Apr 23, 2014
Can you tell it's Autumn? Tasmania puts on a big show at the change of seasons. Autumn was the season I really fell in love with Tasmania. The air is crisp, you open your front door and everything smells like woodfire smoke, it's cold but not too cold, the trees are electric reds, oranges and yellows and you can't see your lawn any more because it's covered in layers of leaves. Last week C raked up all of the leaves in our yard and the very next day, it was ten times worse than before. I laughed.
I bought these shoes last week on impulse after seeing them in a shop for half price. They have a sizeable platform on them which is pretty fun. I used to wear Converse when I first started high school. My mum had an eBay addiction and would get me cheap pairs online. They looked pretty weird in a sea of skate shoes (anyone my age remember those white Etnies with the blue or pink E's on the side that my parents never would have forked out for in a million years?). I remember girls in my year making fun of my shoes, but I really liked them. I was obsessed with Harriet the Spy when I was a kid and she had a pair. Later on, I got a couple of pairs and would wear mismatched pairs with bright shoelaces. A few years into high school those girls who made fun of my Converse were wearing them too which I liked. They're so comfy, I put them on when I get up and don't take them off until I get into bed. They're not a colour I would usually wear, but they're making me pull things out of my wardrobe I haven't worn in a while, like this dress.
Apr 21, 2014
I've been meaning to share photos of Theo's space for some time, but each time I kept telling myself it wasn't right yet (I still really want a felt ball rug, haha). But I know if I wait any longer, I'll never do it, so here are some pictures of his little room - prepare to be overwhelmed with photographs!
Not surprisingly, Theo's room was the first room I set up after we moved in. He spends most of his time in here sleeping and we hang out in the lounge room with him a lot, but I have been meaning to take him in there to play more often. Theo is quite content to explore the contents of the room while I sit with a book or my phone on the couch but it is fun to get down and play too.
The room is quite dark usually and with the blinds lowered is almost completely blacked out which is excellent for helping him to get to sleep during the day. It doesn't make great light for taking photos though, so I apologise for the graininess. One of the books I read when I was pregnant said that a black-out curtain was their number 1 essential item for a baby - it does help!
Just about everything in this room has been bought secondhand. It was important to me to buy most things second hand, firstly because it suits my pocket, secondly because I like the items better than items I see new, and thirdly, if you can get baby items second hand instead of new, why not? The hyper-consumerist nature of baby items makes me cringe - it must be a very lucrative industry (a basic 'nappy bin' - essentially a bucket with a lid - costs $25, but a regular bucket, without a lid costs $1?). When I can remember, I'll try to mention what I paid for each item - I hope this might show that you don't have to spend a lot of money to create a fun, practical space for your child.
One of my favourite parts of the room would have to be the lockers, which I store bedding in. I bought them when I was about 20 weeks pregnant, repainted them and built shelves in them. They were pretty beaten up when I bought them (from a second hand store in my current suburb) - the bottom of them is a bit rusty and I keep them sitting on a rug to make sure they don't hurt the floorboards. They're also missing one side because somebody had replaced the original side with chipboard and then they sat outside at the second hand shop in the rain and of course, it got all water-logged and horrible. I enjoyed ripping off that chipboard very much! I have been meaning to fix the side and attach a piece of painted ply, but I'm not entirely sure how yet. I think I bartered the guy at the shop down to $60 but then had to pay $25 to get them delivered - I have seen them go for a lot more, so I guess I did okay. They're a bit impractical really because the doors don't open easily or without a great deal of noise and they store a relatively small amount. Thankfully this room has a built in wardrobe for practicality - there's a lot of junk in there! The cute cat embroidery hoop is by my friend Ella. The typewriter print is by Lola's Room and was a gift from Allana. The tiny food prints are by Pugly Pixel.
I saw this little purple number and its two matching arm chairs at a second hand store in my suburb and went home and spent several hours trying to justify buying them. Eventually I gave in - they set me back $100 and the guy delivered them for free which was great. One of the armchairs is in our bedroom (for, you know, throwing clothes on) and the other is in my studio nook at uni (for sitting drinking tea and playing on my phone). The gorgeous ice cream truck cushion was a gift from McKean Studio - love those guys! The sweet yellow coat was a gift from Marguerite.
Most of the prints on the walls were thrifted. Theo's favourites are the ones with the cats on them - he shrieks at them loudly. I think I probably paid a max of ten dollars for each print.
I bought the sideboard for $10 and it looked hideous - peeling faux-wood laminate. I primed it and gave it several coats of paint and it came up pretty well. The Dr Seuss themed bunting was a gift from my sister.
Holly gave me this cute hanging dog that she got when we went on our opshopping trip. I made the felt ball garland (remember when I wanted to make a felt ball rug?).
The tiny wooden houses in this photo are from my childhood home. I can remember playing with them when I was very small. The weasel drawing is by Megan McKean and was a gift (Weasel is an affectionate nickname I have for my husband).
I am a little obsessed with Gumtree (if you're not in Australia, it's a bit like Craig's List). I found Theo's cot on it and we picked it up from Hobart. The lady who we bought it from said that it had been in her family for some time and that the eldest person to use it was now in their fifties. She painted it and designed and applied the decals (based on Tasmanian flora). It comes with a change table that we sit on top of the cot which works really well. C's parents paid for the cot and I think it was about $150.
I love anything with tiny compartments. I found this little shelf at an opshop and spray painted it black and then collected tiny animals to go in it. I think I paid a dollar for it and probably a total of $5 on the animals.
A lady I work with gave me her children's huge collection of Dr Seuss books. I am so grateful - they're some of my favourite books and Dr Seuss' first name was Theo!
I am quite interested in aspects of the Montessori education approach and one recommendation is that things be down on the child's level, so that they can access them easily. Theo like to pull the books and toys off his bookshelf and play with them. When he is older might get him a bed that is closer to the ground that he can get in and out of by himself.
Our house has three bedrooms but one we use as an office, so when the time comes that we have another baby, we'll probably have he/she in our room with us for the first few months and then probably have the two children share a room. I hope that while they're small this will work okay, but later (pending that we're still in this house) one of them can use our studio (detached from the house) as a bedroom - I know when I was a teenager I would have loved it.
As he gets older I hope he'll start adding his own touches to his room. I can't wait to start giving him painting and drawing tools - then I'll add some of his artworks. At the moment he just loves to be in there playing with all the things!
Apr 19, 2014
I found these ridiculous shoes for $5 at an opshop a few months back and tried them on and they fit me near perfectly (if a little snug). I had kind of bought them to be what I like to call (and which my husband hates) 'ornamental shoes'. Impractical, but gorgeous. I have quite a lot of ornamental shoes. But I have in fact worn these shoes twice. I wore them to Evandale Markets last weekend and I am sure that if my husband and my friend Holly never hear the sound of them again it will be too soon (they have tiny little metal 'taps' on the toes and make a ridiculous sound when I walk). Anyway, I love them.
This dress and cardigan were my very first vintage purchases, about ten years ago. I bought them from Raymond Terrace Salvos when I was about fourteen and they're still some of my favourite vintage purchases. The dress came apart in places over the years from over-use but nothing a needle and thread couldn't fix. The teapot buttons on the cardigan were an addition by my teenage self. It is nice to think of my teenage self wearing this outfit around my tiny country home town.
I have to admit that I rarely buy new clothes for Theo. 80% of his wardrobe is thrifted and the other 20% are things people have given me or that my husband has bought (practical onesies and the like). It's not (just) that I'm cheap when it comes to these things, but moreover that I just never see anything I like in retail stores and I always see something I like when I go opshopping. This little blazer was an exception and it was heavily reduced in price and Theo is in dire need of Winter clothes. And I'll admit, it is nice to have some items that are new for a baby. I wade through a lot of pilly and stained baby onesies to find goodies. My vintage baby girl dress collection hit 40 items last week - my husband thinks I have a problem and is worried we may never have a girl baby to wear them - he is one of 3 boys!
Theo's top 4 teeth have all broken through now (phew!) and are coming down ever so slowly. It is so sweet when he smiles really big and I catch a glimpse of them and see what he'll look like with teeth. The middle top two are so far apart at the moment - an adorable little gap!
+ My outfit: all vintage except the tights from Sussan.
+ Theo's outfit: all vintage except blazer from Target.
Apr 18, 2014
I've been absent from this blog for a few weeks, totally unintentionally. Uni has engulfed me, as it always does, and I'm back at work and trying to make more time to spend with my family, so something had to give I guess! Uni has been stressful and time consuming but I am getting a lot out of it. My Studio Project A subject takes up a lot of time and due to it being a self-directed kind of unit, I get to determine the parameters of my project and set myself tasks. At the moment it is mostly drawing based and my subject matter revolves largely around memories and childhood. I thought I'd tell you a little about that and share some photos from my recent whirlwind trip back to NSW (where I grew up).
I grew up in the country about 4kms away from the nearest town. We lived in a ramshackle old house in the middle of the bush, my mum, sister and I (and in the early days, my brother and later my mum's partner too). We had chickens, dogs, a huge garden, a dam, a creek we'd play in, neighbours far enough away that you could make all the noise you wanted to and we were often visited by the local pythons (we found one in my mum's bed on her pillow once, enjoying the afternoon sun). My mum sold that house about a fortnight ago and I was able to go back and help her to clean it up a bit and say a bit of a goodbye. It was a lovely place to grow up in in many ways, but also a burden as it was always in need of so much work (always being renovated) and a lot of maintenance (a termite's delight!). There are some lovely photos of that house from our wedding picnic.
Growing up, every second weekend my mum would pick my sister and I up from school and we'd drive the hour trip to the city to stay with my dad. He lived in a housing commission flat in a suburb of Newcastle called Stockton. Stockton is technically a CBD suburb, because across the harbour on the ferry, it is only about 600m from the inner city, but it is about 15kms to drive, so it can have a weird isolated feeling to it. It was one of the first suburbs in Newcastle to be founded and was always a very industrial, working class suburb. There are many housing commission flats there, a minute or so from the beach. Visiting my dad there was exciting and fun and I looked forward to it very much - it was a whole different world.
My dad's flat had three tiny rooms - a kitchen, a bathroom and a small general purpose room for eating, recreating and sleeping in. We would sleep on mattresses on the floor and watch The Simpsons on the old portable TV. My dad would take us on the ferry across to Newcastle and we'd go window shopping (we didn't have much money but we didn't care). We would play with the neighbourhood kids (who lived permanently in the housing commission flats) and go to the beach and the swimming pool a lot. We'd draw lots and lots of pictures which he'd sticky tape all over the walls of his flat. He let us eat all of the food my mum never let us have (white bread, fishfingers, 2-minute noodles, Milo, Nutella). He, on the other hand, was very healthy, eating good food, surfing and always sitting on the floor with his back to a wall. He was always reading to us, playing games with us and teaching us about things. He had a lot of time for us and never seemed bored or annoyed and never got angry. It wasn't until later on that it occurred to me that we were probably the only thing in his life that brought him any joy (he didn't work, didn't really have possessions or speak to many people).
My dad liked crosswords and The Rolling Stones and had a little gap between his teeth. Sometimes he had a beard and sometimes he grew his fair hair long. He always wore thongs (flip flops) regardless of the weather. He almost never smiled, except for at my sister and I. He was terrible at singing and spelling but excellent at maths. He had one laugh he did when he was laughing with you and one when he was laughing at you. He liked coffee and pea and ham soup and his favourite colour was green.
When I was ten my dad died. Since I can remember I was always aware of my dad's substance abuse issues, but I always assumed he'd be around. It was obviously very upsetting and grief is an ongoing process, but I have been doing a lot of thinking lately about memories of that time and how formative and positive they were. As you can imagine, there is lots of fodder within those memories for interpreting through art. I am really enjoying revisiting those memories and remembering things long forgotten. When he died, we went back to Stockton briefly to collect some of his things, but he didn't own much and I guess my mum didn't really see much point in us taking things that weren't of any value and so we basically left it as it was and I suppose the landlord cleared it out. I do remember the landlord letting us in and saying that that my dad "must have loved his kids" because his house was covered with our pictures and besides his clothes and food, most of the things in his flat were our books, toys, boogie boards and the like.
When my mum asked me last month if I'd be able to make a quick trip up to my childhood home to help her out, I jumped at the chance to visit both places. I went to Stockton first, straight off the plane. My sister picked me up from the airport with our brother (who is ten years older than us and has a different father) and we all went back to Stockton and wandered around, taking it all in. Being there was pretty weird. The place was the same but different and it gave us lots of time to talk through our memories. We walked along the breakwall and through many familiar streets. Our dad's old flat was derelict with smashed windows and full of junk and the back door had been kicked in. It looked like someone might have been squatting there and that many people had lived there after my dad. I suppose I had always assumed that someone would be living there much like my dad had been (living simply, getting by), so it was confronting to see it in such a state. Otherwise, it was an interesting and important time being there. My brother and sister and I ate fish and chips by the water and then we left.
There was one encounter while we were in Stockton that kind of summarised the visit perfectly - a shirtless, beer-bellied man with only a few teeth standing at the entrance to the breakwall asked us where we were from (I guess we looked out of place) and we said we spent some time growing up in Stockton and were just visiting and he said "It's beautiful isn't it?! I don't know why anyone would leave!" to which I told him about our dad having passed away when we were kids and he said, "Well... we all die occasionally", which was kind of perfect and beautiful.