Monday 22 December 2014


It is telling that to write this review I had to go searching for the book and found it in my three-year-old daughter's bed, next to her while she was fast asleep. It's her current favourite.

We bought The Twelve Days of Christmas by Jane Ray late last week on a visit to a local bookshop. I have to admit that I bought it after only a quick flick. The illustrations seemed sweet and I liked that it was bringing to life a Christmas song that I have been singing for as long as I can remember.

When we returned home that day, we read it almost straight away. It was a big hit. She enjoyed the singing element, although we read it too, and we both got lost in all the layers of the illustrations. There is so much detail. For example, one of my favourite pages is "eleven pipers piping" because almost every one of them is playing a different pipe, which gave us a chance to talk about different musical instruments. The book is also great for counting all the different gifts. 

I think we will be reading this book many times more before Christmas is over, and that's going to be fine with both of us.

Wednesday 17 December 2014


For one of our advent calendar activities, we decided to go ice-skating. It's something we've talked about over the years, and were excited to finally make it happen.

Macquarie Ice Rink was an easy drive from our home in the inner-city, and as it's located within that suburb's shopping centre, parking was available, although busy on a weekend leading up to Christmas.

While the facilities were a little old and tired, the staff were helpful and the site, overlooking towering plants, was quite pleasant. 

The main disappointment was that there were no "penguins" or other devices for the children to hold onto or push. This meant the three-year-old did minimal skating, and the 18-month-old was relegated to the sidelines. However, the six-year-old was keen to give ice-skating a go. And while he said it was harder than skiing, he never wanted to leave the ice.

Overall it was a fun experience, but next time I would search for a rink that catered to all ages. I've heard good things about Canterbury Ice Rink. And there are temporary sites that are set up during the colder winter months, such as the venue in Bondi and out the front of St Mary's Cathedral.

Here's what we learnt on our trip to Macquarie Ice Rink.

* Tickets are cash only.
* If you are novices or have very young children, buy your ticket at the start of the second hour of the session for a discount. (Each session runs for two hours - so check the times beforehand.)
* Get your parking ticket validated before leaving the rink as they will add an extra hour to your ticket.
* Take spare clothes in the event of wet bottoms.

Tuesday 16 December 2014


As one of the activities for our advent calendar, we made paper bunting the other day. As it so happens, later that afternoon I went to see a friend, Bianca, from The Beige Larder, and she was selling larger flag-style bunting she had made for Hey! Market. It proved to be the perfect partner for our smaller version.

Here's how we made our paper bunting.

Paper (we used cardboard as it was to hand, but paper would be a little easier to fold and glue)
Craft glue
Tape (to hang)

Step 1
On a piece of paper or card mark divisions 3cm apart apart on the top end of your paper and 6cm apart on the sides. Join the markings to create a diamond pattern.

Step 2
Fold diamonds in half, ensuring pencil markings are on the inner side of the paper/card.

Step 3
Place join over top of twine and glue two halves together. Press firmly to help adhere. Once dry, you're ready to hang.

images the indigo crew

Wednesday 10 December 2014


I've been wanting to make playdough for months, if not years. And today, at the request of a sick child, I did. It was much easier than expected, although some tips along the way.

I adapted this Easy no-cook playdough recipe.

However, next time I won't use wholemeal flour (that's what I had on hand), and I will add just one drop of food colouring, not one teaspoon.

3/4 cup salt (so the children won't want to eat it!)
2 cups flour
2 tbsp cream of tartar
1 tbsp sunflower oil 
1/4 tsp food colouring (here I used 1 tsp and it was too dark for my liking)
1 cup of water

Mix dry ingredients and add oil.

In a separate bowl, mix food colouring to water.

Slowly add water to dry ingredients and mix until combined.

Knead in bowl and onto flat surface. Ready to use.

Note: When finished with dough, cover well in cling wrap and place in airtight container in fridge. Will stay fresh for a couple of months.

images the indigo crew

Monday 8 December 2014


Reading books with my children is one of my favourite pastimes. The classics, usually, are popular for a reason. Although I've found some age better than others. My son and I started The Wind in the Willows, but have yet to finish it. But perhaps it's more of an age issue. And some books appeal more to one child than the other. My son never had much interest for Peter Rabbit but my daughter loves it. 

Then there are contemporary books. Some I love because they are so beautiful, and I appreciate their artistic merits. But sometimes, they don't always appeal to the little ones. It can be because the stories don't hold enough interest, or that the illustrations are too beautiful - and not engaging enough.

But when all the right elements meet - it's a happy day, for all concerned. Enter Sippy & Sunny: A Byron Bay Adventure.

The texture and colour of the cover got me in, and my daughter became transfixed from the first question: "Do you know who it was?"

She was shaking her head.

"You won't believe it..."

Her eyes opened wide, and wider... For the rest of the book, she was pointing at various parts of the beautiful illustrations by Bec Winnel, and asking questions about the characters, and if she too could hold a koala one day.

The book is co-authored by Vicki Wood, who came up with a first draft of sorts while trying to help her granddaughter go to sleep. Kelly Elsom, Vicki's daughter, is the other author, and behind The Elsoms musical group.

It is a magical book on many levels, but the last word must go to my daughter. When we got to the end, she said: "Can we read it again"

Friday 5 December 2014


Quite a few years ago I lived in London and every Monday morning my colleagues would ask me, "So where did you go to this weekend?" Over the course of two years I saw more of the country than most of them had in years, if not a lifetime. And that was their words. Knowing that I was only going to be in the UK for a short period of time spurred me on. But there's always been something of the explorer within my blood. Having children hasn't erased that. Instead, it's reignited it.

Last weekend we took a day trip to Manly Dam. Here are some things we learnt.

It was much larger than we expected. While it's not listed as a National Park, it felt like that in terms of its size. There are lots of bush tracks and options for water sports. You could easily fill an entire day here.

Water sports
The dam itself is a decent size, and was popular with people water skiing and kayaking. There is a ramp for ski jumps - and at one point we saw it get used as a slide for boogie boards. Swimming and splashing around near the water's edge was popular but nowhere near as busy as one of the nearby beaches. A few visitors took along inflatable boats and water toys.

Bush walking
There is one bush track that takes three hours to complete. We were content with walking across the dam's bridge, and turning back after about half an hour. It was a good introduction for the kids who hadn't been on a bushwalk before. They got to climb rocks, spot wildflowers and look out for animal tracks. 

The area is well-catered to those who want to set up a barbecue. And some groups had reserved picnic tables for large get-togethers. We were content with relaxing on a blanket in front of the dam. There were no food vendors or kiosks in site, although there were public toilets.

images the indigo crew

Wednesday 3 December 2014


When I visited Mr & Mrs White late last week, I wasn't expecting to walk out of the store with Christmas presents for little ones. But as soon as I stepped into the Sydney furniture and homewares showroom with girls in tow, they beelined straight to what looked like a kids table and chair set furnished with an old school chalkboard. It was actually the Kiss Cuddle Coffee Table. The littlest then became besotted with its accompanying chairs while the eldest gravitated towards some of the soft rabbit skins on display. (Note: Given that Mr & Mrs White are so thoughtful in what they produce and sell, it's not surprising that they source from Australian and New Zealand tanneries, known for having among the best health ratings in the world. The skins are also by-products of the meat industry.)

Perhaps because Mr & Mrs White have two little girls of their own, the furniture they design and create is made to adapt to various stages of life. Small cube boxes, pictured on the floor in the last image above, can work as a child's stool or a bookshelf. And oversized cushions suit sleeping as well as lounging. 

Before we left, at the last minute, I spied a series of sweet original watercolour artworks by Annette Kelsey. Another happy and unexpected discovery that day.

images courtesy of the indigo crew 

Monday 1 December 2014


This year I wanted to do a little something different with our family advent calendar. Last year I gave gifts. They were small - and mostly encouraged creativity of some sort - stamps and stickers, scissors and sticky tape in different shapes, sizes and colours to what the children already had. But I still felt a little uncomfortable going down this path again. They already have so much "stuff", and I want to cut down on cheaper disposable purchases in general. I thought about getting books for each day of the calendar - but that seemed an expensive exercise. And I also considered activities, but wasn't sure I could come up with 24. Then I read the brilliant post by Esther at Babyccino Kids. Her advent projects were mostly about giving, and finding ways to have fun together as a family over Christmas. The only slight problem was that some of them were heavily geared towards a European winter - drinking hot chocolate or walking around in the dark at night. As summer is such a big part of the Australian Christmas, I set about adapting some of the ideas, and giving them a slightly different spin. Would love to hear if you have any other ideas.

images the indigo crew