Wednesday, 29 August 2007

PS: Redeemed

This morning I got it all right.

Breakfast: grapes, Cheerios, banana (sans monkey – Curious George, and the TV, stayed off)
A long talk about Pooh, Piglet, Tigger and grapes.
Then three stories – I Like It When and two renditions of How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight
Then a good play-doh session with the Dora play-doh stamper.
Then we got dressed without crying or throwing ourselves on the floor (bothof us).
Then off to start the business part of the day!

So much better than yesterday. Yay me, if I do say so myself.


Tuesday, 28 August 2007

Multiple choice

Which of the following, from Tuesday alone, makes me an iffy mama:

a) forgetting to read Berry any books at all today (even the PBS Kids ad says "read at least 15 minutes per day". Ohhh.)
b) letting her watch Curious George before breakfast
c) letting her watch half of the same Curious George episode after breakfast
d) daycare
e) buying Berry a Winnie-the-Pooh plate on impulse at Walgreens, because she went "Aawwwwhh! Pooooooh!" and it was only a dollar
f) not buying Berry an Elmo Activity Set and causing her to wail "Nooooo! Oh noooo! Melmo! Peeeese!" around and around and around Michaels while we finished shopping. ("Why wouldn't you spend six dollars on her! Why not!" Nathan asked. I don't think the six dollars was the point...)
g) giving up on getting the full dose of antibiotics into her after three catastrophic attempts, two pink-stained shirts and a week's worth of tears
h) all of the above
i) none of the above
j) some of the above – now lie awake agonising over it to figure out which ones.

Why thank you. I think I'll do just that.

Maybe today was just a dodgy-mothering kind of day. Tomorrow is a new day. I'll get out some very educational children's books for the morning. And I'll hide the remote.



Splash of colour for the rainy day we're having here: an Etsy treasury called Mod Madness by modsandminis, with my Bella Figura Birthday Thrills card at top left.

The Vespa girl kind of got her head out of frame, but you get the picture...


Sunday, 26 August 2007

Getting better

After five weeks and two follow-up clinic visits, the cough still wouldn't go away. It was waking Berry (and me) up at three every morning for long bouts of coughing and misery.

So we went back to the doctor, again, and this time the testing gave same answers. Berry's initial illness, which she so generously shared with us more than a month ago, turned out to be adenovirus, a particularly vicious type renowned for creating complications. The unstoppable coughing was part of an atypical pneumonia secondary to the adenovirus, and all that was nicely topped off with a bad sinus infection – also a complication of adenovirus.

Adenovirus is now my public enemy #1.

Several hours, several traumas* and a substantial subscription list later, we were done with the hospital. That was a few days ago and she's doing much better. It's good to know she's on the mend, and not contagious... and to have some peace at night!

[*Apart from her daddy, Berry does not like doctors at all. But she does quite like going to the hospital, because she gets to see her daddy and persuade him to do drawings and share his stethoscope. All good things.]

Friday, 24 August 2007

Sleighbells in summer...

In the world of cards, it's never too early for Christmas.

Rephrase: for highly-organised card-givers, it's never too early to buy Christmas cards. I've heard of people who are already addressing their envelopes (yes, in August).
So... drumroll please... for all the highly organised types, I present the first-ever Christmas/holiday cards in the Bella Figura collection. Festive and fun, guaranteed to brighten even the chilliest December – and available on Etsy now (yes, in August).

Oddly, despite my card-and-stationery-obsession, I'm not a highly organised Christmas card giver myself. I'm more "ruh-roh, is it November already?" My excuse is that I'm too busy making cards for other people to be early with my own. You don't have that excuse.

More holiday designs and Christmas card sets coming soon!

Wednesday, 22 August 2007

"Before" (Part 2)

You've seen the studio empty and full of promise – now here it is, full of boxes, functioning (very basically) and ready for its own Extreme Makeover.

We're working like crazy to get it perfectly organised for maximum creativity and efficiency – two of my favourite things – and of course it needs to be pretty.

I'll have "After" pictures in a few days!

Tuesday, 21 August 2007

Child labor laws: testing, testing...

Did I say that Berry would be relaxing this weekend? Shame on me! She found so much work to do, she hardly sat still for a minute.

Long-lost toys to unpack...

Dresser drawers to work on...

Walls to tape off...

Something important involving a screwdriver...

This much work is enough to drive a girl to drink. (Well, milk.)

Saturday, 18 August 2007

Great Big Weekend

All systems go – Grandpa's back in town and that's when all the work really happens.

Grandpa knows how to Do Stuff, how to Fix Things, and is one of the most capable people I've ever met. With his super powers we're hoping to knock over the last couple of "unfinished" rooms in the new house.

Berry's room needs paint and is currently home to a very neat, very tall tower of still-taped boxes. My studio is functioning, but it's nowhere near the way I want it. It also needs paint, and is home to another very neat, very tall tower of boxes.

But all that's about to change. Berry will be the only one relaxing this weekend – above, she demonstrates how.

Friday, 17 August 2007

New Orleans and a Kitten Hunt

Berry slept all the way to New Orleans, which felt like a miracle. But she was just saving her energy for the Kitten Hunt.

Nathan was on call so Berry and I went solo, visiting Stu and Rikki and their unfortunate cats Jack and Madeline.

In fact Jack and Madeline are usually very fortunate cats, much adored. But when Berry comes along you can see it on their faces: "We are unfortunate. Who allowed that small creature into our home?"

Berry loves nothing more than a kitten. She'll go to the ends of the earth – or the house – or under the bed or wherever you please, to find one. So that's her main project at Stu and Rikki's place. That, and buttering up Stu. She's a huge fan of Stu, as you can see...

You'll notice there are no pictures of the cats. For the most part, they wisely stayed under the bed. (Berry is pointing this sad fact out to Rikki in the top photo.)

Thursday, 16 August 2007

Cakes and kids

A treasury made of cakes – first, it has one of my Bella Figura cards in it, and second, it's just pretty.

I've been really busy getting stock ready to send to retailers – two online stores and one boutique – as well as working on some fun custom projects. A lot of work!

I finally (finally) got to talk to my mum and my sister today. Somehow my mum always makes me feel better, and like I might actually be a good mama after all.

And now, in the interests of really being a good mama (and since it's no longer 110 degrees outside) I'm going to take Berry for a twilight walk. She likes to find small rocks and puddles and kittens, and our neighbourhood is good for a little bit of all three.

Tuesday, 14 August 2007

Good mama / bad mama

Some days I want my mum. This week has been full of those days.

Mum's been in South Africa for two weeks now, looking after my nephew little C while my sister works on a big trial in Pretoria. So she's pretty much off the radar – rare two-line emails and zero phone calls where usually we talk almost every day. I'm discovering I don't like this one bit.

Who do I talk to now when it's 3am and I'm up, again, with a coughing baby? Who do I call to say, in a bout of self-doubt, "Why am I not very good at this mothering thing after all?" Who's going to tell me how to impress on a 22-month-old that while "please" is the magic word, it's not actually magic – as in, not every request followed by "peeese" will be granted...?

I'm actually, selfishly, getting quite annoyed that she's unavailable, and I'd have a good mind to call her up and grumble about it... if she was phoneable.

On the weekend I was telling my best friend that I sometimes think I'm not terribly good at playing long games with Berry. Of course I do it, but sometimes I get bored (I know, it's not meant to amuse me...) and then I feel guilty for feeling bored. But later that same day, Berry and I had a huge two-hour play-doh-fest that was so much fun, and I thought well, what was I worried about? This was great! It was the first time we'd played with play-doh, and it was a hit. Maybe trying new things with her is the answer! So I decided the next night would be our first-ever finger-painting night. I bought the paints and felt very pleased.

Ohhh boy. Finger painting does not sit well with our fastidious Berry. She hated it. She wouldn't touch that stuff, no way, and when I demonstrated she started wailing No no nooo mama nooooo! Peese? She wasn't pacified until I'd washed my hands and put the paints away, out of sight. It was a complete and utter failure. And more than a bit discouraging on the being-a-good-mummy front.

Anyway, in honor of this little moan, a rather brilliant apron from MeMake:
"Bad as in bad. Bad as in good – you decide. Look like a domestic goddess in this retro pinny when in reality you have plonked the kids in front of the TV again so you can spend time on the internet and eat their chocolate."

Well. At least I'm not that bad.


Thursday, 9 August 2007

All the answers

I'm used to doing the interviews for Indie/Pretty/Perfect, but this week I was the one answering questions.

Melody of Aria Images interviewed me about my life, my work, Pepperina Press and all kinds of other things. She even asked me about falling in loooove in Venice (sneaky interviewers and their background information!).

Anyway, you can read all about it here. Oh, and Melody's the one who took this amazing picture. I'd love to claim it was me, but we former journalists are all about integrity. Heh.

Tuesday, 7 August 2007

Napoleon House

If you're ever looking for a place that has the feeling of the real New Orleans driven into every corner, every window pane, every floorboard – Napoleon House is it.

In the heart of the French Quarter, it's a wonderful, historical retreat from the Bourbon Street masses. The building's first occupant, Nicholas Girod, was mayor of New Orleans from 1812 to 1815. He offered his home to Napoleon Bonaparte in 1821 as a refuge during his exile.

Napoleon never made it, but the name stuck, and since then, the Napoleon House has been a haunt for artists and writers throughout most of the 20th century. Step inside and you'll feel like waxing lyrical too.

John came down to visit from Dallas and after searching fruitlessly for a place serving lunch at 3pm, we were thrilled to find Napoleon House. We lived in New Orleans for four years and I'd never been there (for shame!) but apparently Nathan used to hang out at Napoleon House a lot. Incredible real New Orleans food, amazing atmosphere and (cue choir of angels) – Pimm's. Ahhhh.

Monday, 6 August 2007

What's on YOUR fridge...

Another random blog thing going around – what's on your fridge? – and since I'm a sucker for randomness...

SixthandElm describes it best: "Take a picture, point out the highlights and introduce us to your little refrigerated world. Oh, and no fair putting up stuff to make you look cool. Can't really think of something you would put on your fridge that would project an infallible aura of coolness, but you get the point."

I just want to point out how much I didn't cheat. We're absurdly orderly people and usually our fridge door is nicely laid out with very straight photos and magnets arranged in some way that makes sense to us. But we've just moved in, and we kind of flung everything at the fridge door – virtually the last disorganised place in our mostly-unpacked house. I'm proud of myself for not rearranging it.

So here we go, from top left:

1. Stamp of Australia magnets that came with some bottles of Hardy's wine I bought when I was living in Vancouver. They feature vintage Australian animal stamps, and I'm quite attached to them.

2. Michelin Man magnet – one in a series made by Etsy seller ChristineRenee, using vintage images from a Guide Michelin. We were big fans of the Michelin Man as kids.

3. Koalas Next 4km – magnet replica of an actual Australian road sign. You see them everywhere where I grew up (the signs more than the koalas themselves). I sent this one to Nathan while we were dating long-distance.

4. "George W: Making The World Safe For Frat Boys". It's true.

5. Shopping list – milk, soap, Gatorade, honey, garbage bags, pickles. It's a glamorous, gourmet life we lead here...

6. "It's So Involved Being Me" – magnet I bought for Nathan when I was on a solo road-trip through Tennessee and Georgia several years ago. I suspect I was a bit annoyed with him at the time.

7. Clock magnet complete with cuckoo sounds and a boy swinging on the pendulum, which Chris bought for Berry while we were all travelling around Germany last year. Berry's crazy about it and keeps asking me to pull it down so she can play with it.

8. A fantastically over-the-top chunky wooden Liberace magnet, which Tom sent us from Vegas. Tom knows a cool magnet when he sees one.

9. Franz bread promo magnet from a big fair in Seattle. In a weird way it reminds me of a "Roggenbrot" sticker my sister had on her bed when we were kids, so I keep it.

(ps... It's not your eyes: the fridge is a textured beige. Very odd. It will be farewelled soon.)

Saturday, 4 August 2007


Since we finally live in a sunny place again, I've taken advantage of some nice bright mornings to re-shoot my product photos.

It's much, much easier to get a good image when you're not relying on the non-existent winter light in Seattle (summer light might've been okay, but we're not there for that).

See? Sunshiney....

Thursday, 2 August 2007

"Money Cometh to Tommy Wilson..."

I'm not even sure what to write about this. We saw this truck on base the other day, and were so startled by it that we actually drove around the block and came back for another look (and a sneaky photo). If nothing else, Tommy Wilson certainly has... well... the courage of his convictions.

But maybe I should just let the truck speak for itself. It does seem to have a lot to say...