Cyber Monday or just some last minute Sinterklaas shopping? If you use the coupon code BLOGSALE in my shop, you'll get a 15% discount on all your purchases till December 5!
As usual my PR is terrible (and late in particular ;)), but tomorrow afternoon I'll be sharing a boot with Ellen Vesters from Urlaub shop at the Le Bazarre market in the centre of Utrecht. The Market is at Neude (the biq square) in the heart of the city, so super close to the Central Station as well. If the weather is not to bad and you're in the area, do pay us a visit!
I'll be bringing lots of new work that I've been making these last few weeks, particularly ceramics, but also new posters, prints and postcards. Since I like round numbers for markets, everything will be sold at reduced prices.
I'll be adding some of these to the shop as well today, but they'll be gone to the market tomorrow and I can't guarantee they'll return home again;).
Hope to meet you tomorrow!
I've added a lot of new art prints and larger (A3 sized) art prints/posters to the shop these last few days. First of all there's the You are so so easy to love print, printed on very beautiful heavy textured fine art paper, that comes both in A3 and A4 size.
Then there's the patches print, available in A4 size in this colorway...
... and another one.
... and also in pink.
And here you can find the new red version of the l'amour toujours print.
Some love, anyone? ;)
One of the main reasons why we wanted to move house a while ago was because we missed having a garden, and because we wanted to be able to go outside more easily. But now that the season is changing and is encouraging us to spend more time indoors, we find that having more room inside the house is pretty comfortable as well ;).
The big works are done, but there's still some work in the details. Ah well, I guess there'll always be work in the details when you focus too much on them!
We keep adding small new things, such as these vintage school chairs that I recently received as a birthday gift.
And while I often have flowers in vases, I now even embarked on the adventurous journey of keeping a few real plants alive, which is something that I already gave up on years ago... If I get the chance and they're still alive, I will show them soon ;).
Like most families, we try to have some routines to help us through the otherwise terribly chaotic days. Well, that is: our days are terribly chaotic until Helmut comes home, and since he likes routines better than I do, the more structured part of the day usually kicks in once he arrives. So then there's dinner, cleaning up the kitchen and when I bring Julie to bed after that, Rosa watches some tv while Helmut tidies up the living room (yeah, 'then they tidy up the living room together' is still a work in progress... ;)).
Because their little shop is one of Rosa and Julie's favorite things to play with, the area around the shop is usually the messiest part of the house. But here Helmut's special qualities come to the rescue. He loves to organize. To collect and categorize. To sort things and to bring structure into the chaos. (Did I ever mention that he was once trained to become a librarian? Which he in the end by the way never became) So at the end of the day, the shop is what it should be: bananas with bananas, strawberries with strawberries, and the croissants in a little box with the other croissants.
But sometimes our routine is changed, for example when we eat early and Julie isn't ready for bed yet. Then it may happen that I tidy up the shop instead. Usually I try to get everything in whatever box is available as quick as possible. Not to Helmut's satisfaction, of course. Hours later I sometimes hear him potter around the shop again, mumbling: 'That banana shouldn't be in the box with the cucumbers.'
But let's not make you think that he's the only one who's a little crazy around here. When I'm really in the mood, I love to organize the shop color coordinated, preferably rainbow-style. Of course Helmut goes even more berserk when he sees this: just one strawberry with the croissants is one thing, but nothing in it's right place? Impossible!
Ah well, the result of both our crazinesses is the same: the next morning the content of the shop will be all over the place again...
Still in the middle of this whole process... The more Autumn starts to surround me, the more colors pop into the designs. I guess I'm not really this kind of person who makes her home 'winter ready' by putting some 'warm neutrals and soft, natural materials' into her home, like you're supposed to do according to all the decorating magazines... ;) Bright colors for winter I say!
Our niece Jasmijn always comes to play with Rosa & Julie on Mondays, and she's totally crazy about shoes. So one of the favorite games that these girls play together is trying on lots of different pairs of shoes, and then walking around on them like real little madams.
Their treasure trove is the little wooden 1950s bench in Rosa's room, that is filled with lots and lots of kids shoes in all sizes from baby up to a few sizes bigger than Rosa currently has.
Seems like little Julie has already been contaminated by the shoe lovers virus as well... of course she wants to be everywhere the big girls are!
Ah well, it's always good to share a few hobbies with your kids, isn't it? ;)
I love this stage that Rosa is currently in, at almost three she's really starting to develop her own fantasy play, both when she's alone and when she's with her friends. Right now 'going on holiday' with a little suitcase is extremely popular, while shouting to me that she's 'never coming back again!'. Still in a friendly way though, so far ;).
Print is scary. It's fun to just keep drawing, doodling and designing forever, to keep altering things and never reach a 'final design' that's ready for print. One of the nice things of making one of a kind ceramics is that each piece is a blank canvas, you can just try an idea and if it works out okay that's nice, and if it doesn't you just start something new. It doesn't have to be as final and perfect that it justifies a large print edition, one person who really likes it and buys it is enough ;).
Well lately I've been in this process of doodling, drawing, designing, cutting, pasting, altering and changing endlessly, and the good part is that I like it a lot and that I have an amazing photo printer here that makes the nicest prints, so that I can just print a few copies of each possible idea and don't have to go down the road of huge print editions yet. But the bad part is that it leaves me terribly indecisive, and that I may stay in this indecisive place for like ever.
Therefore I thought I'd share a few images of what I've been working at. Maybe some of these will be added to the shop soon, but -guess what- I haven't made up my mind yet which ones. Any thoughts that may help me are welcome!
Right now I think it's best if I just keep knitting easy stripe scarves, but that doesn't mean there aren't any other ways to provide Julie with lovely knit clothes. I've already found some very good knitters online, but let's not forget about my mom, who recently made Julie the perfect red wool dungarees!
So, a big box we had, and I realized that it would be the perfect testcase for a very rudimentary playhouse. You know, cut a door opening and a window in it and then just see if the girls would use their fantasy to make it more than just that big cardboard box. I had a busy work day in front of me, so I quickly grabbed a sharp knife and within five minutes the rudimentary playhouse appeared.
Since my technical craft skills are on a very rudimentary level as well, the cardboard playhouse of course looked terrible. Definitely not like the beautiful playhouse that I had envisioned when I first mentioned it to Helmut. So I quickly grabbed my camera and took the above picture, which I emailed to Helmut: 'Within a little while, you will be begging me for a beautiful playhouse instead!'
But of course even a very rudimentary playhouse needs a little bit of fun, so I added the paper bunting that Rosa and I had been crafting together a few days before...
And then I thought: wouldn't it be fun if they can peek through that front door?
And then I thought: this terribly ugly playhouse would look at least a little bit better with a roof on it...
And with their names written on it, and when drawing and doodling anyway, why not add some more?
But what a playhouse really needs, is curtains...
At this point I started thinking I was a little crazy, putting way too much of my time and energy into a big cardboard box that probably wouldn't last for more than a few days' play. But it was just such a fun thing to do, and I couldn't help but imagine how happy and surprised Rosa would be when she'd come home from daycare and see her little house. And well, okay, I was kind of challenged to win this argument too ;).
Since I like to win my battles based on the right arguments (something I've always been extremely good at ;)), I organized the whole offensive carefully. I prepared our video camera, so that I could immediately start filming once I brought the girls home from daycare. And their reaction to the surprise didn't disappoint at all: I was able to make an amazing little video of Rosa (and to a lesser extent Julie too) going crazy with enthusiasm when she saw her playhouse.
When he arrived home all I had to do was show Helmut the video, and when I saw the look on his face I knew this was a battle won. Well I guess you'd need a heart of stone to resist the joy Rosa expressed ;).
By now the playhouse has been played with for over a week, and it's been a big hit with both Rosa and all of her friends (even with the elder ones!). But with all this enthusiastic and wild play the house is already suffering quite a bit. So when I later casually brought up the subject of a real playhouse again, it was Helmut who said: 'This cardboard house has the perfect size for a playhouse, hasn't it? So we'd need something approximately this size.' And when I started explaining my idea to maybe build something ourselves with plywood sheets, he even nodded with something that could be explained as careful enthusiasm. At least that's what I'd like to think ;).
So to be continued I guess!
Lucky for us we don't always disagree on interior decorating decisions... True, a lot of my ideas have to marinate a little while, but in the end Helmut quite often agrees (and the ones he strongly disagrees with weren't always my best ideas I must admit). So when we first spotted an Acapulco chair in a shop Helmut wasn't enthusiastic at all ('Not comfortable!'), but when I put the subject to rest for a little while and then brought it up again, mentioning some of it's advantages (I think 'I can sit in it reading while you can watch tv on the sofa' was decisive here), we quickly agreed on the purchase of a red one.
After some trouble ordering (apparently I had ordered the very last red Acapulco chair on earth, and then they told me even that one was gone already, and then they had somehow found one again...) the Acapulco chair finally was delivered, in a huge cardboard box.
After putting the chair in the living room I was left with that giant cardboard box, and I was already getting a bit annoyed by it because it was blocking our whole hallway and I had no idea where to put it. But then it dawned on me... In Dutch we say 'the bold ones have half the world', well I guess the creative ones have the other half of it!
It may sound trivial, and also a bit funny when there's one person involved who cares a lot about interior design (well, me) and one person who hardly cares at all, but sometimes we can have real arguments about things interior-related. The issue usually is a less/more dilemma: I want to add more things to our home, Helmut wants less. Oh, and then of course there's also the beautiful versus functional debate...
You see, lately I've been getting very enthusiastic about the idea of some sort of playhouse for the girls. You know, a place just for them, for all kinds of play. So when we were discussing possible ideas for a birthday gift for Rosa and Julie, I enthusiastically started showing some of the playhouse ideas that I had been collecting lately. The playhouse concept can come in a lot of different ways, from the Waldorf-style 'playstands' to a garden hut or a collapsible tent or tipi. Everything is possible, from a huge house to something that can be hidden away easily...
image sources can be found here
... but apparently when I was expressing my idea to Helmut I hadn't made this 'any size/form is possible' idea clear enough, because somehow he immediately envisioned that I wanted a huge playhouse in the middle of his beloved spacious living room. Enter less/more conflict! And then he also assumed that what I wanted was something that looked great, but wasn't necessarily fun or practical. Enter conflict #2, the beauty versus function debate...
So there we were, I thought I had a great idea for the birthday of our girls, something they could have lots of fun with (and well okay, also a fun new decorating project for me) and he thought that I had just found a sneaky way to add another big object to a room that we had agreed on would remain spacious and not overly-filled with stuff and furniture. Apparently I had been expressing too much enthusiasm about the idea of the Waldorf playstands (see second image above), which I must admit are kind of big, because no matter how often I kept repeating that a playhouse could also be a simple tent that can be hidden away easily, Helmut kept coming back to his objection to the idea of our living room becoming like a big Waldorf kindergarten. 'But it can also be a very small tent!' I kept repeating. In vain. Somehow he wasn't enthusiastic about the idea of some sort of playhouse at all, and in order not to ruin our evening we rounded off the subject and started talking about the idea of a bike for Rosa, something that we could both agree on. Exit playhouse, it seemed...
A few years ago I found this beautiful little 1950s cupboard, and I immediately thought that it would be a lovely 'little library' for Rosa's books. In fact the cupboard looks a bit like those 1950s school cabinets, maybe it already once was a little library? Oh, it seemed such a sweet vision: my lovely little girl (in her 1950s dress ;)) who'd carefully pick her favorite book from that beautiful organized little library, and then of course she'd read from it in her cozy reading nook for hours...
But unfortunately in this household open cupboards and young kids aren't such a happy combination, or well, maybe in a way they are: as soon as we put Rosa's books in the little library, it became her habit to take out all of her books every day. In one quick, sweeping movement. Usually about an hour after she'd woken up already all the books were all over the floor, and if we'd put them back in the cabinet during her afternoon nap, an hour later they were already all over the floor again. And with a daily routine like that, we were already happy when the books were back in their cabinet at the end of the day, and couldn't find the motivation to put them back in the little library in a very organized way. So in the best case the little library looked like on the photo below: with the books inside, but not exactly like that beautiful organized little library that I once envisioned (gosh, and she refused to wear those 1950s dresses too! ;)).
And believe me, I love her reading all her books all the time, I really do, but I hate stumbling on books that are all over the floor constantly, and I hate putting those same books back in the same cabinet over and over, and then still having to look at a messy little library! (and please, don't get me started about teaching a toddler how to tidy up... ;))
And with a new crawling toddler ready to attack the poor little library, our equally nosey little Julie, all of a sudden I came up with this luminous idea: just put much less books in the cupboard (and give up on my romantic dream of the little library for a little while)! I took out more than half of the books and put those on an 'out of reach' location, and now I just rotate the books that are available for Rosa and Julie to grab every so often. Not extremely clever or anything, I'm the first to admit (it's in all the books isn't it? 'Rotate toys!' 'Don't put too many things within reach!'), but hey, it works ;).
So now we have a nice temporary solution that isn't too messy and not too impossible to keep organized, and who knows maybe one day the time is ready for that dream of the perfectly organized little library!
There's certain parts of decorating a house that I love and find easy, and there's several parts that I think are utterly difficult. I have no problem at all finding chairs, tables, cupboards and things such as prints, wallpapers and ceramics. I love to add those elements to my interior and I like to experiment with them. On the other hands things such as carpets and curtains... oh drama!
You see I do have a bit of a curtain trauma from our previous home. I chose dark brown ones (which was a compromise, I actually wanted white ones and Helmut wanted dark ones, long story ;)) and the moment we hung them I already knew I had made a mistake. I never liked them and they kept annoying me for years, but hey, they were quite expensive and if I replaced them, who knew my next choice would turn out better? And just like that a terrible lack of curtain-confidence showed up in my life.
Same thing goes for carpets. They're also big and expensive and they can really define a place. You usually can't test them and it's difficult to imagine how they'll look in your home, so it's not hard to make a mistake that can't be undone easily. It's tempting to just choose a simple neutral one, but I usually find neutral things boring, and when I'm about to spend lots of money on something big I just prefer to spend it on something that I've really fallen in love with, and not on something that's neutral and that 'at least won't be a terrible mistake'.
So when I fell in love with vintage Turkish kilims a while ago, I was challenged to come out of my 'curtains-are-scary-and-carpets-even-more' comfort zone. I found gorgeous ones online from a Turkish etsy seller, but this meant not being able to see them in real life and having to base this big and scary decorating decision on a few pictures. I really loved these carpets, but well, they weren't exactly neutral. And what would the colors be like in real life, would they match with the other colors in our living room?
After nights of pondering I had made a shortlist of two favorites: one that I thought would go best with the colors of the living room, and one that I was simply in love with, even though it's colors didn't quite match the rest of the house. And then I just couldn't choose... The safe and relatively neutral option or the foolish love?
At a certain point even Helmut -who thought those kilims were a crazy waste of money in the first place- started to push me to buy one, because he got tired of my long nights of staring with a puzzled look at those two possible kilims at the computer screen, then looking at their possible future spot in the living room, then looking at the two options again, then looking at the living room again... And that for hours at a stretch ;).
But well, lack of curtain-and-carpet-confidence is a condition not to be underestimated... So I hesitated, considered, pondered and doubted till my 'neutral option' sold out.
And then I realized that there was no time to lose: fate forced me to choose foolish love!
So now we own a crazily colorful vintage woolen kilim instead of a neutral cream colored one, and after some first moments of shock and 'what have I done', I'm falling in love with it more and more every day. And my neutral curtains are not too bad either ;).
Oh and if you wonder if the mess on the floor is part of my new Selby-like photo styling... No, this is just what it looks like here on a good day.
Pictures brought to you by me and my little helper... always happy to fiercely pull my hair the moment I'm just about to take a photo!
We've already faced it a long time ago: we're just not handy people. Here we don't love renovating ramshackle houses, we find no challenge or satisfaction in learning all kinds of building skills and we're terrible at finding working solutions for any kind of technical problem. It probably doesn't sound too grown-up, but in fact we need the help of a handyman for about any smaller or larger task in the house...
Lucky for us we've found a good handyman, who probably likes us too because we hire him a lot. And he probably also thinks we're idiots, that too. Each time we present him our list of things we want him to do, I see that look on his face, a mix of wonder and amusement: 'Do they really hire me for this? That's the easiest thing in the world... Well, whatever!'
I must say it's sometimes a bit annoying to be dependant of the visits of the handyman for each lamp that has to be hung on the ceiling and for each nail that has to be put in the wall, but on the other hand it's worth avoiding the stress that comes with every odd job that we try to do and the mess that most of our attempts bring.
With each visit of the handyman, the house turns more into a home, and the good thing of having to wait for him is that it tempers my impulsive decorating quirks a bit. Or well, other people tell me that's a good thing ;).
Hobbies, you'd better start not too many of them... I always hear myself complain about lack of time, yet I keep starting on new things. When I saw this super simple tutorial on printing on children's clothes at Anki's blog I knew I had to try it some time. And since I've always been a friend of buying way too many craft supplies and a huge pile of clothes at once, then getting started immediately without reading the manual properly, and that way destroying the whole bunch and throwing everything in a corner after the first attempt (remember this one?), I thought this would be something for me ;). Not to blame the tutorial for that by the way, which is good and easy, it's just me who does this kind of thing!
And guess what: it's fairly simple and lots of fun, the paint seems to last through laundry even though like always I hadn't read the manual properly (the manual is about thirteen words, saying something like 'use ink on already washed fabric and iron after the ink has dried', but somehow I had managed to miss the 'use on already washed fabric' part and had started printing on brand new stuff ;)) and therefore I haven't already thrown all the supplies in a corner, but in fact I've bought some more and now have a whole pile of clothes waiting to be printed...
And now I quickly must go back to all my neglected knitting projects, I still have a bunch of those to finish too!
I haven't quite chosen any kind of official career path, and when people ask me what I do I never know what to call myself. Periods of satisfaction and happiness about what I do are regularly alternated with periods of doubt, in which I feel that all of this isn't really leading anywhere. Then all the good things that happened so far seem a stroke of luck that I don't know how to continue with.
I often experience such a period of doubt after I've been 'absent' for a while. I felt this way when I started working again after my maternity leave from Rosa, and now after this long period of Julie's maternity leave and the months in which we were busy moving house I feel it again. There's this mix of lots of ideas on the one hand yet on the other hand not knowing if they're good ones and how to get started with them. The feeling that I should improve and renew, invest or take big steps, but not exactly knowing how.
And then in the middle of such a period the most beautiful book arrives on my doorstep: Print & pattern kids, this huge and gorgeous children's print, pattern and illustration bible by Print & Pattern's Bowie Style. With some pages showing my designs inbetween pages featuring the work of illustration, print and design icons such as Alain Gree, Marimekko, Orla Kiely and Cath Kidston, and many other great designers and illustrators. Yikes! Must have done something right somehow ;).
The book is crazily inspiring, so many different styles of print and illustration, you just want to immediately grab your pencils and start drawing. I suppose that's a warning ;).
... I guess I still hadn't fully realized that nothing in this house is really mine anymore!
Anyway, the scarf was finished a while ago and it's super warm and cozy, and Rosa seems to agree ;).
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 email@example.com.