Thursday, October 31, 2013


Last weekend I discovered a local horticulturalist who propagates the most beautiful succulents. I brought a basket-load home with me and planted them into little terracotta pots that now surround a mala-wearing Ganesha at our front door. Ganesha is the hindu elephant god; a "remover of obstacles" he is usually placed at the entrance of homes and temples. 

I've been bringing more green into the home, appreciating the colour and the life it creates. A pot of thyme is thriving on the dining room table (and isn't at the mercy of caterpillars) and succulents are decorating the mantle and the kitchen windowsill. Considerably cheaper and much longer-lasting than a bunch of flowers; a potted herb or succulent really does make a great hand-made gift. 

A few succulents I adore, from left to right:
  • lady grey - rosettes of glaucous grey-green leaves with a reddish-purple hue if exposed, it grows upright spikes of pink star flowers
  • window plant - rosettes of green fleshy-pointed leaves featuring small white/violet bell-shaped flowers on a 30cm stem
  • fairy's washboard - freeform leaves with offsets forming a large clump. Leaves have built-in solar collectors in green fleshy foliage
  • limelight - waxy rosettes of lime green leaves
  • golden sun cup - delightful, compact succulent renowned for decorative foliage
If you're considering nature as a gift for Christmas but need to send it in the mail, no need to think of an alternative; Sow 'n Sow have a gorgeous range of seed packets that come with an envelope - ready for snail mail. Following Monday's post regarding Christmas presents for kids, I've added a few simple, practical (genius!) items to the list including a sticky tape dispenser - thanks, Jody! I think the number one practical yet much-loved item/toy in our home is an apple corer - particularly useful in autumn when I'm stewing fruit.  

I can't believe it's Friday afternoon - where did the week go? If you're in the mood for reading over the weekend there's a feature on me in mylookbook magazine that's hints at some changes I'm planning around these parts. And elsewhere? I really enjoyed these posts from some of my favourite bloggers:

Feel free to add a link to one of your favourite reads from the week...

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

bali | compound

A traditional 1930s Balinese compound; home to one family, three generations. It was a privilege to walk inside the stone walls and observe everyday life there, an experience I won't forget anytime soon. 

I expected poverty but I was completely surprised by the beauty. This is the very essence of simple living; a wood fire oven, cast-iron pans, enamel plates, wooden spoons, a water well, stone walls, thatched roofing, bamboo details, succulents in tin pots. 

The earthy aesthetic so evident here can also be seen across hundreds of pinterest pages as designers and stylists and home lovers are inspired by muted hues and natural materials. Completely ironic, don't you think? We're all running back to a simpler 1930s Ubud, Bali.

We brought home a sweet-sounding wooden flute carved by this kind gentleman. His smile was so big and genuine, his parting "namaste" was from his heart space. 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

fifteen | practicing simplicity

Living a less-distracted life : pay attention to the toys your children actually play with.

It's a pertinent topic considering we're only eight weeks out from Christmas and it's been on my mind constantly. 

I made a point of observing the children at play when we returned from Bali. We had spent a month with hardly any toys (Poet had a doll and a ball, Che had a lego truck and some playing cards) and not once did they pine for the things they had left at home. When we walked in the door Che went straight to his lego box (no surprise there) and Poet moved between her sandpit and picture playhouse. Since then, nothing much has changed (except for the addition and subsequent disappearance of the caterpillars). It's pretty obvious that my children have a lot of toys that they don't play with and whilst they may be beautiful, they don't serve any necessary purpose; they just sit dormant in a box. It's time for another good clear out and subsequent evaluation of the things that we are bringing in (no use decluttering if we're just going to fill the void with something new). 

I've always stuck by my golden rule when it comes to gifts but this year things are a little different. Firstly, my children don't need anything. They're pretty sorted in the wearing department, too. Which leaves a want, a read (I've just found this for Poet) and perhaps a few stocking fillers. I'm also more inclined to put some money in their bank accounts in lieu of too many gifts (the grandparents are liking this idea, too). Every Tuesday Che and Poet line up at the school canteen to deposit some money into their accounts. We're slowly introducing them to the idea of pocket money, savings and spendings. I figure if on birthdays and at Christmas we can gift them some money to boost the savings it's going to help out when they ask for a drum kit, ipad (we're holding off for as long as possible) or other such big ticket item. 

So: you do have a choice in the matter; you can keep it simple. 

How are you approaching Christmas this year? Do your children have savings accounts? Dare I ask, how much do you spend on Christmas? Last Christmas I overheard a woman telling her friend that she had a small budget of $1500 per child!!!!!

Saturday, October 26, 2013


"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2013."

Che: there was only one ice-block left so we hid in the garden and he savoured every. last. bite.
Poet: Perched on a step stool, this will always be her spot at the table.

A few months ago I was asked to write a piece about motherhood for papier mache magazine. The current issue features my story and I thought I'd share it here with you. No doubt you'll understand my sentiments. 

Child Nostalgia

There's a common saying amongst mothers, first coined by writer Gretchen Rubin in her book The Happiness Project: “The days are long, but the years are short.” Indeed, our days of mothering babies and young children can be tiring and messy; a cycle of washing, settling, cleaning and playing. Sometimes they’re monotonous and seemingly endless. But then, without so much as a blink, the sleepless nights and mornings at the park are over, and we’re sending our children off to school, hesitantly cutting the metaphorical cord once again.

I regarded 2012 as The Year Before My First-born Went to School. We were holidaying in the country when the New Year rang in, living in an old school house with heavy doors, panelled windows and musical floorboards. On New Years Day, Che, my four-year-old, scraped his toe whilst running barefoot outside. He came into the house, perched himself on a chair, and asked for a band-aid. He was adamant that he was going to fix it all by himself so I stood back, stayed silent, and took a photo. It became the first of 52 portraits - one for every week in 2012. 

I set about taking my children’s portraits as a way of documenting their fleeting childhood. I wanted tangible evidence of their growth and expansion; an honest account of their young, innocent lives. I took photos of Che sitting hesitantly on the side of the pool, hiding from the camera; his shadow an eerie replica, the twiddling of his toes - a family trait. Poet was all round and soft in her first photo and as the year progressed I watched her limbs grow longer, her face more defined, her independence evolve. There are photos of her inquisitive eyes, her cheeky demeanor, and her top-knot; an unportrait of sorts that I’d probably nominate as my favourite. 

As 2012 came to a close I had 104 portraits - a story of Che and Poet’s year. Imbued in each image is my story too; a tale of motherhood with all its exhaustion, frustration, joy and palpable, immeasurable love. It’s a documentation of ordinary days that I wanted to remember because they were beautiful - an odd collection of singular moments that would have otherwise gone unnoticed amidst the general busyness of life. Even when the days were too long to enjoy I can see, in retrospect, that they were a blessing. 

Beyond the story of this portrait collection lies a strange reality; I look through it and experience a profound sense of nostalgia for my children’s younger selves. I already miss them! I miss them with a longing that only a mother’s heart knows; it’s deep and raw and acts as a beautiful reminder: to stop, observe and document. 

I’m still taking their photos - once a week, every week, in 2013. 


I was so taken by these portraits (and the big sky) that it took me a while to realise that it's a park on a beach! Dream come true / all alight in the river - so very beautiful / it's all in the eyes and these siblings look so alike / three Js and three very different personalities / and finally, a portrait that candidly captures the deep, indescribable joy of family. Welcome, Milinh

Thursday, October 24, 2013


I took lots of photos this week and edited even more. These are some of my favourites......

/ we loved sleeping under mosquito nets in Bali and I've been thinking about hanging one above Poet's bed. For a little girl who doesn't need anything and doesn't want for much, I think it may be the ideal Christmas present.

/ beads, tassels and bangles in a copper bowl. I'm pretty sure this little collection will be worn all summer long.

/ I've flicked through the latest Nature Baby catalogue a few times now and I keep coming back to this page - look at all those mini terracotta pots! Nothing better than a lush, green herb looking happily at home in terracotta. Sometime this weekend I plan to visit my favourite local nurseries and stock up on some garden supplies. Fingers crossed they stock pots this small (doubt it, though).

/ Popa's garden - lovingly tended to but oh so dry. Upon returning from the tropics it's the one thing that shocked us; nature at its most dry and brittle. Our state has been experiencing the very worst kind of bushfires and hundreds of homes have been lost. Summer is so early and it makes me feel uneasy.

/ on our last day in Bali and the last time she saw her beloved yellow ball (no room in the suitcase for it). 

I hope you have a lovely weekend. If you're in the mood for blog reading I really enjoyed these posts:

work and play (the sunshine coast)
vegan fried rice with sugar-snap peas and chilli
fresh start
possum magic

I'll be back on Sunday with 43/52 (the countdown is on!) and next week I'll be sharing a few posts, including scenes from a birth centre in Bali.

Before you click away....tuck your tailbone under, lift from your tailbone into the crown of your head to lengthen your spine, roll your shoulders back and down and subtly lift your heart space. Exhale.

Carry on.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

max, ochre + art

"In 2011 Fliss and Hal packed up all their belongings, rented out their Queenslander and moved their young family to Bali. They stayed there for a year and found a small, ethical production house to manufacture their design and clothing brand, Udder. It was an experience that has, on every level, changed their lives. Upon returning to the Sunshine Coast Hinterland and their beloved family home, they have imbued the interior with a distinct Indonesian aesthetic. The children's rooms are living, breathing reminders of their travels where the practical elements of childhood blend effortlessly with art installations and handmade toys."

I had the pleasure of writing about Max, Ochre and Art's rooms for the latest issue of Little One Kids magazine (in newsagents now!). Fliss has a innate ability to create beauty in the home (and the garden) and for the past year she has been working on the kid's rooms - creating unique and organic spaces. She doesn't follow a plan nor does she set out to create a theme; instead she adds items as she finds them - the rooms are ever-changing. "I ask the children if they like things here or here, I listen to their ideas and then I mix in my own and from there it evolves," she says.

I really appreciate Fliss' intention to create authentic and comfortable rooms for her children. As she mentioned to me during our interview: "It's essential that they have their own personal space for them to be. To be quiet, noisy, to dance, play, create, dress-up." 


I gave Che's room a good spring clean on the weekend and together we arranged his beloved possessions and planned to buy some picture ledges to use as book shelves. On Monday afternoon he added a new item - a tissue box with ten caterpillars (they were eating my herbs), a few sprigs of green and a folded tissue for a pillow. The next morning he woke to find that his "new pets" had gone crawlabout. He found one in his school shoe, I found two more later in the day. The others? I have no idea. 

Monday, October 21, 2013

bali | rice

The gap between rich and poor in Bali is a big and blatantly obvious one. Staying in a luxurious resort is a lovely experience but it comes with a definite sense of unease - the haves and have nots are impossible to ignore. And let's face it; luxurious hotels and children aren't the best fit and don't make for a relaxing holiday. But villas that offer space, comfort and no breakables? Ideal.

For ten nights of our trip we stayed in a villa that sat on the edge of the rice fields. Built from Ironwood and traditional pegged joints (termite and water resistant and said to last around 100 years) the design was simple; open and airy. The thatched roof added beautiful detail and furniture was built-in and minimal - there was no clutter. The villa was basic; inspired by the concept of wabi-sabi, it was one of ten built on land owned by the local rice farming community. All the staff members (cooks, gardeners, maintenance, admin) were born on the street and continue to live in stone compounds with their families. Each day we had the opportunity to chat with these people and soak in their smiling attitude. We watched the farmers as they worked; tending the fields, rounding up the ducks, flying kites to scare swallows and placing offerings on the land.  

For ten days it felt like we were engaging with and supporting the locals. We felt like we were living amongst them instead of above them. It was an enriching experience and it's one we'll seek the next time we head overseas. 

How do you like to travel?

fourteen | practicing simplicity

Embrace creative progress, let go of perfectionism.

It's so hard for me to admit but it's been one of the most profound lessons I've learnt this year:  perfectionism may enhance my professional life but it most definitely hinders my everyday life. 

It's difficult to let go of idealist ways if they are ingrained in your very being. But I've come to realise that I no longer have a choice; I can either lower my standards or spend most days annoyed and disappointed at the state of my home, my lack of free time, my inability to create the scene that I envisage in my head. 

So I've done just that; I've stopped trying to get to the bottom of the washing pile, I've accepted that our walls need a paint but it's not going to get done any time soon, and I've realised that toys on the floor and books on the stairs is not mess, it's just evidence that children live here. 

My creative self? I can strive for perfectionism there and I do; with words and photos I seek to capture and document beauty (truth and beauty). I wholeheartedly believe that creativity is essential to a mother's sanity because creative projects have definite beginnings and endings. A finished project can't be undone; it's proof of time, energy and artistic expression. But creative endeavours are only realised by making them a priority and so I've begun to do just that. I'm also approaching blog reading with a little more clarity because I know that beside every beautifully designed room is a pile of stuff that sits just outside the frame (hint, hint). 

So: prioritise creativity -  it's good for you and your happiness. 

Saturday, October 19, 2013


"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2013."

Che: tantrum under the doona (on washing day). 
Poet: her hair is getting wilder and knottier - I have no idea what to do with it.

That number up there can only mean one thing - there's 10 weeks till the New Year. Only 10 more photos and you and I will both have a beautiful documentation of the year. I suppose the question is: are you planning on doing it again next year?


A big welcome to the gorgeous Tallow, a "pillar of strength" for her parents / Milina's shots of the everyday are inspiring in their simplicity. See? - normality is beautiful / autumn, sunshine and giggly children - Kirsty's glorious days / oh! a portrait shadow / moody blues and greys and two sweet little ones

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

bali | street

I found Bali completely overwhelming for the first week of our trip. We walked the precarious footpaths of Ubud most days, stopping for fresh juice every now and then. In the past five years this once quiet town has attracted thousands of tourists; many with a mala around the neck and a yoga mat under the arm. It's the Byron Bay of Bali without the beach; rice paddies and jungle in lieu of gums and ocean. 

So what was so overwhelming? Well, it's easy to forget that Bali is rather third world. It is a land of contrast - you're in the luxury of a resort one minute and the next you're standing on a street with gaping holes in the footpath, burning rubbish beside you and motorbikes carrying a shop load of goods. It was this glorious contrast that I learnt to love; the energy of a busy town and the comfort of knowing the the quiet and the peace of the rice paddies was only minutes away. 

For that first week, as I attempted to settle into the pace, I used my camera to document the beauty, the busy and the spirit. Imagine all these scenes shrouded by the exhaust of a hundred scooters and the fine haze of incense. The soundtrack is a loud and passionate one; laughing, beeping, "Taxi?!" 

If I had of visited Bali for a week I wouldn't have returned. But a month? We're already planning another (longer!) trip. 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

thirteen | practicing simplicity

paper-like marigolds; delightful decoration

Living a less-distracted life: when you live out of a suitcase for a month, without the distraction of work, homelife, school and to-dos, you soon realise that your simple life is actually quite complicated.

When all your belongings fit into one bag and you don't have anywhere to be but here, and now, you get to know yourself quite well. And sometimes, the things you discover aren't all that pleasant, especially when you realise that for the good part of a year you have been worrying, unnecessarily so. 

I definitely inherited the worrying gene but this year, as my workload has increased and our life has become busier, I have become rather anxious. It's easy to dismiss it when there's a good excuse at hand but when I was sitting in a villa on the edge of a ricefield, nowhere to be and nothing to do, I was all out of excuses. It was just me, my anxiety and the admission that it was something I needed to deal with. 

Whilst mulling over the causes and effects of everyday worrying I had the opportunity to observe life in a small village just south of Ubud. The locals live in simple stone compounds with the most basic of belongings. They work hard, but happily, and their days are punctuated by ritual and ceremony in keeping with their strong Hindu faith. They laugh and they smile and time is not something they adhere to. In Bali, there is no rush. Ever.

As I watched and contemplated I realised: Bali lacks convenience but life is rarely complicated. My life, at home, is all ease; I don't need to sweep dust out of my two-room dirt-floor home, I don't have to wash my clothes by hand and I don't need to carry buckets of cement on my head to feed my family. At home, everything is convenient yet the day-to-day is rarely simple. My diary is brimming, deadlines are the norm and I (along with so many others) am racing against the clock and the calendar.

               I am still moving to a Bali rhythm; slowly and with little urgency. The things that bothered me before I left don't seem that big or important anymore. Spending time away from home definitely offered me a good dose of perspective and I've returned with a new set of priorities. 

So: identify the complications in your life and ask yourself - are they necessary and are they worth the worry?

Saturday, October 12, 2013


"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2013."

Che: afternoon siesta with his beloved Dad
Poet: renaissance girl (in her printebebe smock that was an absolute godsend when the sun and mosquitoes were out).

After a month in Bali we are home...sweet home. We flew into Sydney early Friday morning and walked in the door just before lunch, blessed to have travelled safe and made lasting memories. I took, quite literally, thousands of photos and I look forward to scrolling through them all, gathering stories and sharing them with you. 

And by the way, I appreciate that you're still visiting me here, what with my relatively non-existent blogging form over the last while. Enjoy your Sunday (next week I'll be back to posting my favourite portraits) x

Monday, October 7, 2013

bali | wearing

For the past three-and-a-half weeks I have lived in the same five outfits - simple pieces with the right amount of just-pulled-from-the-suitcase crease. Light cotton has been a necessity; to keep me cool and to cover up in sacred places where modesty is appreciated. Lilya were kind enough to gift me a few pieces from their spring range and the kantor top (available in tangerine and white) has become my firm travel favourite. I wore it on the plane with comfy pants and a scarf, I've worn it tucked into high-waisted skirts, with shorts and over swimmers. 

Other essentials? My St Christopher's medal, the Patron Saint of Travel (my Nan placed this delicate gold chain around my neck when I left England for Australia when I was two), my beloved raffia hat, sunglasses (from a little market stand) and my vintage leather bag found at the op shop over 10 years ago; it carries passports, suncream, papaya ointment and my camera. 

Saturday, October 5, 2013


"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2013."

Che: waiting patiently for his favourite Bali drink - strawberry juice! 
Poet: she has taken full advantage of no carseats and prefers to travel with the window down, waving at kids on scooters. 

I have so many more photos to share from our travels and whilst I have had long stretches of free time I haven't wanted to be online. I knew before I left home that I needed a good break from the laptop; time away from blog world was a necessity. We return home in a week and I plan to ease slowly back into normality, imbuing home and life with a little (or a lot) of what we've learnt here.