Monday 28 September 2015


It's time to catch up on a few things - spring-cleaning, the photos from our European holiday, which still haven't been printed, finishing off my son's bedroom, and lots of work. So I'm taking a mini break from the blog but I thought I'd share some of my favourite posts from the early days of starting this site. It's actually been just over a year since The Indigo Crew was launched - 13 August 2014. Have a great week and see you soon!

* All the kids took their sleeping bags on our recent trip away. Still one of our most-used buys from the past year.

* My mum had some beautiful fragrant roses in her garden which would be perfect for this project.

* We also did lots of beach combing on the weekend. This is one of the best places for finding shells.

* Home-made play dough

* We still read this book regularly.

* 10 Questions will resume again soon. Courtney Adamo of Babyccino Kids kickstarted the series in March. Read her interview here.

* We'll also get to know a little more about the people behind some of our favourite brands in Label Love, which started with the talented Dee Purdy of Une Belle Epoque.

* Hope to visit this beautiful hidden beach again.

* One of my favourite craft projects from the past year.

* Who can resist a heart-shaped apple and cinnamon tea cake?

* We've been using this book a lot recently too.

* Christmas is creeping up on us - definitely want to do this advent activity calendar again.

You can also head over to our Pinterest page for our favourite finds from the web.

And like our Facebook page for news, updates, videos and interesting articles. We also share a "find of the day".   

image the indigo crew

Friday 25 September 2015


Often when I visit my mum we talk and exchange recipes. And while we both enjoy food that tastes good and is wholesome and nutritious (as well as both having a bit of a sweet tooth), we're also no-nonsense cooks. We enjoy making recipes with what's available in the fridge and pantry, and not always having to labour over steps and details. Yesterday she wanted to share her most current favourite recipe - sultana scones. When it came to making them, the girls wanted to help too. It was a fun way to spend a rainy afternoon.

2 cups self-raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
60g butter, chilled
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup sultanas

1. Pre-heat oven to 220-degrees celcius. Mix all the dry ingredients. Crumble in the butter. Stir in milk.
2. Roll out with a rolling pin on a lightly floured surface. Cut shapes with a round cutter, about 3cm high.
3. Place on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Brush with milk. Bake in the oven for about 10-12 minutes. 

images the indigo crew

Thursday 24 September 2015


It was inevitable that I was going to be a soup lover. I come from a long line of women who have loved making them. "You can make soup out of anything," my mum says, often.

She is Polish, and I grew up with broth-style soups. I never ate a blended soup - such as pumpkin - until my family emigrated to Australia.

Now I make both, but I do like soup with texture. Something that feels hearty, especially on cold days.

I made this soup the other day but as Sydney is currently going through a cold snap it seems appropriate to share it now.

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 packet of free-range bacon, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 zucchini, chopped
400g tin chopped tomatoes
2 cups of beef stock, salt reduced
2 cups of water
1/4 cup of spiral pasta

Parsley, parmesan and crusty bread, to serve

1. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan, and add onion and garlic until softened. Add bacon and stir until cooked through.
2. Add carrot and zucchini and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 2 minutes.
3. Add chopped tomatoes, beef stock and water, put on the lid and simmer for about 30 minutes.
4. Add pasta to soup and simmer for another 15 minutes. Serve with parsley and parmesan.

Note: You can also add broccoli or cannellini beans.

image the indigo crew

Wednesday 23 September 2015


I have put off writing about A First Book of Nature by Nicola Davies for quite a while. I bought it about six months ago and while I fell in love with it, my children didn't. School boy wasn't interested at all. And while the preschooler was happy to have a look through it a few times together, that was it.

I've tried a few times since then to engage her, and while she likes some of the pages - rainbows! - she hasn't connected to it in a meaningful way. And because of this, I wouldn't normally write about this book. After all, I only like to include recommendations on what the children really love.

But I can't let it go. And I won't. It's a beautiful book and sometimes it just takes the children a little while to be the right age or frame of mind. This has happened with Wind in the Willows and Where the Sidewalk Ends. And I really think that my daughter will come around. After all, she loves nature, and animals.

The book is split into seasons and then topics, such as frogs in spring. Some of them hold her interest more than others - rainbows! The text can be a little dream-like in places, which doesn't seem to hold the attention of a four-year-old. Neither does the poetry. But, for now, it can be a book that we dip into every now and then.

I am sure she will come around. And if she doesn't? Well, that's okay too because I enjoy it. And sometimes with more reference-style books, I believe some of them will become useful in later school years when used in the context of drawing or painting. As with Where the Sidewalk Ends, my son was non-plussed initially but when he took it into school and his teacher was excited by it, he started to view it differently. Sometimes that's all it takes.

images the indigo crew

Tuesday 22 September 2015


Sometimes a craft project can be staring at you right in front of your face. The other day we received our grocery delivery and after I emptied the eggs into a basket, the carton was beckoning to be transformed into something. I'm not big on creating pieces that just go onto a craft slush pile. I prefer things that the children can play with in some way. And then I saw it - the eyes and nose. We were going to make an animal mask!

Egg carton
Pipe cleaners

1. Cut eyes and nose shape out of egg carton.
2. Colour eyes, nose and snout.
3. Pierce the snout in three spots to insert pipe cleaners. Fold over pipe cleaners at the end so they don't fall out.
4. Pierce two more holes - a little closer to the eyes - to create a place to thread the string. You can also cut out eye holes if your child wants to see through the mask.

images the indigo crew

Monday 21 September 2015


The other day I was having a conversation with two people who live in different parts of the country, and up until that moment hadn't met before. They were both parents of young children and we got to talking about meal times. Both of them said their children ate well - meaning that they were happy to eat a variety of foods and also finished meals without fuss.

When I asked them to explain how this came about they both had similar strategies. Quite simply, the children had to eat what was given to them. One of them said that no other options were provided. And the other went one step further and said his children only got dessert if they finished all of their dinner. All of it. And if they didn't eat their dinner, there was nothing else. It didn't matter if they didn't like what food was put in front of them. As a result, though, the children ate what the parents ate. There were no adaptations or special meals for the kids. And they had become good eaters.

Interestingly, in the first case, the parent fed her children (both under age four) in the bath. She felt it contained and focussed them. There was no moving away from the table or getting distracted.

Our meal times are somewhere in-between. Kind of. We always eat breakfast and dinner together as a family. Even if I'm going out for dinner with friends afterwards, I sit down at the table and eat a smaller version of dinner. (Dinner is usually served at about 5.30pm - any later and the children become tired and don't eat as well.) We find that the children are more focussed on sitting at the table and eating their food when at least one parent is sitting down with them. If we're both fussing around, restlessness increases.

We also wait until everyone is present and the food has been served until we start eating. We've gone through phases of having the food in large bowls and dishes on the table for the children to help themselves too. Generally, I prefer giving them a quantity of food as I feel that helping themselves can sometimes become a big performance and they're not as focussed on the food. However, I have read that allowing children to help themselves is a good way for them to self-monitor how much they need, and that sometimes we overfeed them. I remember Australian nutritionist Rosemary Stanton saying that getting children to help themselves engendered many good eating habits, and was a way to tackle childhood obesity. While that's not a concern for us - not now, and hopefully never - I can see benefits of this strategy when children are a little older.

Overall, the children eat fairly well. I didn't think this was always the case because when they were younger so many friends and other new mothers spoke of their babies and toddlers as being "good eaters". As time went on, I realised how selective many people are when they say these things. Often when people said this, and then when I observed their children eating food, I didn't come to the same conclusion. So much of parenting is about expectations, I find. 

Of course, our children all have different preferences. One loves meat but is not big on carbohydrate foods, such as pasta and rice, and doesn't like cheese or eggs. While the others will eat cheese and eggs but aren't big on meat. Generally, I don't serve them something they really don't like - but I do expect them to try new foods.

Because we eat together as a family, I don't cook separate meals. We all eat the same meal. Sometimes, if I feel like a chicken Caesar salad, for example, and I know they don't like the mayonnaise-based dressing, I will give them chicken with the salad components and also some pasta, but hold off on that for me. 

Other times when we go through a period of no one finishing their meals, and if I'm feeling frustrated by dinner-time I get a little more strict and insist that they have to finish dinner if they want to have any dessert. I am torn with this approach though because I was forced to eat all of the food in front of me when I was a child and I have vivid memories of sitting at the table chewing on food that I hated and not wanting to swallow it. I don't want to put them through that.

But I do want to raise good eaters. That is, children who are willing to try new dishes, eat a variety of meals and also have a healthy relationship with food.

Generally, dessert is a piece of fruit or natural yoghurt and a drizzle of honey with fruit. On occasion we have something home-baked. But, again, I always try to minimise the amount of sugar they consume (in general and just before bed-time).

Something that I have noticed is that even our fussiest eater has become much better over time. I think this is probably due to persistence on our part, and not forcing the issue with food. And as I was explaining to one of them over dinner tonight, it's my job as a parent to provide nutritional food. Just because one person doesn't like something, doesn't mean that everyone else should be deprived of a rainbow of vegetables, and a mix of foods. Which kind of comes back to one of the first points - for us, meals are about family time. The individual has to learn to become part of the whole.

So are your children "good eaters"? Do they eat a variety of foods and meals? Do they finish everything on their plate? What strategies do you use? What works? I would love to know any of your tips or tricks, and your views on providing dessert or other incentives to get your children to eat everything they are given. Thank you!

image the indigo crew

Friday 18 September 2015


I've made fruit crumbles for almost as long as I can remember. When I was still living in England, we had a rhubarb and gooseberry bush as well as apple trees (redcurrants and strawberries too), and so there was always something to hand for the filling during summer-time. And I can still remember the recipe that I used for the crumble from my home economic teacher.

Old-school crumble
8 oz flour
2 oz sugar
2 oz butter, chilled

However, times have changed since then and you can almost make a crumble out of anything. I've tried variations substituting the sugar with maple syrup and honey. I've swapped the flour for oats and almond meal, and even used olive oil instead of butter. 

This is the recipe I made the other day, and I have to say it tasted pretty delicious.

Fruit compote
1 bunch rhubarb, chopped
4 apples, peeled, cored and chopped

Crunchy crumble
3/4 cup plain flour
3/4 cup oats
1/4 cup coconut sugar
1/4 cup almonds 
50g butter, chilled and cubed

1. Pre-heat oven to 180-degrees. Prepare fruit and simmer over a medium heat until soft.
2. Mix dry ingredients and rub in cold butter until mixture resembles crumbs. 
3. Place fruit compote in oven-proof dish. Top with crumble and bake for about 25 minutes. Serve with ice cream or yoghurt.

image the indigo crew

Thursday 17 September 2015


When we can we try to plan our meals for the week. We find that this saves on time and money in the long run. It means that every day we already have a plan of action for what's going to happen come meal-time, and all the ingredients to hand. It also helps to prevent food wastage.

We try to cook according to the seasons. And we also try to provide as much of a balanced diet as possible - for every meal, and over the course of a week. That means seafood, at least once a week, as well as daily vegetables.

Sometimes, we find a menu that works well for the week - and fits in with everyone's various activities, and run that for several weeks. It doesn't feel too repetitious but it helps speed things up - both in terms of cooking (you're familiar with the recipe) and also you don't have to hunt out new recipes. A few meals might get tweaked if they weren't very popular, although we do encourage the children to eat the same food that we do. And we always eat together as a family.

I thought I would share our upcoming meal plan for the week - not because it's amazing, but it might give you some ideas. And in turn, I'd love to hear what you're cooking this coming week. Or what are some of your favourite weekday meals. You can never have too many ideas to hand when it comes to planning time! Thank you.

Thursday - Chicken and asparagus risotto
Friday - Mussel soup and crunchy potatoes (our take on frites)
Saturday - Quesadillas (see recipe below)
Sunday - Minestrone soup
Monday - Spaghetti marinara
Tuesday - Roast chicken and vegetable couscous salad
Wednesday - Pasta with pesto and broccoli (or whatever is left in the fridge ahead of the following week's delivery)

We often have these on a Saturday night so it's not a rush to make them. They're a big hit though - especially the beef filling for the children. My favourite is the spinach and feta.

Beef filling
500g beef mince
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 carrot, grated
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/3 cup beef stock
1 cup mozzarella cheese
Spray olive oil

1. Heat oil in non-stick saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring, for 1 to 2 minutes or until soft. Increase heat to high. Add mince. Cook, stirring with a wooden spoon to break up mince, for about 5 to 7 minutes, or until browned. Add garlic, cumin, carrot and tomato paste. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute or until fragrant.
2. Add stock and simmer for 3 to 5 minutes until mixture reduces and thickens slightly.
3. Preheat non-stick frying pan on medium. Spray with olive oil and place tortilla on pan. Spread about 1-2 tablespoons of mixture over tortilla and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Place another tortilla on top and spray with oil.
4. Once underside is cooked, place a plate on top to help flip the tortilla. Turn the pan upside down and slide uncooked side on the pan. Note: The pan gets hotter the longer you make them, so it speeds up the process and you have to get quicker at making them.
5. Slice into quarters or smaller and serve with a slice of lemon.

Spinach and feta filling
1 packet of frozen spinach
250g feta, chopped
1/4 cup mozzarella
1 tablespoon dill, chopped
1 egg, lightly whisked

1. Defrost spinach in a large bowl and add chopped feta, mozzarella and dill and mix together. Add egg and mix until combined.
2. Cook tortillas as above but replace beef filling with spinach and feta mixture. No extra mozzarella is required.

images the indigo crew

Wednesday 16 September 2015



There is something quite satisfying about watching a book enjoyed by two very different children. On the whole my son and daughter have been drawn towards quite different books. And that's not because I have put different ones in front of them. Everything that my son read, I have tried to read to my daughter. Of course, if she's not interested in something, I'm not going to push it.

But there are some books that she enjoys that my son loved - The Waterhole by Graeme Base is one of them.

It's primarily a book about counting. And both my children have enjoyed finding the animals within the illustrations - sometimes trickier than you might think. There are also lots of hidden animals too, which is my daughter's favourite part. Other clever features include the shrinking waterhole and that the animals relate to different continents from the world.

images the indigo crew 

Tuesday 15 September 2015


Another one of the craft projects for the four-year-old's recent-ish birthday was to create a ribbon shaker. The idea incorporates threading - or knot-tying, if they are up to that stage - and attaching a bell. It's super simple but a project that has proven popular. Every few days the preschooler picks up her shaker from her bedroom door and runs around the house dancing and singing while shaking the ribbons and bell. 

Again, before the party I cut all of the ribbon and had everything ready to go in a designated tray so that the activity could begin without too much fuss. Alternatively, you could get the children to select ribbon from reels, if you have plenty. We used some leftover Christmas ribbon for our project.

Hoop (we used bangles)
Twine or string

1. Cut ribbons and twine to required length. Thread through a hoop in a pattern of your choice. 
2. Attach bell and voila.

Monday 14 September 2015


The other day my two-year-old wanted to put her socks on before we headed out to a school fundraising event. I was dressed and waiting for her, handbag in hand. She insisted on putting the socks on herself, and so I waited. Just then she put them on her hands - which she used to do all the time about 12 months ago - and started waving them around. It was a cute moment and instantly I grabbed my phone and took a photo. She moved against the wall and did it again. While part of me was excited that I had a chance to capture this moment a little better, another part of me was saddened that she instinctively moved to a better spot.

I am not going to lie and say that I don't art direct family snaps a little - asking the children - or anyone else in shot! - to move slightly more one way or the other to get a better angle or crop out something not relevant or unsightly for the photo. (It's somewhat of an occupational hangover from working as an interiors and lifestyle stylist.) And while I also share photos on Instagram that are genuinely candid, I'm fairly confident that I'm not alone in playing the role of the art director for my own snaps. It's apparent that most people who post photos on social media art direct too.  

But what effect is our constant photographing and art directing having on our children?

After all, it has never been easier to photograph little ones. Many of us have phones within reach most of the time. And the quality of imagery has never been better. But does that mean that we should always be documenting their lives?

Are we placing too much focus on photography and creating a self-awareness... in looks, appearance and other outward expressions of self?

Are we asking our children to perform like child actors or chimpanzees?

And are we not living in the moment enough?

There are some tell-tale signs. Have you ever heard a child say, "let me see, let me see", after a photo was taken? Do they become transfixed with your phone? Perhaps a sign that you are using it too much anyway. Or does your child art direct you or others in photos?

All of these things have happened to me. And when they did, it made me wince. This is usually a sign that something is not quite right.

Self-awareness in moderation should not be something to worry about. It can be healthy, and important for a person interacting with others in society. But judging your worth based on a photo, or others' perception of you in that image can not be good.

And then there are other factors to keep in mind with our generation's rampant photo mania - including issues of downloading images, filing, archiving and printing.

I have tens of thousands of photos of my children and don't have a single album. It is something I am trying to rectify, but it's a lot quicker to take a photo than it is to get a hard copy of it. And that kills me a little too - that I have this mass archive of photos, but in its current state no one wants to look at them - including me! - because it's just too hard. 

Fewer photos but more printed would be a better scenario.

And something else that I have noticed - when I take lots of photos, I spend less time writing notes about my children. Over the years I have tried to keep journals - writing observations about them and their lives and developmental milestones. In some ways, I think this might be more interesting to them than tens of thousands of photos - because it expresses a feeling and a connection - rather than a momentary performance. Of course, sometimes a photo can do this as well - yet these snaps are the exception and not the rule.

And then there is the issue of parents being in photos. I don't take selfies with my children - I don't feel comfortable being so self-aware or, dare I say, self-involved - and I don't want them to feel this way either - but it does mean that there aren't many photos of myself, certainly not with them. I've made a little more of an effort this year, but it's never easy. And while there are only about three of these photos, I have a feeling that they might be the ones that the children cherish the most.

Generally, these photos have captured a special time - a wedding, a holiday or a Christmas celebration. These are true captures - they are not just about the smiling faces, but the occasion too - the memories. And even though every detail of that time isn't contained in that one photo, what's important is often recalled. I know that's true when looking through my own (single) childhood photo album.

Increasingly I am tucking my phone away, leaving it at the other end of the house, and trying to live in the moment and not just record it. I'm also more conscious of capturing special family moments - for all of us to enjoy. These types of photos are definitely not about increasing self-awareness, but rather placing importance on the beauty and sanctity of our unit and lives together.

Please share your thoughts on photographing children. Are we doing it too much? Are your children self-aware? Do you archive and/or print photos? And, if so, what system works best for you? Would love to hear about your experiences. Thank you!

image the indigo crew

Thursday 10 September 2015


For our recent four-year-old's birthday party we created (fairy) star wands as one of the activities. As usual, it was a joint effort. In the morning before all of the children arrived my son and his grandfather were cutting the stars for me from craft paper (using a star template that I keep in my craft box) and I assembled all the bits and pieces in a tin so that it was ready to use come party-time.

We had a few left over after the party and all of the children have made more wands, and adapted them to what materials they have been able to find.

This is a simple activity, but these are often the best as it's easy for little ones to make, and then there's lots of time for them to play with them afterwards.

Craft paper
Star template
Craft or lolly pop sticks
Tape - we used Washi tape as it's easy for little hands to tear
Feathers for decorations

1. Using a template, draw an outline of a star on a piece of craft paper. Cut out with scissors.
2. Tape star to the back of the star. Tape feather to the front. Adapt according to your craft supplies - you could decorate with stickers, attach a bell or several feathers on a piece of string.

images the indigo crew

Wednesday 9 September 2015


About a year ago I bought Lulu & Pip from Mamapapa in Avalon. At the time I knew the book was a little old for my daughter, who had only turned three. But it was unlike any other children's book I had seen, so couldn't resist and decided to hide it away until she was a little older.

It is a book illustrated through photography. Each image is thoughtfully styled with a carefree nature that celebrates the wonder of childhood.

The story follows Lulu and her doll Pip who leave the big and busy city to go on a camping adventure. They find a donkey, cook a hot dog on a fire and swim in the river, among other detours.

It is written by Nina Gruener based on photography by Stephanie Rausser. Pip is a handmade rag doll by American designer Jess Brown who creates a limited edition range from Petaluma in California. You can buy the dolls through the Jess Brown or retailers such as Mamapapa.

While my daughter doesn't have one of the dolls, or hasn't read the first book - Kiki & Coco in Paris - it didn't matter. When the time came to read the book together, she was hooked. A big part of that relates to the photography. It makes the story seem more real, and sometimes at night, she likes to sleep with the book and hold it all night.

images the indigo crew