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 gumtree.com 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).

Cot

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!

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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 pinkfrosting.com.au 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.

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)

How to juggle.

Ah, the to-doings in APFE-land!

Always one for a project, since spending September 2010 to August 2011 planning our wedding and the five week overseas honeymoon thereafter, I have returned home, gotten a promotion and started work in a new area in which I have no content knowledge, continued studying, applied for a home loan with all the hair-tearing that goes with it and … we bought a house!

So to add to my ongoing To Do list, I have been in the depths of organising the financials and settlement, planning for a month-long renovation on the new house, organising tenants for our current flat, and organising the actual move.

I believe this is called Gluttony (Punishment).

So how to get through all of this, whilst maintaining long and good quality hours at work? While I am lucky in that my daily work is often quite flexible and I can sometimes send emails or make phone calls, the work itself is very demanding and often fast-paced, meaning that any distractions are a serious problem. I just don’t have a lot of time to juggle.

I decided I needed to treat Operation Schloss Buzz like an actual project, and that meant project management. It was a bit of an organic process, as we asked for a 30 day settlement so had to get straight to work and didn’t necessarily think of everything we needed at once. At the outset, the timelines were:

28 January Buy house

29 February Settlement

31 March Move in

Eeep!

I’m not ashamed to admit that the night after we bought, I walked around the supermarket in a state of high tension (very unusual for me), while a kazillion thoughts of all the things we had to organise flashed in and out of my head as I tried to meditatively chant “bread, soy sauce, tomatoes and apples” over and over as though my shopping list was an oasis of organised calm.

The problem was there was nowhere for me to pour out my notes to self. In my head they are part of a swamp of half-formed ideas and forgotten lightbulb moments.

I needed to stop panicking, take a deep breath, and take care of business. And I needed to learn to juggle.

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There are three ‘timezones’ to our plan. Breaking the time into chunks helped me identify what needed to be done and when, and then track backwards from there to work out what needed attention first.

So February was all about forward planning: what did we need done? Who did we need to do it? When could we get them in to quote? What could we buy in advance? What did we need to research? What could we book in? I busied myself asking for referrals, organising for on-site visits, and purchasing whatever we could to avoid last-minute Bunnings raids.

March is all about the work: we are knocking out some fixtures including an old wardrobe and pelmets; sanding and repainting all the internal trims (skirting boards, architraves and window frames); painting the kitchen cabinets; installing new window treatments throughout; installing a new sink, dishwasher, cooktop, oven and bench tops; possible re-tile the splashvacks if the tiles are broken in installing the new appliances (please God let this happen; I don’t know if I can bear to live with gumnut theme tiles); changing the lighting and putting in new light fittings; replacing locks and window winders; fixing some broken glass and poorly done window putty; getting a built-in wardrobe in our bedroom; and having the floors sanded and polished.

All of the March work has been organised in advance: tradies booked, equipment bought, timelines thought out. The real purpose of February was to make March happen.

I have two weeks off in April (no, I can’t believe it either) and in that time I will: unpack and organise the house; paint the external window frames; paint the outside concrete; plant the front garden; and set up veggie and herbs pots in the back garden. In the coming months we will gut the bathroom and renovate it, and re-tile the wet areas (they’re a lovely lino at the moment. Tres chic).These things are lower order priorities – they don’t need to be done before we move in, and so I have therefore devoted minimal headspace to them. When the critical things are done, I’ll allow myself to imagine by bougainvillea-covered fence and palm-tree filled garden with more love and attention, but until then, the internal works get all my lovin’.

 

So how to stay on track? How to project manage this while chained to a desk ten hours a day?

Lists.

This isn’t my professional advice. It’s just what’s been working for me.

I have a terrible memory. I panic when I recall something that I haven’t registered somewhere, because I know I’ll forget about it again. So lists it is.

I have two master lists for the house stuff at the moment: to do before we move in, and to do after we move in. I have itemised every thing we’re doing, and recorded dates and actions. For example:

1. Electric. Peter booked for 3 March, $1200. Light fittings bought and delivered to house. Remember to deliver him keys night before – pop in letterbox (diarised),

2. Delivery of appliances booked for 4 March. They will ring one hour before. Don’t forget need ID to sign for delivery.

3. Windows. Paid 1/3 of cost. James booked for 31 March. Call one week before to confirm (diarised).

… and so on.

Sophisticated? No. Suitable to me right now and what I can manage? Yep.

You could project manage this in many different ways, and I’m sure that there are far more information-rich and more complex ways of managing it. If I weren’t in the midst of a high-pressure time at work right now I could even probably manage to do something more fancypants myself. But right now what I can manage is to look at my lists quickly throughout the day, add to them easily when something pops into my head, and know that everything I need is on the one list. So that’s what I’m doing.

And that’s how you juggle.

 

Sidenote: does anyone else remember Morph? I used to love him, and I must have been about 3. I was thrilled to find this picture.

Versatility.

I have written and lost this post twice now, so I can only assume that it is now pithier and wittier than ever before.

The lovely Lilian Harlow (go and read her blog right now – lilianharlow.com ) has tagged me as a Versatile Blogger, and as I love to talk about myself I am happy to play!

The idea is to share seven things about yourself. I love these getting to know you things; they tell so much more than just the facts – what you think of as important to you is just as telling as the details.

ONE
I spent some of my very early childhood in Northern India, and I think that this had ongoing repercussions throughout my life. The rest of my childhood was immersed in the art and mythology of Hinduism and Tibetan Buddhism (not in a hippie, let’s-all-hold-hands-together way but in a seriously academic way), and I learnt how many people are obliged to live through no fault of their own; how lucky I am; and how it is my duty to defend people who can’t do it for themselves and to pursue their rights to the same resources that I have.

TWO
I am vegan, which means that I do not eat, wear or use anything made from, with or by animal products. I was vegetarian from the age of 9 1/2 (January 1990) until I had a Road to Damascus moment in September 2007 and ditched the lot. I am very aware that I am often the only vegan at people know, so it is critical that I present a rational and reasonable voice, or people will continue to believe the very worst stereotypes of us (my husband had these too before we met). I am more than happy to discuss it with anyone but am seriously too bored to engage people who want to tell me that plants have feelings too.

THREE
I am scared of slipping and falling. Heights are fine, but you can’t get me up a spiral staircase for love nor money (well you can if it’s in an old castle and it’s a matter of historical education, but otherwise it will be accompanied by swearing, fast breathing, and terse commands to get out of my bloody way).

FOUR
I met my husband on a night out when both us had almost gone home already. We had a conversation that just zinged, and I told my friend before our first date that I was going to marry him. I didn’t tell him this for a long time in case I looked like a psycho stalker! The highest compliment I can pay him is that when I am with him it’s like being alone – not because he’s a non-entity! – but because when I am with him I am wholly and completely myself. This is his greatest gift to me and I hope he feels the same.

FIVE
I am a grub. I am incapable of maintaining pristine clothes, and for this reason I know I will never be able to wear white jeans. I have a theory that there are some people who no matter what they are wearing or what state they’re in always look pulled together and neat, and some people who even when dressed in haute couture would manage to look a bit haphazard. I am definitely in the latter category and may in fact be Queen of the Slightly Crumpled People. This may be one reason why I am so keen on having my physical environment organized and sorted, as I have more control over that than the mysterious stains that seem magnetically attracted to my body!

SIX
I love Tom Jones and I have very cheesy taste in music.

SEVEN
On to this organising caper. I always thought that everyone had an inbuilt ability to organise, but it has taken me a long time to realize that it doesn’t come easily to some people, or they are simply too busy to prioritize it. I love to create storage and systems that are simple and allow people to just use them so that their environment supports them in the really important stuff – life and living.

To me, organising is logic; it is creative; it is psychology; it is concrete; it is conceptual; it is helping people by working with them; it is building order out of chaos and it is allowing people live their lives in an environment that helps rather than hinders them. My goal in the next few years is to build A Place For Everything into a full-time business, and I am so excited to start working with people, build on my skills, and do some serious decluttering!

I am meant to pass on this award to up to fifteen people, but as I am not a regular commenter on blogs I am afraid that many bloggers will think “Who on earth is this strange person and why does she want to know things about me?”. Instead I will tag a couple and also issue a general invitation to anyone to participate if they also want to talk about themselves!

I tag:

Sass of Sassiest ( sassiest.wordpress.com ), because I can’t wait to have another Eldridge Estate with her once Sweetpea arrives;

Mez of Domestic Divinity ( domesticdivinity.blogspot.com ), in recognition of her admirable search for the perfect turquoise necklace; and

Sian of Miss Kitty Cat Goes To Town ( miss kitty-catgoestotown.blogspot.com ), for having the most gorgeous baby shower cake.

Here are the rules:

-Thank the award-giver and link back to them in your post.
-Tell your readers 7 things about yourself.
-Give this award to up to 15 recently discovered bloggers.
-Contact those bloggers and tell them the exciting news!

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A Little Ray of Sunshine (in my cutlery drawer).

Ooooh! Buzz and I received a very gorgeous, exciting and cheerful wedding present today from one of my beautiful bridesmaids. I am just thrilled to bits by them!

My lovely set! Sorry about the iPhone quality pics, but check out that rainbow!

Bumblebees.

Sassiest wrote a very interesting piece on the provenance of the Laguiole style of knifemaking, and as a history buff I was intrigued by the detail and attention to quality inherent in this artisan craft. However, as a bone handle and a hearty steak knife aren’t top of my personal cutlery priority list, I know I will just be shivering with excitement to use these colourful darlings! How could you not open the cutlery drawer and feel just a little bit cheerier than you did before you soaked up these rays of sunshine.

 

A more profesh shot.

 

Look at that rainbow!

 

Now I'm just uploading these for fun.

Thank you, thank you, my gorgeous Jose. May there be lunches and picnics and tea parties and long boozy dinners with these lovelies, all with you, for many years to come.