Tuesday, 18 December 2012

'tis the season

For dancing around the living room to Christmas songs, enhanced by the faint crackle of spinning vinyl. For homemade Christmas decorations and crafts and a house covered in a fine film of glitter. For taking Lila to the department store to choose this years Christmas day dress (for Rose, there is an elf outfit...we couldn't resist. I promise you can choose a dress or an outfit next year too little one). For eager anticipation of what the days advent envelope will bring. For the Christmas books, brought out to be enjoyed and pored over for another December. For baking Christmas cookies this week for our kind neighbours. For holding loved ones tightly and being thankful for it, all of it.


Friday, 7 December 2012

wishlist // the Christmas edition

Santa, if you happen to be reading...


A subscription to The Simple Things magazine // Really enjoying this new-ish UK magazine, the strapline of which is 'Embrace a Simpler Life', which is a concept I am always harping on about. I suppose I could download the online versions on the ipad but I really like to be able to have my favourite publications in paper form. Somehow the experience of reading them is just so much more satisfying that way. And I just like things that I can hold, and collect... and clutter up our home with :) 

Boxes of Madagascan Vanilla and Strawberries and Cream loose leaf tea by T2 // This Australian tea company produces a seriously epic range of teas. I was never massively into tea until I came over here (and there's no way I can ever replace my morning coffee) but these are seriously good. There's something about the age-old ritual of tea making and drinking that is very appealing and comforting.

Peter Pan Print by Emily McDowell // I love this so much, both the typography and design and the sentiment (the last thing Peter Pan ever said to Wendy before she grew up). Every time I see it I get a lump in my throat...yes, as pathetic as it sounds, it's the truth.

Hanging Planter by Farrah Sit // Made from porcelain with a leather strap, this is just downright rad and would look excellent in our lounge where I've got a collection of succulents on the go (they seem to be impossible to kill which is a bonus). I fancy something a bit more trailing and ivy-like which would be great in this vessel. 

Marshmallow Bathing Elixir by MOR // Now we are finally living somewhere with a bath I've hit a glitch in that I can't seem to find anywhere that sells nice luxurious bath essence, bubble bath for grownups if you will. It seems to be mysteriously lacking from Australian shelves. Except Radox, which is fine, but not really what I had in mind. Some intensive searching has however revealed this, which sounds heavenly.

Rope and Mesh Necklace by The Vamoose // A perfect summertime accessory to throw on with a plain tee and a pair of denim shorts, with just a touch of the nautical about it. From one of my all-time favourite jewellery labels, anything in fact from The Vamoose would make me very happy indeed. 

Things I Love by Megan Morton // I'm a fan of her first interiors book- Home Love, and this one appears to be just as covetable (I had a sneaky flick through in a fancy book store). I was so keen to go to her recent interior styling workshop when she was in Melbourne but we had just bought the house and there wasn't enough dollars in the coffers to make it happen. Next time I hope :)

I'm also pretty keen for a lovely retro style bicyle with a child seat for Rose and a new surfboard but sceptical that either of them will emerge from my stocking this year....but there's no harm in putting it out there in case Santa is feeling really generous. Or on the off chance Fairy Godmothers really do exist!

Monday, 3 December 2012

getting lost

In a book that is. It's one of my favourite things to do, and thankfully my little ones seem to feel the same way. Heaven knows they didn't get the reading bug from their dear father who has never picked up a book to read for pleasure in all the years I've known him...though credit where it's due, he dutifully reads aloud to Lila every night before he tucks her in so maybe we can still convert him yet. On our weekly library visit, we always come home laden down with armfuls of new selections to add to our already heaving book shelf. Funny thing is, until I had children I never used my local library. However over the past few years, every time we've moved somewhere new, one of the very first things I've done is to seek out our nearest one and join it. We often go along to the storytimes and aside from all the childrens books, I also come back with plenty of books, magazines and dvds for myself.

I'm still trying to figure out Lila's criteria when it comes to choosing books, as she likes to mix it up with some pretty random choices but I admire her commitment to being interested in anything and everything. She is equally drawn to stories about knights and dragons as she is those princesses and fairies. Which is just as well, as there are only so many stories about fairy princesses a person can read aloud without wanting to bang their head against a brick wall. When it come to childrens picture books, I am first and foremost drawn to the ones with beautiful illustrations, every time. If they also have a slightly unusual or inspiring story or subject matter then I love them even more. Here are some recent discoveries that have become big hits around here.

All Through the Year by Jane Godwin & Anna Walker
Precious Little by Julie Hunt, Sue Moss & Gaye Chapman
Cinnamon Baby by Nicola Winstanley & Janice Nadeau
Little Blue by Gaye Chapman

During the past month, Lila has actually made the big step to having a chapter from a book read out to her at bedtime, rather than just a story from a picture book. We have begun with The Enchanted Wood by Enid Blyton (the first book in the Faraway Tree series). This was one of the first books I ever read and I may have been a little obsessed with it. I have been beyond excited for her to be ready for this, mainly so I get to re-read all of my old favourites again, and of course in the hope she may love them too. I've already started gathering together copies of all the childhood classics I adored. Although we are nowhere near ready to retire the picture books yet, here's to a new chapter.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

happenings at home

We're settling into our new home nicely, still moving around posessions, pondering colour schemes and decor ideas and aquiring bits of furniture here and there. Mostly from a series of wonderful antiques markets we discovered in our nearest big town, a few local op (charity/thrift) shops and also on Gumtree- where we were lucky enough to score a free lovely timber, provinvial style bed for the spare room. I just need to mention here that you have no idea how unreal/amazing it feels to me to actually say the words "our" and "spare bedroom" in the same sentence. Decorating on a budget is always a challenge but I'm loving it, actually just loving being able to knock nails in walls without panicking about having to fill them all one day when we move out.

Having an actual garden, well a large-ish patch of grass to be precise, is still a huge novelty and my mind is ticking over with ambitious plans involving rose and lavender bushes, trailing vines and trellices. I had to acquaint myself with the gardening section of the library as soon I stopped daydreaming for long enough to realise I don't actually know anything about garden design, or even in fact gardening. However, the veggie patch is already underway which the children are beyond thrilled about and no doubt my mother, the master gardener, will be happy to help when she and my Dad fly over for an eagerly anticipated visit at the end of December. The only thing bothering me is a memory of my teenage self declaring to my parents that I would never, ever, seriously never be interested in gardening as it was the most boring thing on Earth. This can only mean I am now officially old.

Here are a few pictures of home and things happening in it of late...

1 //  A display of straw hats hanging on our bedroom wall. We've (ha! what I really mean is 'I') decided to go with a travel / beachy / Morrocan style vibe for the room.

2 //  New findings from beach combing adventures to add to our collection of random curios.

3 //  My new book, dipping into it whenever I get a spare minute to myself.

4 //  New necklace creations ready for sale at my stall at the craft market next month. Eeek. Starting to get a bit nervous about having enough stock and whether anyone will actually buy any of them. The entire dining table is now taken over with bead production.

5 //  Preparations for the home made advent calendar I am creating for the girls. Each day in December they will discover a festive item or details of something we will do that day. Somedays it will be a little sweet treat (a candy cane or chocolate coin), sometimes a treasure (a little decoration for the tree or book), alternatively a festive activity (watching The Snowman, listening to Christmas songs, baking and decorating Christmas cookies), or a big event (choosing the Christmas tree or going to a carol concert).

I'm still figuring out the logistics of how all this will actually be packaged up and made to look pretty but it's fun and I'm feeling fairly excited and in the festive spirit already. Well, as festive as it is possible to get in a country where it is likely to be averaging 27 degrees celcius on Christmas day.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

fairy doors [a magical childhood]

When I first found out I was going to be a mother, I was so unsure about a thousand different things. Of course the big questions along the lines of...will I actually make a good parent? Can I effectively raise a little human being? The more selfish...will my life change for ever and will I have to stop doing everything I love? (Yes, but in a good way and no, you just learn to be more flexible). And of course the more mundane but crucial...how the heck will I know how to change a nappy or know what to to when the baby cries? Despite all this, one thing I was sure about right from the very beginning was that I wanted my to try my very best to give my children a magical childhood.

For them to spent hours at the bottom of the garden with magnifying glasses looking for faires. When they lose a sock to smile a secret smile in the knowledge that a Borrower is using it for a far more important purpose. To make tiny nests and leave out offerings of nuts and seeds for the wood sprites during the cold winter months. I freely admit that I believed in Father Christmas far past the age that most children had found out or been told the horrible truth and stubbornly refused to listen to anyone that tried to persuade me otherwise. The sooty footprints by the fireplace, the carrots the reindeer had chewed, the mince pie crumbs and drained glass of sherry and the cards he sometimes left us were soild, unshakeable proof to me.With our treasured twenty pence piece in exchange for a tooth, my sister and I would recieve tiny letters from the tooth fairy written on scaps of paper the size of postage stamps.

When I saw the tutorial for making these fairy doors I knew it was something that would have to be done here. I immediately set to looking on ebay for dolls house doors and tiny accessories. Rose is still a little young to understand but old enough to be intruiged and Lila, whose mind is already filled with elves, fairies and magical wonderlands will be absolutely thrilled to see the evidence that we are indeed not alone.

For full instructions, click over to Kate's Creative Space. A blog I have newly discovered by a lady that is equally committed to creating a magical childhood and a beautiful crafty life. If you pop on over I guarantee you will spend an hour of two caught up in all her wonderful projects and inspiring home. Her wonderful advent calendar is also on my to do list for this coming week (athough there are two shop bought back ups stashed away in the pantry as the days until the first of December are already flying past at a pretty frightening pace).

Images from Kates Creative Space.

Monday, 29 October 2012

what our days look like

Here are some of my recent instagram pictures of the everyday goings on around here lately. @fayelarsen if you want to follow.

1 // Blanket forts are always the best place to eat morning snacks.

2 // Kitted out to help with some gardening chores.

3 // Now she is old enough to sit through a full film she can stay up a bit later for a movie night with us every now and then. We just borrowed Lemony Snicket's An Unfortunate Series of Events from the library for our next one. Pretty excited about that.

4 // Nothing better than a pyjama morning dance party to get the day started.

5 // When you have a house full of post-move empty cardboard boxes the obvious solution is to make a house with them (this one had four rooms, a front and back door and a back yard and required about a roll of packing tape to secure it).

6 // This weekend we took the girls to a fair at the kindergarten Lila will be starting next year. This involved pony rides, a bouncy castle and a stick of candy floss (or fairy floss as they call it here). I finally caved after saying no every other time she's come across it. Once it was in her hands it was barely around long enough to snap this shot.

7 // Rose has decided she is far too grown up for her high chair and now throws a strop unless she can dine at a table like the rest of us.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

cricket court

Cricket Court is the quirky, bohemian country estate of British fashion designer Alice Temperley- complete with two pet llamas no less. Located in Somerset, in close proximity to the cider farm which is her childhood home, this is where she escapes the big city to spend weekends with her husband and their young son Fox. 

The whimsical interior emphasizes the houses' classic period features and reflects her love of all things British whilst also incorporating ornate ethnic elements and influences from her world travels. I love the fact that this home has so much character and reflects the personalities and passions of its occupants so charmingly. There's nothing better than a home which tells a story. Oh and of course the elevated free standing Victorian bath which is the centre piece of the master bedroom had me at hello.


Via Vanity Fair. Photographs by Francois Halard.

Thursday, 18 October 2012


I wonder if it's possible to grow roots that anchor you to a place? Seeds that were sown long ago. Maybe your childhood tears that once fell into the soil. Maybe your beads of sweat that germinated and grew as you toiled over a project on the lawn. Roots that carry on getting longer. An invisible, unbreakable tether that will continue grow with you wherever you go but ensure that you are always connected. That you always belong there. Ties that you are unaware of until much later on. 

At the farm the air always feels purer and fresher, more invigorating. The second after I close the heavy wooden farmhouse door behind me I take a deep breath to inhale the smell of home. I've often wondered if it's the washing powder my mother uses, maybe the smell of the antique furniture or the overalls, wellies and outdoor clothes in the boot room.

I've concluded it is unidentifiable. None of and yet all of these things combined. Unchanging as the years pass, comforting and unique. The morning chorus of the birds here sounds more melodic than anything I've ever heard on the radio. The familiar cold tiles beneath my bare feet as I cross the still kitchen in the early morning to put the kettle on and make breakfast.

It's both the past and the future, full of memories but also a place to conjure up dreams not yet realised. The people who inhabit it, their familiar routines and the way things are always done. The way they know you so well you don't need to explain or say anything at all if you don't feel like talking. Here it doesn't matter if there's a recession or even a war on. It's home and it's safe and I wish it could be like this forever. 


It was so good to be back even for such a brief visit. I wish it wasn't so many, many unfathomable miles away but maybe that is what makes it all the sweeter when I return.

Now we are back in Australia, newly moved in to our new home, all ours this time. It's time to put down some roots for our own little family. But know it will never replace my other home, now I just have two of them.

Monday, 27 August 2012

on the radar

I'm working my way through an endless pile of laundry, making frantic lists and packing in preparation for our holiday. We fly to South Africa on Saturday and there seems so much to be done before then. Travelling with kids (especially for a three week trip) just requires such an enormous amount of planning and stuff. We spoke to Curt's parents on Skype last night and there has been something of a heat wave in Durban the past few days so looks like we should be in for some sun. Maybe even in the UK too if I'm lucky :) It's exciting to dig out all my summer clothes again after being jeans and knitwear clad for the past few months of the Australian winter. I've got to get back to the grindstone but here are some things that have caught my eye over the past few days...

I've always been an advocate of the 'no regrets' school of thought, so I am seriously coveting one of these awesome posters by Sarah & Bendrix (pictured above) to adorn the walls of of new home. Avaliable here from their Etsy shop. Translation from French to English: No, I regret nothing.

This one below is awfully romantic too...

I can't get enough of this lady's effortless, laid back style of late. Love.

The work of Australian artist Belinda Fox is magical and mesmerising. If I was to start seriously investing in an art collection, I can't think of a better place to start. See more on her website.

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