10 "slow living" unsung heroes of Instagram

Intagram-naomi Are you on Instagram? That's me above. I'm @naomibulger if you'd like to drop by and say hi.

Who do you like to follow on Instagram? I love to fill my feed with people who inspire me and, these days, more often than not, people who inspire me are people who I like to call "slow-living heroes."

Creative folk, gentle folk, mindful folk. You know the sorts of folks I'm talking about! They are makers and bakers; gardeners and gatherers; weavers, wordsmiths and wanderers; snail-mailers, and spreaders-of-kindness.

Here are 10 of my favourite slow-living Instragrammers, each of them "unsung heroes," because they have relatively small accounts, of 1000 followers or less.

elise_albrektsen⇑⇑ @elise_albrektsen

stringofwonders⇑⇑ @stringofwonders

lomoens⇑⇑ @lomoens

anianycz⇑⇑ @anianycz

_freshlypressed⇑⇑ @_freshlypressed

lullaby0720-2⇑⇑ @lullaby0720

sovica4⇑⇑ @sovica4

bsvitlana⇑⇑ @bsvitlana

oandystudio⇑⇑ @oandystudio

gemmagarner⇑⇑ @gemmagarner

Who else should I be following? Link me up!

What does your workspace look like?

home-office-1 What does your workspace look like? Do you like it clean and organised, or do you thrive on creative chaos?

I love those pictures of great writers sitting at their antique desks, all slumped and drowning under mountains of paper, with pictures in scraps pinned all over the walls, and old coffee cups, stacks of yellowed airmail correspondence bound in old string, desiccated red wine in dirty glasses, dusty armchairs, and dying, drying flowers… and they are invariably writing one or another of the world's literary masterpieces, you know? That would drive me CRAZY. Which is perhaps one reason why I haven't written any of the world's literary masterpieces lately. I can't even start to work until my desk is clear and my office tidy.

I'm the same in the rest of my living and working space. I can't stand it when the house gets too messy: suddenly everything feels like it's crowding in on top of me, I feel out of control and claustrophobic. Which seems a rather melodramatic sentence when I write it out like that, but it's true. That's just me.  First world problems, I know!

Anyway, all this is a lead-up to explain why things might be looking a little different on this website lately, if you've happened to have popped in to take a look. I've been having an autumn clean. I felt like my blog was starting to get a bit cluttered, a bit old and tired. I was uninspired. Like a dingy, messy old office, my blog needed a fresh coat of paint and some creative storage solutions. Some white space to make it feel clean and fresh. And some nice pictures on the walls to inspire me when the fog of creative block descends.

What do you think? Do you like it? I renamed the blog "Naomi Loves," because this space is all about the things I love. I painted a new header in bright patterns and colours, because they make me happy. My enormously talented friend Brandi Bernoskie tweaked these things to make it all work. I've made it much easier for you to subscribe to receive updates via email, if that's your thing, with a simple box on the sidebar. And there is some exciting content in the works, not the least of which that book I was telling you about!

Now, tell me about your workspace (online or offline). How do you make it somewhere you want to be?

home-office-4 home-office-3

ps. Photos are old Instagram ones (remember when we all went beserk with the filters and the frames after it first came out?) of my home office in Adelaide. That was the most amazing workspace. I wish there was a way to replicate it everywhere I go!

Friendships and solitude

IMG_5407You know those weekends that happen sometimes that are full to the brim of lunches and dinners and walks and house-guests and catch-ups with old friends, and you never stop talking or laughing or hugging or lining up for the shower or saying "I have really missed you!"... ? I had one of those last weekend. We had a big charity ball on, organised by Mr B and his team at work (I'm talking 1300+ people), and a whole lot of our dear friends travelled down to Melbourne to dress up and party with us on Saturday night. Most of them stayed for the weekend and some extended their stays from Friday to Monday. It was wonderful and chaotic and all too short.

On the night of the ball, our family booked a room in the same hotel as the function, because we knew it would be such a late night. Neither of us got to sleep until after two-thirty in the morning, which would have been fine if Madeleine hadn't been such an angelic sleeper, slumbering away in her little travel cot next to our bed (cuddled up with pink bunny and pink bunny blanket and looking like something you want to kiss forever and maybe eat), which meant she happily woke up ready to play at six. Welcome to parenthood, Naomi.

So there was nothing for it but to get up and play with her, then take it in turns having showers that never ran out of hot water (bliss!) and head downstairs to introduce Madeleine to the joys of the breakfast bar (she had scrambled eggs and honey on toast and water melon and banana and yoghurt and a sip of my tea).

By nine o'clock Madeleine was rubbing her eyes and ready for another nap. Oh, sweetheart. By that time Mr B and I could have told her a thing or two about being really tired. Mr B stayed behind at the hotel to meet up with some friends who were coming around a bit later, while I tucked little M into her pram under her polka-dot sleeping bag, and walked her home through Melbourne's Sunday-morning streets.

All of a sudden, after the cacophony of crowds and friends and disco music (yes! and an ABBA tribute band!) and giggling babies and goodness knows what else, the solitude was tangible.

Madeleine was snoring before I made it across the road. The pavements were shiny from last night's rain, and mist residue clung to the tops of the skyscrapers. The river was still as stone. And other than me, not a creature was stirring. Not even the proverbial mouse.

Other folks who spend their days and nights with little ones will know what I'm talking about when I say that I no longer experience solitude, not even for a moment (no, not even on the loo). Even when I walk Madeleine normally, it's in busy areas or my own town where every second person knows my name. And I do love my community, but...

But to suddenly be alone in the big city with frost in the wind and my footsteps echoing on the pavement and everything washed clean and new... it was a precious gift. I walked slowly, ever so slowly. And I smiled.

IMG_5409 IMG_5411 IMG_5413 IMG_5415 IMG_5417 IMG_5419 IMG_5421 IMG_5425 IMG_5427Then the spell broke and we got home and Madeleine woke up and we raced to catch our friends to meet them for lunch and it was all chaos and laughter and joy all over again, and I just felt so lucky for my friendships and my solitude, and especially my family. After lunch they all packed off to the AFL but we headed across to the playground at the museum and something rather wonderful happened.

Madeleine walked! For the first time! And we just so happened to both be there to witness it, and I just so happened to have the phone out and so captured the exact moment on trusty Instagram. Insanely proud Mama moment.



IMG_5251In between feeling sick ALL OF THE DAYS, Madeleine and I love nothing more than to rug up and get out and about and walk the streets of Melbourne. Sometimes she sleeps, sometimes she sits up in her pram and sings, which makes everyone else walking the same streets smile and I think it is a wonderful talent to make strangers smile, don't you? Here are some snippets of our wintery walks, brought to you by the letter I for Instagram (this is me if you want to say hi or follow).

IMG_5180 IMG_5211 IMG_5182Some mornings the fog is so thick the city seems to disappear, and it is as though Madeleine and I are alone in our little bubble of love and sore throats.

A couple of weeks ago it was so cold and the clouds had that funny look I remember from when I lived in New York and I indulged in a delicious fantasy that lasted the entire way along Lygon Street and down Rathdowne Street that went along the lines of imagine if it snowed in Melbourne! But it didn't.

IMG_5188 IMG_5191 IMG_5202 IMG_5198 IMG_5294 IMG_5293IMG_5298 IMG_5264We like to eat out, me and my little two-teeth girl. And now that she is finally growing a few new chompers, Madeleine loves to experiment with new lunches every day. It is so much fun to watch her face as she tastes something new.

Where and what do we like to eat? Top to bottom: pizza and fizzy water at Brunetti's in Carlton; jaffles and baby beets by the fish pond at Grub in Fitzroy; rosebud tea and Persian love cake at the brand new Travelling Samovar in Carlton North (this place is so lovely it deserves a whole blog post of its own, coming soon); and a take-away mini raspberry cupcake from Sweet Source, also in Carlton North.

IMG_5289 IMG_5290And just like that, last week the weather went all mild on us. Suddenly sunny and 16 degrees after lunch, we couldn't believe how balmy it felt. I introduced Madeleine to the joys of the park: the swing, the seesaw, the slippery dip... But what she loved most of all was crawling around in the bark and getting gloriously muddy and filthy. As you do.

IMG_5308ps. Giggles and kisses with dad, over a teeny-tiny mug of hot chocolate which cannot be seen in this photograph because it had been spilled all over yours truly.

I just came to say hello

Insta6 Insta7 Insta4I think my last post may have been a tad negative. I should add that there have been plenty more things we have been doing, besides working, walking and not sleeping, that have made life rather lovely. Like... * Dancing crazily around the living room: me, Mr B, Madeleine, Emily and Oliver the dog; to Hello by Martin Solveig and Dragonette (because who can NOT dance when this song comes on? And also, do you remember the hilarious tennis video with Bob Sinclar? Oh Martin, I love your pasty white legs, they put mine to shame!)

* Giving Madeleine her first taste of mac 'n cheese, and seeing her declare (in baby language) this dish God's Gift to baby bellies.

* Ripening olives in the tree in our courtyard.

* A visit from my Mum and Dad, at the end of a train holiday they took to the middle of Australia and back. As usual I think we wore them out. We tried to go out one night while Mum and Dad babysat, the first time since Madeleine was born (!), but my little baby woke up and cried so much we had to cut the dinner short. Every time we see Mum and Dad I think my little family adds about 10 years to their lives (not that you look it, Mum!). But it is still wonderful to see them.

* A reunion picnic for Mr B in Carlton Gardens, with all the friends he lived with on campus in his uni days. I have never seen him laugh so loud for so long (and Mr B likes to laugh a LOT). There were some really, really bad photos, complete with incriminating hair and cross-dressing. There were stories that even I hadn't heard before. And there was a 'time capsule' they'd made in the 90s, which had remained sealed and in the bottom of a box in our house up until last weekend. Sadly the hilarious contents, mostly written late at night and after a few too many drinks, are not to be shared on this PG blog!

* We took a trip to the Werribee Open Range Zoo with a bunch of old folks from Mr B's work. This was so much fun, and I do promise to blog about it soon.

* Playing UNO on cold nights, with the heater on and a cup of tea in the other hand.

* Instagramming my little heart out while walking Madeleine through our town.

* Madeleine graduating from the commando crawl to a proper, turbo-speed hands-and-knees technique; Madeleine climbing up on everything and thinking she is ALL THAT every time she stands up. Madeleine identifying her foot, and presenting it proudly at the dinner table every time I ask "Where's your foot?" (as if I didn't know, honestly child). Madeleine initiating peek-a-boo games all by herself. Madeleine learning to throw the tennis ball for Oliver. Madeleine laughing whenever we laugh, even though she doesn't get the joke. Madeleine making "tsk tsk" noises, replicating the sound of licking fingers, whenever she sees me with food. It is baby-language for "I'll have some of that!" Madeleine's face lighting up every time she sees me, even if it's just waking up from a nap. Madeleine, Madeleine, Madeleine...

Insta8 Insta2 Insta3 Insta1 Insta9 Insta5 Insta10ps. Photos are recent instagrams from around Melbourne. Who else is SO HAPPY that autumn is here?

Lately, on Instagram

spring! - long walks through fitzroy and carlton - vege burgers - hail storms - jasmine blossoms - fathers' day - painted elephants - socks for trees - breakfast at tiffany's - the talking tram in bendigo - a baby that smells sooooo good

What's been happening in your neck of the woods?

ps. I also write for iVillage:

* How do you define 'home'? (+ making friends when working from home + revisiting the 'cafe test') * My love is not like a butterfly

and English Muse:

* Antipodean dispatch: Eucalyptus (is anyone else devastated that this film didn't happen?)

and Smarter Business Ideas:

* Big shoes to fill (can your family business survive your retirement?)

Lately, on my iPhone

Life has contracted of late. Little Madeleine's heart condition puts her at increased risk of lung infection, and even a simple cold could have serious consequences. So while we wait until she is old enough to be immunised (and thankfully she is on a 'heart patient' list for extra help throughout the winter), our lives are relatively solitary. Much of my life is lived inside our small house, and on gentle walks around Melbourne, visits to cafes and pubs only if they are quiet and with Madeleine's pram suitably draped in muslin cloth.

At the same time, life has expanded beyond all comprehension. The addition of this wonderful, warm bundle of baby to our home and hearts has changed absolutely everything, and suddenly the entire world is not big enough to contain the love I feel.

And to be truthful, the solitude has been kind of a special time. Apparently a lot of cultures spend the first six weeks of a new baby's life in relative isolation, to heal and grow and bond. I can understand this. Aside from my very real anxiety over Madeleine's health, having this 'bubble time' with her is something I will look back on as quite special.

Perhaps it is a less aggressive transition from being pregnant (when she is all mine) to after the birth (when everyone wants to hold her): I get to keep my baby MOSTLY to myself a little longer.

Life lately, in Melbourne

Autumn showers, cool mornings, my breath visible in the air when I walk the dog. Welcoming visitors from far away, exploring the shops and markets together, downing tacos and treats. Reading books under a warm blanket, cuddling cat, dog and man; taking kicks left, right and centre from Baby B. I'm sorry I've been so absent from your blog and mine lately. As you can see, I've been spending my time in all kinds of lovely ways. What's been happening in your life? How are you enjoying the change of seasons?