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InspiringCollageWowsers, the year seems to be flying by already. All of a sudden, we are gearing up for school, getting busy at work and getting set for the first of the gorgeous markets and fairs This Grand Life will be attending this year. Whew! It can all get a little overwhelming at times. Thinking time is virtually impossible to corral out of your day. Which can all combine to stifle your creativity.  Well, at least that’s what tends to happen in my neck of the woods. Here are a few things that have been inspiring me right now to think, create and start the year in a positive way.
  1. Reading: Wildwood – a glorious book, with fabulous illustrations, which I initially bought for Captain Jack (my 9 year old) and then when he got a little scared by the opening gambit about a murder of crows, I stepped in to read it first. You know, to check it wasn’t too scary. I am LOVING it…
  2. Creating: More gorgeous sundresses, super cute heart purses, some cuddly softies and boardies for super cool boys with some beautiful new fabric.
  3. Learning: French, brushing up on my French (can’t believe I have been back in Australia for nearly 3 years), such a beautiful quirky language.
  4. Teaching: Little L how to read. My littlest poppet starts school this year and is super keep to keep up with the big kids in the house. We have used Reading Eggs for years and all of my kids have loved it.  It’s also a great excuse to spend more time reading each night.
  5. Watching: Girls. Though it feels like a guilty pleasure, I am totally hooked. Oh the angst, the selfish choices, the dilemmas.
Hope you are having an inspirational start to 2015 too! Enjoy xx
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Capturing the fun!

Capturing the fun! (with help from A Beautiful Mess)

Hope you had a Merry Christmas! Or Happy Holidays! Welcome to the end of the year! Whatever it is you are celebrating, there are bound to be 1001 photos taken, stored, and well, that can sometimes be it... Instead of just filing those awesome pics away under 'December 2013' why not try out some of the latest ideas, apps and websites to create something a little different. Here's our top 5 faves at the moment:
  • Create a photo book. We've used Kikki K to produce and send some fab photo books, a perfect gift, keepsake, and a great crafty project to get the kids involved.  The software is free and easy peasy, and the production quality is beautiful. Plus as my talented friend Tasmin Brown pointed out today, get some of the those holiday memories printed!
  • Instagram it!  The bonus is you can 'follow' a bunch of other cool folks with gorgeous photo-streams.
  • A Beautiful Mess, brilliant app that allows you to create collages, customise pics, create fab posters, screen savers and much more.
  • Flipagram - Loads of fun!  This easy to use app helps you combine your pics and music into an easy to share movie. Another great one for the kids to have a go at.
  • Print a custom calendar, mug, mousepad, t-shirt.  Sure it's kitsch, but it can also be super-cute!  Try Vista Print for great prices on mugs and calendars, DIY photo paper (available from Officeworks) for fab t-shirts making, or send off a pic to Charlie and Rosie a  fab small businesses which can create  gorgeous personal keepsake.
Enjoy xx
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Today J is for Jigsaw, and is a fab excuse to celebrate my love for puzzles and problems. Here are a couple of our faves...

Jigsaw gold! Owls (via Dwell), and Jungle Animals and Horse Riding (via Djeco)

Hopefully, I have passed on my love of solving puzzles to the tribe. Given their love of jigsaws I am pretty sure I am on my way. I think completing a jigsaw puzzle can teach my tribe a whole lot of valuable lessons, problem-solving, perseverance, getting satisfaction from completing a task, team work, the list goes on... Earlier this year, whilst holed up in Chateau Leckie (our lovely old rambling house in not so sunny France) during a cold snap, we replenished our supply of jigsaws. It was the prefect activity for the whole tribe to while away a few hours without getting cabin fever. Even my lovely Mum got into the spirit, and completed this gorgeous (yet very tricky) masterpiece.

Mona Lisa jigsaw gold @ This Grand Life

 Do you love jigsaws? Enjoy xx  
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Wowsers! What a fab, fab day to be out and about. I have a habit of cramming in as much exploring as I can each weekend, trying to soak up sun, create new things and spend some good quality time with the tribe along the way. Today started with what is now becoming part of our West Australian weekend, an early morning trip to the beach. After a couple of long winters in Europe, the whole tribe still seems somewhat starved for sunshine. So whenever we get a chance, it's straight to the beach. This year the lovely Big A and I are prepping the elder two for nippers/surf lifesaving (it doesn't get any more Oz than that, does it). Beach brilliance... 

Staying between the flags, the tribe checks out the surf

Beach time, This Grand Life style

Architectural gold via Cottesloe Surf Lifesaving Club

'We built a sandcastle with a new friend'

 Sandy and now ravenous (what is it about the sea air?) we headed home to pick up a packed lunch and a good friend, then headed off to our favourite outdoor picnic/adventure spot. Three hours whizzed by, finding flowers, spotting frogs swimming in the creek, and building, building, building.  I find it amazing and quietly comforting how much my little tribe love being outdoors. No squabbling, bickering or arguing over toys/ tv/ turns. They are far too busy, planning, chatting, experimenting, exploring and generally having a fab time.

Cubby house construction, I think the results are brilliant!

Little L's gorgeous little toes cooling off in the creek during dam-building

Hope you had a happy Sunday too! Enjoy xx
 
Today I have been thinking about happiness. Here’s what makes me happy… Taking the tribe to discover new places

A trip to the Sorbonne, Paris for the tribe

Nature and all things outdoorsy

Beachcombing at Cottelsoe, Australia, always makes us happy

Reading a new science book (the word ‘quotient’ in the title should’ve given away the fact that I am a card-carrying member of the ‘geek club’).

Biological Diversity (Magurran 2010)

What makes you happy? Enjoy xx
 
Today heralds the beginning of the festival of pink.  Before the tribe arrived on the scene, I happily enjoyed a world, home and closet of muted tones, greys, creams, with the occasional splash of blue. My own wardrobe, built on a solid base of black, grey and navy served me well.  Then the Mini-Fashionista entered our lives.  With a strong sense of style, and passion for pink, she put her stylish little foot down early. I wanted her to wear clothes like this...

A 'muted' selection of wardrobe for the Mini-Fashionista

 Fab choice don't you think? She wanted something more like this...

Fabulously frilly pink tutu (get your own from Bella Rose)

 So there we were in a fashion (style) stand-off... What was I to do? Put my foot down in a 'very neutral I know fashion best' kind of way?  Instead I chose the high road, albeit sprinkled with sparkly fairy dust and swathed in pink. Eight years on and our house and the tribe now regularly indulge in some glitz, glam and an obscene amount of pink. Guess what? We are all happily and sparklier for it!  Happy Birthday my little Fashionista, wishing you many more years of indulging your passion for fashion including all things pink. Enjoy xx    
 
Spent a glorious morning today at Mathildas Market in Fremantle. Set in the gorgeous surrounds of the Freo Town Hall, the poppets and I discovered some fab finds and met some talented folks. First up was the lovely Annabel from Spotted Donkey.  Not only did the range on display look gorgeous (crochet is so hard to resist), Annabel told us that she sources a lot of her creations from women's cooperatives in South Africa. Heart and soul!

Handmade treasures from Spotted Donkey

Next up we paid a visit to Sally at Zoom Packs. I first discovered Zoom Packs when looking for ideas to keep the tribe amused and occupied on our recent trip back from Paris (yes it was slightly chaotic travelling with 24 hours on a plane with the tribe).  My big tip...keep a few tricks in your bag to occupy/ distract the littlies! Enter Zoom Packs, now on our shopping list for the next trip.  Check out Sally's website here www.zoompacks.com.au
Zipping into Zoom Packs
My next port of call was the candy tree to get some ideas and inspiration for the littlest one's 3rd birthday party. The lovely ladies at the candy tree gave me some great ideas, look here www.thecandytree.com.au for inspiration. Even better, I discovered they can even help you set up (perfect to make the day a little easier for me).
Party ideas for the whole tribe from the candy tree
Finally, our morning out ended with a delish cupcake for each of the little ones from the lovely Katie at Sweet Addition (www.sweetaddition.com.au). If you missed Mathildas Market or want to check out more on the talented crafty types who were there, check out www.mathildasmarket.com.au Enjoy x
 

Smelling the roses...literally!

Today was one of those days when everything seemed rushed, one big hazy blur of meetings, eating on the go, multi-tasking (washing whilst running baths whilst cleaning up whilst thinking about upcoming events) and generally cramming as much in as possible to the one day. Then a conversation with a friend made me stop and think…  She described her start to the day.  She took the ‘luxury’ of eating out for breakfast, by herself, at a gorgeous café in the city.  She had savoured a cup of tea (served in delicate china), fresh buttery toast topped with a selection of berry conserves whilst reading the paper.  This put a whole new light on her day, she felt reinvigorated, calm and ready to face the day. Do we rush and hurry through the day too often? When was the last time any of us savoured a cup or coffee or tea? Tomorrow I plan to stop, smell the roses and give it a try…
 
 

Enjoying the craft creative

I have always loved all things crafty.  From my first forays into felt, through to creating little sundresses in a flurry of maternal creativity for one of my little poppets.  Now, with less time on my hands, I have discovered the world of all things handmade and online. From Etsy (www.etsy.com) to Australia’s own Mathildas Markets (www.mathildasmarket.com.au), you too can now give the gift of handmade (sounds like a fab slogan!).    I think it may be the thought of someone taking the time to create, or the uniqueness of a handmade treasure that makes it seem more special. For me, there’s also a hint of admiration (envy?) of the sheer skill of artistry. Not convinced? Head out this weekend and make a morning of it. Visit your local handmade or farmers markets and enjoy… Next week I’ll post pics and new finds from my field trip over the weekend to Mathildas Market. Apart from the always delightful Matildas Market, some other great places to look are: 
  • The Market Roll www.themarketroll.com.au   Great directory of markets in Australia with a neat description of what you can expect.
  • Magnolia Square www.magnoliasquare.com.au Held in a gorgeous setting  this market is bursting with creative types and gorgeous gifts.
  • Market Angel www.marketangel.com.au Fabulously easy to navitage and filled with great pics, this site will help you find your next market
Happy hunting!  
 

At the end of a working bee - now all we need is a cold drink!

It's a bit tempting at times to try and give our family and friends the 'best' we can afford. This morning, I had a conversation with my little sister about babies, presents for babies and girlfriends and started to wonder about some of the 'best' gifts I have ever received... So here are my top five:
  • gorgeous 'bouquet' when I had my first little poppet, where the flowers were made from teeny singlets and socks!  Perfect for this little black duck as I suffer from hay-fever - not pleasant or attractive when you've just had a new baby. Check out www.babybuds.com.au for ideas/ inspiration! 
  • magazine subscription for Country Style and Gardening Australia. The gift that keeps on giving...literally, every month a new addition arrives and reminded me of the thoughtful person who gave it to me (thank you Mum). www.magshop.com.au
  • quirky little box of kid-style goodness from www.babysgotstyle.com.au
  • girlfriend arriving with cheese, crackers and a bottle of chilled wine. What more can I say?  A good girlfriend and a gossip makes everything seem better...
  • friends helping out on an old style working bee, finishing up with a cold drink admiring our handiwork! 
 
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