Wednesday 26 November 2014


Somehow, this year, I have managed to get all of my Christmas shopping for the kids done before December. Even stranger, perhaps, is that some of the items were bought in January. Yes, a few things on sale. And a few things I spotted and have managed to hold onto all this time. Such as the fairy wings, above. Even better is that my three-year-old daughter has recently been asking for fairy wings.

When my children were younger, if I'm honest, the presents didn't seem to matter so much. They were just happy to open something that had been wrapped in paper. But the six-year-old has a much stronger sense of what he does and doesn't like, and the three-year-old is fast learning from him.

So here is a sample of what they are getting this year. If you have yet to finish your shopping, for your children or others, I hope it gives you some ideas. 

From top to bottom.

Boy, age 6
* Carson Advdenture Pack, includes 5 x 30mm binocular, Lensatic Compass, Flashlight & Whistle/Thermometer - from Sydney University Co-Op.
* Seedling harmonica - from Gleebooks.
* Crochet Basil Bear - from La De Dah Kids.
* Outliving Snapshot Pencil Sharpener - from Sydney University Co-Op.
* Spinning toy - from Gleebooks.
* Collegien + Nununu Slippers - from Mr Wolf Kids.
Not shown:
* Blood Orange Stars PJ Set - from GNancy.
* Microscope - from Terrific Scientific.

Girl, age 3
* Down to the woods grey lambfrom Gleebooks.
* O-Check Snow dome - from Paper2.
* Suck UK Quack Tape Dispenser - from Sydney University Co-Op.
* Crochet Amanda Pandafrom La De Dah Kids.
* Collegien Slipper Socks - The Sealerfrom Mr Wolf Kids.
* No 74 Fairy Wings - Mamapapa.
Not shown:
* Ash Stars Long PJ setfrom GNancy.
* Emile et Ida Chaussette Chat Socks - from Smallable.
* Petite Bateau underwear setfrom Smallable.

Girl, age 18 months
* Crochet Zaney Zebrafrom La De Dah Kids.
* Black and White Stars Long PJs Setfrom GNancy.
* Down to the woods little lambfrom Gleebooks.
* Emile et Ida Chaussette Chat Socksfrom Smallable.
* Collegien Slipper Socks - Pandafrom Mr Wolf Kids.
Not shown:
Petite Bateau underwear set - from Smallable.

images the indigo crew

Friday 14 November 2014


Revamping furniture and objects around the home has always been something that I've done. I like to keep life simple - reusing what I have, and restoring what I find. Plus, for me, I get a kick out of seeing something I've transformed. Gratifying, as they used to say.

It's been a while since I've done any DIY projects around the home but when I spied this stool at Mitchell Road Auction Centre in Sydney's Alexandria, I became inspired again. My daughter didn't want to sit in her high chair anymore but our regular bentwoods were a little too low. This stool sits a little higher - I think it may have been used for sewing or by a machinist - and was quite stable. It also didn't look like "baby" furniture. I've never been big on buying kid-specific furniture other than the absolute essentials, such as a cot and high chair. The rest - change tables - have been fashioned out of the tops of chest of drawers. 

The bonus is that when this stool is no longer used by the children it can find another use in our house. 

Sanding machine
Sand paper
Wood oil (I used the remains of a sample pot of Livos's natural oil sealer in Walnut, which we are testing out on our floors)

1. Sand back any layers of paint and wire brush the frame.
2. Unscrew the frame from the seat and spray-paint in black satin.
3. Oil the seat - drying time between coats required 24 hours. Reassemble.

images courtesy of the indigo crew

Wednesday 12 November 2014


While it’s no secret that the long stretch of road between Sydney and Brisbane has some spectacular beaches, not all of them are as well known (or traversed) as others. That’s a big part of the appeal of South West Rocks for architect and designer Marika Jarv and her family, which includes husband Matt and daughters Avie (four) and Jaia (one). South West Rocks is a place of exceptional natural beauty, and caters to the needs of all her tribe. Husband Matt enjoys the surf beaches, and their children have access to safe waters too. Plus, there are plenty of other places to explore, as Marika discovered on this five-day getaway.

Why did you choose this destination? We are very much a beach-loving family, and South West Rocks has the option of lots of spectacular beaches nearby, all a little different from one another. Matt would get up at dawn and head to the quiet Gap Beach for an early surf. The beach below Trial Bay Gaol is prefect for littlies, as the bay is protected by a rocky outcrop, so the waters are calm, clear, shallow and super safe. This area really reminds me of The Pass at Byron Bay - but without all the surfers. Matt’s dad takes his boat out on the Macleay River fishing in the mangroves, whilst his mum liked walking from our accommodation in town to Horseshoe Bay for a swim. My favourite beach was Little Bay, for its breathtaking landscape and seclusion - you enter via a small sandy cove nestled between granite cliffs and pandanas, there seems to be an almost mystical quality to the area - well I think so! The Smoky Beaches are still on our to-do list - waiting for the girls to be a bit older, they’re only accessible via an 800m walking track, starting at the Smoky Cape Lighthouse, and passing through she-oaks and rainforest.

What were some of the highlights? Avie being taught how to surf by Matt - let’s just say she got some “real” surfer’s tips! Visiting the historic ruins of Trial Bay Gaol. Being greeted on arrival by friendly eastern grey kangaroos at the picnic area at Little Bay. We also saw two big males having a classic boxing kangaroo match. Walking over the old wooden footbridge at Back Creek. The view from the lookout at Smoky Bay Lighthouse. A serene afternoon swim at Little Bay - we had the beach all to ourselves.

What tips would you give to other parents going there? If you are willing to go off-the-beaten-track, then there are some truly jaw-droppingly beautiful beaches to be found. It’s also likely you’ll be the only ones there - if going in off-season, but be warned there are no facilities or patrols on these remote beaches, so take supplies and be careful in the water.

Can you recommend any places to eat or stay in that area? We rented a house in town, but if I was ever going to camp it would be at the Trial Bay Gaol Campground - the location and views out over the bay are amazing.

Any other trips on the horizon? Yes! Our beloved Byron Bay next February. Each year we rent out a particular cottage at The Pass, where our backyard is literally the beach. We’ve been doing this for five years now, ever since I was pregnant with Avie, and every trip we invite a different set of friends. It’s such an easy holiday with the beach so close. A typical day starts with the boys heading out for an early surf, then we wander down the backyard onto the beach with the kids, after a couple of hours we meander back to the house for lunch on the deck, and afterwards when the kids are napping, us mummies get some time-out sunbaking and reading with no little sandy footprints on our towels. Pure bliss. 

images courtesy of marika jarv

Monday 10 November 2014


I'm partial to a bit of baking, especially when the oven does most of the work for you. A former colleague passed on this recipe years ago. I made it almost daily during the hungry months of breastfeeding that I went through with all three children. Now that they are a little older, and sometimes ask to bake something on the spare of the moment, this is my go-to recipe as I usually have all the ingredients in the cupboard, and it takes next-to-no time to make. It's also a great snack for lunch boxes and morning or afternoon tea. It's reasonably healthy too. No sugar, although lots of sultanas. Certainly no added preservatives or colours. Feel free to share any great recipes you may have. 
nw x

2 cups of self-raising flour
2 cups of dessicated coconut
2 cups of sultanas
2 cups of milk

1. Measure and mix all dry ingredients. Add milk, and stir. 
2. Place in a loaf tin lined with baking paper.
3. Bake in a pre-heated oven of about 180-degrees centigrade for about 30-45 mins, or until golden brown. Check with a skewer to see if it's cooked all the way through.

images the indigo crew


Friday 7 November 2014


When it comes to creating kids spaces, I've always been a big fan of using grown-up furniture. I think it makes them feel like proper rooms, and more in tune with what's going on in the rest of the house. But playful elements are important too, especially if you want to encourage your children to gravitate towards these spaces, and see them more than just a place to sleep.

Earlier this year I got to create a series of kids bedrooms for House & Garden magazine. Straight away I wanted to test out some ideas I have for my own place. (At present everyone is camping in various rooms as we shuffle from one space to another during a slow-but-steady renovation project.) And I wanted to show that girls' rooms don't have to be pink and boys' rooms don't have to be blue.

Here are some key items I think every (kids) room should have:
X A bed that sets the tone. Vintage, modern, rustic. Pick a theme then give it a twist. Also, I prefer bed frames over ensembles. They add shape to what can be a boxy, bulky item, and provide a gravitational point to a room.
X Lighting is always the second element that I source. Bigger is usually better. Think pendants as bedside lights, and oversized floor lamps.
X Rugs complete a room. They add often-needed texture and, on occasion, colour. At almost every house I style, I take along one or two.
X Playful elements are key for kids rooms. Think about a teepee where they can read or play. Cubby houses of any form are always popular in our home. A hanging chair is another place for reading or daydreaming. And kids never seem to tire of rocking or revolving chairs.

images courtesy of house & garden magazine; photography scott hawkins; styling natalie walton

Wednesday 5 November 2014


Chloe Brookman knows a thing or two about adventure. Two years ago she left the security of life in London to move to Australia with her husband and two young children. Since settling into Sydney, Chloe has maintained her adventurous spirit with regular weekend getaways. Here the co-founder of Olli Ella, a nursery accessories business, shares an unforgettable recent family trip to Culburra Beach and nearby Honeymoon Bay. 

Why did you decide to go on this family adventure? We wanted a weekend away, somewhere within driving distance that didn't involve too much planning, where we could explore, cook, and experience something new.

Where did you visit and why? We wanted to explore the NSW South Coast, where we have never been. Being recent transplants from the UK we loved the idea of going when it was winter. So we chose Culburra Beach, which is about 2.5 hours south. We went with friends and their kiddies and rented a house right on the beach. I love the romance of bundling up for beach walks, coming home to a hot fire - and just a change of pace.

How long was the trip in total? We were gone for two nights - left Friday returned Sunday. It was 2.5 hours each way, but we stopped in Berry, which is about 40 minutes outside of Culburra Beach. 

What did you pack? It was a bit embarrassing really. We took full advantage of bringing our seven-seater car and packed the boot to the brim - our poor dog was not happy with his portion of car real estate! We brought food - as Culburra Beach has only a very small town, with just a few shops - lots of warm clothes, flashlights, marshmallows for roasting on the fire, and good friends.

What were some of the highlights? Without question, it was the day trip we took to a little place called Honeymoon Bay, about 20 minutes from the house we were renting. We had to drive down a long windy dirt path but at the end was one of the most magical beaches, which was almost deserted. We brought a blanket and a picnic and within five minutes we were joined by three kangaroos, who stood within meters of us, perhaps hoping for a lone piece of peanut butter sandwich to head their way? After they hopped off - haha, sorry, couldn't resist, we went for a little walk on the rocks and watched as a pod of dolphins swam by - I don't think we will ever forget that day, ever. At least I know I won't. Waking up to the call of kookaburras watching the sun rise over the water with my husband.

What was unexpected about your adventure? Unexpected, beyond crossing paths with wild kangaroos and dolphins in the same hour?

What tips would you give to other parents going there? Pack lots of changes of clothes, and food as supplies aren’t readily available. 

Can you recommend any places to eat or stay in that area? We stayed at Pavilions on the Beach in Culburra. One of our friends who we went with cooked an amazing meal both nights so we were very spoilt.

What do you enjoy most about travelling as a family? Being together, slowing down, having a change of pace and breaking routine. Watching how my boys thrive in new environments but also love seeing how glad we all are at the end of a great adventure to come back home to our own beds.

Any other trips on the horizon? Yes! I'm whisking Tennyson, my five-year-old away to London in three weeks for a special mama-son trip. We are going to go to all the museums, maybe see a show and if I can swing it, a day trip to Paris.

images courtesy of chloe brookman

Monday 3 November 2014


Sometimes the hardest things to find for little ones are the most basic. Almost every child needs some sort of sleepwear, especially in winter. And when the seasons change, so does what's required. Up until now I've mostly relied on buying neutral leggings and tops as I've struggled to find pyjamas that I'd want to buy, especially in high-street stores. Surprisingly, many of my favourite kids boutiques only stock one or two, if any, pjs. But I do like the idea of designated sleepwear - changing into something that's clearly for sleep sends the message that it's time to slow down, and start thinking about the quiet hours ahead.

Now that the warmer months are coming to Australia, I've been searching for summer sleepwear. And I was really pleased to find a range that not only looks both sweet and stylish, but is designed and made in Sydney. 

G Nancy is a range created by Georgia Nicholson, a New Zealander who now bases herself in Australia. She came up with the concept of playful good-quality kids pjs after working as a nanny while studying fashion design. The collection is for children aged 0 to 10.

Find Georgia on Instagram @gdotnancy

images courtesy of g nancy