Ninainvorm
a blog about art, craft, design and beautiful everyday life
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Maybe you can also find my stuff in your neighbourhood! Click here to see an up-to-date list of where you can buy my products.

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Interested in selling Ninainvorm postcards, posters, art prints or ceramics in your own shop? You can send me an email at ik_ben_nina@hotmail.com to hear about the possibilities!

With a second child, the developmental milestones sometimes go by a bit more unnoticed. Of course we didn't miss out on Julie's first steps, or on the first time she said 'stupid mom!' (which she already said at eighteen months by the way, she's quite the prodigy actually ;-)), but some things just already seem more 'normal' with a second one. However yesterday something happened that was so cool, even though it might not be in the average 'milestone book', and I remembered again how much I loved this when it first happened to Rosa as well: Julie had her very first, unstoppable, bursting-with-laughter belly laugh ('de slappe lach', as we say in Dutch).

We were eating toast, and all of a sudden this girl grabbed my toast, said 'Tjonge jonge jonge' (which is something like 'Oh my oh my oh my') and then seemed to realize how funny she was saying that, because she started to laugh and couldn't stop, while repeating 'Tjonge jonge jonge' in every little break that the giant, uncontrollable laugh granted her. 

Oh, how these are the moments to remember!

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Last week we took the girls to the famous dutch amusement/fairytale park the Efteling for the first time. It was a beautiful sunny autumn day, and besides the fact that Rosa was terrified of the big dragon (her dad was smart enough to show her a little movie featuring the famous fire breathing dragon a few days before we'd go) everything went quite smooth. (Oh, and besides the fact that both girls threw up in the car on our way there... But further, really, it all went quite okay ;))

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It's probably the corner you've seen most often on this blog, because I've used it for photos of my posters quite often and well, also because I have kind of a soft spot for my vintage school cupboard (aka the little library, or at least the dream of it).

So throughout time this little corner of our living room has already gone through quite a few incarnations...

But as you can imagine an open cupboard like this (that's also home to some toys, children's clothes and books) can quickly turn from the cutest part of the room to the messiest part of the room. And after I wrote this I realized that I indeed really like that you can see that kids live here, but that on the other hand not every corner of our living room should have to be occupied by toys and children's stuff. 

So I decided to try and reclaim this one little corner...

Which of course wasn't all that easy: after I'd taken some stuff off the shelves to declutter them a bit, Julie immediately took her chance and thought that the now empty shelf was the perfect place where she could put her dolls to bed... So quickly I had to reclaim my little corner not just from the toys, but from a whole doll's entourage... Now try that if you have a heart! ;)

Of course not all the childish stuff had to go: I happen to be sort of a big child myself, who can really like things that are officially designed for children. So it's a bit of a balancing act not to let the toys take over from the grown-up stuff anyway ;).

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Sometimes I get the feeling that the play area of our living room is some sort of living creature, that is slowly but surely taking over the living room. Each morning when we wake up, that nasty animal has occupied some more space, and in fact I'm fairly certain that one day it'll eat us all alive.

Oh, I know I've probably also been one of those people who, in some harsh kind of pre-kids-era, has bravely said things like 'I'm never ever going to live in a kindergarten' or 'Those kids just have to learn to value a grown-up design interior from an early age'. Well, guess what? They don't ;).

Sometimes it really drives me crazy, all those toys and all the playing everywhere. Tidying up the same silly stuff six times a day. At a certain point Helmut and I found ourselves solving those same enormous wooden puzzles every night, not because the girls loved making puzzles so much, but because they just liked to casually turn them upside down once a day. So the puzzles went up to the attic and no one has ever asked for them again ;).

Oh and then of course we still have this...

But truth is that besides the annoyance that those toys and the all-over-play sometimes bring, I actually love this play area a lot. It's so good to see how the girls really have room to play, how they come up with the funniest games, how they interact and connect with each other more and more. I love to see how they really have their own little world here.

And of course I must admit that I'm the main person who keeps adding new things, like the little school table and chairs recently. However I must say I wasn't the one who  secretly brought in a whole bucket of acorns and wettish autumn leaves the other day... (I did have to pick them up from all over the room though ;))

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Maastricht, summer 2014.

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I never really missed a garden when we didn't have one, though at the end of our apartment-period I sometimes envisioned how awesome it would be when you'd just have to open your kitchen door to be outside. Now I actually enjoy having a garden even more than I could have imagined. Even though it is just a small garden, there's such a sense of freedom in being able to step outside every once in a while (especially when there's a lot of noise and yelling inside ;)).

Recently we finally hung the vintage camper birdhouse that I bought on etsy a little while ago. Rosa, who has been obsessed with caravans since we slept in one on last year's holiday, just couldn't imagine why the birdhouse was still vacant the next morning: how was it possible that those stupid birds hadn't moved in straight away? Ah well, their loss ;).

 

 

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In general I tend to avoid showing my crappy phone pictures here (there's a good reason why I'm not on Instagram, besides the fact that I have an internet-free phone ;)), but in this case I had to abandon that rule because I just had to show you a glimpse of how amazing the Fiep Westendorp exhibition at the Gemeentemuseum in Helmond is.

Months ago I read about the exhibition on Octavie's blog, and though we made plans to go visit straight away, in the end it took us a few more months before we finally paid the museum a visit. And so glad we did! First of all because this is an absolutely amazing exhibition for young kids, something you don't see very often. There was so much room for fantasy, play and discovery that our girls got slightly manic (though in a good way) the first few minutes they saw everything. Then they just started to play and enjoyed everything they saw around them. So many of Fiep Westendorp's famous illustrations really came to life in larger than life decors, and everywhere there were little corners where kids could join their favorite book scenes and play along.

I was also quite impressed myself. Here in the Netherlands we are so very used to seeing Fiep Westendorp's illustrations everywhere (not in the least on so many shelves filled with HEMA Jip & Janneke merchandise) and her style has become so familiar that we hardly notice the beauty, art and craftmanship of her work anymore. It was mainly the art aspect that struck me when I saw so many of Fiep Westendorp's original drawings. When you looked close, almost every piece was a masterpiece, and so much more than 'just a children's book illustration'.

So if you're anywhere near Helmond in the next two weeks (yes, unfortunately there are only two more weeks to go) you should definitely allow yourself and your kids the joy and inspiration to spend a few hours in Fiep Westendorp's illustrative world. I promise you won't be disappointed! (And probably you'll end up taking millions of crappy phone pictures just like me, so if you want to avoid that, do bring a proper camera! ;))

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One of the things that I find most difficult about running a small online art/craft/design business, is to what extent I can and want to keep up with the constant hunger for new things, new styles and changing trends that I see around me, and that I also notice in myself. Like a lot of people I'm always curious to see new designs and products and each season's new collections. Not necessarily because I feel that we should change our complete clothing style or interior with each fresh collection (not at all, in fact), but I guess it's sort of a natural thing that we're always more interested in new things to come than in what we already know. 

I also notice this when it comes to the things I sell: though I wish I could say that every little piece I make is a timeless classic, truth is that most of the things that I made a few years ago (and that some people also bought back then) don't get that much attention anymore these days. Usually I get a bit bored with them myself as well after some time, and there aren't that many things I made a few years ago that I still really like today. So from the things that I started selling about six years ago, only a few are still for sale right now, usually in a version much altered throughout time. And of course it's usually more fun to start working on new ideas than to keep repeating old ones, so then it's out with the old and in with the new. 

But sometimes it bothers me, maybe almost in a theoretical way: why is it so hard to keep liking something 'old', something you've maybe already seen many times, why do we constantly seem to be trapped in this desire for new things, for change? And then why does the new already seem old again after a few weeks? Is it simply because getting used to something means it can't surprise us anymore? Or is it all about quality and about the fact that most things turn out to be mediocre in the end, instead of timeless classics?

Maybe there's also the possibility that I just get bored too quickly... (I know quite a few people who still live in a perfect 1980s decor fairly happily, without ever complaining about feeling bored ;)) So maybe this is just me trying to turn my own quirk into some kind of universal issue.

Anyway, sometimes it can be interesting to look back at the (near) past. A while ago I quit selling some of the prints that I had made a few years earlier, but a bit to my surprise I regularly kept receiving requests for the alphabet print (the one that was featured in this great book about a year ago). So I came up with some sort of 'in with the old and in with the new' solution: the original A4-sized print is now available again as a larger poster and also as a postcard.

You can purchase the poster (and also a lot of newer, less retro ones ;)) here

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It's been a very good summer so far, both when it comes to enjoying our holiday and when it comes to work.

There'll be lots of new posters and postcards available next week...

I hope to give you an update on all of it real soon, but first we're up to some more (last) bits of enjoying our summer holiday!

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Before I had kids I never could have imagined that I would have something specific to say about playgrounds and such. But now that I'm a mother, it turns out that I do.

Really, sometimes I wonder who designs these playgrounds. They are supposed to be places where kids can have a good time, aren't they? But aren't they supposed to offer the parents of these kids at least the slightest bit of relaxation as well? My girls love playgrounds and I like going out with them as well, so by now we've seen quite a few, and it still keeps surprising me how child- and parent unfriendly these places can be. They're situated next to roads with busy traffic, with no fence or border whatsoever. They have slides meant for young kids with stairs so difficult to climb that only super gymnastic at-least-eight-year-olds can mount them by themselves. Or there's dog poop all over the place (seriously dog owners, using a playground as your dog's toilet?).

So no matter how much we like visiting playgrounds, often it's just quite a stressful experience (for me, that is ;)) with two girls running in two different directions, one towards a busy road and the other one towards a ditch. Helping one climbing the slide while the other one wants me to push her on the swing. Making sure that the youngest one isn't hit by another kid on a swing. Releasing the eldest one from a climbing rack that turned out a little too high and scary after all. And meanwhile making sure that her younger sister isn't climbing a super high construction that contrary to the young kids' slide is super easily accessible.

The thing is that actually I don't think it should be all that complex: a good playground for young kids (and their parents) should have a proper fence (with just one entrance) and some playground equipment that is designed with the possibilities of the targeted kids in mind. Water and mud are always a simple and good idea, though not in amounts that make the situation dangerous for any kid that can't yet swim.

Lucky for us we do know a place where they've understood these rather simple things. It's a children's farm with lots of animals, and even better: a big 'gnome fairytale wood'. Everyone can bring his leftover garden gnomes here for a cozy retirement in a big gnome garden where kids can play endlessly with and among the gnomes (the people who supervise the place are super relaxed about kids playing with the gnomes and moving them around). There's a playground with a lot of sand that becomes a giant mud pool after each heavy shower (which the kids love and I -after a deep breath, because they always end up as muddy little piglets- love too, because in the end there's nothing better than seeing your kids whirling in the mud enthusiastically). They have lots of children's bikes and cars and plenty of room for driving them. The play area is quite large, but since there's only one entrance, as a parent it's relatively easy to maintain overview. They even serve coffee and some (super simple) snacks.

The fun thing is that this isn't a super fancy place at all: it's freely accessible and mainly run by volunteers. It's relaxed and a bit messy in a charming way. They don't serve expensive food or drinks and it's all totally mix and match, but then really (so not the fashionable kind ;)).

And while the girls play in the mud, sometimes their mama can even spend a few lazy minutes on a bench. Now that's what I call a playground! 

Curious about this place? Here you can find it's details.

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About Ninainvorm

My name is Nina, I'm a ceramics and paperwares designer and mom of Rosa and Julie. This blog is about making, living, liking, loving and so much more!

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

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