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

Weekend links

gingerbread+terrariums-16 Do you have plans for the weekend? We are going to a black tie thingy on Saturday night and I need to buy a dress and buying a dress is no fun at ALL when you are a) on a budget and b) under significant time pressure. Am I right?


Right now I'm looking down the barrel of a fairly good weekend-balance between being social and enjoying some family down-time. I hope. We are notorious for over-committing around here, but maybe just maybe this weekend we'll get it right.

What I WANT to do is to spend time doing the everything and nothing that so often make up the best of family time: playing exploring cuddling baking dancing tickling painting eating reading laughing gardening kissing. You know, just... stuff.

What are your plans? I've collected these links for your weekend reading/viewing pleasure:

Before there was Google, this is what people searched for (and how they did it)

These indoor clouds are breathtakingly beautiful

(Dear Santa) I am in love with pretty much everything in this store

How to stop yourself from crying, on any occasion. Have you tried this?

Turn your smartphone into a polariod camera

Can I live in this home please?

This is for all the photographers: magic hour

You've heard of street art. This is forest art

Charts outlining how we live and think, before 30 and after 30. Hilarious!

Molly Yeh is my new blog crush. The photo at the top of this post? Those are her edible gingerbread terrariums

A whole day for free flowers in the city

I love this art on the wall of a building. It's like we all have x-ray vision

12 nice things to do for yourself or somebody else on Wednesday

Painting I've been painting. This is going to be a postcard, if I'm happy when it's done...

Did you know it's Random Acts of Kindness week? What a week! I love this! I actually wrote and scheduled this post on the weekend, and then only yesterday found out about RAK Week. Serendipity, my friends! So here you go: 12 nice things to do for yourself or somebody else.

1. Nurture a little love: make somebody a seed bomb

2. Get a pedicure. Give somebody else a pedicure. Give the dog or cat a pedicure (just try not to smile)

3. Make a cup of tea. Now think about how you spend your life


4. Leave a love note for a stranger

5. Buy somebody a coffee: buy one for a friend, shout the person behind you in line at your cafe, donate the cost of a coffee to a charity

6. Those lines on your face? Learn to love them. Tell your mother you love hers, too

7. Try this: go 24 hours without complaining

8. Now this: go 40 days without being mean

9. Look for poetry in unexpected places. Then share it

10. Get a house-plant. Give a house-plant

11. Invite your friends over for a proper, grown-up dinner party

12. Dress up. Go the whole shebang, even if you’re only going out to buy bananas. You'll feel good, and it will make other people smile (especially the green-grocer)

The Village Festival + link pack

villagefestival-1 villagefestival-2




"Would you like to hear a story?" a woman beckons, from the doorway of a caravan. And just like that a small group materialises as if from nowhere and sits at her feet, prepared to be enthralled. I am reminded powerfully of my children's daycare centre, when a teacher pulls out a copy of The Gruffalo.

A wandering scribe threads her way through the crowd and pens letters on behalf of anyone who wants to send a message to anyone else.

Smoke and charcoal fill the air, scented with meat and charred corn. Fairy floss, cider, folded crepes. Music and magic, dancing children, creepy sideshows. In the park, acrobats practice handstands from atop one another's shoulders. Over the way, a strange-looking wedding is underway.

The Village Festival is on at this time every year in Edinburgh Gardens, and I imagine it to be something akin to the way a medieval fair would have felt.







Here are some other things that have been making me smile lately. How about you?

"Michael Pollock. Remember that name"

Best alarm clock ever (via Frankie)

"Creativity isn’t about making things, it’s about making things happen." I read this on Creative Something this week

Strawberries - I bought five giant punnets of red, ripe Yarra strawberries at the Batman Market last weekend. What should I make with them?

Hide n Seek puppy. So cute!

The new Batman Market  - all that street food!

Planters made out of old books. I love this idea, the only challenge being finding a book I'm willing to sacrifice

Chicken noodle soup (+ links)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA How was your weekend? Are you sick too? Everyone I seem to talk to is sick right now, not excluding my entire family. Those roses are a metaphor. And not a very subtle one. But somehow despite our never-ending illnesses, and the exhaustion, and the small fortune in tissues we've been expending of late, my weekend was still lovely, full of sunshine and love.

This weekend, Madeleine said "I love you Mummy," out of the blue, for the first time, making me the happiest Mummy in all of Melbourne. She also said "I miss my Nanna and Pa," which made her the most popular granddaughter in all of Melbourne.

This weekend, my parents came down from Sydney for a visit. The brought with them kisses and presents and laughter and all kinds of handy fix-up-our-house skills and boundless patience with the complete chaos that reigns around here 98 percent of the time and stops us from giving them the time and emotional energy they deserve. Mr B and I went out together for dinner while my parents minded the little ones. Anyone with small children and no regular support knows how rare and how precious that is. We wandered hand in hand through Chinatown like we used to when we first moved here and it was just us, and took a punt on a restaurant based on no other reason than it was there. We had little pieces of Peking Duck wrapped in pancake. The meal was good. The company was better.

This weekend, we all drove down to Bendigo to spend some time with Mr B's family. The 13 of us took up a giant table at the historic Shamrock Hotel for lunch and, when the food riot was over, Mr B bought cakes at Gillies Pies and we wandered across to the park where the kids had pretty much the best time kids have ever had running around and chasing each other and chasing footballs and falling off slippery-dips. All except Harry, who fell asleep on my chest in the Ergo, and I think he thought that was a pretty good time, too. Harry ate his weight in food this weekend, about six times over. He still didn't crawl, but he was probably too full and heavy from all that food.

This weekend was the first warm weekend since... I don't know, I've lost count. Probably April. And I love winter but I am SO OVER being sick and maybe just maybe that Vitamin D could help drive away the germs. It was all just what was needed to cheer me up, after being sick for so long. Do you need a little bit of cheering up? A digital bowl of chicken noodle soup, or hot chocolate, or just a cuddle? Hopefully these links will make you smile.

* Stone-fruit tarts with honey-coconut syrup. Um, yes please!

* This tiny home is just a converted garage. But it is stunning! So inspiring

* Get creative with contemporary collage

* Next time you want to read a book in bed, this adorable birdhouse bookshelf will make your book the roof

* Stop setting fire to the bloggers. Just stop it.

* Chocolate robots. Let me say that again. CHOCOLATE ROBOTS

* So completely in love with these luxury tree houses

* And I've saved the best for last. "The Barisieur" alarm clock brews your coffee to wake you up

Make Admire Join Splurge Plan Plant Mix Eat Start

weekend What adventures do you have planned for the weekend? I am hosting an ice-cream baby shower tomorrow, and the mama-to-be and her baby-bump will have their very own bespoke ice-cream flavour, created by Harry's Ice Cream Co to celebrate International Ice Cream Month (I know right?). The Finders Keepers markets are on again and we always try to get up there if we can. And I need to go shopping for a nice dress to wear to the Epworth Gala Ball next weekend. Tra la la! There'll be some work in there too, because I'm miles behind on my deadlines, and some cleaning of the house, and hopefully in there somewhere some fun family time! Here are some other ideas I had for a fun weekend.


Make: these lovely beaded plant hangers

Admire: these stunning bird patterns

Join: a book club or a gym, or this fun combination of the two

Splurge: on new bedding that makes you want to dream beautiful dreams

Plan: 24 hours in Paris. What would you do?

Plant: a tree. Plant enough and you'll create a forest

Mix: music and munchies, with this fabulous vinyl + recipe subscription box

Eat: lots of ice cream! I love the idea of this ice cream crawl, bookmarking for summer

Start: doing that thing!

Do you want to play along? Let me know if you create a similar list on your blog.

Image is from here, licensed for unlimited use under Creative Commons

Hello and links on Monday


Scenes from my house.

How was your weekend? Mine was pretty simple. I worked most of Saturday, while Mr B played with the kids. They did painting and went to the park and baked chocolate pudding and generally had a great time letting nutrition and nap times go to seed. I got my hair done too, back to blonde baby! We went for a walk through Carlton in the stunning winter sunshine, linking one park to the next for Madeleine's sake. We ate yum cha. We ate a nine-piece (!!) tea-infused dessert plate from Travelling Samovar to celebrate their first birthday. (We skipped dinner that night.) I tidied and sorted my office and finally cleared all my mess off the dining table (making room for these lovely flowers) and it felt SO good. I painted some more snail mail to send to you.

Here are 11 things that might make you happy today.

Giant knitting!

This drink sounds like heaven

Pattern on pattern. So cheerful

Beautiful!! This cloud lamp simulates a storm and plays your music (via Swiss Miss)

18 ways to get through winter

The world's first bike-share for kids (in Paris, of course)

Love these printable moving/housewarming announcement cards

The science behind old book smell

Exclamation points are the new smiley-faces

I really wish I'd been at this feast for 1200, at one long table stretched over a bridge

Where is everybody?

Have a great Monday!

13 ways to reignite your creative mojo

cactus The journey of the days and weeks deep and then deeper again into the winter season feels like a deliberate grinding down. A forcible slowing, as primal as hibernation. It starts on the first morning you realise you're getting up in the dark, and that night blankets the streets outside before the kitchen fires up for dinner. It gains momentum when the garden turns sparse and soil shows, black and hard, under the fallen leaves. When you pull your knitted hats and gloves and scarves out of storage. When your words float in visible clouds around your face as you leave the house in the morning.

Winter is a lesson in slowing down. In taking stock, in being more aware of the present. And I don't know about you but when I finally dial things back a bit, that's when the creative ideas tend to appear. It's as though my creative mojo is shy, waiting until most of the crowd in my mind has gone home and bunkered down where it's warm. Then, in the cold quiet of a winter's morning, ideas tip-toe back in.

So if your ideas have been shy of late too, or if they're just not being heard over all the stuff you've got going on, here are 13 ways to use the winter downtime to reignite your creative mojo.

Tend to your word garden. Or perhaps visiting a word gallery is more your speed, or sitting down to a word craft-table, or sweating it out at a word gym. It doesn't matter. The lesson is to do that thing that teaches your mind to unwind, relax, and let creativity grow. Failing that, just read this piece about "the word garden" anyway. It is beautiful

Notice the good. This tip for parents to "catch them doing the right thing" is actually a wonderful reminder for everyone. Try to look for the good in people, actively notice their better selves

Search for pockets of light. You might just find beauty

Solve an urban mystery. Like this cute story about "the dudes"

Be in the present. This beautiful neon clock, called ThePresent, completes just one revolution in 365 days. It inspires thoughts like this: "It's a reminder to stop everyday. It helps me find some grounding or a moment of reflection, a good thought, a deep breath..."

Unleash your creative soul, by signing up for one of these workshops

Make stuff out of cardboard. It doesn't have to be this fancy (but it could be)

Put down that phone. Step awayyyyy from the computer

And related to the above, start "single-tasking." This video is so funny, but true

Steal time for you. Whether you can grab five minutes or several hours, make the most of "me time"

Let others help you overcome your creative block. Danielle Krysa of The Jealous Curator has just published a book called "Creative Block" in which 50 international artists share their insights and exercises on how to get new ideas flowing

Show your joy. Don't be cool, celebrate it like a toddler

Write a love letter to a stranger

How about you? Do you have any tips for reigniting that creative spark?

A surfeit of lemons (and 16 mostly-savoury things to do with them)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Outside as I write this the wind is howling - true Brontë-sisters-story-style howling - around the house. Rain is whipping sideways into the windows, the dog inside is shifting on his chair and can't seem to relax.

Yesterday the beautiful old rose vine that had been clambouring over our front verandah for more decades than I could guess fell down, tumbling loosely over the little front garden and spilling over onto the pavement outside. I tried to pick it up and tie it back but all the tendrils have latched on to our front fence and it is impossible to shift that heavy, thorny mass. So I guess I know what we will be doing on the weekend. Also yesterday the little green patch of synthetic grass I put down out the back for Madeleine to play on lifted right up off the ground and flew onto my little veggie box.

And so it goes. While I sit and type in ugg boots and an old jumper and heating and sip a warm cup of tea, outside, you will find Winter. Deserving of the capital W.

But in one small spot in our back yard, no matter what the weather throws at it, you will also find a joyful patch of sunshine. Our lemon tree, once intended to be espaliered along the courtyard wall but long since left to branch out and flop over and do any darned thing it wants, is positively dripping with fruit. There is so much fruit we can't pick it fast enough, and it is starting to rot on the tree. Does anyone want any lemons? Hit me up! And I'm not trying to boast or anything (ok I am a bit) but these are the BEST lemons you'll ever taste. I'm not even kidding. They are sweet and juicy and not at all pithy. The skin is an almost luminous yellow, it doesn't quite look real. Except it is.


But what am I going to do with them all? Mr B has put a spanner into the works by not liking lemon-flavoured sweets. Crazy right? I know! So no lemon meringue pie or lemon butter or lemon slice... because I can't make it all for me, can I. (Can I?) Last night I cooked this recipe for our dinner, mainly because it used the zest of a lemon. I thought it was delicious but Mr B gave it a "Meh," so it won't stay on rotation. What would you do? Here are some (mostly savoury) lemon ideas I've gathered so far:

* Home-made lemonade (we love this recipe), although it's more of a summer drink

* Have you ever tried this handy tip for freezing lemons?

* Charred broccoli & tofu stuffed avocados with sweet lemon curry sauce

* Roasted lemon potatoes sound pretty delicious

* 5 natural beauty remedies using lemons

* Lots of great ideas in this Lemon Love  post, not all of them sweet

* Grilled lemon chicken

* Preserved lemons, to be used in dishes like these

* This one pan spicy lemon chicken pasta looks tasty and easy

* How about a lemon garlic vinaigrette?

* I think this lemon flatbread looks interesting

* Spaghetti with lemon, ricotta and spinach

* One of these days (!) I might try this detoxing lemon water, to be taken with whole foods

* Cheese ravioli with lemon basil butter sauce

* This creamy lemon poppyseed salad dressing looks tasty

* The next time I cook a roast, I may try this oven-roasted lemon parmesan broccoli

How about you? Do you know any tried and true non-dessert uses for lemon you think I should try?

Subdued, happy

Yellow-balloon Subdued but happy describes the mood around here today. We are all in post-party fallout mode, after Madeleine had not one but two big birthday parties in a row on the weekend, followed by another mini-party this morning since it was her actual birthday and her Nanna and Pa were leaving to go back to Sydney.

I am still trying to come to terms with what this milestone means to me, as a mother. If you follow me on Instagram, you'll see I wrote a little mini-blog-post about it to go with the photo above, last night.

More about that later. While I gather my thoughts - and energies and emotions - here are some gentle things you can do the next time you are in the same kind of subdued-but-happy mood.

1. Subscribe to Peeky Me, a craft-with-your-kids post-subscription service with a project, materials and instructions in every box (seen via Sunday Collector)

2. Hang a painting in your home. I love these bluebird woodcut sculptures so much. Like the modern home's trio of ducks (seen via Swiss Miss)

3. Switch out processed sugar for fruit. We have eaten our own weights in sugar this weekend. And I had to make and decorate TWO cakes and both of them lacked... well... most of what you'd want in a birthday cake. I suppose it's a parenting rite of passage to botch the novelty birthday cake. Next time, this cake!

4. Join Pippit, a new app-driven social media platform that's kind of like Instagram and Pinterest and blogs all rolled into one. You can just follow along what other people are creating, or share your own (blogs, photos, whatever). If you want to find me, my username is naomibulger

5. Share something with somebody who wants the stuff you no longer want or need

6. Reorganise a space in your home. I always feel better and clearer-of-head when I remove the clutter and find a place for everything. I kind of like this idea, but then, I wonder if it would just end up becoming a dumping ground in our house

7. Tell the world anything

8. Read something funny and lovely and completely pointless, just for fun. Like this (I actually related to kind of 'urban mystery' experience, it happens to me all the time. Usually without the resolution)

9. Kick-start your creativity. This Inspiration Information online course with Pip Lincolne (of Meet Me at Mikes) starts today. You can still join. We are on a post-party budget so I can't do it this time around, but it is on the top of my wish list for the coming months

10. Get a pot plant. This hanging succulent garden is calling my name but in the meantime, a humble pot plant would make me quite happy

11. Paint your own happy faces on wooden spoons

12. This Book Was a Tree looks amazing. I really want to get it and use it with my children. Have you read it?