Posts tagged kids
Home Tour: Family Friendly Home in Australia

Hello friends, how are you today? I received such a nice email from Stella, and homeowner living along the central coast in Australia with her family, who wanted to share her home with all of us. Yay! It is surprisingly quite rare that homeowner's me, why is this? I don't get it, I'm not a tiger, I won't bite. They seem so shy or think I would not be interested for some reason but please don't be, I love seeing how people live and though I cannot publish all home stories, my goal is one per week so help me people! Saratoga-5017

Ok! So come out from hiding you people with your stylish homes, because we want to feature your world on cattledogs.

Okay, enough about that. How about a little show and tell? Stella, her husband Michael and their children Eva Grace (2.5 years old) and Luca (14 months) live in this lovely space in a part of the world that I'm longing to visit- Australia. What's with Australia anyway? Beautiful beyond words but then you have all of these great blogs and foodies there, incredible stylists and the homes. Oh the homes. Always so light-filled and posh.

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Stella teaches English studies and literature at their local University and her husband owns a golf business and they live about an hour away from gorgeous Sydney. That's their dining room above. Their home was built in the mid century and hasn't been renovated in about 30 years so, despite how aged it was, when they were shopping for a home in a neighborhood they'd be hoping to live, they snatched it right up in "as is" condition because all of the homes were selling so quickly and they were tired of missing out. 

When they viewed their current home they commented that, "We instinctively sensed this was an opportunity that we had to jump on. The waterview, the outlook, were its greatest features. Other appealing features were; loads of natural light, north facing, corner block, high ceiling and of course its natural backdrop. The home is very bright and airy." Since moving in, they knew it was the best choice as they never tire of the water views and find it a tranquil spot after a long day chasing toddlers.

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"Another to our home is the layout. It feels seamless and flows well from one space to the other because it is so open I can be preparing dinner in the kitchen and I can see the kids playing in their rooms." When Stella mentioned this is made me think about how layout is so critical when you have children. When you are a single couple, you have more freedom at home. You don't think about whether the children can hear the television at night or whether you can see the baby playing on the living room floor while you are preparing dinner. These things suddenly become very important once children arrive.

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I asked Stella where they like to shop for furniture and decorating objects and she confessed, "Our home is littered with bits and pieces from our travels, flea market finds and some pieces from furniture stores like  and for the furniture in the kids room we love because it is extremely functional and durable." Stella loves Scandinavian style best and tries to bring a nordic vibe to her home, "Our home feels open and fresh, we don’t have a lot of accessories. I like functional furnishings with a neutral palette. We have clean lines, whitewashed floors and a warm colour theme," all are the hallmarks of Scandinavian decor.

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There is lovely Stella and her little one shown above and below, there is a bit of an interview I had with her so she can share her house pride with you in her own words. I love it when people talk about where they live and you can tell their faces are glowing as they speak...

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What do you love the most about your home? 

Stella: Being so close to the water is a blessing. We often take the kids down to the water for a picnic and to feed the ducks and see the pelicans. We find it such a joy to unwind at the end of the day in a home we love with the people we love. When we have no schedule or events to attend, we love our time together as a family. Most weekends will start with eating pancakes around the kitchen breakfast bench. Michael loves to cook on his days off and the open plan kitchen makes it possible to be cooking and still engaging and interacting with the family. The kids will usually do some craft and drawing on the dinning room table and then we might go for a walk to see the ducks and fish at the waterfront. At the end of the day Michael and I will unwind with a cup of coffee on our deck, catching up on some reading and watching the sunset over the water. Our home is bright and charming and it’s always easy to just stay at home.

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What is your favorite piece in your home?

Stella: The cream Platter on the bench top is one of my favourite pieces in the home. My husband bought it for me soon after we got engaged. It is a sculptural piece that adds a touch of art to our kitchen. Also our bed linen is Vintage Washed Linen. It is pure, lightweight linen and gives a lovely lived in look. It is extremely soft and durable and always looks so fresh. 

How do you define “home”?  

Stella: Simply this -- All the riches in the world mean nothing without a home. 

What are some tips for keeping a stylish home with children? 

Stella: When you have children it’s important that they know where their things should go. That way tiding up time is more easier.  We have baskets scattered around the house, canvas bags and natural baskets that store lots of books and toys. It helps us feel organised gives everything its place.

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What is your dream piece for your home?

Stella: I would love to find a piece of art that I can not live without. That would make a statement and would stir something in me overtime I looked at it. 

What is your biggest challenge when it comes to decorating?

Stella: Trying to find pieces that are multifunctional and still beautiful. 

What comes natural when you're decorating?

Stella: Matching things with our clean lines and natural tones because I know our palette and the colours I am drawn to... I know if something will find its place in our home fairly quickly (or not).

How do you make simple, easy changes to the style of a room when you get bored and how often do you redecorate?

Stella: I play around with a vignette and change pieces around, I might add an unusual look vase with fresh flowers- that is a quick easy way to add life to a space. I am often rearranging things, I'll be looking through an interior magazine and walk away to change a single item around, for instance. It might be moving a frame or pulling similar items together like a vignette of similar coloured vases. I find inspiration to decorate all around me. 

Thank you Stella for sharing your corner of the world with us today. And dear readers, you can follow Stella on her Instagram if you'd like - just .

(photos: via magazine)

16 Instagram Ideas For Photographing Kids

Instagram is the new black. That's why it's super important if you've been sitting on the fence with it to up your game this very second. This post will share 16 Ideas for Photographing Kids For Instagram, but you can use lots of these tips for photographing adults too. I'm so hot on IG and my students got me all fired up... We recently wrapped up our online class and wow, what a great class it was because even the teachers, who have tons of experience and who think we're pros (ah-hem), realized after day one just how broad really is. We taught 26 lessons that took our students into the deep end of the Instagram pool - no more splashing about in the shallow side thinking that posting photos, any photo, and applying one of the generic filters is enough to engage others. 16 Tips For Photographing Kids For Instagram

Instagram is where it's at right now with social media, so don't miss out if you've been wanting to try something new to spice up your work and rekindle the joy you once had blogging. It has actually given bloggers who have a small readership a new lease on their online identities - I know some with a few thousand readers who just started IG and have over 100k followers already. Insane! It's inspiring to see and has been a game changer for so many. If you've felt bummed that you haven't been able to get your blog going, then look to Instagram as your second blog and put your all into it. Instagram is also amazing for established bloggers who want to share more than carefully curate blog content and elaborate stories. It's such a great space for engaging with your friends and fans. We're so passionate about teaching how to rock Instagram that we're coming back in September with Instagram Bootcamp Part Two which will be begin enrolling on August 1st on the  website.

I thought that I would share a tiny portion of a lesson that one of our teachers, , wrote about how to tastefully, beautifully portray your family life on IG while still maintaining some privacy. With four children, Vicky knows what she's talking about! Lots of moms battle with this, how much is too much? Where do I draw the line? And though this is a personal issue for every family to decide upon before sharing family life on such a public platform, there are so many mothers who do it with no regrets. Here is an excerpt from her lesson highlight 16 Ideas for Photographing Kids For Instagram that I know everyone who takes photos of their little kids will find super helpful.

  1. Don't show the front of your home, house number, yard, etc.
  2. Never geo-tag your location when you post from home.
  3. Instagram has strict policies against nudity (especially of children). While you may think a photo of a cute little bottom is harmless, it could end up offending your followers, making you the target of some weirdos and even more, your IG account may be closed without notice.
  4. If you are only posting photos of your children, always check your new followers. If an account has no profile photo, no photos or no followers, this is not a good sign. I block these kinds of accounts because my gut feeling is not right.
  5. Treat your kids in a way that you'd want to be treated. Some of us look back on our childhood wishing our parents had done this or that differently. Or felt really hurt by things that they did despite their good intentions because maybe it embarrassed us. Children are sensitive, so consider that someday your tiny son will be older and some of your photos may genuinely cause embarrassment or bullying at school.
  6. Always look for the lightest spot in the house or take your photos outside. Light is the best ingredient for a nice photo (no flash!).
  7. Capture normal daily life. The best pictures are the ones that aren't overly staged and where the children are not posing.
  8. Take photos throughout the day, by the end of the day you'll have at least one good photo if not several.
  9. Shoot at different focal lengths - close up, far away, etc. You may want to leave more space around certain scenes so you have more room later on to crop it.
  10. Pay attention to clutter. Cluttered backgrounds often look messy and compete with your focus (your child).
  11. If you want group family photos, coordinate their clothing.
  12. Create some interaction between children and parents so you can see the bond.
  13. Tell children a little joke for a cute expression. Remember, you don't always need the typical smile pose, staring into the camera!
  14. Give them a favorite toy or something to eat, a piece of candy, a little cookie, a popsicle - it can make a photo so cute and the little crumbs and drips add some life.
  15. Shoot at different angles, straight on, a little to the side, behind, over the shoulder. You may want to create a pinboard using Pinterest where you collect favorite poses for children and experiment with some of the angles.
  16. Be patient - photographing your children definitely takes loads if it!

And remember... You don't need to put photos in a public place like Instagram to capture and save moments. You can save them to your computer and only share with family members, or print them out and turn into scrapbooks or display them on the wall. You can also just share photos on Facebook with your friends and family there. This is all entirely up to you.

What are some ways you are using Instagram to share family life? Any tips for us? Any privacy issues you've run into? Anything about sharing family photos on Instagram that you don't like? Weigh in below in the comments.

(image: vicky van blerck)

 

Playful Book Review
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Are you looking for a beautiful craft book for kids? I've got one for you! I was so happy when I first heard that Merrilee's book, , published in German under the title, "". It's such a sweet book and I think it will do just great here in Germany where I'm currently living. Merrilee Liddiard is the blogger behind and I've followed her blogging adventures for years so it's very nice to see her in print. playful2

The crossover from blog to book is never easy, but Merrilee and her team pulled it off just beautifully. Her photographer, , made Merrilee's projects shine  too - Nicole is quite amazing behind the lens and takes such great photos of the children interacting with the various projects. It's so hard to photograph children and now that I have a toddler, I have even more respect for photographers who work with children on a regular basis. My god. Capturing portraits of children at play is like shooting wild animals for Nat Geo - you have to observe for what feels like hours and be patient as you await that perfect moment because until they've hit a certain age, there is no such thing as posing them. I've tried with my little 16-month-old and forget about it. The second you have your shot composed, they dart off or start whining and you're back to square one. Nicole if you're reading this post, great job on your impressive captures!

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Playful is a really charming and well designed book but also quite a helpful one because there are several projects inside to keep little hands busy that are affordable, educational, fun and great for building stronger bonds between parents and their little ones. I can't wait until my son is old enough to make some of the projects in this book. I want to try a few in the interim to make for him and my little niece, Ewa, who is 2.5 years old and positively the sweetest little girl ever.

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Divided into five sections (Paper Crafts, Dress Up, Art, Toys and Repurposing), with templates in the back of the book to guide you as you go which you'll need to enlarge at your local copy store, you'll find a bevy of projects that appeal to both boys and girls with most things being quite gender neutral. Some of my favorite projects are shown in this post, like the Paper Floral Crown (above) from page 23, Tiger Pinata on page 25, Pencil Bags on page 97, Fingerprint Art on page 101 and the Duct Tape Cardboard Brownstone on page 107 which remind me so much of the canal houses of Amsterdam. I found many other projects that I want to try too and I just love Merrilee's aesthetic!

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In summary, this is a really lovely book for parents and children alike. All of the projects are inspirational, and though some are more complicated and require a steady hand or a measure of craft know-how to make, most of them will still turn out lovely by applying whatever creativity you can and by just letting go, having fun and not taking the projects too seriously. You can modify a lot of them to make your own version and you can certainly make some of the projects simpler if you decide too. This book teaches little ones how to create something from what they most likely already own. I think all of you, my dear readers, will just love .

(Photography with permission from Stewart, Tabori and Chang. Photography by: Nicole Hill Gerulat and Book Photos: Holly Becker)