January and February, they're my least favorite months of the year. These days I'm finding myself feeling so slow and indecisive (I haven't checked my blog archives, but if I would I'd probably find I'm always feeling this way this time of the year!). It's so annoying: it sometimes takes me days to come to the simplest decisions, and there's this sauce of doubt around literally everything. Like: choosing a large IXXI collage for our black wall. So much to choose from, I just never seem to reach a decision. Same thing goes for finding a holiday destination for just a short, simple trip. And then I'm not even talking about the more important decisions, like choosing a school for Rosa... (Montessori versus Waldorf... anyone? ;))
Hope this will pass soon... I guess it's mainly just waiting for Spring to arrive. Meanwhile I'm trying to surround myself with lots of color and happy things!
A while ago I started writing some guest posts for the blog of the nice Dutch children's webshop Kleine Sam, where some other creative moms are writing about their daily lives as well. So far I've been addressing some of my favorite subjects: messy homes and messy kids. No, just kidding, my main topic will be children's clothing, a subject that I love but that has become a bit neglected since I stopped updating my coolkidsclothes blog (which by the way wasn't a conscious decision, I loved making that blog but I just didn't have the time and energy to keep doing it well).
Anyway, the blogs are in Dutch, so please click below if you're interested in...
my messy home (well, yeah...)
There are certain activities that I try to avoid when it's just me and the kids. Grocery shopping is one of them. Bringing a few quick things from the supermarket on a walk with the double stroller (so with both girls safely inside) isn't a problem, though lately Rosa isn't that keen on remaining seated anymore, and chasing her through a supermarket with a huge stroller and a basket filled with groceries isn't that much fun. No, I mean the big groceries, that involve extensive shopping lists, a heavily stocked cart, lots of big shopping bags, dragging everything to the car and all that. Then carrying/directing two young girls along the way is just a bit too much for my 'yes-I-am-a-woman-but-somehow-I-don't-have-that-super-multitask-gene'-nerves.
Helmut never really understands my objections: he thinks grocery shopping with two kids is a bit of a challenge, but definitely not impossible or anything. And in his Can-do view, taking just one of them is even easy peasy. So I had myself convinced to try it again, with only Julie with me this time. But tell me: what to do when your kid falls asleep in the little seat of the shopping cart, with her head and neck in some sort of weird rotated position, while your cart is filled to the brim with all kinds of groceries?
Well, then you take your heavy, sleeping kid out and hold her in your arms, meanwhile you try to put all the groceries on the conveyor belt with just one hand, then you take your coat off (also with one hand, not as easy as you would think!) and put it in the now empty shopping cart, then you lay your sleeping kid with her head on top of this improvised pillow, then you put all the groceries into some enormous bags, then you try to ride the shopping cart to the parking lot with one hand (while you have two terribly heavy bags in the other), then you put everything in the car, bring back the cart, take out the sleeping kid, take her sleeping twelve kilograms in your now aching arms again, walk back to the car and try to put her in her seat without waking her up...
Oh, that's it: maybe I should have tried to wake her up in the first place ;).
Lately I've been finding myself in the middle of some sort of weird contradiction. It's not a big, life changing thing (and often I wonder why I bother at all), but still it occupies my mind. It has to do with houses, with interiors, with blogs, with images, with the love for beautiful things and creativity on the one hand and with a dislike for too much materialism and maybe even keeping up appearances on the other hand. Let me try to make myself a little clearer.
Houses, interior decoration and design have always been something I love, and magazines, books, blogs and all kinds of beautiful interior images are a great source of inspiration. In fact I'm sort of 'eating' images: I never seem to get enough of looking at inspiring interiors, and in particular since I started following interior design blogs years ago (and Pinterest more recently) I have access to an ongoing flow of this particular kind of 'eye candy'. I guess this large and constant flow of images must be partly causing my issue (I'm probably overdosing!), though maybe some of it is also inherent to this term eye candy: it's sweet and attractive, it offers easy satisfaction and is maybe even a bit addictive, but it isn't very healthy and it might leave you feeling a little sick and not fulfilled on a deeper level.
So there's something about interior styling and photography, and all the blogs and magazines dedicated to it, that both attracts and annoys me. It must have something to do with the gap between image and reality, and with the feeling that a real life interior can never compete with the perfect image that is shown on the blog or magazine picture. All of us who love interior photography know that these images are being created, finetuned, manipulated. There's a woman sitting at the table, supposedly flipping through a magazine, supposedly nipping from a beautiful cup of tea, supposedly she's just eaten a perfect little bite from a yummy looking sandwich that has been carefully put on a lovely plate. There are like six small vases with lots of different flowers on the table, some well-curated small piles of books and magazines (with one or two casually laying open on top of the pile), some chairs 'randomly' placed around the table. It all looks random, if it's been done well, but everything is in the perfect place. It's like playing real life, but in a better, more beautiful way.
And of course that isn't wrong. This isn't an accusation, taking good pictures and trying to make things look beautiful isn't a crime or anything. We like looking at beautiful interior photos, at least I do. In fact my own home has been in some books and magazines, and I've been that woman at the table supposedly bringing that cup of tea towards her mouth, moving slowly to avoid blurry pictures, repeating the movement at least five times till the picture was right. It's awkward, it's fake, it's fun.
Then what is it that I grow more and more uneasy with? Maybe it's the fact that in my own house, with two young kids, the gap between picture perfect and 'real life' is becoming larger and larger. Maybe it's just some kind of jealousy because I can never have it the way I'd really want it here anymore, interiorwise. But maybe it's also that all these images of 'styled real life' at a certain point start interfering with your view of 'actual real life'. I regularly find myself looking at my house almost as though I'm viewing it through a lens, checking it for things that 'disturb the image'. Sometimes I see the kids playing on the sofa with a mess of blankets and pillows, and then I almost want to step in to move some of the pillows because in a different arrangement they'll look nicer together. That's weird! I know that I'm not the only one who gets crazy sometimes because of the mess the kids make, but while most people don't seem to like mess because it's disorderly and all that, I find myself worrying more about the mess ruining some sort of imaginary picture...
I know we're all supposed to say that we're not being influenced by perfect pictures. Seeing beautiful people in magazines and on tv shouldn't influence our self-esteem (because we know that we can't all be like them), seeing people on social media live great lives shouldn't make us worry about our own (because we know that they mainly show us the good parts), seeing people live in perfect houses shouldn't make us question the place we live in. We know, I know. But it's also known that, just as people in advertisement very well realize, images are often stronger and more powerful than knowledge. And beautiful images are all about seduction, about creating a desire. My home would look so much better with that quirky vintage chair, such great new tableware, those posters on the wall...
So sometimes I wonder how I can say yes and no at the same time. Say yes to beauty, to creativity, to inspiration and to being inspired. To a bit of dreaming and a bit of longing. But to say no to unrealistic views of daily life in an ever-lovely looking house. To say no to wanting new things all the time. And in particular to say no to that in interior photography omnipresent silly 'casually-thrown-on-the-sofa' blanket that never stays in the right place for longer than three minutes here ;).
This kind of thing is what usually happens to nice accessories such as throw blankets round here ;).
Really, it's the best clock ever...
... but I can't pretend I took this picture today, or yesterday, or even last week ;).
One of the good things about keeping some sort of blog or journal is that it's such a nice record of what's happening right here, right now. It's a fast and easy way to save some images of/thoughts about what's going on in our daily life that's flying by so crazily fast. I like the idea that I can go back to a certain date, even years ago, and see some glimpses of what life was like back then. And who knows, if blogs like these can be preserved in some way or another, maybe even Rosa and Julie can look back at those small records of their daily life as young kids when they're older.
But the disadvantage of this 'here and now' concept of blogs is that if you don't keep the record straight away, you'll probably never do it anymore. I take lots of pictures, but often I don't have the time or energy to properly edit them and turn them into something that feels worth posting. And then once I finally have some time on my hands, the pictures are already weeks old and their 'blog momentum' seems gone: cute pictures of a toothless Julie (who now already has nine teeth), some nice images of the house two or three incarnations before it's current one (I do still have some nice images of all our freshly wallpapered walls in a further still empty house, anyone interested?), funny images of a city trip during our Christmas holiday... They often already seem way too much 'in the past' once I get the chance to have a proper look at the pictures.
So I think it's about time to show you some of our 2013 summer holiday pictures... ;)
Back then Julie was only a 7-month-old baby and we were in the middle of our big moving house project. Before we bought the house, we had already booked a summer holiday to this nice place called Boheems Paradijs, a small holiday site where you can stay in original 1950s and 1960s circus and gypsy caravans. And though the timing turned out to be a bit inconvenient (the holiday was planned exactly halfway the month that we had for renovating and moving into our new house), we decided to go anyway, because everyone needs a holiday every so often, right?
It was very hot, Julie was sick for the first few days and we did have some moving house stress at the beginning of the holiday... But it was a great place for a short holiday with young kids, and the vintage caravans with their colorful retro interiors were fairly cool!
Well, that's about all I remember... Which once again proves that it's wise to keep track of things immediately if you want to keep some memories!
The girls got their new playhouse: it's become the Kidsonroof Casa Cabana. It's a really fun house, but unfortunately not very sturdy: the first window already broke down after less than an hour of play... So I guess if they keep enjoying it as much as they do now, we must really start looking for a more 'permanent solution playhouse' ;).
About two years ago I wrote about how Rosa wanted to become a librarian...
Well, turns out we have another candidate!
Lately Julie started doing the exact same thing that Rosa did two years ago (though in a different house and with a different bookcase): pulling out all the books and tearing off the pages of her favorites. The favorites they've chosen do differ by the way: while Rosa could never get enough of Adriaan van Dis' Palmwijn, Julie prefers The Reader by Bernhard Schlink, and Sylvia Plath's The bell jar of course ;).
But hey Julie, we already have a librarian here, and almost like she's never been a young girl herself, she knows just what to do with little vandals like you: she shouts 'No no no no no Julie!' and makes sure you'll never have your favorites within reach again!
And... another little party animal!
Oh Julie, it seems crazy that only a year ago you were the tiniest of babies! (at least in our view) These days you're so very adventurous, cheerful and strong-willed, and there's so much more of you (both in body and mind! ;)). Have a great birthday my sweet little one!
Oh I know, this is one of those things that you can spend way too much time on while you shouldn't... Etsy has this tool called 'rearrange your shop', and you can use it to arrange the display of all your shop listings. And since I can't stand it when there isn't a 'right balance' in the display of images in my shop (as you can see below, I prefer an 'open-close' image structure ;)), I often find myself moving images from one place to the other till it finally feels right. As you can imagine I always feel a little disturbed when an item (or more than one... the horror!) gets sold... Though it's always a nice opportunity to start rearranging again ;).
By the way the postcard sets are on sale right now: nine postcards (but in fact there are even ten in each package, there's always a mystery card added!) for EUR 7 instead of 10... and there's a nice new offer coming up later!
(Oh and for those of you who share my little obsession: no worries, what you see in line seven and eight didn't just slip my mind, in the shop there's a page break inbetween! ;))
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.