Friday, 27 February 2015
The other morning the six-year-old grabbed a piece of square cardboard and drew a spiral shape, folded it into quarters and pinched the join on the lower side and turned it into a spinning top, of sorts. It was really large and while it did spin, and create quite a cool effect with the spiral drawing, it wasn't as consistent or as fast as he wanted.
In its place we made a different type of paper spinning top. The idea was to cut strips of paper (we recycled some thin card pieces) and tape them around a cocktail stick or trimmed skewer then spin.
YOU WILL NEED
Paper or cardboard
Cocktail stick or skewer
1. Cut strips of paper about 1cm wide and as long as your piece of paper or card.
2. Wrap around a cocktail stick or trimmed skewer. Once you get to the end use tape to secure the next piece and repeat until there's enough weight to the top.
* For best spinning launch the spinning top by rubbing the stick between your hands, as shown above.
* You could make a batch of them and have spinning competitions.
images the indigo crew
Thursday, 26 February 2015
Dee Purdy knows all about juggling. She studied Fine Art Photography and still has a passion for it, but works in finance in the city of London while running a children’s wear company. As a mother to two young daughters she also knows that while she loves classic-cut clothes, she knows that her energetic duo have to feel comfortable in them and be able to run and play freely in what they wear. In 2013 Dee decided to find some balance to all of these elements and co-founded Une Belle Époque with her sister Nikki. It was that old tale of not being able to find what they wanted. And it seems that many others agree. Their wares have been selling all across the globe - from Korea to Australia and France. Originally the idea was to produce their range in Hong Kong, where Nikki is based but they wanted to have tighter quality control and more transparency of the end-to-end process. The clothes are now made in London.
Originally from a small town in South Africa, the sisters are looking at having their wares stocked in some small boutiques in Norway and Japan. But they are taking small steps to ensure the fit is right. “We also have plans, which we’re really excited about, to bring out a dress-up collection that explores the more whimsical side of childhood, something that is very important to us,” Dee says.
What was behind the decision to start Une Belle Époque?
Having children was certainly a big part of it! When I started looking to buy my own children’s clothes I realised that I found it hard to find clothes that I liked and that weren’t some cookie-cutter idea of how children should dress. I wanted to dress them in a simple but interesting style that wasn’t prissy and still gave them the freedom to run around and climb trees and I realised that if I wanted that, I would need to design them myself. Also, my sister and I have always loved creating things and bouncing ideas around for our next project. We love fabric and design and all this came together at the right time to create Une Belle Époque.
I have worked in the city for many years so I also wanted to find my way back to something more creative that would allow better flexibility when it came to being a mother and having a career.
What had you been doing previously?
I have a degree in Fine Art Photography but I have worked in London, in investment banking for many years. I have never lost touch with my creative background though and have always wanted to find something that combines my business knowledge, creativity and doing something that I love.
What is important to you when designing children's clothes?
The fabric and the style. We use natural fabrics wherever possible as it’s very important to us that the kids wear fabrics that can breathe and age well. We’d hope that our pieces are timeless and look just as great on your nieces/nephews when you hand them down.
How do you try to differentiate your products from others on the market?
Our plan has been to create a core product range that we carry consistently and that fits in with our ethos: natural fabrics, timeless design and attention to detail. One of our frustrations is that when you are buying kids clothes, you find something that you like but it doesn’t come back the next season. On top of that we plan to get more creative with our collections, to allow us to evolve our story and create a solid, small brand.
What has been completely unexpected since starting the business?
How global the interest has been in what we are doing. When we started we thought that we might get the odd order or two from outside the UK, but now we are regularly shipping to Australia, the US, France, Korea and beyond. Instagram and social media has been a really big and unexpected part of this. My background in photography has helped. I have always taken a lot of photos and started a blog when Limi was born but couldn’t sustain it when Claya arrived and I was trying to juggle two children and a new brand. Instagram replaced the blog for me in terms of documenting our lives in London and keeping in touch with friends and family. But by sharing our images and our story of the creation of Une Belle Époque, the clothes have seemed to resonate with a lot of people and we have connected with some amazing people that has led to wonderful opportunities.
What is something that people don't realise about your wares?
Our clothes are designed to work just as well in hot climates like Australia and South Africa as they do in cooler places like England. The secret is all in layering. Growing up in South Africa I remember wearing lots of loose cotton and I didn’t want my girls to feel weighed down with thick fabrics. Using high street staples as base layers I’ve dressed my daughters in the lightest of carousel dress in the depths of a northern winter. In fact, I love the puppet playsuit more when it’s layered over leggings, a long sleeved vest top and maybe a cotton blouse too.
Where do you look for design inspiration?
I have always loved the simplicity of French design and washed-out, antique colours. With our pieces though we still want the detail and that’s where vintage, English pieces inspire us. The aunt of a friend intermittently sends me packages of vintage children’s clothing and trim which she finds in antique markets in the north of England. I’ve never met her but my friend told her about what I was doing and she just started sending me these amazing parcels.
Of course our children and our friends’ children also direct us in terms of what they enjoy wearing. We always test new products out on our own children and a small circle of friends.
What do you consider when dressing or styling children?
Layers - in London, it’s very much about the layers, so we design clothes that can be worn by themselves or layered. Also being able to turn a few pieces into lots of different outfits by putting your own layered stamp onto it makes the style unique to the child.
Comfort - I’ve been there myself; I've bought something I think will look great on my daughters only to have them tearing it off after five minutes because it is uncomfortable while they play, so I know that comfort matters.
Individuality - we want children to look like children. I’m not a fan of “mini-me” fashion and think that children’s clothes should be uniquely childish without being cartoonish or condescending.
What role do you want your products to play in childhood?
I'd have to say a path to individuality without being too conscious of what they are wearing. We would like our clothing to enhance their games rather than restrict them.
What was the last great children's book that you read?
The girls are very into maps at the moment so two great books and favourites at the are: Atlas of Adventures illustrated by Lucy Letherland and Maps by Aleksandra Mizielinska and Daniel Mizielinski.
images courtesy of une belle époque
Wednesday, 25 February 2015
The day after we read this book together our son came downstairs to breakfast and said, "Did you know that a lion's roar can be heard five miles away?" He had taken Out of Sight by Pittau & Gervais (Chronicle Books) to bed that night and read over once again all the facts inside.
I came across it at a local book store and was attracted to the clever format. It's a flip book with each page themed. One page shows different animals' horns, another their tales while another shows footprints or fur markings.
It's a book that appeals to all of the children. The 19-month-old enjoys flipping the pages and seeing the kangaroo (she's obsessed with them every since we saw them on a recent holiday). The three-year-old likes to play guessing games about what animal might be underneath while the six-year-old enjoys the facts, and guessing too.
This is such a wonderful book that engages children with learning, and starts conversations. It's educational for adults too. Did you know that a rhinoceros horn isn't a true horn - it's made out of dense hair?!
The book was originally published in France under the name Axinamu.
images the indigo crew
Tuesday, 24 February 2015
"The kitchen is favourite place because it’s the only room close to finished!
It’s also literally the centre of the home - it really is in the middle - and we spend
so much of our time here crafting, baking, homeworking, eating, hanging…
It is also the best spot for supervising the kids in the front and backyards
at the same time (we live in a fishbowl!) and has the most beautiful warm
afternoon sun beaming through the back doors every day. It’s my happy place."
I was going to start this introduction telling you about how Belinda Graham and I met*. However, Belinda told me the story behind her portrait for the series and it was another reminder of what I admire about her. She is incredibly resourceful.
Belinda was home alone with her four young children and so set up her camera on a tripod near the kitchen. But she had problems trying to gain focus and her youngest - not yet a year old - was a little sick and grizzly. It turned out the tripod was broken and so in Belinda’s frustration she threw it onto the front yard. In its place she stacked a bunch of baskets but when she turned around they had gone. Her other two girls had nabbed them for a game. In the end Belinda found a pile of books and had to hold her baby for the photo, and it is little blurry but she did it. And she always does manage to find a way through her busy life to make things happen.
All the while, though, Belinda has a grounded view on life. She is my touchstone on many topics. I admire her lack of materialism in a world that has an insatiable appetite for consumerism. And over the 10 years that I've known Belinda, I believe that her turning the other way has enabled her creativity to flourish.
At the moment Belinda is focussed on simplifying her life further, and becoming more organised. “This seems hypocritical when I tell you the other thing I’m focused on is getting our house plans in to council so we can extend and renovate,” she says. “I stick by my comment that we don’t need much to be happy. But in terms of our house, we do need more space. It’s tiny. But with more house will come more storage and organisation, more creative spaces, more places to enjoy our simpler life. Hopefully.”
*It was at Real Living magazine, where we both worked - she as deputy editor before I stepped into her role when she went onto maternity leave and later left the position. That was almost 10 years ago.
1 As a child I used to wear… a lot of handmade clothes, hand-me-downs and matchy matchy clothes with my sisters. My Nana was brilliant at everything and used to make little crochet skirts and vests with our initials, dresses and capes. As an older child I lived for the weekends when I’d visit my grandparents and there in the corner was a huge black garbage bag filled with things from my cousin who had visited the week before. I thought she was the coolest, best-dressed person on the planet - plus there was only one of everything that as the eldest, I got first dibs on. I spent a lot of my childhood matching my sisters in everything from the crochet dresses from my Nana to traditional German dresses from my Oma to hand-painted nightgowns we made with our mum. Obviously, it wasn’t every day, but when you look back through family pictures, you’d think we always matched! We rarely bought clothes - or anything for that matter - for the sake of it. Every season we shopped for a few new essentials, were gifted items at Christmas and birthdays and were bought things as we needed them. But they were never flashy or big-name brands. Just good quality, nice things. I do the exact same thing now with all of us.
2 My bedroom was… all white! I was always - and still am - obsessed with white walls. As a kid, my parents decided to paint the entire house a terracotta colour. I was horrified by this and talked them into letting me paint my room white. I’m still sure the only reason they agreed to this was because I said I’d paint it myself if they let me.
3 When I was a teenager I used to… daydream constantly. I’d even have my own “thinking spot” in nearby bushland where I’d go and sit and daydream - about everything and anything. I’d dream up various scenarios and act them out in my head like a movie - adventure, romance, thriller - they all featured. I’d imagine interviewing Audrey Hepburn, saving the world with information I’d gathered as a spy, being cast as Keanu Reeve’s love interest in a movie, what my house would look like when I owned one. If I’m honest, I still daydream a lot - mostly about my house, which we’re about to extend. My life looks so much more stylish, organised and perfect in my imaginary future!
4 After high school I wanted to be… a journalist. It was all I ever wanted to be growing up. I was going to write these amazing investigative pieces from behind enemy lines for TIME magazine and fantastic adventure stories for National Geographic. I did become a journalist, but covering depressing stories constantly wore me down and I realised hard news wasn’t for me and that I was better suited to lighter things - like Cosmopolitan magazine apparently which was my next job! And then I dreamt of taking over from Deb at Real Living eventually. But then babies were born (and born and born and born!) and the media changed and I’m not sure I want to be a part of it at all anymore.
5 A seminal moment was… moving back to Sydney after living on the NSW Central Coast for seven years. When we first moved to the Coast, I expected it to be temporary and that eventually we’d move back to Sydney and buy a beautiful terrace house in Balmain. In 2011 we moved back rather quickly for Steve’s new job - he was a governmental media advisor and had to be on call. But his job was full on and we all realised pretty quickly that we didn’t really like living there. We missed the quiet, the water, the adventures and the slower style of living that we had on the coast. So a year later, we moved back! Instantly our mood lifted - it was like we could breathe properly again. Plus, we were happier, healthier and felt right at home - even though we were renting. After a year we bought the worst house in the best street waiting for us to transform - we’re working on that now. When I think of that year in Sydney, it’s how I imagine life in the middle ages - no colour. It’s just dark. I don’t regret doing it though; it made us realise who we were and where we wanted - and needed - to be.
6 I never thought I would… yell at my children. Honestly, I would cringe when people would do it and I would judge them so horribly as The Worst Parent Ever. Then I became a mother and I think I made it to three children and school mornings before it happened regularly. I cringe and curse myself every time I do do it, but my Godfather they can drive me crazy sometimes and after asking them several times nicely to stop/do that or this/eat up/put their shoes on/brush their teeth/bring their hat home, the niceties run out pretty quickly and that wave of frustration just rolls on over and out it comes. I’m working on it, because I still think it is such an awful thing, but it happens. If anyone has a solution to children not listening, no one would ever hear me yell again. Anyone?!
7 I've learnt to… trust my instincts, my heart, my head and my children as to what is best for all of us. From the moment you’re in a serious relationship, people’s questions, opinions and advice on falling pregnant/giving birth/raising children seem to hit you from all sides. It’s overwhelming. When my son was a few months old and I had tried everything in my power to make him sleep longer than 20 minutes at a time, I took him to the clinic and told the nurse my concerns about his cat-napping. When she said “he needs to sleep more” but had no other solution, I went home angry and threw away all the baby books - he wasn’t in any of them. I sat down and thought about it - he was happy, he was healthy, he was growing, he was totally fine. He obviously didn’t need any more sleep. So I just went with it. Zak still now doesn’t need a lot of sleep. And you know what? He is the second smartest person I know (his Dad still knows a little more bit more!). I’ve learnt to ignore all the noise from outsiders (within reason, obviously) and do what works for each child, for me and for all of us.
8 I know… I’m doing a pretty good job as a mum. And I think it’s ok to say that to yourself occasionally if you are, rather than wait for someone else to acknowledge it. I rarely self-praise but I do believe I’m doing ok. Aside from the yelling.
9 I share because… it’s in my nature! I’ve always been a sharer - from toys with siblings to information in my career to tips to friends and ideas with the world wide web. If I don’t share things I enjoy, have learnt, have found or have made, I can’t happily take from those who do. It’s a two-way street.
10 If I had an unexpected morning to myself I would… sleep. That is all.
image courtesy of belinda graham
Monday, 23 February 2015
Living in the inner city we're always on the lookout for great bike or walking tracks that we can explore. A recent find was the one at Blackwattle Bay, known as the Glebe Foreshore Walk. The last stage of it was completed in August last year, which means that there's now 2.2km of pathway you can travel comfortably on foot or with bikes, scooters or prams. It's also a popular track for people with dogs.
You can connect from the end of Glebe Point Road through to the Sydney Fish Markets. It's also connects to the kid-friendly Jubilee Park.
images the indigo crew
Friday, 20 February 2015
For Valentine's Day I made a heart-shaped cake for the ones I love, but of course you can make this anytime. I used Donna Hay's apple and cinnamon tea cake recipe.
APPLE + CINNAMON TEA CAKE
185g (6 oz) butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2/3 cup caster (superfine) sugar
1 1/2 cups plain (all-purpose) flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup (2 1/2 fl oz) milk
2 medium apples, peeled, sliced and cut into heart shapes with cookie cooker
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup apricot jam (jelly), warmed
1. Preheat the oven to 160°C (325°F). Place the butter, cinnamon and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until light and creamy. Gradually add the eggs and beat well. Sift the flour and baking powder over the butter mixture, add the milk and stir until combined. Line the base of a 22cm (9 in) springform tin with non-stick baking paper and spoon in the mixture.
2. Topping: Peel and slice apple and cut out heart shapes using a cookie cutter. Arrange over the top of the cake mixture. Combine the sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over the apples. Bake for 50 mins. Brush the cake with warm jam and return to the oven for 10 mins or until cooked when tested with a skewer. Serve warm. Serves 8-10.
images the indigo crew
Thursday, 19 February 2015
There are a lot of spontaneous craft sessions that happen in our home. Often they involve paper creations. These lantern-like decorations came about from a little bit of trial and error. The best part was that it was easy for the three-year-old to get involved. She loves cutting paper with scissors at the moment. And she was happy to see that she'd made something sculptural out of a piece of paper. The youngest thought they made great hats too!
YOU WILL NEED
1. Fold an A4 piece of paper in half from top to bottom.
2. Loosely fold the two corner edges together to locate the centre point then move the short section back around until you have an angle of about 60 degrees. Fold along this line.
3. Turn the paper over and repeat from the other corner.
4. Cut off the top end of the paper so you have a triangular shape.
5. Starting at the base make a line cut almost towards the other end of the paper. Turn the paper over and repeat until you get close to the point of the triangle.
6. Open up your triangle until you have a hexagon again. Slowly separate each piece. If you use cardboard it will be able to stand on its own. Otherwise you can use string to hang. Or wear as a hat!
images the indigo crew
Wednesday, 18 February 2015
Now this is a silly book. But in the best kind of way. The Book With No Pictures by BJ Novak uses words to make children giggle, and puts the reader - usually a grown up - in a position where they have to make non-sensical sounds. Which is hilarious, of course, if you are three or six years of age.
The first time our six-year-old son saw the cover of this book he was intrigued. When he started to read it, he laughed and chuckled and then laughed louder. And I don't think it's ever been read just once in the one sitting. As soon as it's finished, he starts over again.
When we read it over the weekend our three-year-old heard the laughing and came into the room. Soon they were both giggling and then writhing with laughter.
The book was written by BJ Novak, who is a writer, actor, director and executive producer of the US TV series The Office. He is also a stand-up comedian, which comes through in this book. It's full of energy and fun.
images the indigo crew
Tuesday, 17 February 2015
"I love the light in our kitchen and the view out into our back garden.
I also love that it's where we spend most of our time together as a family -
making meals, doing art projects, watching the birds and squirrels outside...
and, of course, those spontaneous after-dinner dance parties!"
Almost eight years ago I started my first blog - Daily Imprint. I was interested to learn more about people's creative journeys, and so an interview series began. During that time I was also for a period a contributor to the blog of Babyccino Kids. It was when my first child was about 18 months old, and I wanted to showcase some of the great Australian children's brands that I came across in my job as a writer for Real Living magazine, as well as through Daily Imprint. However, time got the better of me, and I had to step away from contributing. But returning to write about the wonderful world of children has always been at the back of my mind. That is why last year I started The Indigo Crew.
Once again, though, immersing myself in this new world has started a new set of intrigues. I am interested to know more about the people behind some of my favourite feeds on Instagram - mothers, designers, photographers, crafters and all-around-creatives. And so I am returning to a format I know and love, the Q&A.
Who better to start the series than a woman whom I used to write for all those years ago. Even though Courtney is based in London, we got to meet while she was travelling along the East Coast of Australia with her family. Along with her husband Michael, her three children (at the time) Easton, Quin and Ivy squeezed into our tiny Bondi Beach garden apartment for a barbecue. Almost five years later she has agreed to kickstart the series, a generous and kind offer given the photo above was taken in the midst of moving house. One last note, for the series, which is scheduled to run on Tuesdays, I have asked each interviewee to provide a portrait in their favourite space at home, and share what it means to them. I hope you enjoy reading 10 Questions.
10 QUESTIONS... WITH COURTNEY ADAMO
Courtney Adamo says she wasn’t expecting motherhood to be quite so addictive. As the eldest child of five, there have been few surprises so far in general child-rearing. “Though I don’t yet have teenagers!” she says. “I guess what I was not prepared for was the bit where you have to come to terms with not having any more babies.” The popular London-based writer and co-founder of Babyccino Kids, a shopping portal and kids lifestyle blog, says she is often asked if she will have any more children, and the answer is no. “But I still can’t bear to say that out loud,” Courtney says. “It honestly hurts my insides to think I’ll never be pregnant, will never go through childbirth, will never breastfeed a baby again. It’s almost like acknowledging a mini death of some sort, or at least the end of a very big chapter in my life. I guess, I always assumed it would be an easy decision to reach, that I would just feel finished. I had no idea it would be so difficult to close that chapter.” But for now she is focussed on the next big adventure in her family’s life. “We’re craving it,” she says.
1 As a child I used to wear... my hair in French braids tied at the ends with ribbons. I think it was my mom’s way of making me look girly and less like a tomboy.
2 My bedroom was... big enough to dance in. I used to put on the soundtrack from Flashdance and dance around my room like that scene in the movie!
3 When I was a teenager I used to... wake early and head straight out to the barn to feed the horses. I would sometimes ride before school or come straight home and ride in the afternoons. I remember my hands always smelled like a mixture of leather and horses (still one of my favourite smells), and I was completely horse-obsessed until I was about 17… when I started caring more about boys than horses.
4 After high school I wanted to be... a broadcast journalist. Although, if I’m really honest, I always knew I wanted to be a mother so that was probably my deepest wish.
5 A seminal moment was... telling my (future) husband that I had a crush on him. It was Cinco de Mayo 2003, and with the help of a couple margaritas, I had built up the courage to tell him. We moved to London together just two months after that, and the rest is history.
6 I never thought I would... have lived in London for 12 years and have children who speak with an English accent!
7 I've learnt to... stop caring so much what other people think, or at least what strangers who don’t know anything about me think. By nature I’m a people pleaser – I always have been (I’m an eldest child, I can’t help it!), and I’ve had to learn to stop worrying so much about pleasing others, especially in a superficial outside impression type of way, and to really focus on what I want for myself, what is best for my family, and what is truly most important for the people I love.
8 I know... how to bake the best brownies. Thank you, Smitten Kitchen.
9 I share because... I love when others share with me. I love that the Internet has a way of bringing like-minded people together no matter where they live in the world. I love getting a glimpse of what it’s like to raise kids in Sydney, or Brooklyn, or Nashville or the English countryside... etc. In addition to getting a glimpse at family life across the world, it’s also so inspiring to see how other mothers raise their children – the books they read, the crafts they make, the meals they make, the way they educate and play, and all the other inspiring ideas from mothers around the world. I suppose I share because I enjoy being a part of this sharing circle.
10 If I had an unexpected morning to myself I would... take my time getting out of bed (extra snuggles with the kids), take a long bath (Aesop masque!) write a letter to a friend, and squeeze in a yoga class. That’s do-able in one morning, right?
image courtesy of courtney adamo
Monday, 16 February 2015
We almost didn't explore Bare Island. Or at least its surrounds. As we approached the former fort that was built to protect Sydney from the fear of a Russian invasion at the end of the 19th century, we saw that the site was only open on Sunday afternoons at specified times.
However, after enjoying a picnic lunch in the shade of La Perouse monument we headed back down to have a closer look. It turned out to be a good decision.
The area is popular with scuba divers, which is how we heard about it (from a friend who dives there), and we got to see enough sea life from the weathered bridge that crosses from La Perouse to the island to keep everyone entertained. Down some steps we walked onto a sandstone ledge that is filled with rock pools. The perfect size for little feet to jump inside, and also home to many small crabs.
We walked around the cliff face and found fish scales and feathers. The site is also popular for fishing. There's a guide near the bridge that tells you the type of marine life in the area: bream, blue groper, pineapple fish, weedy seadragons and Port Jackson sharks!
Exploring the island itself was enough to satisfy everyone for our visit. And it gave us a great taste of what else the area offers.
* Be sure to stand near the sandstone cliff and listen to the echo of the ocean. It's quite an amazing sound.
* Guided tours of Bare Island Fortification run at 1.30pm, 2.30pm, 3.30pm on Sundays, and need to be booked at La Perouse Museum 02 9247 5033* Blak Markets (Indigenous market stalls, food, coffee and entertainment) are on the first Sunday of the month, 10.30am to 5pm. $2 entry per person onto the island, children under 5 free.
images the indigo crew
Friday, 13 February 2015
Because I created some hearts for a Valentine's Day project for Babiekins mag a few weeks back I almost felt as if I was done with craft for the occasion. But then this morning my little ones were running around with some balloons and the idea struck.
With the age that they're at, I find the simpler the idea, the more they enjoy it.
Here are some balloons we created this morning.
The black hearts were drawn on with a permanent marker.
The gold heart was drawn on with glue and the glitter was sprinkled on top. (This glue is non-toxic and has the most amazing smell - like almonds.)
The red heart was red self-adhesive dot labels.
Easy - and some very happy children.
images the indigo crew