Archive | September, 2010

naptime and vintage night lights

28 Sep

Mouse night light, Vintage-toys.com

 When I get around to writing a new post (which is becoming increasingly infrequent, unfortunately), it’s usually either 11-something in the morning or 4-something in the afternoon.   Needless to say, I love naptime.   It’s crucial that naptimes are as peaceful and productive as possible, for both the kid and for me.   

In addition,  today’s rain reminds me that winter is coming soon to the Northeast.  And I’m  reminded of the darkness and chill that seems to find a home in our house during that time of year.  I’m not good with gloom, and I’m the kind of person who turns on every single lamp in the house to defer it.  For Fionn’s sake, I’m determined to fix the situation in his room too, and upgrade his lighting as well.  I’m getting rid of those  solar and soulless plug-in nightlights from the drugstore once and for all.  So in the search for something with more character,  I’ve discovered vintage night lights.  A great example is the mouse at top (from Vintage-toys.com), from the 50s or 60s.

Mouse, switched on

Vintage night lights are fantastic.  Instead of plugging into the wall, they’re more like little figurines that sit on the dresser.  They’re either ceramic or made of plastic, relatively inexpensive (around $30), and adorable.  The only drawback I see is that sometimes they require rewiring (understandable, after 50 years of use!) Here are some of my favorites.  Oh, and if they’re  gone by the time you read this, keep looking – they show up all the time on Ebay and Etsy.

Pink and blue plastic whale, Ruby Lane

This little whale is being sold on Ruby Lane for $20.

Ceramic shell nightlight, Bonanzle

For the traditionalist, a ceramic shell – more like a TV lamp, it lights up at the back.  $15 at Bonanzle.com

Cerramic bunny, Ebay

Bunny, at night

I personally love the figural night lights because A) they’re adorable and B) they light up in really cute ways.   This bunny is great – its ears and tail light up for you.  If you like it, hurry up; the auction on Ebay is ending soon. 

Ceramic puppy, Mary Had A Little Lamp, Etsy

Saved the best for last.  If you love vintage children’s lighting, you must check out the Etsy shop called Mary Had A Little Lamp.   Specializing in lighting for nurseries and playrooms, the items on offer are often rewired and in immaculate condition.  Is this puppy the cutest thing ever? Yes, the light shines from his little bum, but I can overlook that. It sells for $45 and would be a great start to your collection.  And with those words, my naptime time is over.

sicky kids and hot water bottle covers

21 Sep
When you’re a new parent, everything is significant.  And nothing is more nerve-racking for both child and parent than a high fever and its companion, the hair-trigger temper and its attendant crying fit (again, for both child and parent).  So in the Daley history books, the second week of September will from here on be known as the time of Cold/Flu Number Two.
Hot Water Bottle Monster by Jaffajaf, Etsy

So what have I learned? First, I’ve got one tough kid.  I’m really proud of him.  And, second, I never knew how many folk remedies my husband can whip up.  While I was surfing the web about antibiotics and second-opinions, my lovely husband was busy in the kitchen, formulating one of his many lemon-and-honey based concoctions.   And although Fionn didn’t really get into the whole chicken broth – tea – Vapo-Rub under the warm towel thing, it sure comforted us.  For what it’s worth, Daddy’s remedies made me feel a heck of a lot better…  (Have I mentioned lately how much I love Lancashire?  Guess the wet North has something to say about keeping kids warm and dry).

And this experience has also made me curious about getting a custom cover for our tough red rubber hot water bottle so Fionn could use it too.  I’m leaning towards the Hot Water Bottle Monster by Jaffajaf, available on Etsy (where else?) for $25.  Based in Brisbane (where else… Australia really has a hold on cool kids stuff right now), Jaffajaf is the nanna-granddaughter team of Yvonne and Debbie.  They’ve got a fantastic touch and I’d highly recommend checking out their online shop.  Their felted dinosaurs are especially wonderful.

Alpaca/Merino Bottle Cover, DWR.com

Looking to go a bit more luxe for your little one?  How about a merino/alpaca wool blend to carefully caress your hot water bottle?  It’s from DWR, and at $70, it’s more of a gift than an everyday purchase, but I can imagine how soft and warm this would be.   And the wool’s got quite a pedigree; apparently, “when not operating their ski lift, four generations of the Steiner family have been spinning, weaving, milling and refining fine woolen cloth at the foot of the Dachstein mountain in the Austrian Alps. Legendary designers and companies like Yves St. Laurent, Bogner, Burberry, Dolce & Gabbana and others have used the high-quality fabrics for their fashions.” 

Pirate Mouse, Amazon.com

But to be honest, I think I’m more of a Pirate Mouse kind of gal.  I’m not sure he’s made near the Swiss Alps, but he is German, if that helps anyone…  Available on Amazon.com for $25.95, I think he could easily become a bedtime favorite (with or without the hot water).

Aran "Jumper" Cover, A Crooked Sixpence, Etsy

If you’re into something more traditional, I’d recommend one of these ‘knitted sweaters’ made expressly for hot water bottles.  The Internet is full of instructions on how to do it yourself (which seems to be a lot of fun to make).  But if you’re like me, and would rather reward those who have perfected the craft, you may want to head over to the shop on Etsy called A Crooked Sixpence.  Above, this is their Aran jumper in the White Chocolate color, for $36.

Red Cashmere Cozy by Honeycreweller, Etsy

But my absolute favorite?  (Yes, I know I started this post talking about my son).   An ‘upcycled’ cashmere sweater.   Taking the logic one step further, why knit when you’ve got perfectly wonderful cashmere right at your fingertips?  The Honeycreweller shop on Etsy offers this one in red for $32; there are other colors available as well.

Ribbon detail, courtesy Honeycreweller

I especially love the contrasting satin ribbon and button closure detail and the blue cotton lining.  Because I know when I’m feeling sicky, beautiful fabrics and coordinating materials really cheer me up.   For Fionn, I think the hot water bottle monster would be a surer bet.

nineteen seventy three cards

16 Sep

Paul Thurlby card

I’m not the first to notice this amazing manufacturer of retro-influenced greeting cards and prints. In fact, I’ve seen the work of 1973ltd on a variety of blogs, most notably a fantastic website called Retro To Go. (They’re London-based, so some of the items they cover are difficult to find stateside… however, you’ll be rewarded for your efforts.)

As their namesake suggests, the company selects relatively new-to-the-scene artists and designers to feature and promote.  You can check out the whole selection here, but my favorites are definitely the cards by Paul Thurlby (whose alphabet “A” is featured at top), Darling Clementine, and Sanna Annukka.

Claudettes by Darling Clementine

And although I think the Thurlby cards are incredibly clever in a vintage way (very Three Potato Four), the Claudettes series by Darling Clementine really captured my heart.  I’m always partial to a mid-century circus/magic-inspired drawing, and I fall for the cut-paper look every time.    Apparently, this collection was designed specifically for 1973, but you can see everything on their (Norwegian) website here.

Badger by Darling Clementine, framed

They also produce a (larger-sized, obviously) screen print of the lion shown above, as well as an elephant,  for GBP 70 here.

Sunflower, Sun Bird, Out at Sea

Lastly, if you haven’t been feeling the whole “1973” theme yet, here are some cards to get you in the avocado-and-maize shag carpet mood. A 2005 graduate from the University of Brighton, Sanna Annukka also brings the Scandinavian influence (and her Finnish heritage) to her work.  These gold foil-detailed cards are incredible examples of her style, and you can mix and match among the 12 versions.

Spirits of the North silkscreen

Also beautiful are her “Spirits of the North” silkscreen posters (above), which are numbered and signed in an edition of 85.  Buy them for GBP 245 on her website.

If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s people decorating their walls with things they’re not crazy about.  (I honestly don’t know how homeowners on these HGTV shows can stand it when Bromstad etc. drag a brush across a canvas, call it ‘art’ for the sake of covering empty space).  Find images you love.  It doesn’t matter whether they’re original paintings, silkscreens, poster prints or photocopies.  As long as they’re meaningful to you, it’s wonderful.

fisher and ryker's room

6 Sep

… And we’re back.

Of course, I’ve decided to start writing again, after a protracted absence, at the start of the Labor Day weekend, a time known as an escape from thinking, work, and, most of all, computers.   So we’ll see how inspired I become to write again before late next week.  Let’s just say it’s a slow process, getting back into the blogging gig.

sugar rush

These past few weeks have been jam-packed…my niece received her Hebrew name, my grandma and aunts visited from Florida, my search for full-time work resumed in earnest, my husband received some fabulous work assignments, and my house was host to friends from abroad and around the block.  But most momentously, my son Fionn turned 1.  Happy birthday my sweet boy.

Here’s a post I’ve had on the back burner, and I’m so pleased to finally share it with you(thanks Braden and Justine, for your patience).    A few weeks back, I sent a request out to my local neighborhood parents’ newsgroup, requesting photos of beautifully-designed kids rooms.   In return, I received a set of beautifully-shot images of the sweetest space, which is shared by two boys named Fisher (2+ years old) and Ryder (4 months).   And through my correspondence, I met the photographer – an incredible woman named Justine Cooper, who specializes in portraits of babies and children.  Long story short, as a result of that post, Fionn has had his first official studio session (a birthday present for my husband) and I’ve got some fabulous inspiration to share with you.

All thanks in advance to Fisher and Ryker’s mom Braden for answering all my questions in great detail about the room – there’s so much great stuff in here it’s hard to decide what to focus on!

Fish-eye view of the room

So let’s start with the basics… You’ll probably recognize the crib as a Stokke, the bed is an IKEA Lycksele sofabed (which folds up into a chair/cot), large rug is from Not Neutral, and the storage unit/bins are Expedit, also from IKEA (See Esther’s roundup of Expedits in nurseries here).  But what makes this room special are the personal, handmade touches Braden added to make the room fun, quirky, colorful, and uniquely Fisher & Ryker’s.

What I especially love is the fact that the room is fully decorated (and full of primary colors) but it doesn’t feel cluttered or haphazard.   Look at the ceiling… one one side is a globe lantern brought back from a trip to London, on the other side is a blue fish windsock send from friends in Japan to celebrate “Japanese Children’s Day” (Kodomo no hi), a festival held on the 5th day of the 5th month every year to ” respect children’s personalities and to celebrate their happiness.” 

There are three other creative touches in this room I’d like to point out – maybe they’ll inspire you for your own kids’ rooms.

Wall Candy Arts decals, customized

1. Turning dots into fish. 

Rather than just taking decal dots directly from the package and sticking them on the wall, Braden cut some of her WallCandyArts decals into fish shapes (and their requisite bubbles). 

'handmade' footprints and tourist hats

2. Turning kitsch into decor

Braden writes, “My sister-in-law bought these animal hats at a cheesy tourist place in Cancun, Mexico… Fisher LOVES them.  I thought that since they were so colorful I might as well make them ‘functional art.'”  (Isn’t it crazy how your kids always gravitate towards the things you’d be least likely to actually want around the house?)  It’s a wonderful way to get stuff like this out of the closet or off the floor, making it top-of-mind and more likely to be played with. 

3. Turning traditional ‘family art’ into wall-worthy pieces. 

Each family member created his/her own footprint painting in the brightest, most colorful color combination possible!

Fisher and friend (and Ikea rats)

What I thought was most interesting about this space is the fact that although it looks large, there’s not alot of actual deep wall space to place traditional furniture against.  This means Braden needs to maximize all her storage cubbies and closets, and it means that as the kids grow, their stuff is going to multiply and grow in towards the center of the space.   And once they get big enough for real beds and desks, Braden’s going to have to be creative about her space planning.  I have all the faith that she’ll do a great job with it…

Thanks again, Braden, for letting me feature your sons’ room, and for all your help.

Any questions about Fisher and Ryker’s room or any of the pieces in it? Please leave a note in the Comments section.   Do you have a room you’d like featured here? Let me know.

fisher and ryker’s room

6 Sep

… And we’re back.

Of course, I’ve decided to start writing again, after a protracted absence, at the start of the Labor Day weekend, a time known as an escape from thinking, work, and, most of all, computers.   So we’ll see how inspired I become to write again before late next week.  Let’s just say it’s a slow process, getting back into the blogging gig.

sugar rush

These past few weeks have been jam-packed…my niece received her Hebrew name, my grandma and aunts visited from Florida, my search for full-time work resumed in earnest, my husband received some fabulous work assignments, and my house was host to friends from abroad and around the block.  But most momentously, my son Fionn turned 1.  Happy birthday my sweet boy.

Here’s a post I’ve had on the back burner, and I’m so pleased to finally share it with you(thanks Braden and Justine, for your patience).    A few weeks back, I sent a request out to my local neighborhood parents’ newsgroup, requesting photos of beautifully-designed kids rooms.   In return, I received a set of beautifully-shot images of the sweetest space, which is shared by two boys named Fisher (2+ years old) and Ryder (4 months).   And through my correspondence, I met the photographer – an incredible woman named Justine Cooper, who specializes in portraits of babies and children.  Long story short, as a result of that post, Fionn has had his first official studio session (a birthday present for my husband) and I’ve got some fabulous inspiration to share with you.

All thanks in advance to Fisher and Ryker’s mom Braden for answering all my questions in great detail about the room – there’s so much great stuff in here it’s hard to decide what to focus on!

Fish-eye view of the room

So let’s start with the basics… You’ll probably recognize the crib as a Stokke, the bed is an IKEA Lycksele sofabed (which folds up into a chair/cot), large rug is from Not Neutral, and the storage unit/bins are Expedit, also from IKEA (See Esther’s roundup of Expedits in nurseries here).  But what makes this room special are the personal, handmade touches Braden added to make the room fun, quirky, colorful, and uniquely Fisher & Ryker’s.

What I especially love is the fact that the room is fully decorated (and full of primary colors) but it doesn’t feel cluttered or haphazard.   Look at the ceiling… one one side is a globe lantern brought back from a trip to London, on the other side is a blue fish windsock send from friends in Japan to celebrate “Japanese Children’s Day” (Kodomo no hi), a festival held on the 5th day of the 5th month every year to ” respect children’s personalities and to celebrate their happiness.” 

There are three other creative touches in this room I’d like to point out – maybe they’ll inspire you for your own kids’ rooms.

Wall Candy Arts decals, customized

1. Turning dots into fish. 

Rather than just taking decal dots directly from the package and sticking them on the wall, Braden cut some of her WallCandyArts decals into fish shapes (and their requisite bubbles). 

'handmade' footprints and tourist hats

2. Turning kitsch into decor

Braden writes, “My sister-in-law bought these animal hats at a cheesy tourist place in Cancun, Mexico… Fisher LOVES them.  I thought that since they were so colorful I might as well make them ‘functional art.'”  (Isn’t it crazy how your kids always gravitate towards the things you’d be least likely to actually want around the house?)  It’s a wonderful way to get stuff like this out of the closet or off the floor, making it top-of-mind and more likely to be played with. 

3. Turning traditional ‘family art’ into wall-worthy pieces. 

Each family member created his/her own footprint painting in the brightest, most colorful color combination possible!

Fisher and friend (and Ikea rats)

What I thought was most interesting about this space is the fact that although it looks large, there’s not alot of actual deep wall space to place traditional furniture against.  This means Braden needs to maximize all her storage cubbies and closets, and it means that as the kids grow, their stuff is going to multiply and grow in towards the center of the space.   And once they get big enough for real beds and desks, Braden’s going to have to be creative about her space planning.  I have all the faith that she’ll do a great job with it…

Thanks again, Braden, for letting me feature your sons’ room, and for all your help.

Any questions about Fisher and Ryker’s room or any of the pieces in it? Please leave a note in the Comments section.   Do you have a room you’d like featured here? Let me know.