favourite things

Dreams + links

ab70b250 I spent last night dreaming about a tree change. I don't know what's gotten into me because I really love where I live. I mean, I really love it. And I know that I would get bored in the country. I've lived it before so it's not like I have rose-coloured glasses on.

And yet, I spent the entire night browsing real estate websites instead of working, looking for country homes in the high country. Somewhere where the seasons are REAL seasons, where it snows in winter. Somewhere with space for the children to run and play and grow. Room for a piano. An office for me. A downsized, slowed-down life in which we could see Mr B every day, and each of us would have the financial and emotional freedom to pursue the things we love, not just the bills we need to pay!

I sent a link to one of the homes to Mr B, who was at a work function, telling him "I want to move here." He wrote back "Are you on drugs?" because, well, he knows me. "Let's give it a go," I said.

But then I thought about the schools we wanted the children to attend, and there was nothing like those schools in the escape destinations I was exploring on my computer. And I started to think of all the other things we wanted to do for them and the opportunities we wanted them to have, and I began weighing the pros and cons of life for City Mouse Bulgers and Country Mouse Bulgers up against each other, and it all became dizzyingly confusing.

So instead I closed the computer and opened a bottle of cheap plonk and watched TV while I waited for Mr B to come home from yet another work function, and decided life here wasn't all that bad, really.

In the meantime, revisiting something I used to do every Friday, here are five of my favourite things of late, for your hump-day viewing and reading pleasure.

* Tiny tree-houses in pot-plants

* "Instead of sharing another selfie, I shared all my books with the world."

* Shakespearean quotes on stamps

* The day the plants took over New York

* Build your own street library!


Image credits: photo by Thomas Verbruggen, licensed for unlimited use under Creative Commons

Favourite things - loving lately

title-loving-latelyHappy Friday, friends. Oh and an extra big welcome if you're visiting for the first time from Pip Lincolne's blog Meet Me at Mikes. How awesome is Pip! Sending big love and thanks her way for sending YOU my way. I'm a Melbourne-dwelling mother of two, a journalist, an author, and a big fan of snail mail. If you want to say hi, be sure to leave a link to your own blog if you have one so I can come visit you in turn... You know what's really great about the weather being so cold you can see your breath in the air in front of you? Heaters and knee-rugs and ugg-boots and the kettle on the boil, that's what! So from the warmth and comfort of my couch, hands periodically cradled around a hot cup of tea, I bring you five things I'm loving lately.

1. For my home: hanging plants


Lately I find I'm really hankering for plants inside my home. I long for the sense of calm they create, and the suggestion of health, clean air, and generally being a little more grounded (even when you live in an inner-city terrace house). Right now we only have one plant in the house, a beautiful terrarium that a friend gave me at Easter. And it's dying. How do you kill terrarium plants? I thought they were almost indestructible. Maybe I over-watered it, I have been known to kill plants with kindness...

Anyway, I think this mid century hanging planter seen on Justina Blakeney (via Chantelle Grady) is gorgeous in its simplicity and clean lines. Plus I love the interest and variety that hanging plants generate in a home. AND hanging planters keep soil and potentially-toxic leaves out of reach of curious little hands.

2. For my rainy afternoon: home-made crumpets


This icy, wet and blustery weather calls for hot crumpets, dripping in butter and honey, wouldn't you agree? And tea, of course. On particularly cold days, Madeleine and Harry and I love to treat ourselves to crumpets for morning or afternoon tea. It feels all very proper and British, don't you know? One of these days, I'd really like to try making crumpets from scratch. If for no other reason than that I like the idea of eating crumpets any darn time I like, rather than only when I've remembered to buy them from the supermarket (which is not very often). I think I'll give this recipe a try some time soon.

3. For giggles: NYC survival guide


These illustrations on how to survive life in New York have been doing the rounds of the Internet for a little while, and every time they cross my radar they make me laugh. During my time living in NYC I quickly learned that New Yorkers were short on time and space, so respecting those two things in others was paramount.

In New York, it doesn't matter how unusual or seemingly absurd your dream is: there are people who will know people, and they will want to help you. But I had to learn to make the most of every opportunity, because while New Yorkers might be generous with their knowledge and connections, they don't have time to hold your hand and cajole and convince you to go ahead. The rest is up to you.

That's the serious side. On the lighter side, you can buy the very cute and funny NYC Basic Tips and Etiquette book by Nathan W. Pyle on Amazon, or take a look at some animated GIFs of the same illustrations (click on each image to see the animation).

4. For my children: a balloon wall


I bookmarked this fantastic balloon wall idea in the lead-up to Madeleine's second birthday earlier this month. She LOVES balloons (pronounced "baboons") and in the month leading up to her birthday party we discussed balloons at least every day. In the end I didn't create the balloon wall because I just had too much else to do for her TWO parties, and by the day of her actual birthday I think she had reached the point of celebration fatigue. Still, I am dying to do this. Maybe on another birthday. Or maybe one day, just for kicks. I can imagine the two children coming downstairs of a morning and finding a balloon wall to tear down. That could be a lot of fun, don't you think?

5. For my ride: handwoven bike baskets


Do you ride a bike? I miss mine! It was a 1970s yellow Speedwell with back-pedal brakes and no gears, and it was precisely my speed. During the few months that we lived in Adelaide it really came into its own, because Adelaide was so flat and linked by so much green. I loved exploring the city on my little bike! I gave the bike away while I was pregnant because it wasn't the type that could be converted to safely transport little ones, and it was (and will be) a long time before I'll be riding solo again.

But the day I step across two wheels again, I definitely want one of these handwoven Asungtaba bike baskets on the front. They are made for House of Talents, an organisation connecting talented artisans in developing countries to consumers worldwide. (Also available from Anthropologie)

That's it for Friday folks. I hope your weekend is shiny and happy!


ps. Some posts you might have missed if you're new here...

* Melbourne: have you been to Kinfolk Cafe? * Snail mail: here are 19 fab pen pals, and here is some decorated mail I'm sending * Mothering: I won the lottery * Making: these woodland picnic party invitations are quick, easy and leave a great impression * Nesting: the story of the snow globe * Art: Aussie artist Emma Lipscombe reveals where she looks for inspiration * More favourite things

Favourite things - leave an impression

From paper to photos to pancakes, here are five clever ways to leave an impression. Brought to you, for no apparent reason, by the letter P. 1. Photos

photosHow great is this "Lightcase"? It's a small, portable studio that you can use to take professional-style photographs of the things you make and love, even with just an iPhone.

2. Pandas

pandasThe sweetest little friends ever to sit on your finger: these miniature crocheted animals from SuAmi in Vietnam are the best! This one is a red panda. (Seen via B for Bel)

3. Pancakes

pancakesWe make a lot of faces out of food around our place these days. But nothing quite as clever as this "Crack a Smile" pancake mold!

4. Paper

paperThese Haibara letter-and-envelope sets caught my eye a few months back, and I keep coming back to them. I love how bold and clean they are, and those red outlines make them look like drawings of envelopes. (Seen via Swiss Miss)

5. Paintings

paintingsThis has to be one of my favourite public art projects and if you didn't dream about moving to Paris before, you will now. Etienne Lavie replaced billboard advertisements all over the city with classic works of art. Not long after that, he did the same in Milan. Tres belle, oui?

Favourite things - I did not expect that

Lately a lot of my favourite things collections seem to be about food. Which means that as I've been meandering my way around the Internet late at night while nursing Harry, it's the food posts that have caught my eye and inspired me to hit "save." Maybe it's because I'm a breastfeeding mother who is also racing around after a toddler, and I am permanently hungry. Be that as it may, I think you may just like these unexpected food combinations and constructions, too. 1. Instagram marshmallows

marshmallowsWhat a fun, quirky, tasty gift these would make! Seen via Poppytalk

2. Beaker BLT

muppets-beakerThis made me laugh. I'm all about making pictures out of food lately, to get Madeleine to eat her vegetables. Although this certainly blows my smiley-face and cat-face bean-and-carrot concoctions out of the water! And it's just in time for the new Muppets movie, too. Seen on Handmade Charlotte

3. Kombi toaster

toasterHave I shared this one before? I feel like I have. Or was that the Kombi tent. Either way, I'm still a fan and if you are too, you can buy your own from The Fowndry. It's like those burger-shaped telephones we all wanted in our rooms as teenagers (I never got one. Did you?)

4. Beyond burgers

burgersTake a look through Fat & Furious Burger, a bizarre website featuring totally over-the-top photographs of insanely decadent (and somewhat weird) burgers. Then you will look up and think "Wait, where did those three hours just go?"

5. Chocolate terrariums

chocolate-terrariumsI've saved the best for last. Look at these. Just look at them! Beautiful works of art, and deliciously tasty too. I would SO love to have one of these served up to me at the end of a meal. Apparently they're actually pretty easy to make, so maybe I'll try them out one day. The tutorial is on The Design Files if you want to have a go.

Favourite things - sweet treats

In my home, sleep deprivation and general exhaustion breed sugar cravings. We know it's not good for us, but Mr B and I are both guilty of over-indulging on the sugar front when the world around us just won't stop. (Even at 2am. And 3. And again at 5. Stop already, world!) It's not even lunch time and as I type, I'm already starting to dream of a sweet treat. Anyway, this collection of favourite things may not be the healthiest I've ever made, but it suits the mood around here. And it sure was fun to do.

1. Cupcake ATMs

cupcake-atm-nyCupcake ATMs are popping up everywhere. This one is in New York. Ahoy there, Sprinkles: in Melbourne, we REALLY LIKE cupcakes too. Just sayin'...

(Photo via East Midtown on Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons)

2. Piñata yo face

pinata-faceThis DIY on Photojojo teaches you how to make a piñata out of somebody's photo. They suggest it could be a lovely gesture for, say, a birthday. I put it to them that bashing a picture of somebody's face as hard as you can with a stick until it bursts open isn't exactly a traditional sign of love and affection. On the other hand, all that candy goodness to tumble out would be pretty sweet (pathetic dad-joke pun intended).

3. Sweet Paul book

sweet-paul-bookSweet Paul has gone from online magazine to print mag and now to book (called Sweet Paul Eat and Make)! If you don't know Sweet Paul, it's all about delicious food, beautiful craft projects and clever home tips.

4. Don't be rude to food

foodI have bookmarked this post so that I can refer back to it when Madeleine and Harry are old enough to say "Yuck!" about trying new food. I think it will help.

(Photo is of Madeleine being distinctly not rude to a piece of chocolate cake she made herself. Question is, does she extend the same courtesy to broccoli? I think we all know the answer to that.)

5. Teddy-bear bread rolls

bear-breadAnd just like that, you will never say no to carbs again. (Look at that little face. How could you say no?) Here's the recipe to make them yourself.

(Seen via the Frankie blog)

Favourite things - five botanicals

I've been all about bringing green back into my home lately. It's been a long time since I lived with house plants, and I can't quite think why. Here are five of my favourites. 1. Sky Planter

Sky PlanterHave you seen these Sky Planters from Boskke? Our local organic food store has them hanging from the ceiling, and they look fantastic. My brother and sister-in-law gave me one for Christmas. I can't decide where to hang it. The kitchen, maybe? The play room?

2. Calendar

CalendarThis year, we have a wall calendar in our house, one of the kinds you hang from the wall in the kitchen or hall. I feel like my mother. I think I was about 15 the last time I lived in a house with a calendar, but it seemed the only way to keep track of what everyone in the family is doing. I ordered this one from NZ shop Toodles Noodles on Etsy. I just love the botanical design on the cover (also March), but each of the designs is quite lovely. I may save some to frame at the end of the year.

(I always said that about calendars as a child. I never did get around to it.)

3. Dinosaur planters

DinosaurWe purchased two of these plastic dinosaur planters (one hot pink and one neon yellow) from Etsy shop Plantcycled, for the nursery. I'm yet to buy plants for them but I think that when I do, they will look fantastic on a high shelf where the children can enjoy them but not touch them. On that note, I may also need to purchase some additional bright, plastic dinosaurs for them to play with, since already Madeleine cries "Roar! Roar!" whenever she spots these little fellows, and loves to carry them around the house (and in the bath once or twice).

4. Vine-covered pergola

PergolaEver since I was a teenager, I've nurtured a fantasy about a pergola, shading an outdoor table setting, with a mixture of grape and wisteria vines growing over it. I sat under just such a pergola on a farm visit way back when, and the mix of green leaves and bunches of purple flowers and purple grapes overhead was sublime. When we renovated our house we couldn't afford to do the back courtyard, but the one thing we splashed out on was a pergola so that I could make that dream come true. Assuming we can find the plants this late in the summer, it all begins this weekend!

(Photo from here)

5. Home-grown vegetables

StrawberriesMadeleine and I filled and planted our new Little Veggie Patch Co crate with seedlings last weekend. It's the end of the season so I don't know how those strawberries she's holding will go - there might be quite a wait for fruit. But we also planted out some root veges like carrots and beetroot, among others, so I'm hopeful we'll be able to start harvesting in winter!

Favourite things - unexpected art

Each of these art projects celebrate the unexpected. Enjoy! 1. Leafy dress-ups

LeafmanAzuma Makoto frequently dreams about a mysterious, loitering, human-plant creature. So he created the "Leaf Man" art project, to "elevate the value of flowers and plants."

Seen via

2. Flip-book art

FlipbookitRemember making little flip-books in school? We would draw stick figures in the corners of our notebooks that, when you flipped through the pages, would walk and run and jump and cartwheel. Kinetic artists Mark Rosen and Wendy Marvel motorised this century-old animation technique in little boxes for gallery exhibitions. But now, they have created a FlipBooKit that you can build yourself, and populate with your own animation! My mind is literally boggling with the possibilities. This one is on my birthday wish-list.

Seen via

3. Subway signs

Have you seen this lovely little happiness-spreading video? Apparently, subway conductors in New York City are required to point at a black and white sign at every stop, to confirm that the train has fully arrived on the platform. So these people stood in front of the signs and held up messages of their own, just to brighten the conductors' days.

4. Deep south photography

DeepSouthEvery time photographer Irene Suchocki releases a new collection, I experience "I want to go there" envy. This group of black-and-whites, called Southern Gothic, beautifully captures the humid and sultry mystery that permeates parts of Southern USA. I want to go (back) there.

5. Lacy newspapers

Lace copyCanadian artist Myriam Dion cuts incredibly intricate patterns into old copies of newspapers, creating beautiful, lace-like artworks. I can't even fathom the combination of vision, patience and talent this must require.

Seen via

Favourite things - life hacks

What ho! Here are five little "life hacks" to take you into the weekend and make 2014 that little bit easier for you. Happy Friday, friends. 1. Your very own in-house / at-home IT help desk

TechSupport(And nobody will tell you to turn it off and then on again). I came across Tweaky while trying to decipher the technical mumbo-jumbo being fed me by both my spam-filter people and my web-hosting people in relation to getting rid of a spam problem on this blog (93,000+ spammy comments "pending approval," and more every day!). Tweaky is a "no job too big or too small" mob, and fixed my six-month-old problem for me in 24 hours, for just $39. They were so fast, friendly and helpful that I've already used them again since. If you want to give them a try, be sure to use this link to get a $10 discount on your first project, just because you're my friend!

{Photo of tech support dude via tyle_r, licensed under Creative Commons)

2. Odd jobs, on call

ButlerAnother "no job too small," totally-affordable group is Occasional Butler. Need a couple of pictures hung on your wall? Waiters for your next posh party? Heck, I don't know... someone to clean the old coffee cups, odd socks, McDonald's wrappers and dead moths (this is so embarrassing) out of your car? Occasional Butler is a website linking 'butlers' with 'customers' for either one-off or ongoing work, pretty much whatever you need. You set the job and the budget, and hopeful 'butlers' apply, including their own budget response. All the finances are safely managed through the website (via PayPal if you like). I'm meeting the person who will hopefully become my new house cleaner on Monday.

{Photo of Dick the Butler via Qsimple, licensed under Creative Commons}

3. Stop replying to emails...

Email copyYep, just take the pressure off yourself... and off of others likewise. Read this via Swiss Miss and maybe, just maybe, it will lighten your e-load for 2014.

... 4. But if you can't stop yourself, unroll yourself

ScreenGrab1I got so excited about discovering Unroll.me recently that I dedicated a whole blog post to them, here. In short, here's what they can do:

* Unsubscribe you from all those email lists you somehow got yourself on and can't seem to shake * Gather up all the emails from lists you do want to stay on but don't want to have cluttering your inbox, by bundling them up into one 'digest' email per day

5. Organise your workspace

OfficeI'm not really one for making resolutions at the start of the year (too many disappointments as a child when, by April, I was still no closer to becoming a professional ballerina / never getting in trouble / only eating healthy). But I do like to start the year out fresh, with a good clean-out of my workspace, and a shiny new planner and stationery on my newly decluttered desk. So I loved this list of 7 ways to get organised from the Creative Women's Circle. What are your top tips?

Favourite things - portraits

Smile folks, you're on camera (or on pencil). Happy Friday! Today it's all about portraits. 1. Custom family portraits

portraitsThinking of getting one of these custom, hand-drawn portraits by Blanka Biernat Illustration done of our family for Christmas this year. Have you ever done anything similar? How did you like the result?

2. Portrait of a holiday

B70Love this stunning Sicilian holiday photo-shoot in Vogue Russia. Seen via Hannah Hayes (click to see more of these lovely photographs)

3. Self portrait

how-to-feel-pretty-trick-cup-of-joWant to know how to feel pretty when you look in the mirror? Smile, and greet yourself like a friend. Now you see what they see. From Cup of Jo

4. Portrait of a gardener

nannaG 004This inner monologue of a gardener, on Peonies and Polariods, made me laugh because it was so familiar. (Extremely nerdy photo is of me a few years ago, during a massive clean up of my Nanna's garden)

5. Mini portraits

Shrinky-Dink-Fathers-Day-Gift11How adorable is this idea to shrinky-dink your kids' into teeny, tiny presents? From Oh Happy Day

Favourite things - back to nature

I'm hankering for some time spent in nature of late. Hearing the wind in the trees, splashing through puddles, growing things and eating them. All those cliches. Winter isn't exactly the best of times to decide to get back to nature, but it's still rather nice to dream, don't you think? 1. The Kombi tent

kombi tentKombi is the name we use in Australia for the classic VW buses that everyone wishes they have until they actually get one and then they realise they smell and overheat and break down all the time and the romance isn't the same once you're INSIDE the story.

Phew! Taking a breath now. I had a boyfriend who bought a Kombi once upon a time. I was really excited about the purchase, until I had to push the damn van along a freeway in 40 degree heat on one too many occasions.

But this tent? Be still my heart! It has the romance of the old Kombi, minus the breakdowns and petrol fumes and sticky vinyl seats. Just the wind in the trees beside you. Perhaps the babble of a creek not too far away (you'll take a dip later). The kettle singing on the campfire.

It sleeps four adults and, at 182 centimetres, is tall enough for most of us to stand up inside. Now, how can I justify the (rather steep) price and convince Mr B that we need to buy one of these for family camping trips in the summer?

2. The peony farm

peonies white peonies pinkIt was Madeleine's birthday last weekend. A year ago, peonies became "her flower" and this is why, but winter is the wrong season for these floral beauties and, sadly, I couldn't find any to decorate our home in time for her birthday.

But on the other side of the world, Madeleine's birthday falls in just the right time for peonies to bloom. So we may just need to take a birthday trip north one day and while we're at it, visit a peony farm like this one. (Or skip her birthday and visit a farm closer to home in the summer, I guess).

3. Nature girl

nature girlIsn't she lovely? Aren't these photographs incredible?

4. Indoor picnic

picnic insideThis indoor picnic is a lovely idea for winter, or for the ever-unpredictable Melbourne weather. I love the use of checkered napkins and cardboard and simple wooden boards, as well as the patio lights strung above the 'picnic'. I'd probably go one step further and host the whole party on a rug on the floor. Have you ever had an indoor picnic?

5. The Kings of Summer

kings of summerFrom its trailer, The Kings of Summer reminds me of Moonrise Kingdom. It has also been compared to Stand By Me. Have you seen it? Will you see it? I can't wait. It's a comedy about three teenaged boys who escape their overbearing parents and decide to spend the summer in the forest, building their own house and living off the land.

What do you think?