Alice’s nursery

I can finally show the other ‘project’ I’ve been tinkering away on! I couldn’t share any pictures of Alice’s nursery before she came along because we had some special items that we couldn’t put out to finish it off until she arrived – those items being pink! We found out that our Bunny was a girl at the 20 week scan, but chose not to tell anybody that we found out. We just wanted to keep a little something about our baby to ourselves which I’m glad we did, but it did complicate some things! Apologies to all those we lied to … it wasn’t easy!

Here is her door …

Welcome to Alice's room!

Welcome to Alice’s room!

I bought the Beatrix Potter letters from Peter’s of Kensington and then mounted them to a canvas … well actually Buzz was in charge of the gluing and I directed. This is the extent of my crafting ability!

Room layout

Alice’s Expedit. On the top are a set of prints from Etsy that were the very first things I bought from her nursery, along with some special items including the Steiff bear that my sister brought her back from Hamley’s in London and the measuring tape used to measure and record her statistics straight after birth. Above the Expedit are some Martha Stewart paper chains from her baby shower.

I love a good Exedit!

The Expedit contains a lot of my own baby toys and books, as well as the lovely gifts we have received for her. I keep her blankets in a storage cube (and I do not recommend these horrible plastic ones from IKEA – they are a nightmare to assemble and caused a few injuries in the process!).

Some special items:

Top row, second cube from left: Alice’s Daddy chose this print on our honeymoon in San Francisco from an artist at a street festival. At the same time I chose a print of a little girl with dark hair and blue eyes, and when I bought it I told Buzz that this was our daughter. It disappeared when we moved house, making way for the real little girl to arrive. In front of that print is a modern Beatrix Potter book given to me by my aunt called “Rabbit Organises Everything”: too perfect!

Second top row: Books! The most wonderful things in the world. I thoroughly believe that children should be swamped in books. So many of my own are here, and new editions that I’ve bought for her: Anatole the Mouse, Ricki Ticki Tembo, Edward Ardizzone books, Peepo, Madeline.

Alice's Expedit

On the top of the Expedit is my childhood print of the Snow Queen, which fascinated me no end with its ethereal queen and her gossamer dress; a little shoe I wore ; Alice’s birth card; and an owl which is too pretty to be a doorstop as intended (I stalked PoK for months until they got this owl back in stock).

On top of the Expedit

On the other side are the most special of my toys. On top are my teddies: Big Ted, a handmade bear; my number one Ted, given to me by my grandma when I was born; and Little Ted, an antique with glass eyes who my Dad bought for me at an antiques fair at the Camberwell Civic Centre when I must have been about five. In the cube underneath are my Humty, Ollyfump (bought by my Dad before I was born), and Yangzom, a doll given to me by His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s sister, Jetsun Pema-la, when we were in India when I was 2. I named her after my ‘Tibetan mother’.

My bears

Here is the reading corner, with my grandma’s TV chair re-upholstered and re-sprung. I love the fabric and even more love how a piece of furniture that I associate so strongly with her has been given a brand new dose of love and will be used by her great-granddaughter. On the floor next to the chair is Barkly, my wooden dog, who has been dragged around hither and thither. Penny the Penguin sits on the side table, bought by us in Sorrento while on holiday.

Our reading chair

Above the reading chair are decals chosen by Alice’s Daddy from 41 Orchard (does anyone else look at a lot of nursery decals and feel a bit sick at the overload of princessy-ness or, in the more hipster stores, owls?), and a print from Etsy (framed in a Target frame – bargain!). I love the sentiment.

Print from Etsy

Alice’s Boori cot was given to us by our ex-neighbour, so is well-loved and teeth-marked but still sturdy! Her pram (a Bugaboo Cameleon that we bought from in as-new condition for 2/3 of the price- score!) is also parked in here (the blanky in it is from here – I totally adore these florals).


Above the cot are decorations that reflect the same on the other side. The other half of the decal perches above the cot, and an Etsy print with matching font in the same frame heads the bed. The fishy mobile is mine from when I was a child and I love the glassy tinkle it makes in the breeze.

Print from Etsy

Alice won’t use her cot until she’s bigger, so until then it houses some toys including a big bear dressed in a footy jumper that was hand-knitted by Buzz’s aunt in the same pattern she knitted for him when he was born (and yes, I have allowed her to barrack for Daddy’s team), a giraffe from Buzz’s parents, and a bunny from my work colleagues. The teal and white chevron blanket was also knitted by Buzz’s aunt and is just gorgeous. The multi-coloured chevron minky is also from Etsy. The ‘Love’ cushion was handmade for me many years ago by my dear friend Zoe, whose latest venture, Beetle Bug Sleepwear, is utterly adorable handmade children’s sleepwear.

Special toys and bedding

The Boori changetable was a real find on eBay, in almost brand new condition and I was the only bidder. I stalked eBay for weeks waiting for the right thing that wasn’t going to go for a bomb. Who knew furniture that is designed to have babies poo on it would be so expensive?!

The tallboy was a Boori second (a couple of tiny dents!) and holds most of her clothes. The rest are in the cupboard just peeking in in the corner of the picture. A small library of books on birth and parenting are waiting for me to read them … or not.

Tallboy and change table

Over the changetable are Martha Stewart lanterns from the baby shower, and a print (Etsy again) that we displayed at our wedding with lyrics from The Pixies’ classic “La La Love You”. We sing this to each other – sometimes seriously but mostly tongue in cheek!

We also have displayed a little book called “I Like You” which is a poem by Sandol Stoddard Warburg, an excerpt of which was read by my friends during our wedding ceremony. A wedding photo and a beautiful framed print given to us by friends are also on display.

Lanterns over the change table

Naturally Alice couldn’t care less about any of this. Her world at the moment is cuddles, boobies and sleeping, which is all she is meant to do. When she is bigger I want her room to be her own space where she can learn to control her environment, explore whatever she wants, feel safe and have lots and lots of things to do. As much as I have loved making a room full of my memories and lovely things, I want it to become full of her own memories and things she likes. I just hope she keeps it a little bit clean!


Baby shower, bits and bobs.

baby shower day at 34+1 weeks. Bunny’s bassinet will live in our room.

Such a lot has happened and yet so little. I’m now almost 36 weeks pregnant, in my first week of maternity leave, and am still completely unable to accept that there is a real baby in that tummy. Surely you go in to labour to prove that you really want a child, and then after a while the midwives just bring in a baby and say “Here’s one we prepared earlier – you can have this one”?

Baby shower day – with the re-covered chair. Last time I’ll be wearing heels for a while too!

I feel like little has happened because I’ve spent the last few months slowly marking small things off lists, none of them amazingly important but all of them necessary. A good example is the photo above – was it worth reporting that I had my grandma’s chair re-covered (v happy btw), bought and built and Expedit, and framed some prints? Not really, but each activity required research, reconnoissance,  a number of visits and at least some swearing. It took time and energy but each was really a bit boring. Together, however, they all add up to something a bit prettier.

The photo above was taken just before my baby shower, which was generously hosted by my sister and sister-in-law. It was a just lovely afternoon with lots of friends and family, champagne (a little less for me) and afternoon tea – a chance to have some girl time and chats before I am swamped with nappies and various bodily expulsions (from Bunny, natch).

The afternoon tea set up.

This is the afternoon tea table above (taken from a poor angle!). You can see some of the lanterns I used (I placed myself in charge of decorations so I could re-use them in the nursery!) – I chose three styles from and also used some gorgeous Martha Stewart paper chains (all pictures from Pink Frosting):

Pink polka dot lantern.

Blue butterfly lantern.

Sweet Lucy lantern (love this one).

Martha Stewart paper chains.

All of these will find new life in Bunny’s bedroom – I can occasionally be thrifty!

And here’s a better view of the tea table – instant diabetes.

The little flags, cupcake tower and table runner were also from Pink Frosting.

It was a real treat to just mingle, chat, catch up and spend time with so many dear people. It was the perfect way to mark the beginning of a new phase of life, even if I was mortified to learn that my belly measured 122cm in girth! There were also some amusing names mooted in the ‘guess the arrival date/weight/sex/name’ game – should I be concerned that ‘Bruce’ was mentioned twice?!

People were also wonderfully thoughtful and generous with gifts for Bunny (and some for me too!) – the thank you cards are on their way! It was very touching to receive such special things and the Bunny is a lucky baby indeed.

So the next few weeks … anything from 1 to 5 weeks and that’s it! I’m so close to term and will try to enjoy and rest during this quite strange holiday. I am powering through my To Do list while I have the energy, while keeping my (swollen) feet elevated.

The Laguiole silliness continues.

Last year I wrote about my sunshiney Laguiole-style cutlery, and had a very interesting conversation with reader Christine about the naming, provenance and trademark issues surrounding the Laguiole flatware heritage. It appeared that the ‘original’ Forge de Laguiole was never trademarked, and every other branded Laguiole-style flatware such as Jean Dubost at one end and Debutante at the other was a bit of a knock-off regardless of differences in quality.

Annnnnnyway … I saw this article yesterday (I hesitate to add that I do not habitually read the Herald-Scum; I saw it in Mx which is a much high quality publication ROTFLMAO hahaha) and the upshot is that apparently everything labelled Laguiole has been trademarked and it’s all even more confusing and silly than we imagined.

Key points include:

  • “Under the terms of the brand’s registration, anyone can use the name Laguiole for knives …”.
  • “The court ruled that … Laguiole knives had become a generic product not necessarily linked to a particular place.”

I am just going to keep buying flatware that I like the look of seeing as it’s all dubious anyway!


From the Herald-Sun:

French village renounces knife name

by: Emmy Varley

From: AAP

September 30, 2012 2:49PM


RESIDENTS of Laguiole, a village synonymous with the manufacture of France’s most famous knives, have symbolically “unnamed” the place in protest against losing control of the name.

The villagers are furious that the name Laguiole has passed into the hands of an entrepreneur who allows it to be used to sell made-in-China knives and barbecues.

To the cheers of about 200 locals, mayor Vincent Alazard pulled down a sign at the entrance to the village in the Aveyron region of southwestern France.

“Our name no longer belongs to us, so what do you want us to do with this sign?” the mayor asked the assembled protesters. “We are going to take it to Paris and give it to those who have taken it away from us.”

The village this month lost a legal battle to reclaim rights to the name from businessman Gilbert Szajner, who registered Laguiole as a trademark in 1993 and has since licensed its use for products including clothes, table and bed linen, lighters and barbecues, as well as the cutlery which originally made its name.

Under the terms of the brand’s registration, anyone can use the name Laguiole for knives but the villagers would have to pay Szajner if they want to diversify and produce any other products under that name.

“The word Laguiole has been kidnapped, it has been stolen from us,” said Michel Bras, owner of the village’s Michelin three-star restaurant.

“It is very easy to ride on the backs of people who made sacrifices, who made the most of what little they had, to establish the name of this area.

“These people have been swindled by someone who does not know the place.”

The local council attempted unsuccessfully to persuade a Paris court to annul the trademark registered by Szajner on the grounds that his use of it could confuse consumers about the origin of products.

The court ruled that the name of the village was not sufficiently well known to constitute a de facto marque and that Laguiole knives had become a generic product not necessarily linked to a particular place.

An appeal is being planned.

Meanwhile, local officials hope to persuade the government to pass a law protecting village names and to create a wine-style system of labelling manufactured products by their origin.

Update: Operation Pick-Me-Up

Update on the weekend’s purchases made under Operation Pick-Me-Up:

1. The Grown face wash is lovely and looks very nice indeed on the vanity. I’ve been using it to rinse my face in the morning, which is about as much effort as I can muster. Only the tiniest bit is required – the frothing action is commendable given the lack of Sodium Laureth Sulphate (or is it Lauryl?). Verdict: Win.

2. The A’kin facial scrub is a bit weird – it smells as funny as ‘jojo and corn’ would suggest and the actual exfoliant bits are few and far between. I’ve been using it as a face wash/makeup remover in the shower, which is most convenient. However it isn’t making me feel spesh as I’m too busy concentrating on its odd smell. I’ll use it up then replace it with something from Sukin I think. Verdict: Fail.

3. The L’Oreal EverSleek conditioner and serum are the business. I haven’t had a single morning of my usual ’80s rockstar perm gone wrong’ hair since I’ve been using it. The ‘do is still quite frightful first thing, but nowhere near as laughable. Verdict: Win.

4. I don’t think I mentioned buying this, but I finally remembered to get a barrel brush for blow-drying my hair. I gave it a go on Sunday and I think it’s my technique rather than the brush that’s at fault. – I’m really a GHD girl. Verdict: More Practice Required; Still Under Review.

5. The Chanel sunnies are winners-plus, even though I’ve been scrounging for opportunities to put them on in this weather. I am really pleased with their sun-shading abilities, face-comfort, and general feeling of swishness. Verdict: Mega Win.

So did the shopping make me feel like I had the energy to spend a bit more time on myself? I think so. I still haven’t mani-pedi-ed, cleaned my jewellery or gone for a walk, but I have made an appointment at the hairdresser, remembered to shave my legs before seeing my musculo-skeletal therapist, have returned to using eyeliner, and all-around Saturday was a hugely productive day* and that in and of itself makes me feel pretty darn good.

Shopping FTW.


* ALL of our moving boxes are now unpacked; our bookshelves are securely in situ and have books on them; the nursery has made great progress with a pretty display Expedit and only one thing being stored in there; everything that belongs in the study is now in the study; I folded and put away two weeks of washing; and as mentioned we are now returned to a state of modesty in our bathroom with the installation of a blind)

Pottering on Etsy.

One of the ways to while away the winter months whilst with child … apart from indulging in alliteration … is to shop for one’s unborn child.

I’ve found Etsy to be one of the most satisfying sites for beautiful yet usually impractical baby stuff.  Seeing as we don’t know whether the Bunny will be of the innie or outie variety, I am browsing universally. Here are some current favourites.

Nursery stuff:

We’re not going overboard but we are tending towards yellow as a unifying colour in the nursery (inspired by these) as it’s bright and cheery, and can be added to in pinks and blues as the occasion requires.

I am eyeing off some new cushions for a reading chair in the corner.

This one is very Sass-like but I am not enabling her at all. Hands off!

And I’m also considering this set as I appear to have over-neutralled my living room.

Girl stuff:

Too much candy pink makes me want to join the Riot Grrrls, but I do love a bit of prettiness.

I think that this was originally Napoleon’s comment on China, but seeing as I’d expect little less of my girls it’s apt.

Boy stuff:

Much as a lot of girly things seem saturated in sugar’n’spice and sickliness, a lot of boyish stuff seems to be all about tanks, soldiers, and breaking things. Dinosaurs, cars and sailboats are up there too. I don’t really love any of it so am struggling to find more masculine babywear that wouldn’t have him all bloked up from birth.

And of course the stupidly tacky but fun:

For a little Mo Bro.

So I guess we’ll see what the stork brings. I’m having fun pottering around in the nursery in the meantime, and will happily fill in the next 16 weeks or so filling it with sturdy, educational and beautiful things I want my child to be surrounded by.

The Narrowest Bath In The World

Oh Friday night. Couch, puppies, TV, husband, home-made garlic bread. 

This week has been a revelation in feeling well. I didn’t realise just how much I was struggling and that almost all of it was due to having a virus (and I have the impaired liver function to prove it). Now that I am almost better I just feel like I am ‘normal’ again – they say this is the golden trimester and I can now appreciate that, instead of experiencing unnatural exhaustion, out-of-the-blue spew alerts, and various other weird and nasty symptoms (heart palpitations, dizzy spells and hot flushes. Sounds like menopause).

Our bathroom renovation started this week (no more showering in thongs!), and naturally the first drama occurred on Day Two, morning. I had forgotten to amend our order for an S-trap toilet to a P-trap. Could we get one on site today? Uhhh … I’m at work. A few phone calls and all was resolved – we can do a swapsie with our supplier on Saturday. Easy peasy.



I expect that my finished bathroom will look something like this.

Day Two, afternoon. The shower-bath we bought off the specs in a brochure, which looked exactly like our old one, is narrow at shower end. Very narrow. Freakishly narrow. The builder, his dad and their plumber have never seen one so narrow. It looks nothing like the spec drawing. We should look at it before they frame it up. Really, we should. And if we want to change it, it’ll probably be about $2000 to move the plumbing that the plumber had spent all day putting in.    

And what happened next is what happens when Things Just Work. My builder identified two alternate options to replace The Narrowest Bath In The World, and the timeline on Day Three, morning, went like this:

  • 8:10am: Call Supplier 1 re Bath 1 (recommended by builder). None in stock. Doesn’t refer to supplier. 
  • 8:15: Call Supplier 2 re Bath 2 (which we wanted anyway). No Supplier 2 branches keep it in stock, but there’s one at the warehouse in Dandenong he can have at his store by 11am tomorrow. Purchase over phone. 
  • 8:20: Advise builder. Builder asks if we can get it in today to prevent further delays and cancellation costs.
  • 8:25: call Supplier 2. They have someone at the warehouse right now and can have it at their store by 10:30am. Advise builder of same.  
  • 8:30: Supplier 2 calls and asks if we want it delivered to home as they’re going past anyway. Yes please. Advise builder not to bother collecting it. 
  • 8:35: Builder asks if Supplier 2 can advise when they leave warehouse so builder can arrive on site. 
  • 8:40: Call Supplier 2. Driver has just left warehouse. 
  • 9:30: delivery of Bath 2 to home, within 90 minutes of first calling Supplier 2. 
  • 10:00: send customer compliment to Supplier 2.

I can take credit for some of this – making decisions quickly, sourcing baths with the keen scent of a scavenger – but most of it goes to Supplier 2, who was friendly, professional and went out of the way to help me. We’re still stuck with $2000 of extra, unexpected costs, but that is far far better than living with a shower base that was, quite literally, only as wide as the length of my husband’s foot where you were meant to stand under the shower. I’ve also negotiated a return of The Narrowest Bath In The World with the shop that sold it to us, and they were, to their credit, excellent about the whole thing. And I’m also grateful to my builder for stopping to think that we should really check out The Narrowest Bath In The World before he built it in. We’ve ended up with a bath that will suit our needs over the coming years much better, and I can’t wait to get to use it. 

There’s no real lesson here; just to be clear, realistic and nice when dealing with people who you want to help you out. 


Extreme Makeover, Home Edition

Alongside all the other things we’ve been doing (work, growing a baby), we’ve been quietly plugging away at the work we needed to do on the house. We moved in not quite 8 weeks ago (which feels like forever), and had 4 weeks before that working evenings and weekends as well. We’re pretty chuffed with our efforts so far.

We were totes like this.

We have:

  • Painted the front entrance cement surface and bought some pretty plants
  • Sanded (three times) all the skirting boards, architraves and door frames – this involved sanding back five layers of paint that had never been sanded before
  • Painted (mostly three times, but less where there is still work to do) the same
  • Chiseled the paint (again five layers) off the steel window frames and painted them three times
  • Replaced broken window panes, including puttying in new glass (this was meant to take thirty minutes with our friend, a glazier, and took three visits over a week)
  • Touched up paint where said painting went outside the lines
  • Painted the front door
  • Replaced all the door handles and locks
  • Installed downlights and new light fittings
  • Sanded all the floors
  • Replaced the kitchen benchtop
  • Replaced the oven, cooktop and dishwasher
  • Replaced the kitchen sink and tapware
  • Moved the pantry
  • Painted the kitchen doors and cabinets and replaced the knobs
  • Re-tiled the kitchen splashbacks (still some siliconing and grout sealing to go, and we need to install a new window sill)
  • Installed plantation shutters and Venetian blinds on ever window
  • Painted the mantelpiece
  • Built a walk-in wardrobe in the master bedroom
  • Painted the inside of the only hall cupboard, which hadn’t been painted since its first and only ever coat
  • Had a quote to landscape the front mudpatch – hopefully by the end of the year
  • About to mount the dryer on the laundry wall
  • Had two Ombudsman complaints about the gas supply … resolved after my terrier-like efforts

Not bad. I got far less done in my two weeks off than I planned, as most of it was spent on the couch with nausea and fatigue, but I’m still incredulous that a place that feels so much like home has actually been home for less than two months.

We’re also well underway in planning our bathroom reno, which makes me so happy I could cry. I’m not sure that the tenants before ever de-moulded it; it is so revolting that I wear thongs in the shower. Not tres chic.

We’ve found a lovely builder and have chosen these fittings:

This Felino vanity will be in reverse colours – white base with a dark stoney looking top. Can’t wait to have two basins!

Methven ‘Ovalo’ – love this range.

Shower/bath diverter.

Bath spout.

They’ll go with textured mocha floor tiles, white-ish wall tiles, and greeny glass feature tiles. We’re also installing a three doored mirrored medicine cabinet for desperately-needed space, and a half sized bath with the shower overhead. Not being bath people, but requiring a tub for small people and animals, we were very happy with the smaller one we had at our last house and went for the same this time. The floor tiles will continue through the laundry and toilet area (which is currently covered with a lovely set of green, white and black lino tiles) and a new toilet will be forthcoming if one can be found that will match our old plumbing.

After the bathroom project, the list is:

  • Install bookshelves in the living room
  • Waterproof garage
  • Move boxes from spare rooms to garage
  • Set up second bedroom/study
  • Insulate roof
  • Decorate nursery
  • Install dog door that won’t let the cats out
  • A bit of pottering in the garden. It’s currently bare and bogan, but is really the last of our priorities, especially in winter.

Can I do it all before the baby comes, in approximately 26 weeks?

You betcha.