How a Hoarder Lets Go of Beloved Objects

I’m all nostalgic and sentimental because I’m in the process of selling my babies’ cots; they are babies no more. Isn’t it funny how some objects seem to absorb and contain memories, and that we all react differently to the idea of objects and their stories?

Baby Room Stokke Cot Unisex Twins Calm Vintage

I’ve joked before that I’m a borderline hoarder. (The joke is that people around me think I’m well past the border!). I do struggle to let go of objects that seem special, and it perplexes my husband that it’s often someone elses history embedded in an object I choose to hoard.

Others that I know are not at all sentimental about objects, exactly, but they have gathered papers, notes and clippings throughout their lives, amounting to boxes and suitcases full. I’m not alone in wanting to hold onto baby items; I know mothers who still have every piece of clothing and baby toy, without any expectation of procreating again. They simply can’t let go.

Baby Twins Infant Nursery Vintage Decor Hand Made Style Home

These images are a reminder of a time when I hadn’t met my children; I was in the throes of nesting and nervous anticipation. I was attempting to create a calm haven for us all.

Baby Infant Decor Nursery Hand Made Home Vintage Twins Heico Lamp

In addition to the beloved cots you can see numerous vintage toys and decorations; bunting made by a lovely, clever friend; a fluttering mobile made from old doileys; Chinese papercut birds.

Baby Bedroom Vintage Trunk Style

I made provision for note-taking, plus lovely music, lots of story-books: plenty of gentle stimulation for babies.

Baby Bedroom Decor Vintage Doll Books Style

Of course now when I look at that couch I recall anxious time-keeping, attempts to nourish two babies at once (hilarious!), an enormous breast-feeding cushion and the seemingly relentless hum of an electric pump.

Baby Twins Bedroom Nursery Unisex Pastels Vintage Heico Bunny

Thus, objects can hold memories with mixed feelings. The early days of motherhood for me were often stressful and tense as I practically juggled two infants. (Perhaps “juggled” is not the right word, but it felt like that!) I also remember staring for hours at their pink faces, fascinated with their early movements and expressions.

Baby Twins Nursery Decor Infant Monitor Vintage Souvenir Sophie Giraffe

Of the objects in these photos, many have moved on and the only one I now cling to is the “Open” sign, below. It had been the sign my Dad used on the door of his business and he gave it to me simply because it featured two kittens. It was with great surprise that we met our fellows and realised they colour-matched the cats on the sign.

Baby Twins Decor Nursery Bedroom Vintage Pastels Change Table

Objects don’t really hold memories (and I’ve mentioned this before) but I certainly think those that do evoke history have more value, don’t you? So I seek out antique or hand-made, when I need to buy something… and I mourn just a little as I pass on the cots that remind me of when my boys were babies.

I may be sentimental and have a penchant for “vintage”, but I’m very grateful to live in the age of photography so I can revive my memories with a glance.

Baby Twin Nursery Vintage Pastels Heico Bunny Lamp

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Scandinavian Squishions

Home decor is riding a Scandi- inspired minimalism wave at the moment and I love it, even if I struggle to live it. But I still often find myself drawn to the bold, colourful, graphic version of Scandinavian style.

Scandi Squishions Cushions Marimekko Ikea Make Vintage

There are plenty of online resources that provide eye-candy of this northern European variety, but finding them usually means navigating the web in other languages!

I really love the work of Supertrooper Studio (check out this Melbourne collection) and Lotta Jensdotter (here are some of her ideas for projects with fabric scraps). Blogs that have caught my eye include Mamamekko, Anna Weinreich, Marsipan og Smilefjes and Dos Family. You will need google translate if you want to read the words but you might find the images are enough.

For take-home inspiration, check out the book list by Editions Paumes, which includes “Nordic Deco Ideas for Kids’ Rooms”. These are in Japanese but again, the pictures are so gorgeous, who is reading the words anyway?

Meanwhile, since my kids enjoy colour so much, to the point where they will argue over whose favourite colour is what, I decided to bring some of this brightness into our home. I also wanted to make beanbags for them but I didn’t want those hideous polystyrene beads. So I invented a squishy, pyramid-shaped lounging article, filled with futon stuffing, that I have called a “squishion”. Squishions are very easy to make.

I collected my equipment: various bright fabrics (including some Marimekko and Ikea scraps, to ensure I was channelling a little bit of Sweden and Finland into my design), ruler, chalk, scissors, thread, stuffing and my sewing machine — which is not a Husqvarna.

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Using the chalk, I marked a large triangle onto my biggest piece of fabric. I then used this as the template for all my other triangles. The size and shape of the original triangle will affect the finished product, of course, but I didn’t really fuss and I didn’t make a record of the dimensions. That’s one of the key things that makes this project really easy.

I used the colourful scraps to make 4 triangles of that same size, then I sewed the triangles together as shown below.

Scandinavian Style Cushions Make Tutorial How To Scandi

I stitched those two final edges together to complete the pyramid shape. Next, ensuring that the “right side” was up, I folded the points in towards the centre and pinned the edges together before sewing them in place. See the underside of a completed squishion, below, to see the effect that this creates. I made sure that I left an arm-sized hole in my seam so that I could stuff the squishion, before hand-sewing the gap shut.

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And voila! Two squishy cushions which my boys enjoy rolling, jumping and lolling upon.

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Although in all honesty, they have been most useful next to their (yes, Scandi) beds as a soft landing for those horrible moments in the night when they fall out… Which still happens quite a bit.

In the meantime I’m dreaming of one day visiting Northern Europe, where I’ll be happy to experience either the minimalist or maximalist version of their very stylish decor.

Scandi Family Style Cushions Make Pattern Retro Bright

An Outdoor Room

Outdoor Room Outside Autumn Porch Garden Rug Couch

The idea of an “outdoor room” has always appealled to me; a room where the outdoors can creep in just a little bit, or perhaps a slice of nature that contains some homely comforts. This little dream of mine usually features balmy weather, tropical fronds, aromatic blooms… and so it has seemed a bit out of reach for day to day life.

However, I decided to attempt one for the opposite conditions, using our front porch as a protected outside space which we can enjoy even in frosty weather. Because it has been increasingly clear that my energetic offspring couldn’t possibly be cooped up for the duration of the Hobart winter that is coming soon. (Tumbling and jumping, tricycling and ball-chasing are currently favourite activities).

When the cold and wet weather sets in, they are likely to be climbing the walls and running circles around me. Actually, literally.

Outdoor Room Outside Autumn Porch Garden Couch Child

Our outdoor room features lovely light; dappled as a result of the many trees that surround it.

Out Door Room Outside Autumn Porch Garden Rug Couch Play

I added some rugs for a cosy feel, but I suspect that the little bikes will prevail in the end and the rugs will be rolled away…

Outdoor Room Outside Autumn Porch Garden Rug Couch Read Books

We have enjoyed eating lunch out there, waving hello to the postie as he delivers the mail and waiting for the kids’ dad to come home.

Outdoor Room Outside Autumn Porch Garden Japanese Maple Tree

At the moment the autumn colours are delightful but soon many of our trees will be bare and it will feel like a different space indeed.

Outdoor Room Outside Autumn Porch Garden Mobile Shells

I hope our “outdoor room” is as inviting when the weather is chilly and damp and dark.

Outdoors Room Outside Autumn Fall Porch Garden Rug Couch Play Out Door

Cornishware, Cornwall and a Corny Love Letter to my Mum

Cornishware T G Green Blue White Stripes Salt Pepper

When I was a child, we used my mum’s blue and white striped bowls, plates and mugs daily. We didn’t know they were called “Cornishware”. We didn’t think much about where they came from, and certainly didn’t think they were very special.

My mum’s favourite colour is blue, so that would partly explain why that particular variety of crockery might have first appealed to her. I think the other explanation is that she loves daisies: picture a bunch of smiling daisies in a Cornishware teapot and you have captured the essence of my mother’s decorating aesthetic.

I wonder if my mum knows that Cornishware is not from Cornwall?

The story of how Thomas Goodwin Green grew up to become the TG Green stamp on the bottom of your plate contains rags-to-riches and romance. He was born in 1822 and apparently was a spontaneous, passionate fellow with a keen busines acumen. He made his fortune in colonial Australia (I couldn’t find more detail about this, sadly) but rushed back to England after a decade or two when he heard that his love still pined for him. Whilst honeymooning in Derbyshire, he befriended the elderly owner of a pottery business who was keen to sell up and retire.

Thus, his famous kitchen goods were produced in a tiny town in central England, not in the south-west corner. The crockery gained its evocative and highly marketable name because the colours are reminiscent of the blue sky and white-tipped waves in Cornwall.

(More details about the history of the blue and white stripes and the “King of Kilns”, including their link to Alice in Wonderland, can be found here and here).

The TG Green company went through a rough patch in the late twentieth century and eventually closed down. Around the same time, my mum started storing her blue and white stripes in a special cabinet for display only. Suddenly we all became aware that these once “everyday items” were actually very collectable and covetable.

And in the same way, my appreciation of my mother increases as time goes on. As I discover the trials and joys of motherhood for myself, I understand more and more just how precious and valuable my mother is. Unfortunately, as you can see, I am still hoplessly slow in demonstrating my affection at Mothers Day.

I love you mum, it’s in the mail!

(TG Green has been revived and rejuvenated: don’t tell my mum but you can even order personalised Cornishware gifts! Next year’s Mothers Day is totally sorted).

Chimney Visitors

Simple Christmas Tree Lava Pot Cypress Branch Fairy Lights

We’re a story-loving family so we have no qualms about sharing tales and building anticipation about a visit from mythical Santa Claus. Indeed, we know that anything could happen, because we had a guest who entered through the chimney a few weeks ago.

We had arrived home from Melbourne to find that the house had been ransacked. It was quite confronting and confusing, because the kitchen was the most disturbed and nothing seemed to be missing. (At first I thought our bedroom was in a shocking state, too, but then I realised that was how we had left it!)

The culprit, it became clear, was a possum who had fallen down the chimney and had a sort of “Goldilocks” experience in our house. It had eaten from the fruit bowl, slept in our beds (horrible, I know) and pooped absolutely everywhere. Poor thing had been stuck in our house for days, and we didn’t see any evidence of an exit but frankly we were too busy trying to deal with the mess and get the kids to bed and didn’t think much of it.

The last thing I said to my man before we finally crashed ourselves was: “wouldn’t it be funny, in a horror movie kind of way, if it were still in the house?”

Christmas Tree Santa Ninja Possum Chimney Intruder Inside House

Cut to: Bedroom, midnight, darkness. Scritchy scratchy noises, drowsy waking, he gets up to turn on the light and it is right there, in front of him. He yells and it shoots up, like a cartoon ninja, to cling to the door frame above.

And seriously folks, in this sort of situation: Who You Gonna Call? There is no Possum Emergency Line. It looks cute in the photo (pink nose!) but these guys are aggro and hissy when cornered and scared. They have really sharp claws. We didn’t know what to do.

So we were up for hours, devising plans, cutting off routes, negotiating, coaxing with dried fruit. Eventually we just went to sleep with the front door open and it was gone by morning.

Santa Claus? He’s welcome any time. Even if he does turn out to be real, I doubt he’ll poo in our house or sleep in our beds.

(Do you like our Christmas “tree”? It’s a branch of cypress that I found on the side of the road on a recent drive out of town).

Christmas Tree Cypress Branch German Pottery Vase String Lights

Great Walls

During a quick visit to Melbourne recently, I noticed some great walls. Worn, postered, stencilled, stickered, painted, decorated.

Melbourne Great Walls Portraits Street Art Northcote

Above and below: street art around Northcote; all sorts.

Melbourne Great Walls Street Art Stencil Painting High St Northcote

Below: remnants of the recent Día de Muertos festival — complete with gorgeous Frida doll — at Gleaners Inc in Brunswick, a charming shop run by a charming woman named Liz. It’s full of retro and arty clutter, my favourite!

Melbourne Great Walls Gleaners Inc Brunswick Shop

Below: layers and layers of posters outside the wonderful Obus, looking as though it is part of the shop design.

Melbourne Great Walls Obus Shop Head Office High Street Northcote

Melbourne Great Walls Street Art High Street Northcote

More fabulous sticky art around Northcote, above and below. It encourages you to keep your eyes open as you wander the streets.

Melbourne Great Walls Sticker Street Art Northcote

Below: a stripey display of MT tape and a pretty collection on a shelf at Save Yourself in Sparta Place, Brunswick. This place offered sweet service as well as cool products. (EG non-toxic nail polish brand, Kester Black; check out their inspiration page)

Melbourne Great Walls Save Yourself Sparta Place Brunswick Shop

And a shabby, peeling, beautiful wall in Joe’s Shoe Store (which is now a bar, but methinks the wall decor is courtesy of the original shoe-making Joe).

Melbourne Great Walls Joes Shoe Store Bar Peeling Paper High Street Northcote

Walls might not seem like a notable thing but let’s face it: if we have to look at them every day, they might as well be arresting, thought provoking and attractive.