Friday, October 31, 2008

Gorgeous nursery

Can't you just picture your angel sleeping on this rug? Pic: source forgotten (sorry!)

I could move into this room - if it wasn't for the cot, it could be a space for any age. I love, love the tables, and the dresser is rather similar to my own. Cute way to use Chinese lanterns - and they're dirt cheap, too - and I can't remember the last time I saw a wallpapered border. It actually looks good here!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

kids do the funniest things

How cute is this? That's talent!

My son is the funniest person I know. Every day I'm in stitches at something he says or does, whether it's his commentary while on the job - "biiiiig poo mummy" - or him blaming me for Layla's incredibly loud and incredibly smelly pop-offs, or the way he says "of course" instead of yes in answer to a question. I'm sure most of it is just adorable to my husband and I, being his parents and all, but this I had to share...

One of Zak's first words was "cheers" ("shoes" was his first word after mum and dad!) and he took to clinking his milk against my glass immediately after learning this word. And wouldn't rest until everyone in the room was "cheersed". Then he'd toast his toast, his ice blocks, his bananas and rice cakes - pretty much anything that went into his mouth. So ocassionally little cars too. But the other day, while Layla was having a feed, he says "cheers Layla" and clinked... my BOOB! hehe Well, I guess it IS her drink, and it's sweet that he wanted to include her!

So what's your child do that has you rolling around the floor laughing? I'd love to hear. Bx

Friday, October 24, 2008

funky boy's room

cool colour combo. Pic via Keltainen Talor Annalla (A Yellow House by the Sea)

It can be tough finding pics of cool boy's rooms - it seems stylists take the easy way out when it comes to creating kids rooms and go girlie. But not this one - whether this is a real home or a styled shot, it's very cool and unique.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

love this nursery

Is this the cutest pic? I think it might be. Images from What We Do

A little quirky, a little bright, a little adorable. Love the mix of patterned silhouettes on the wall. Beautiful. Want to see the rest of the house? Go here

Oh look, an ACTUAL chalkboard for once! Nice to see

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

black and white kids room

Pic from Taverne Agency

How could you go wrong with classic black and white? It's one colour combo you could never outgrow or be too manly/girlie for. Nice to see it in a kid's room ocassionally.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

tiny blog hiatus

So simple: a random collection of old chairs in complementary colours is a cute feature for a child's room, playroom or even living space -can't you just see a bunch of little three-year-olds chattering away with platic teacups in hand? A pretty decal finishes it off. Too cute. Image from Cox & Cox

Just a quick note to say my posts will be minimal for the next week or so. I've just started back at work after four months of maternity leave and am quickly running out of time to get the Real Living website all set to go live on November 3 (it's a special Christmas issue). And just in case it was way too easy adjusting to working life from home with two small babies, I also took on a rather large freelance job due at the same time (I like a challenge!!). I do work best under pressure, but I've got a lot going on here so I'll just be posting pretty pics on both blogs for a while, starting with this cute one of chairs. And trying really, really hard to not search google, etsy or all your fabulous blogs and websites for anything other than work-related! But keep tuning in, please, and I'll be back properly soon. xxx

Friday, October 17, 2008

welcome to... baby boy mansour's room!

Oh have you ever seen a more glamourous nursing chair? This ebay score was repainted by Viv and is the best accessory to the Catherine Martin for Porter's Paints circus wallpaper. The paper pom pom is a reminder of her baby party which was held last week.

What a lucky little guy (unless of course, the ultrasound is wrong and a little girl pops out; it's happened!). Due in just a few weeks, he'll have this gorgeous room to greet him. His mum, Vivian, has been a busy bee wallpapering, painting and decorating - as heavily pregnant women do so well - and has graciously shared her work with us all. I spy lots of pretty things here. I think I'm in love with the light and I love that it's so beautifully bright, but subtly with a two-tone palette of red and white. All up, it's a perfect modern nursery for a modern little boy. And, if the ultrasound does turns out to be wrong, it's also perfect for a modern little girl. A true gender-neutral room!

Who sleeps here? Our baby boy is due November 1 and he'll be sleeping here. Can't wait for him to arrive!
What was your initial inspiration for the room? I knew I didn't want it to be a typical boys room - all blue. I fell in love with the red toadstool artwork bought from Etsy and it all flowed from there from the red wallpaper, elephant design on the cot sheets, toys and chair. The colour is scattered around the room.

The beautiful Cariboo basinette will come in handy. Not everyone loves basinettes/cradles, but I couldn't live without mine. They're smaller so the baby feels more cocooned (think of their living quarters before they're born!), they usually rock (also reminder of The Womb) and they're small enough to keep by your bed for night feeds and comfort (for you and the baby). And when you have two little ones close together (like moi!) there is no need to buy another cot - the older child can go into a bed just before the new bub outgrows their cradle.

How did you build on this inspiration? The rest of the house is light and neutral and didn't want this room to be too far different. We started by removing the heavy curtains and painted the walls of the room the same colour as used in the rest of the house. The built-in wardrobe was black and too depressing for the small space so we painted it white. The original light fitting came with the house and was awful. We replaced it with a white pendant light bought from Freedom. It looks wonderful when it's turned on - the walls sparkle! We also added a neutral rug from Ikea. So we had a simple, clean palette to build onto from there. I knew I wanted to add a bold impact in some way so the room wouldn't look too clinical. The bright circus wallpaper from Catherine Martin's range at Porters Paints is perfect for the space. And the other walls didn't have to be re-painted - the paper matched perfectly.
What's your fave piece in the room? Probably the wallpaper. It's not the first thing you see when you walk into the room but I like that it is an unexpected surprise when you turn around. I love the artwork from Etsy also. The toadstool print is by Etsy seller Ickleson and the "Too hard, too soft, just right" print is by Etsy seller Sarah Jane Studios.

The toadstool print that started the red and white theme, from Etsy seller

Best bargain? The toy elephant which my husband and I picked up from the markets for $5. It was the first baby purchase we made. Also, we had seen similar sleigh cots in store for upwards of $1000. We ended up paying $300 for a brand new cot made by a Melbourne furniture maker selling on eBay.
Biggest splurge? The wallpaper. The paper itself wasn't too expensive but we paid for a person to hang it professionally. I didn't trust myself to line it up correctly.

Did you know you can get a sleigh cot for just $300? Viv found one via an ebay furniture seller - a super-find!

Any handmade touches you did yourself? The antique loveseat, won on eBay, was in great condition and originally had a varnished brown mahogany frame. I felt the frame was too dark for the room so I took to it with white glossy paint. I'm so happy with the results.
How would one get this look? Avoid anything too "cutesy" that screams baby room and incorporate classic pieces which can grow with the child. The change table on top of the dresser from Snooze is removable so we can reuse the dresser afterwards. The loveseat is also a classic design which might not always live in this space but can be used in other rooms. Also add impact is some way for example, paper a wall or all walls. There are some fantastic wallpaper designs on the market. It's hard to choose between them.

The cheeky monkey (grab one from Baby's Got Style) is boss of the elephants! The cot sheet set is Nest Nursery Albi the Elephant, available from Cradle Rock. Sweeeeet

Nursery buy you can't live without? The dresser has been handy for storing all of the cute baby clothes we've bought and received as gifts. I'm trying to be organised and have the clothes sorted in order of size. We'll see how long that lasts though!
What's next for this space? This room will remain a bedroom. When the little one grows up we'll remove the change table from the dresser and replace the cot with a single bed.

Congrats, Viv, on a beautiful job. And thank you for sharing. If you want more, Vivian has been documenting her nursery makeover on her blog Ish & Chi and has such amazingly good taste, I can't help but wonder what the rest of her house is like. I feel a renovate + decorate house tour coming on... Wishing you all the best for a happy and safe delivery. We'll have to have you back for a birth story!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

nursery inspiration: heavenly neutrals

Am in love... VT Wonen do it again

I have a great nursery tour to show you tomorrow (am too insanely busy to post it tonight), so until then let's just take in the prettiness of this nursery, shall we? Love the wallpaper, the Eames rocker (try Matt Blatt), the Flokati (Ikea have a similar one), the cuckoo clock (get one at Cleverdicks), the wicker toy storage basket, the cushion - oh my GOD the cushion - even more stunning than these ones! Oh hell, I love it all. I wish Layla was going into her own room cause I'd totally rip this off.

EDIT: Just discovered via Vivien's blog (see her tour, above) that Hart & Heim don't stock the clocks anymore, but she was a supersleuth and found someone who does: Cleverdicks. I jumped on to have a look and ended up finally buying one myself. Oops. Have wanted one for some time, though - reminds me of the real one we had as kids from Germany. Only this one is much more stylish!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

wanna be in cosmo pregnancy?

Cosmo pregnancy's latest issue - out now

Of course you do! Well, the mag is looking for mums, dads and bubbies to feature on some of their pages. Do you have an absolute fave baby product of all time you can't stop raving about? Does your mini me have a can't-bear-to-be-apart-from toy? Then let other mums know all about it. Simply email your name, age, child's name, child's age, fave product and/or toy and why to Eleanor on And don't forget to include a pic of you and bub in case they want to use. And by doing so, you'll sit side-by-side with other fabulous mums such as myself - ha! - who coincidentally is also featured in this issue (above) babbling on and on about Layla's awesome birth. Be quick - they'll be on deadline soon; it's for the November issue.

PS: Don't you think the model on the cover looks a lot like Jennifer Ramos from Made By Girl??? It's like a sneak peek at what she'd look like pregnant: all glam, gorgeous and glowy as she is not pregnant!

Monday, October 13, 2008

best of... organic clothing

My absolute fave organic label is Purebaby. Layla has the print on the right in a little top. Too cute.

So we hear time and time again how good organic cotton is for the environment and better for babies skin, but why? I'm going to cheat here and let gorgeous New Zealand company Nature Baby explain it for me: "Organic cotton is grown and processed without the use of harmful chemical fertilisers and pesticides and has no finishing chemicals on it such as bleaches and fire-retardants which contain dangerous chemicals such as formaldehyde. (Natural fibres are naturally fire resistant). Conventionally grown cotton is one of the most environmentally destructive crops grown in the world today, requiring huge amounts of pesticides." In fact, according to another fave label Gaia, of all the insecticides used globally, the amount used on cotton is 25%. Which is a LOT of chemicals we're wearing night and day. And when you think of how sensitive a newborn baby's skin can be, it's scary to think of what it's absorbing. So aside from all the good that can come of organic clothing for bubs, here are some other things I've discovered...
1. It's often beautifully designed - even plain leggings or onesies have some pretty detail like ruffles or ruching. Or cool environmental slogans.
2. It's not that much more expensive than normal cotton clothes (if you take away the bargain stores like Best & Less where you can pick up a suit for $3. But also have it last only a couple of washes...
3. It's super, super soft.
4. You can get it pretty much anywhere these days for bubs: Toys R Us, JK Kids, Kmart, Target and Big W all have their own lines. And each of the above points are also relevant for these lines too. In fact, Target have a four-piece set for just $25.99.
5. It's more difficult to find sizes for toddlers and older children. Most lines stop at 0 or 1. I'm guessing this is because designers feel the need to protect delicate babies skin more than older kids (or it's cheaper and cuter cause they're so small!), but I often get frustrated that the cutest things are not available in Zak's sizing (he's turning two next month). However, I have found some brands cater for the big kids such as Gaia, American Apparel and Nature Baby.

Nature Baby have a massive range of cotton and merino wool and in a bigger range of sizes (often up to 4). I particularly love these T-shirts, $30 each...

and their sweet stripey singlet suits, $17.50 each

Purebaby have the bestest everything. Love this pretty romper with Carriesque corsage, $44.95...

...and leafy tee, $22

The prettiest coloured clothes are by Gaia like this shirt, $34.95...

...and these leggings, $34.95

Baybeecino has a huge organic range. This kimono style suit, $34.95, means super-easy dressing.

Ecoboo have great basics in gelato colours like these cute shorts, $12.95, from Charlipopkids

Now if Cotton On Kids and Bonds just added organic lines, I'd be set. So, any other faves out there? Please, share!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Going green(ish)

Trying to get a greener footprint... Pic from Treehugger

I never thought I'd be the type of person who'd care about where her products came from, how they were made or what ingredients they include. But all of sudden, I do. As bad as it sounds, it wasn't the environment that bought this on. The completely superficial side of my newfound green love was the fact that every item of clothing I'd lust over for my babies was organic. Pretty much every organic range I've seen has a subtle palette, the prettiest prints, cool slogans and exquisite style. Obsessed with Purebaby, I read up about them and actually let the environmental awareness side of it all sink into my brain instead of just bypassing as I usually do when I'm not 100% interested in something.

The main clincher, though, was Zak. From day one poor Zakky was slapped with the sensitive skin stamp and we spent a lot of time trialing product after product to find the right ones for him and his eczmea. And still he itches and scratches like a crazy dog when it flares up, which at the moment, is often. He's awaiting allergy tests, but until he gets this done (it can take months to get in), what to do? I'm desperate to know what's causing his itch: is it something he's eating? Something he's wearing? The weather? Something in the air? WHY are there so many damn allergies and conditions with the newer generations? Things just aren't the same, are they? We have BPA in our plastic bottles, formaldehyde in our clothes, pesticides and tar in our food...

If that's not enough to worry about, it now appears I have the peanut allergy to contend with too. This was one allergy I didn't get - I'd never heard of it up until a few years ago so didn't really believe it was as bad as it's turned out to be. But then Zak ate a peanut butter sandwich and broke out in hives. Antihistamines fixed him up, but another slip-up involving him touching a peanut butter sandwich resulted in the same. Again, fixed. Then a few weeks ago, I had to call an ambulance when an innocent-looking rash resulted in his eyes closing up, face swelling and throat closing. We were at a new-baby group at the clinic when I first noticed the rash. The mother of the little boy he was playing with swears he didn't have peanut butter that day. So what was it? Is his allergy to it so bad he can break out via secondary touch (which is terrifying as the reactions can get worse with each exposure, and seem to be in Zak's case even though the actual exposure is less) Or was it the new jumper he was wearing that I hadn't washed yet?

The latest incident has made me a bit more cautious. Until it's determined exactly what his allergies are, I'm all for trying to live a little greener in the hope that may prevent some reactions. So if it means being stricter on the foods I buy and prepare, the fabrics I buy and the products I use, then so be it. I'm certainly not going to change my entire way of living in one step - and I know I won't stop buying things I love just because it's not organic or environmentally aware, but I will think a little more with the day-to-day.

Happily, this is a relatively easy thing these days: we've come a long way from when you were deemed a hippy if you even said the word "environment" or knew what organic meant. There are plenty of greener options and they're almost surprisingly prettier, softer and sometimes cheaper than their more common cousins. I thought I'd share a few bits and pieces with you in coming posts, starting today with my current faves and latest purchases. Because it's really quite easy being green when there are baby and environmentally-safe products as great as these ones...

My fave label: Purebaby muslin wrap, $16.95, Purebaby

Layla practically lives in this label, but this suit I bought as a baby-shower gift for my friend Nadine, who is due in a few weeks. The perfect gender-neutral: greys and blues for boys, birdies and lemon for girls! Side Open Grow Suit, $29.95, Purebaby

Could these be any cuter? Gaia botties, $19.95, Organic Babe

My fave nappies and wipes, Nature Babycare. Yes, they nappies are disposable, but a much better kind made partly from maize. From supermarkets

No BPA, PVC or Phthalate, but heaps of style! Zak's flash new drink bottle. Boon fluid no-spill toddler cup, $14.95, from Minieco

I also bought this fitted sheet yesterday: even prettier than Dwell, but made with organic cotton. Q Collection Junior Fitted Cot Sheet in Galileo, $49.95, from Minieco

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

bestest teeny tiny summer hat for teeny tiny babies

Toshi's Red Stripe Sun Flap Hat, $19.95, Baby's Got Style

When my son was born, my sister sent me the cutest little outfit from London where she was living at the time. It was a onesie, socks and a hat. The little suit didn't get much wear thanks to the rapid rate at which babies grow, but the hat? It was summer so it was on all the time. I've never had so many "where did you get that?" questions from other mums! Unbeknownst to me at the time, hats with back flaps for newborns are really hard to find. There are plenty of brim hats, but they don't stay on and are always too big. Apparently, clothing designers feel that newborns don't see much sunlight in their first few months. But this is Australia, and we love our outdoors, so a hat is a must.
I was ready to dig out Zak's blue one for Layla and just handle the "boy" comments, but then I found the perfect one by Toshi. I got it in Canberra a few months ago and she's worn it pretty much every sunny day since. It's got the brim and the back flap, but it's even cleverer with a tie for around the neck so it won't slip off AND an adjustable tie at the back so you can ensure it fits around baby's head perfectly too. Plus, it's reversible so on the very odd chance your child dirties it in any way (!) you can just turn it over. Gold! I also have a vague recollection that the label said it's made from organic cotton, which at the moment is my big nerdy must, but more on that next time...
Toshi's website isn't quite up and running yet, but you can grab one from Baby's Got Style here. I'd never heard of the label before, but I've since seen them at the Reed Gift Fair and noticed they just sell hats. And beautiful ones at that. Must be a clever Australian mum behind the label who had the same trouble as all those other mums I met! The ones with little ears are cute too! If you know of any others, don't keep it a secret - share! x

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

everyone's talking about... paid maternity leave

Wasn't sure what to illustrate this one with, so went with a recent one of my babies!

I'm a bit late on this one, but it's because I'm a bit confused as to what I feel about it as I can see both sides of the complainers: it's not enough and it's too much. I really am thrilled it's on the table, because of course it's needed! But aren't we already receiving some sort of maternity leave pay? The $5000 baby bonus spreads out to a little under 10 weeks of minimum wage - which is what mother's will be getting under the paid parental leave scheme. And if you play it smart and save up your holidays as soon as you find out you're pregnant, that could be several weeks pay - plus leave loading - on top of the baby bonus, which, by the way, is tax free. Also on the "it's too much side" is poor old small busineses. I don't have a small business, but my parents do - a childcare centre. When various parental leave models were being thrown around recently, I could imagine their horror at the thought of having to pay their staff maternity leave on top of the holiday pay they'd probably want (as I mentioned above) as well as replacement staffers they'd have to employ. Under the latest proposed scheme, they're spared the paternity payment, but still have to contribute to superannuation. Which means - guess what! - childcare fees are going to have to go up yet again to cover this extra cost. And this is just one industry. Many other small businesses are not going to be able to afford this - especially as they'll be required to pay the maternity leave upfront, and then be reimbursed by the goverment.

On the "it's not enough" side... as my father would say: if you're going to do something, do it properly. Why can't the goverment just fork out an employee's wage and super at their regular rate for a certain amount of weeks? Is it REALLY going to dent the ecomony that much? It's estimated the proposed scheme will cost the government around $540 million annually. Yes, that's a whole heap of money. And yes it'd cost even more if they paid employee's full wages. But it seems nothing when you consider our country returned a budget surplus of $27.1 billion this last financial year.

And for those saying we shouldn't have a paid maternity leave scheme because "we didn't have it back in our day", that may be true, but there must have been a time when retirees weren't paid a pension. And birthing mums didn't have access to drugs. And women couldn't vote. It's called progress! And I'm sure it they'd never have knocked it back.

So there are some conflicting thoughts there... What do you think about it all? Too much? Too little? Just right? It's quite the controversial subject online I've noticed. The thing is, there is no chance of pleasing everyone: regardless of how much or little is offered, there will be people who plod along happily, and there will be people who struggle. Just as they do now.

let's start a mummy-card trend!

Aren't they beautiful? A huge thanks to Alischa at Bespoke Press for my cards. You can see the process behind them here at her blog. Image from Bespoke Press

You might recall me wondering whether people would think mother's daft by handing out "mummy cards" a while back. Well, after that post, several companies approached me for a trial run to see how they went. A big thank you to them all, but I went with Bespoke Press - a new Queensland letterpress company that designs and makes beautiful couture stationery. Bespoke Press owner and blogger Alischa had been following the trend closely in the States and was looking to include mummy cards in her range. I was the guinea pig!!

The strange thing was, I'd never really found myself in a situation before where I'd need these, but would you believe while Alischa was busy designing, pressing and inking my beautiful cards, there were two ocassions that I found myself wishing I had them in my wallet! I'd met a lovely woman in a park with three little boys who Zak had taken a shining to (or really their ball, but I'm sure he had fun playing with them too!) and whom I wouldn't have minded getting to know better (cause, really, it's a weird thing making random friends after a certain age, isn't it? You can't just walk up to them and say "love your shoes! want to be my friend?" after, say, age five).

And then a few weeks later at mother's group in the playground we were chatting to a woman wh0'd just moved up here with her young family and didn't know anyone. Her son is the same age as ours, so we invited her to join our group - such the exclusive club it is: invitation-only! Ha! Turns out though I was able to hand my card over the next time we met up and she's already put it to good use. And today I gave one to my plasterer instead of just writing down my phone number. So it's not just for other mums, because he was most certainly not a mum.

I've also given them to my friends and family cause in this day and age, if we don't have our mobiles on us or our computers at our fingertips, we're at a loss to recite a phone number or email address, right? I barely remember my own, let alone everyone elses.

So, I've got off the fence and have chosen the "great idea" side. They're also a great talking point - even if the person receiving them secretly thinks you're all weird and self-important, you bet they'll make a comment about it along the lines of "what a great idea!"

And plus, what better way to score a celebrity-baby playdate. Can't you just see Sarah Murdoch and Naomi Watts exchanging mummy cards at the beach? Just slip yours in too and you're so there!

Want some for yourself? Have a chat to Alischa at Bespoke Press - can't thank her enough for my cards; love them. Also try the fun and funky designs at Mummy Cards - they also do cards for kids (how cute!), photo cards and the director, Alison, said they're also popular for highlighting specific needs or allergies for schools and/or friend's families.