Ninainvorm
a blog about art, craft, design and beautiful everyday life
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There's a new set of six postcards available in my shop! The postcards are printed on beautiful heavy recycled cardstock, which makes them not only suitable to send as postcards, but also perfect to use as small (framed) prints on your wall.

Most of these designs are also available as large posters, you can find them here.

 

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About a year ago we slightly impulsively bought ourselves a house. And I must say we're quite happy we did. Living here has been much fun and very comfortable, and sometimes it's hard to imagine what living in our previous apartment was like. Two kids, second and third floor, lots of stairs, no elevator! How did we do that? But of course we managed, and I'm sure it would still have been possible to live there in a more or less convenient way today. But this is much better!

However lately we've also been confronted with this other side of 'being homeowners'. And I must say I've started to revalue renting ;). Sometimes it seems like every other day something breaks down or needs maintenance. A leaking water boiler, a broken tap, a door that doesn't close properly anymore, a door lock that's broken, a leaking radiator, a toilet cistern that keeps flushing for hours... Things keep being added to the list, sometimes on a daily basis.

The house wasn't in very bad condition or anything when we bought it, and we thought we'd done most of the necessary maintenance before we moved in last summer. But apparently there has been some more deferred maintenance, and well maybe this maintenance thing is just some sort of ongoing task for the rest of your non-renting life. What I realize mainly is that when you're renting (from a good landlord) it's all so easy: just one phonecall with your complaint and they take care of it. But now often I even have to figure out first what kind of complaint I actually have and what kind of repairman could be the right person to solve it...

And I know that this is all 'investing in your own property' and all that, but it's just such a bummer to see such large amounts of money flood to all kinds of service men... Honestly I just want to spend hundreds of Euros on all kinds of frivolous interior items and not on new toilet flushing systems and boiler repairs! ;)

Ah well, I think if we keep going at this pace we'll have replaced the complete house by the end of this year ;).

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The black swans poster that I showed you a little while ago is now, in a slightly altered version, available as a poster in my shop. You can find it here.

I thought I'd show you both the 'clean' images and the picture with the toy animal battleground just outside the cropped image. In fact it's quite a beautiful mess, isn't it? ;)

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It's not always easy, taking these first steps...

Sitting on the floor is much more agreeable...

And walking on your knees is fast and fairly comfortable as well, so why change?

But hey, I'm a little warrior...

And I'm part of this great big evolution thing...

So I just keep exploring...

And I know that I have every reason to be proud!

(and please forgive my mom her ventriloquism ;))

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Lots of new work in the pipeline... The first boxes of postcards arrived yesterday, and I expect some more real soon... I keep you posted! ;)

Oh and this is a new A3 sized polar bear poster, it's available here!

 

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Some lyrics of favorite songs leave such a strong impression that they seem to nestle in your head and stay there forever. I for example just can't ever climb on a table without hearing Cat Power's Lived in bars (We've lived in bars and danced on the tables...) in the back of my mind. Not that I ever dance on our table, but I do take pictures there ;).

Someone who does like to dance on our tables is Rosa, that is: when she's feeling well. But both girls have been sick on and off these last three or four weeks and all these nights of being awake and upset (Rosa and Julie) and comforting and changing beds (us) are starting to weigh upon all of us a bit. So Rosa stayed home from daycare today and we pottered around the house a bit together.

I've been working on many new things lately, including a whole new series of postcards, some posters and I hope I can get started on some new ceramics real soon too.

While a sick but relaxed Rosa watched Pippi Longstocking on tv I could even finish some orders...

So far one sick daughter has meant another healthy one...

... and then one or two days later it's been the other way around!

The next one who's going to climb on our tables is Julie, who enthusiastically started to climb and walk lately. A kid who's starting to walk, I still think it's one of the most beautiful things to witness! And often she's even singing while she walks... The sweetest thing!

(oh, and did I already mention that I've developed a card rack addiction lately...? They're everywhere around the house, even in the bathroom! ;))

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A new A3 size poster called The rabbits! It's available here.

My selection of A3 size posters has been growing a lot lately (and there's more to come!), somehow I was a bit done with the A4 size and felt the wish to move to something bigger ;).

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Back in 2009 (I have proof, this must be what blogging is for ;)) I ordered three beautiful screen printed concert posters from Poster Cabaret. The Feist poster with it's vibrant colors was my favorite, but somehow I never got to the point of framing and hanging it in our previous apartment. Something with non-standard sizing and no empty walls left I guess.

So the screenprinted posters moved with us to this house, still in their original roll, and they were somewhere in the back of my mind, 'maybe if I'll ever find a nice place for them and the right frame, I'll hang them somewhere'. In fact I wasn't that sure that I'd still like something that I bought about five years ago.

But when I had a fresh look at my concert posters I realized that I still liked them a lot. Which was kind of a nice thing to find out, because lately I've been obsessing a bit about the fact that I get bored with so many things so (and too) quickly these days.

I still didn't have the perfectly fitting frame, but since I know that I sometimes just have to act now in order to avoid another five years of gathering dust, I framed the poster in a slightly unconventional way, taping it onto the matte with masking tape. Now I only have to find the perfect place for the other two concert posters that are still waiting in the roll!

 

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Something kind of peculiar happened here the other day. You know, one of those 'happens-only-like-once-a-year' things: both girls took a considerable nap at the same time.

(I remember talking to an aunt at a party a little while ago, who has two now grown-up kids who differ exactly one year in age.

'Oh my, how did you do that, a young baby and a one-year-old at the same time?' I asked her, 'that must have been such hard work.'

'Oh no, not at all,' she cheerfully replied. 'I just put them both to bed for naps at the same time, and then I had all those hours to myself. It was so very practical!'

Well, maybe that's just the memory being a bit delusional -this by the way is the same generation of moms and aunts that casually keep telling me that they always went grocery shopping in the nearby village while their kids napped in bed on their own ('they slept for hours and never woke up anyway, so very practical!')- but nevertheless it made me wonder why it seems such a law of nature here that when one daughter is tired and ready for a nap, the other one is always bursting with energy...)

Anyway, both girls were fast asleep, and all of a sudden I had some time on my hands. Of course I should have used this unexpected moment to do some housekeeping, I can't say the house wasn't whispering and begging 'Do it! I could use some of that!' to me. But instead I chose to spend my time on something I like, you know something like this, putting all the sofa pillows in the right order and such. And since I had actual time, I could even throw some blankets on the sofa as well. Oh joy!

After I'd had my moments of pillow reorganizing fun (really, it's stronger than me ;)), it was time for a different kind of fun again: a happy Julie had woken up and was ready for play.

Of course her joys were of a whole different kind: how fun, those cups and teapot on the table, that kind of thing usually isn't within reach! (They're photo props Julie, photo props!)

Slamming porcelain cups against one another and on the floor is fun, such interesting sounds...

... but throwing things on a completely empty living room floor -about as rare as two kids napping at the same time- is even a bigger joy!

So my girl started throwing toys around her like a happy little maniac, with an enthusiasm that did seem a little over the top if you ask me... (but what can I say, she may think the same thing when she sees me reorganizing pillows ;))

... and then within just a few moments, everything was back to normal again (but at least I still have the pictures ;)).

 

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What do kids actually really play with a lot? After over three years of having children I still can't really tell. Maybe I've always had overly high expectations of toys and the way young children play with them. I still remember how surprised I was that it took my baby months to become even the slightest bit interested in the simplest of toys. Somehow I had always had this irrational idea that babies start playing with rattles and such almost straight from the womb... I guess I'd sort of expected them to come into existence cheerfully rattling with a toy in their hands ;).

But none of my babies ever played longer with any of all the baby toys that we surrounded them with for longer than a few minutes. Actually they never enjoyed playing in the playpen by themselves at all, and always preferred personal interaction and being held far above playing with toys, no matter how well-designed or visually stimulating those were. God knows I tried: especially with Rosa I kept bringing in new things, because I kept thinking that now I finally must had found that one great toy that would keep her satisfied on her own for longer than thirty seconds. And then she looked at it once, pushed the buttons twice, threw it away and started calling for me again ;).

Now that they're a bit older the girls do play with their toys, in particular with dolls and with their shop, but still they hardly play with one specific toy for longer than a few minutes, and still they prefer me to be involved in their play most of the time. And though of course I'm pleased they find me such an interesting playmate (I seem to be extremely good at imaginary picnics and such ;)), sometimes I do like a few minutes to myself. And besides that, I think they have to learn that I can't be around constantly to play with them.

So though by now I learnt that this one miracle toy that will keep them busy for hours (or at least for ten minutes ;)) doesn't seem to exist, and that my girls are much more into fantasy play and social interaction than into very specific toys, I'm still keen to find nice and stimulating things for them to play with. And lately we discovered something absolutely great: kinetic sand.

Kinetic sand is a super nice material that you can play with indoors, I guess it can best be described as something inbetween sand, dough and clay. This little video gives an impression of what it's like. The sand feels super soft in your hands and is both loose and sticky at the same time. It's not tough or heavy as clay sometimes can be, so for young kids like Julie it's super easy to play with. And Rosa and all other kids that come to play here enjoy building and 'baking' with it, for hours literally!

We have the kinetic sand from Waba fun that's being shown in the video (we bought ours here), but I believe there are also other brands and types available with names such as moon sand, delta sand and kinetic sand. And apparently you can also make a similar type of sand yourself using simple ingredients such as flour, sand, water and baby oil. I haven't tried that yet, but some DIY recipes can be found here.

The mess it creates is not as bad as you might think: because the sand sticks together you can easily wipe all the sand together within less than a minute. Only the sand that ends up on the floor is slightly more tricky to recollect, because it easily mixes with crumbles and dust that's on the floor, and in our case a bit of it always ends up in the openings between the boards of our wooden floor. But after many hours of play we still have most of the kilogram of sand that we bought left, and when it's time to restock we'll definitely go for a five kilogram pack!

Just to make it clear, because it doesn't always seem that obvious anymore on blogs, I have no commercial interest whatsoever here, I'm just very enthusiastic about the way the girls and their friends play with this kinetic sand. And let's not forget about myself, this is by far the best 'kid toy' that I've been forced to play with for hours lately ;).

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It's not that I don't collect hundreds of images of perfectly calm children's rooms on my pinterest boards, you know those gorgeous, serene rooms with the soft grey and mint Ferm living colors. Rooms like this one, and this one, or this one. It's not that I don't love and admire those rooms. And it's not that I don't regularly plan to decorate some parts of our house a bit more like that. I mean: it shouldn't be too difficult, should it? Some harlequin wallpaper in grey or mint, some simple furniture in light wood, white or grey, and a few minimal pops of color in the details. I could do that, right?

But each time again I discover I can't do it. I just love all the colors there are, and I'd hate to have to stick to only two or three of them because that's my chosen color palette. And it's not just 'all the colors' that I love: I also love all the furniture, and all the prints, and all the artwork... Well of course not all of it, but there's a lot to love and I just can't choose one style or atmosphere.

I remember my sister and I used to go shopping together when we were younger, and then after having seen a few shops, she could say: 'No, I don't think there's anything I like in the shops right now, this season's styles and colors are just not for me.' At the same time I had already seen at least five things in each shop that I wanted to buy, in like five different styles... I have just always liked so many different things and can see something I love everywhere.

But the funny thing is that when you love everything and don't stick with a specific style, you end up with one anyway: the 'a-bit-of-this-and-a-bit-of-that, only-not-in-bits-but-in-large-amounts' style. A few years ago they used to have this comforting term 'eclectic' for it, but I don't seem to hear that very often anymore. Maybe the trend analysts have by now discovered that all these eclectic folks are just people that are really bad at choosing ;). Anyway, I'm pretty sure that eclectic will always be my middle name.

Of course I'm curious whether my girls will become eclectic color lovers just like me. I do hope so, otherwise they must have had a pretty bad time in their rooms so far ;). Rosa was never really developing quicker than average in anything, but there's one specific thing that the people at daycare kept mentioning: she was extremely fast in discerning and naming all the different colors. Well, that's one thing one can't practice in a room with only two or three colors ;).

But who knows, I guess within a few years Rosa wants to become more involved in decorating her own room. So maybe then we'll finally have a room in grey, mint green and a hint of ochre!

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Lately Rosa has been challenging me with all these difficult how and why questions. Like why her knee bleeds when she falls, how it's possible that a refrigerator makes everything cold or why there's smoke coming from a kettle of boiling water. Turns out I hardly know the answers myself, let alone that I can come up with an explanation that makes sense to a three-year-old ;).

A challenge of a whole different kind is the 'draw me...' challenge: mama, could you draw me a dinosaur, a helicopter, a crane, a tractor, a cow, a dog...? And then it's funny to notice that though I see things like dogs and cranes almost every day, I often have no idea how to draw them in a proper way. So lately I've been practicing this 'drawing stuff I don't usually draw' thing, like cats... And now I can't stop making cat plates ;).

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I had so many ideas for our black wall: first I wanted to turn it into a gallery wall with lots of framed art, then I wanted a huge IXXI collage for it. I searched and searched and compared lots of different options, but I just couldn't decide. All I knew is that I wanted the corner to look super fresh, clean and modern. Not my usual mix of a bit of this and a bit of that, but some very clean lines, a bold statement.

And then all of a sudden, I forgot about all of that and envisioned a huge antique mirror on the black wall. I have no idea how I came up with it, but somehow I had this very specific image of a certain kind of mirror in mind: not the classic 'baroque' one, but a very large arch-shaped one in a wooden frame. I started searching everywhere, but I quickly learnt that I had something so specific in mind that I was bound to get disappointed.

I literally searched through all the ads for mirrors (like: thousands of them) on the Dutch second hand websites, and then I got lucky: I found my mirror! A three-hour-drive away, but who cares when it's exactly what you are looking for? But when I got in touch with the seller, I learnt that it just got sold...

When I found myself feeling extremely disappointed, it made me even more eager to find that very mirror that I had mind. And guess what: after days of even more detailed searching I found it! And even for less money and within a one-hour-drive ;).

It's so funny that apparently you can't 'plan' the decoration of a home: in the end my taste seems to have it's own quirks, like a kid that doesn't listen to it's parent (it does resemble my kids quite a bit ;)). I really felt I was a bit done with mixing old and new furniture, I actually wanted less vintage and a more modern look, but look what I came up with in the end... Something more antique than ever! The mirror originates from a French abbey and might actually be one of the oldest pieces of furniture we own now.

Well I guess I like the idea that apparently creating an interior is something that involves not just pure 'rational' choices of will and aesthetics, or following some sort of comprehensive design plan, but also some funny quirks that you can't fully control. Or maybe that's just me ;).

By the way this mirror reminded me a bit of the old circus caravan we stayed in last summer, which had similar-style woodwork inside. So each time I look at my mirror I can't help but wonder: does this mirror add just that little bit of French chic to our living room, or is it more like a circus caravan here now? ;)

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The one moment such a big girl already, the next moment a baby girl again, just for a little while. I'm not too nostalgic about wanting a wee baby again, I'm welcoming all the fun and interesting steps she takes and for myself I'm welcoming these steps towards some more freedom and time for myself again. But the feeling of this big baby asleep on your lap is still such a good one!

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Rosa is starting to develop more and more interest in playing in her own room, and Julie loves to play there as well. So I'm planning to make some small adjustments to make the room less 'just a bedroom' and more of a room for play. I'm still looking for a nice soft carpet so that the floor will be comfortable to play on.

I was thinking about adding a small desk or table and chair to create an extra corner for play. Besides that I guess I shouldn't bring too many more toys in, if we still want her to go to sleep when it's bedtime ;).

We already hung some of the little collages and drawings that Rosa and I made together on one of the walls. I thought this would be a fun thing to do together, but what I had underestimated was that Rosa resembles me more than I realized: she had such exact ideas about where she wanted to put every specific piece of paper that we almost ended up in a fight when I didn't hang things exactly the way she had in mind... Can't say I don't feel her! ;) 

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The tableware that we use on a daily basis here isn't all that special: in fact it's a rather eclectic mix of mismatched vintage plates, cups and bowls. When I buy piles of vintage plates for the shop, there are often some with small flaws among them that end up in our own home collection. So that 'daily stash' isn't exactly the kind of tableware that I'd use for a festive diner.

Somehow we never use the ceramics that I make at home. Must have something to do with the fact that most things end up in the shop, but I guess it's also true that you develop a certain familiarity with the things you make yourself that can quickly turn into boredom if you surround yourself with it too much. Let's say it's about keeping work and private life separate ;).

So when I wanted some nice new plates that would fit special occasions a bit better than our current mishmash, I turned towards my all times favorite Marimekko. But the thing with Marimekko is that I always like so many of their things, and my budget only allows me to buy a few, so I can never really decide. And then I thought: isn't it silly that I can make something for myself but never do it? So just like that I made a set of four diner plates for myself, or well, for us... Let's hope it'll survive my household (in particular my 'throwing-things-in-the-dishwasher-goes-faster' man ;))!

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I don't get the chance to visit flea markets as often as I used to anymore, but in the rare cases that I can go for a quick hour or two, it's still a very favorite sport!

On this weekend's market, I noticed two little wooden animal figures in a stall that was completely filled with the most hideous plastic toys. Always funny how something special can catch your eye even (or maybe in particular) when it's in the middle of the ugliest stuff. The wooden toys reminded me of these vintage Czechoslovakian finger puppets that I once bought in Antwerp, and when I looked at the bottom of the figures I found that these were from that same country (and probably era).

What has changed as well is that I can't buy beautiful vintage toys just for my own visual pleasure anymore: from the moment they saw them Rosa and Julie wanted to play with these, and the fact that I've put them on display on a shelf probably only makes them more attractive! In fact I had to make the girls a tent to lure them away from my new toys ;).

Well, it already started years ago... and this animal collection of ours keeps growing!

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Psst... only this weekend: 20% discount on everything in the shop, except custom orders/made to order items (the items listed here in the made to order section).

Use the coupon code LOVESALE at checkout!

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With a knit suit that perfectly matches her cheerful character, Julie's ready to face the cold. Though maybe we'd better not send her to Sochi, they might think she's on some sort of mission there ;).

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About Ninainvorm

I'm Nina, ceramics designer, art/ craft/ design lover and mom of Rosa and Julie. This blog is about the things I make (you can find my online shop here) and the things I love (design, art, craft, interior, fashion, photography). You may have noticed a special emphasis on my two beautiful girls and everything children's design related!

There used to be a second blog on children's clothing, Coolkidsclothes, but it's currently sort of asleep and all the images have vanished temporarily, but I hope to revitalize it real soon.

Meanwhile, lovely children's clothing will be an important part of this blog here as well.

Want to get in touch? You can always send me an email through ik_ben_nina@hotmail.com.

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