Monday 26 November 2012

Vintage childrens books

My earliest memories of favourite pastimes as a child revolved largely around books. Reading them or colouring them in, hours spent in activity books, even writing and making my own. For the last little while, I've been quietly obsessed with collecting vintage children's books. Cursing my lack of storage space and lack of foresight in my twenties, I've found myself wishing we hadn't given up so many beloved books to garage sales or the charity stores. Everything from Enid Blyton to The chronicles of Narnia to The Babysitters club, I want them all back in my life. Am I just being overly sentimental? Does this feeling pass?! One comforting thing about letting them all go in the first place is that hopefully they've been capturing the imaginations of other children all this time.

We have a healthy stock of new and wonderful children's books in this house, but with the little one getting ready for 'big' school next year, I've been feeling the need to share with her some of the stories I fell in love with at her age. So far I've managed to find some lovely, sometimes non-pc, old school Australian classics like Blinky Bill and Snugglepot & Cuddlepie. My favourite Enid Blyton books, The Magic Faraway Tree and The Wishing Chair, perhaps it's the rose coloured hue of nostalgia but the illustrations of the Georgina Hargreaves editions are so beautiful they make the effort and purchase worthwhile.

My latest and most extravagant find has been The Value Tale Series. I've been keeping an eye out for these in the thrifts, second hand bookstores, on Etsy and eBay for a while and finally came across this lot, available as a set and in amazing condition. Not a single one has been written in, stained or torn. I agonised over the expense of shipping them from the US but knew I'd always regret it if I missed the chance to bring them all into our home. Finally looking through the pages at these familiar images after all these years, I'm thrilled. I couldn't put a price on them. The Value Tale stories each tell a biographical tale about a prominent person in history who demonstrated a particular strength in character. They are wonderful educational stories, illustrated beautifully and I couldn't think of a better gift for a very special five year old girl this Christmas. I'm SO looking forward to reading each one with her. I hope she loves them as much as I did.

Did you have any of the Value Tales? Did you love them too?

Hope you have a happy week!

Belinda x

Sunday 18 November 2012


Things around here have been HECTIC. I feel like I'm playing catch up constantly and am longing for some down time, slow days, time to read books, make things and ignoring the 'To Do' list. I'm a major list keeper, I do love a list and always have a few on the go. I may have a slight obsession (compulsion) with being organised. But when the busy starts to get a bit out of my control, the lists start to become my undoing.

Late this afternoon, when putting on the fiftieth load of washing, I turned to notice the most beautiful afternoon light. I stopped, ignored the list of things I was running in my mind to do next, went and got the camera and spent the next twenty minutes shooting in the garden.

Jasmine's fragrance filled the air, the ornamental grapevine is flourishing along the trellis. The plants I've potted are not dead yet, in fact they're doing well!

It served me well. Those stolen minutes in the dusk light.

I'm also very proud to report that the veggie patch seems to be doing ok under my rather uneducated care. The chilli's will be ready soon, the basil is bushy, blackberries and blueberries are coming along and the lettuce - well, that's the most exciting development.... We've had our first harvest! Served up a very handsome salad with our first two heads of lettuce last weekend in Forster, boy it felt smug good to eat something we had grown ourselves!

This coming week is gearing up to be a crazy one, I'm going to do my best to remember to stop and breathe once in a while.

Hope your week brings quiet and illuminated diversions.

Belinda x

Wednesday 14 November 2012

Same as it ever was

It's the event we look forward to all year. And already, so quickly, its been and gone for another twelve months.

It was the same as it ever was, our lakeside cabanas all in a row, the practical jokes and story telling, the grazing and lazy afternoons but somehow, to me, it felt different. 

Amanda is home, there was a new baby to cuddle and most of the great grandkids are older and move as a mini-posse of witches and fairies and princesses these days, it's great to watch. But there was something else. A number of us arrived with heavy hearts, weary bodies and minds, worn down by life's ups and downs, but this year there was a unity and togetherness that has been muted since we lost Grandpa three years ago. It'll never be the same without him, it still hurts desperately, but we're healing. And we're at our best together.

I reckon he'd have been especially proud of us all this year, his family.

The movie we made for Nana's 80th came together beautifully. Here are some final pictures from the archives. These photos have been such a gift, I have LOVED poring over the details and hearing the stories behind them.

My Great, Great Grandparents Lavinia and Nimmo on the front porch of their house in country NSW.
My Great Grandparents, known to everyone as Ma & Pa. She looks so angelic,
I LOVE her delicate fresh flower crown.
THIS is the Ma everyone remembers, she loved a drink and a smoke. She was a larrikin and practical joker.
My beloved Grandparents, Dennis and Joan, looking HANDSOME as ever.
My Dad as a ceee-ute baby! He'll kill me for posting this but just look at that big black curl!
Belinda x

Tuesday 6 November 2012


Working nights lately on a labor of love. My beautiful Nana Joan, turned 80 recently. 

Click here and here to see older posts I've written about her. 

Soon we'll all (kids + grandkids + great grandkids) drive up to Forster, a beachside town on the north coast of New South Wales, and spend a few days away together. We've done this every year for over fifteen years now.

We all look forward to it so much. My Nana and Grandpa set the foundations early on for a family that loves and respects each other unconditionally. Lucky for us, we actually all really like each other and treasure this family of ours.

This year's trip will no doubt include, as always; a dinner at the local club, a lazy all day lunch by the lake, a visit to Grandpa's resting place, hitting up main street for coffee and a spot of shopping, the telling of countless stories and reminiscing, a thousand outfit changes for the growing rag-tag gang of mini's, lot's of laughing with and at each other, cabin hopping in the late afternoons to see who's up to what, hanging out on porches chatting. 

And this year, at some point, we'll all get together to watch this movie I'm making for her. A 'This is your life' style tribute to our beloved Matriarch. To celebrate her 80 years, her achievements, to show her just how much she has shaped all of our lives and how grateful we are for it.

So now, I burn the midnight oil and pull all of our stories into one. Painstakingly sorting through literally thousands of photo's, choosing music and editing. 

Some photo's below from a Christmas day in the early 80's. The days of eating pieces of watermelon bigger than your face, backyard cricket, when Dad's wore short shorts and had hair and the afternoon was spent cracking through the new presents and making up dance routines to Wham! in the loungeroom.

Belinda x
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