I sulked last weekend. The sun was shining, the birds were singing (our resident butcher bird family warbled happily in the tree out back), the weekend was three days long, and I was sulking.
In an effort to throw of the sulk I enlisted SAH to help me cross off a few things on my to do list. And while I was oiling the wood that would eventually be attached to a large vintage school map and allowing it to be re-hung in our dining room, I started to think – stay with me here it’s all relevant, if a little circular.
The smell of Linseed oil makes me sentimental and when I mixed up a jar of furniture restorer (from my mum’s fantastic recipe) I was reminded of my childhood.
I grew up tagging behind my mum as she searched markets, antique stores and op shops adding to her already impressive collection of stuff. My mum grew up tagging behind her father as he picked his way through markets, junk piles and collectable fairs adding to his impressive collection of.. erm junk. Hoarding is in our blood.
It’s also a time honoured family tradition – past from my grandfather to his children and now their children – to slow down as you drive past council collection junk piles, looking for any gold – I’ve heard it referred to as ‘Roadsidia’. Garage sale signs are equally thrilling to spot and follow to as X marks the spot to another’s trash and our potential treasure.
In the days preceding my sulk SAH, Little A and I decided to take a mini road trip down the coast. Obviously this meant honouring the family tradition by stopping whenever I wanted to pick my way through stores or sales – bless SAH and his patience.
At our last stop, Little A could take being in such close proximity to the beach no longer and SAH took him across the road for a splash in the waves, while I looked through a large garage sale.
I stopped in my tracks as I spotted one of my ‘white whales’.
Most collectors I know have a small list of items that they are always on the look out for, sometimes searching for years being driven mad by their elusiveness. My white whales are chairs. I have a thing for them (as well as a surplus of them at home) but I don’t want just any old chairs. I want Eames and Featherston chairs – not too much for ask for right? Well considering I’ve been search for over a decade, apparently yes. The thing that makes these items (that are actually readily available in a few large collectable stores) ‘white whales’ is the price. I don’t want to pay thousands of dollars for them. In fact I don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars for them. I want them for a bargain.
So on this day my palms went sweaty as I saw two green fibreglass Eames chairs. Approaching the seller anticipating finding they were out of my price range I was CRUSHED to find they were already sold and had been $80.
Walking away with the bowling ball of disappointment in my stomach I messaged the only person who would know my pain. My mum. She shared my disappointment and cheekily suggested I stop going to garage sales to avoid such future disappointment. I replied that when I stopped riffling through junk for too long it started impacting my sleep as I would start going to markets in my dreams and find excellent things only to wake up the next morning annoyed at my cruel subconscious.
There was nothing for it, so I sulked. For two days.
Until kind, patient SAH pointed out that it should in fact give me hope that the white whales where still out there, not yet relegated to myth I actually stood a chance of finding them again. At some point. I hope.
I sighed and agreed with him, as I slumped in my chair and SAH laughed at me, gently pointing out the chair I was currently drooped in was a ‘white whale’ – a stamped Eames fibre glass bucket chair bought for a steal a garage sale a few years ago – and I really wasn’t that hard done by.
He was right (don’t tell him that). The thrill of the chase makes collecting addictive and the wanting and needing and (not so attractive) jealously clouds the view to the amazing possessions I have already found.
New mantra? Buck up and enjoy what you have.
Oh and keep your eyes peeled! I’m sorry! I can’t help it!!
The family’s youngest market hunter with his finds: a 70s matchbox truck and ‘Kam Kit Cuba’ camera bag turned man-bag.
You might remember from this post that a couple of months back SAH and I had spent weeks furiously cleaning our house, even going so far as to call in the big guns: SAH’s Super Awesome Mum.
We finished off a hand full of half done projects, SAH even started a new project (thanks for the heart attack babe, it looks great), and generally readied ourselves to have the house photographed by ace photographer Luisa Brimble for a feature in the Beetle Shack’s Creative Family Home Project.
Emily is showcasing one home a month this year on her friendly blog, The Beetle Shack. Inviting her reader’s to take a peek into the creative spaces of some lovely families and we were very chuffed to be asked.
The feature is now live on the blog, so you can pop over and check out our house in all its clean glory. We had but one stipulation – you can’t document our horrible bathroom or kitchen. Those spaces are beyond cleaning and Lightroom filters to make them appear lovely, it’s a pity but some day we will renovate and they will be as fabulous as the rest of the house.
A week after I hosted Em and Luisa I got an email from the features editor at Cosmopolitan magazine. They were looking for ladies who collected strange things; I told them they had contacted the right gal. And a few days later I welcomed a small team of a photographer, stylist and writer into our still clean house to document my dressing room with all its crazy knick-knacks and scary toys.
I am quite pleased with the article as so often what you say can be skewed to make you look ‘kooky’ and more interesting to the general public. I am not pleased however with the fact that my age is as big as my name – gah! And double gah that this Sunday the number will tick over another year.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my birthday in fact I generally have a birthday week (and with all this press it feels like a month of ME!) but I am feeling sorry for myself as I traipse towards 40. Constantly being reminded as I teach students who weren’t born before the Internet became mainstream, that I am old even though I don’t really feel old. I am getting older.
But before I sulk off to ponder life the universe and everything at 35, I have to say that my life so far – as documented in the articles above – has been colourful and interesting. A good combination.
So by now you know we dress a little differently to the mainstream. Our house was chosen for this original era and architectural features. The inside too is filled with old stuff from the period. And yes, we have an old car too albeit in pieces in the garage.
We like the 50s and early 60s.
Coming from separate backgrounds SAH and I were both drawn to Rockabilly music and the culture that surrounds it and in the process we were drawn to each other.
Through this culture and music scene we have forged many friendships with like-minded and equally sartorial people. As we grew older we identified our style less as ‘Rockabilly’ and more ‘Vintage’ (although that word is used a dime a dozen now days and means a little less by encompassing so much).
I found as I got older and wiser about clothes and dressing to suit my shape that I started dispensing with dice earrings, wallet chains, pony tails and girl-quiffs; instead relishing in petticoats, wiggle dresses, capris, play-tops and hot rollers.
This 50s look is not a local trend, it’s a world wide thing and there are many different international festivals that celebrate the music, the clothes, the cars and the general culture of the 50s. I’m not talking Happy Days style diners and poodle skirts either.
One such festival is Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekender which is held in Vegas every Easter. It’s a major pilgrimage for a lot of people who chose to live a vintage lifestyle. We have never gone, it’s not a big thing on our ‘to do’ list but many of our friends go and my Facebook and Instagram feed is always flooded with images of plastic cowboy boot cocktail-cup toting finely dressed lads and ladies.
For the last couple of Easter’s friends of ours have held their own VLV style shindig. Which is to say they have a BBQ at their lovely house and invite all our friends and some of the guests get into the VLV spirit and sport many outfit changes over the course of the afternoon.
This year was no different, SAH smoked a side of salmon in his BBQ smoker in the morning, as I packed a suitcase of clothes to take and sell (this year we added imitating the VLV vintage stalls to the list of tongue-in-cheek activities) and headed to Viva Las Palms.
Sue and Marc, the hosts of the event, live in a lovingly restored mid-century modern ranch house in the north of Sydney (You may remember their wedding here) and they have renovated the outside of their house to be perfect for entertaining. It’s such an amazing property it’s been featured in a few magazine spreads and just recently saw it host the boys from Porteño for a photo shoot for their new cookbook.
We spent the afternoon chatting, eating, shopping, child wrangling and of course posing.
A few weeks ago I hosted a crafternoon in lieu of a kitchen tea for bride-to-be Robyn. We made ‘wedding knickers’ for her to wear on her honeymoon. Using a 1950s knicker pattern, amended by Outlaw Kitten seamstress Dragana each craft-lady cut, sewed and embellished a pair for Robyn. They were all so varied and hilarious, but mine took a little extra work after the day and I was finally able to give Robyn the finished product on Saturday (you can see her posing with them above, the blue fabric is sheer so they needed modesty flowers!).
Images 15–18 © Louise Whelan
“A portrait of my child, once a week, every week, in 2013.”
We were meant to go to the Rock’n’Roll markets as a family today and watch rockabilly band The Satellites, but Bub was sick so I went solo. I returned home to a toddler that didn’t know how to be sick. He decided to rearrange part of the lounge room, starting with some of my letter moulds.
52 a portrait a week link group / Che & Fidel
Well after weeks of illness the bub and I were finally starting to feel better* so one afternoon while bub was at his grandparents I cleaned the house! I know, shocked right?
It was a real brothel. I have to say I was embarrassed with the state of the house but something had to give, and quite frankly I wasn’t going to scrub the loo when I had the flu. Other than general scrub, spit and shine I did a bit of rearranging.
The lounge room displays got a bit of a rotate and restyle, and I love it. It makes the lounge room feel different and refreshed.
I am not a master stylist but I do enjoy using my ‘design eye’ to display and arrange our house. It has always been something I’ve loved doing and is more for our own creative expression and stimulation than anyone else’s. It’s lovely to live in an interesting home.
*We’re sick again, can’t catch a break. Bub has his top set of teeth coming through and the snots, so is very out of sorts. And I am fighting with all my might against another stupid cold.
I started crocheting Granny squares at the end of January. Picking up the hook sporadically when I was bored watching telly or sick on the couch I was very happy with my little pile of squares. But being the fickle crafter that I am I knew that I would soon bore of this lark and would be destined to own a pile of squares until the day came, very far in the future, that I would pick up the crochet hook again… or simply push the pile to the side with all my other unfinished craft projects – come on I know you all have them.
So my goal was, finish as many squares you can with a certain amount of yarn. And that is what I did today. I have 30 squares, they look awesome and make a tiny blanket. Possibly a future gift for someone’s newborn? (Don’t look at me mother-in-law)
I took over the dining table to arrange my pattern, and start to prepare for the next faze – joining. Luckily Pip at Meet Me at Mikes posted a helpful link in her crochet tutorial for a great way to finish of my blanket, here it is Carina’s Craft blog.
So this is what my currently blanket looks like
Hopefully in the next week or so it will be finished and my knees will be warm!
I am building up my craft cupboard and have 2 suitcases filled with yarn, material, bias binding, buttons and much more. Which I brought home from my Grandma’s house last weekend. She was an avid crafter and I know she would have wanted me to have what she left behind. Including fabulous pink yarn!
But this little number I nicked from my mum. It’s an ace knitting bag and lined with plastic, this is what I store my current projects in. I picked up the very helpful knitting needle box at an op shop.
Along with enough bias binding to last me a life time, there were a few other gems unearthed as we were cleaning out Grandma’s house. My sister discovered this Atomic Coffee maker in a plastic bag under the sink. It still had all the parts and the instruction manual and sales booklet with it. What a find! I have to confess I may have performed a rather embarrassingly spazzy dance upon this awesome discovery.
And while I am on an image roll, I thought I may as well post a few photos of the mantle. I am reorganising the house at the moment and I particularly happy with the way the mantle has turned out.
This past weekend started the 2 month count down to the wedding with a bang: my Bridal Shower.
I was incredibly proud of myself, as I am a notorious control freak, I handed the reigns over completely to my three bridesmaids: Tanya, Pia and Ursula; as well as my Mum, who all worked like a well oiled machine in hand-making the invites, rounding up the guests and RSVPs, helping me scrub my house from top to bottom, organising games and catering the entire event.
I was asked to prepare a guest list, and thinking an average of 40% of invitees would actually be able to attend, the list numbered more then 30. To my surprise more than 80% RSVP’ed yes, so the venue was decided: my house was the only one large enough to contain that many people.
My mum and Bob were amazing, helping me clean and sort the house the week before and the morning of. The house will probably never look this clean again, so I took extra photos for posterity!
The Shower was an afternoon tea and people were instructed to bring their own tea cups, but everything else would be provided. And was it ever! There were so many delicious treats to try, that dainty nibbles gave way to glorious scoffing. My favourite by far was my specially requested Mars Bar Slice (made by Ursula).
Pia cooked up a whirlwind with caramel slice, savory pastries and other yummy bits. While Tanya looked after the beverage: champagne and champagne cocktails. Oh, and tea as well.
And Ursula, put together two cork board photo-retrospectives of my life. It was slightly embarrassing! So many goth photos!
Pia was the games mistress and my favourite was by far the ‘Trash-bag Wedding Dress’ game. We broke off into teams and had to create a dress with white trash bags. It was hilarious.
Gifts were an added bonus and people gave the most thoughtful items, I was totally blown away.
I had the most amazing day and I am so glad everyone who made it could come and share this experience with me. I will only ever be a bride once and I need the fun to balance out the stress!