Friday, 28 September 2007

Boxes, boxes

I made these.

Well, the stickers – not the boxes. Kateri from Leaves Of Glass needed hundreds of jewellery-box stickers for a big and fabulous gallery project she's involved in, and here they are in all their glory...

If you want to see Kateri's jewellery in all its glory, look here.

Wednesday, 26 September 2007


We live about half a mile from the beach, and I've taken Berry there exactly once.

If you asked me why we'd never been in the four months we've lived here, I would've said it was because this particular beach wasn't good enough. (I'm a beach snob, I'll admit it. Australia will spoil you that way. "That's not a beach," I tell myself, "It's just where the land meets the Gulf of Mexico.")

But Berry showed me the real reason: beaches are fraught with danger and distress.

"Uh-oh!" she said as soon as I set her down on the sand. "Uh-oh! Uh-oh! Shoooooes."

Sand in her shoes. Right. She hopped from foot to foot.

Did she want to take off her shoes? No.
Did she want to brush the sand off her shoes? No.
Did she want mummy to take her shoes off and empty out the sand and brush off her feet and put them back on? Of course.

Berry's not a beach veteran. Although she's half-Australian, and although she's two years old, she's only been to two beaches in her whole life. Two. Polar opposites: beautiful but freezing Cannon Beach in Oregon, and the blindingly gorgeous Currumbin Beach in Australia.

So the beach down here was still a new and unsettling experience for her.
"Uh-oh!" The wind was blowing.

"Uh-oh!" There were bugs.

"Uh-oh!" A small breeze peppered us with sand.

"Uh-oh! Juuuuuuuice!" The ocean was juice. And it was very worrisome. She preferred not to walk in it.

We repeated the uh-oh about shoes and sand several times until I persuaded (cajoled, convinced) her to take them off altogether – an unprecedented step for my finicky toddler. She walked on careful tiptoes.

Eventually we sat in the sand (imagine!) and talked about Hello Kitty and birdies and juice, and made some very tiny sand castles with a very tiny bucket and spade, and pretended the bugs weren't there.

I think – I like to think – that by the time we left, I had a marginally less uptight two-year-old than the one I arrived with.

I guess time will tell.

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Covetousness 101

This is how you covet a chandelier: cosy up in bed beneath it (at someone else's house, of course) and gaze longingly...



Sunday, 23 September 2007

What could be better...

...than for a little girl to feel very important on her second birthday, by taking her Grandma's dog for a big walk?

It's debatable, whether she took him for a walk or vice versa, but it was one of the highlights of her day.


Friday, 21 September 2007

Seven Things (or: Embarrassing Photos 101)

I've been tagged for Seven Random Things – three more times! – by sugarbee, MrsDragon and TrueMirage.

Since I've been tagged before, I've decided this is Seven Things: The Way-Back-When Edition (complete with embarrassing photos, below) ... just to make it different. Oh and the rules: share seven random facts about yourself, then tag seven people at the end of your post and list their names – let them know they've been tagged by leaving a comment at their blogs.

Here goes:

1. The house I lived in until I was two should've been condemned. It had no ceiling, no plumbing (outdoor toilet, anyone?) and no electricity – Dad hooked up a single bulb to a car battery so he could study for university after dark. It also had many holes in the walls and floor, which the native snakes and spiders found very inviting. I'm still not entirely sure why my mum didn't leave...

2. Until Grade 5 I rarely wore shoes to school. At my primary school, that was alarmingly common.

3. For my 8th birthday I got a very large doll called Wendy Walker, who could walk, and an even larger brand-new brother called Julian, who couldn't. He weighed 10lbs 10oz at birth, and spent the first two years of his life expanding like dough. He was the light of my young life and I carried him everywhere.

4. In my teens I was guilty of big hair. Big, big hair. See photo evidence (above) from my senior formal – the Australian equivalent of prom. And more evidence (below) from a regular big-hair-day. You'd think I was Texan or something.

I was sadly unaware that curly hair could be straightened. Once I figured that out, life got better.


5. I went from my barefoot primary school to an incredibly strict private girls' high school where the uniform was a knee-length tunic with a white collared shirt, a tie, a beret, a blazer, stockings and polished black school shoes – oh, and gloves. Yep, gloves.

And that was just the winter uniform. We also had an equally elaborate summer uniform (with boleros and panama hats), a sports uniform (a green tartan potato-sack with bloomers – I kid you not), a GPS uniform (for intermural sports events, probably so the other schools wouldn't laugh us out of town at the sight of our bloomers) and what we called our "whites" – a fancy uniform for big occasions like Speech Night and choral competitions.

I loved that school.

6. For the first two weeks of my life I didn't have name. Apparently it took my parents a while to settle on Helen – but I had it good. By the time my youngest brother (the fifth kid) was born, their famous procrastination had reached its peak. He remained nameless for three months (for three months we just called him "the-baby") before my parents settled on Daniel. The government fined them for not naming him in time. A great big two-dollar fine.

7. When my second brother was three, I broke his leg. We were trying to play gridiron when things went pear-shaped. This is why Australians should stick with Australian sports.

There. Now I'm tagging Cathy, Sara, Jules, Aaron, Anna, pinkmilk and nutsycoco. I've tried not to tag anyone who's been tagged before or who hates being tagged... but Jules, no free pass for you.


Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Everybody's doing it...

...the time-waster name game, that is. StilettoHeights got me on to it.

Here goes:

1. YOUR ROCK STAR NAME: (first pet & current car)

Lorenzo Pilot

2.YOUR GANGSTA NAME: (fave ice cream flavor, favorite cookie)

Malaga Tim Tam

3. YOUR DETECTIVE NAME: (favorite color, favorite animal)

Pink Possum

4. YOUR SOAP OPERA NAME: (middle name, city where you were born)

Jane Brisbane

5. YOUR STAR WARS NAME: (the first 3 letters of your last name, first 2 letters of your first)


6. SUPERHERO NAME: (”The” + 2nd favorite color, favorite drink)

The Blue Chevy-57 ...ok that makes no sense

7. NASCAR NAME: (the first names of your grandfathers)

Jock Wilbur. Awesome.

8. STRIPPER NAME: ( the name of your favorite perfume/cologne/scent, favorite candy)

Light Blue Bounty ....ohhhhhh

9.WITNESS PROTECTION NAME: (mother’s & father’s middle names )

Elizabeth Arthur

10. TV WEATHER ANCHOR NAME: (Your 5th grade teacher’s last name, a major city that starts with the same letter)

Blazcyck Boston. I kid you not.

11. SPY NAME: (your favorite season/holiday, flower)

Spring Jasmine

12. CARTOON NAME: (favorite fruit, article of clothing you’re wearing right now + “ie” or “y”)

Cherry Dressie

13. HIPPY NAME: (What you ate for breakfast, your favorite tree)

Bagel Lemon-gum

14. YOUR ROCKSTAR TOUR NAME: (”The” + Your fave hobby/craft, fave weather element + “Tour”),

The Letterpress Breeze Tour

That was weird. And yes, it did waste time – mission accomplished.

Monday, 17 September 2007

Two years ago

Two years ago today, we got the second-biggest shock of our lives.

The biggest shock was when we found out Berry existed, that she was going to crash our party (so to speak) – that we were going to be parents.

So the second-biggest shock was when she decided to make her debut five weeks early.

We'd just lived through Hurricane Katrina, evacuated (after the disaster) from Biloxi to San Antonio, spent two weeks in limbo, then arrived in Seattle to start our new lives. Two days after we landed, the same day we got the keys to a house on McChord Air Force base, Berry was on her way... ready or not.

Such a teeny-tiny little thing (4lb 15oz – in that top photo she's 90% blankets), worrying enough to warrant nine nerve-wracking days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit... Today it's all – mostly – a distant memory.

She's a springy-legged, sweet-natured, strong-willed toddler who loves Elmo and oranges and The Wiggles and corn and Dora and bubble baths and babies and charming the pants off people.

Happy birthday, little Berry.

Sunday, 16 September 2007

To me, at 20

Someone raised the question: "What do you wish you had known when you were 20ish?"

I've thought about this before... probably while resisting the urge to offer unsolicited advice to my younger brothers. They don't really need any, these days.

[I would like to note here that some of my brothers did not need any advice to suggest taking more risks. You can tell how much I mean that by my grave overuse of italics. So.]

But here's my list... at least some of it.

What I would tell my 20-year-old self:

Don't take yourself so seriously... live a little, it won't kill you.

Life is long... don't be in such a rush to settle down.

Don't judge. Life's not black and white, and you're not as good as you think you are.

Take some chances... it's the only way to have an interesting life.

Travel more. Travel sooner. Travel further.

Don't choose the safe and sensible path for Every.Single.Little.Thing.

Look in the mirror. You are much prettier than you think you are.

Smile. Your mum is right: it's the most attractive thing you can wear.

Your mum is right more often than you think.

Quit caring what people think of you. Be you. It's really, truly okay.

Straighten your hair.

Be more open. Don't be so suspicious of people. They're mostly nice.

Buy some new clothes. It's ok to have nice things.

Ditch that guy. He'll never improve and you'll waste years figuring that out.

No one built that box you're living in, you built it yourself. You can take it apart yourself too. Get on out of there.

You're not going to get fired. Everyone doesn't think you're a fraud.

Boys don't matter that much. Go where you're going and if they like you, they'll follow.

Watch your expressions. Everyone can tell what you're thinking, especially when you're thinking something mean.

Listen to your heart when it comes to your career. If you don't wake up happy to start on whatever it is you do every day, it ain't worth it.

Just because you're good at something doesn't mean you have to do it.

Spend more time with your grandparents. Seriously.

If you think you've taken a wrong turn, don't despair. When you look back at the mistakes you'll say they were meant to be.

It's not the destination, baby. It's the journey. Pay attention and take it all in.


Saturday, 15 September 2007

Secret garden

I walked straight past it, even though I was looking everywhere for the sign. My favourite coffee place can be tricky to find.

It's on my beloved Royal Street, right by the famous Court of Two Sisters, but it's set back from the footpath, through a dark cool tunnel and behind a courtyard garden – the way I've decided every coffee house should be.

We discovered Royal Blend back when we lived in the French Quarter, and I went there for breakfast with Berry and her nanna when we stayed in New Orleans a couple of weeks ago. It still has every bit of its charm.

I wanted to ask the girl serving how long it had been there, how old the building was too (like everything in New Orleans, it probably used to be something else) but she kept disappearing – to work! imagine! – so we contented ourselves with watching the fish and seeing barely another soul the whole time we were there. And those we did see were quiet souls.

Which is exactly the way I like it.


Friday, 14 September 2007

A date

Our spur-of-the-moment, first-ever mummy-Berry date was a huge hit.

Thanks to Mike Adamick's tale of vanishing toddlerhood, I felt a bit weepy and sentimental (bad Mike, bad!) and when I picked Berry up from daycare I decided we'd do something completely different.

Instead of driving home, we went to PJ's Coffee House, just the two of us. We ordered "big-girl drinks" (you know – anything with ice and plastic lids and straws) and a bagel, and we sat at a little table for two.

Berry was beyond tickled.

We talked about school (well, I asked questions and she said "mm-hmm" to everything). We talked about juuuuuuice (everything, even milk, is "juuuuice" until proven otherwise), we talked about Daddy, we talked to the girl at the next table.

Berry drank her big-girl drink. She made squirrel-cheeks in her excitement at fitting in as much bagel as she possibly could. She did special cute faces at the girl at the next table. She kissed the bagel. She kissed her big-girl drink – big mwah sounds. She kissed my arm, several times. I caught her before she kissed the table.

She was the most overjoyed nearly-two-year-old I've seen in ages, and it was absolutely wonderful.


Thursday, 13 September 2007


I had a bit of a miserable day today.

And in the afternoon I realised I didn't even have anyone to talk to, to cheer me up – Nathan was unreachable on the wards, Katharine was out to dinner in South Africa (I called, the nanny told me), Mum was fast asleep in Australia, Pauline was off doing fabulous things in France... I felt a bit sorry for myself really.

It seems ridiculous to say I got cheered up by a picture of a puppy. I mean really – I'm not even a dog person. (I'm not a cat person either, so don't think I'm taking sides.)

But this puppy is a pure, undiluted cartwheel of joy. And I needed that.

(To Kateri, who posted him – thank you.)

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Love (love, love)

A brand-new Bella Figura design, inspired by the fabulous 1950s and by my sweet friend Chantal, who shared many adventures (some of them hair-raising) with me in Italy and Sicily... and who just got engaged!!

I was thinking about posting one of the pictures of us from Sicily but:
1) hmmm, it's seven years ago and I can't guess whether Chantal would thank me or give me a long-distance smack; and
2) we were in Sicily, where nothing was very clean – including, at times, us.

So we'll just stick with the card, shall we?

(Congratulations Chantal and Dave!)


Monday, 10 September 2007

Pink pink pink pink pink

I never thought much of pink. When I was pregnant with Berry I had her room painted a sage colour, decorated it in an Australian Outback theme and vowed never to fall victim to the lures of pretty-pretty pink.

But when the little girl leads... well, how long could I hold out? Her Grandpa just finished painting her bedroom this gorgeous Alyssum Pink (see? I said "gorgeous"!) and hung her Land Of Nod pink pillow-castle in the corner, next to the white dresser full of... pink clothes. Ah, well.

Berry's Nanna was in town last weekend so of course we stopped at The Magic Box in New Orleans. She came away with some Hello Kitty paraphernalia – another thing I said I'd never sway on. She also made her Uncle Jules proud – from afar – by playing a few very careful tunes on a baby (baby-baby) grand piano.

At least it wasn't pink.


Friday, 7 September 2007

Merry sheep

I'm feeling so organised; I justed listed my second set of Pepperina Press Christmas/holiday cards on Etsy. Can't exactly say I'm on a roll – yet – but it's a start!

Merry little sheep send their greetings...

Wednesday, 5 September 2007

That's not a summer... THIS is a summer!

The summer months in Seattle were mild and terribly pretty, but the part of me that still calls Australia home (it's a song, look it up) really missed the searing heat and clinging humidity of a real summer.

Call me crazy, it's what I'm used to.

So I love being back in the Southern heat where (if you care to step outside the air-conditioning) you really know it's summer. And Berry – a Northwest baby who used to recoil at a glimpse of sunlight – is learning to love it too.

Stu and Rikki came to visit from New Orleans and we hung out by the pool at the Beau Rivage. I'm pretty sure it's the best pool around these parts, and Berry rolled out the Uncle Stu Fan Club red carpet and played in the shallow end with Stu for a length of time that would've bored me silly (if I was Stu, not if I was Berry). Stu is a good man of endless patience.

Happily (I say, from my air-conditioned studio) here in the south we have at least two more months of real summer left before we tentatively break out the woolen stuff. And then put it away again because it's still kinda warm...

Roll on summer.

Tuesday, 4 September 2007


Can you choose one favourite street out of your whole country?

I can. My favourite – of all the avenues and streets and roads and boulevards and circles and ways in America – is Royal Street, New Orleans.

To me it feels at once like a lovely mystery and like coming home.

I was going to write all the reasons why, but even in my head they sound like a tourist-book tallying of attractions and histories and quaintnesses... and that's really not what it's about.

It's just that when I'm on Royal Street, I want to stay.