funny about all of our wonderful books buried in the bookshelves now..
Reading in a bookshop at Christmas time
- but imagine having a wall like this at home?!
Pinterest has shown me you CAN!
I've also found some wonderful pics of vintage ladybird book covers, courtesy of ebay, that could make amazing artwork in a child's room. With a little googling, I discovered that the publisher sells copies of their vintage covers as posters ( Perfect for framing.

Imagine a wall of fairytale covers - I am!