As you may already suspect, we rather like having tea parties at our place. Here’s Harry showing his teddy how it’s done. I loved playing with my tea set when I was little, so there was no way that Harry was going to miss out. I picked up this little wooden set from Aldi, and it came complete with miniature wooden tea bags, wooden donuts and sliceable wooden tea cake. Swish!
I rounded up the top 12 tea sets for kids over on Kidspot. Here are some of my favourites:
Clockwise from top: Children’s retro rose floral tea set, $41.91 from Not on the High Street; Schylling traditional tin tea set, $24.95 from Peanut Gallery; Bear tin tea set, $57 from Down That Little Lane; Belle & Boo Dollies tea set, $59.95 from Lark; and Nathalie Lete Vilac tea set US$50 from Opening Ceremony.
Read the full round-up over on Kidspot here.
* Thanks to Eeni Meeni Miini Moh for gifting Harry this very smart shirt and shorts, and to Scruffy Dog for gifting him these adorable red sandals. Loving these two Aussie fashion labels for kids.
Do you like shopping at the airport? I’ve always enjoyed that sense of freedom after I’ve checked in my luggage and found myself with a spare hour or two to fill. I’ve never been a big spender at airports, apart from the requisite survival items (water, sweets, magazines) for the flight. But at Sydney Airport recently I couldn’t help noticing the dismal offerings of Australian-themed toys for children.
So I thought a round-up of the best Aussie toys would be a great blog post for Kidspot, but what I didn’t count on was finding it so hard to scrape together a top 10 line-up. Apart from the usual mass-produced plush koala and kangaroo suspects, it seems that very few local designers are keen to fly the Aussie flag when it comes to making quality toys for kids. And I’m not quite sure how this has happened, apart from the cultural cringe that continues to pervade our culture on so many levels.
However I’ve noticed some renewed interest in Australiana, especially in homewares, textiles and design, with a nostalgic trend for retro Australiana alongside new interpretations. Hopefully the trend continues and sparks some fresh and fun ideas for children’s toys. I’d love to see some creative Aussie-themed toy designed and made in Australia. Surely this isn’t too much to ask. Australian up-and-coming designers, are you listening?
Leading the way in innovative and clever Australian-themed toys is Melbourne design studio Make me Iconic. Their beautiful wooden Sydney ferry and Melbourne trams sets are the Australian answer to London’s red double decker bus, and the superb attention to detail and potential for hours of imaginative play make them the kind of keepsake toy you imagine your kids handing down to their children. And it doesn’t hurt that they’re particularly easy on the eye, providing a splendid antidote to all the plastic crap that children seem to naturally attract.
Make me Iconic‘s wooden toy sets are designed in Melbourne by a proper old-school toy maker and are ethically made in China using non-toxic materials. The Sydney ferry is painted with authentic colours based on the First Fleet Sydney Ferry, and comes with eight wooden passengers and two sailors. There are wheels on the bottom for ease of play and the lid comes of the top and second deck, with access to all the passengers and the sailors’ cabins. The tram, meanwhile, is based on the iconic W-class Melbourne tram, and comes with 12 wooden passengers and two conductors. Like the ferry, there are wheels on the bottom and the lid can be removed so children can play with the people in their cabins. The ferry is AU$95 and the tram is AU$90 and both are toys are available from Lark.
They have also produced a ‘munchies’ wooden puzzle, featuring all the great and “unsung” icons of Australian food. From vegemite on toast to fairy bread and pavlova, the puzzle is a playful way to teach your kids about Aussie food. It’s $30 from Lark.
Click here to see what other Aussie-themed toys made my top 10 list on Kidspot.
Have you seen any other cool Aussie-themed toys?
The seed for Wee Birdy germinated with an actual trip: from Sydney to London. Now, an Australian moving to London is not exactly new/s. Or even remotely interesting. Indeed, moving to London, living in a crowded share house in Camden and pulling pints at the local pub is a veritable rite of passage for many Australian 20-somethings.
But instead of waiting in the poo queue at Glastonbury, I spent my twenties getting a first class honours degree in English literature, editing a swag of glossy magazines and burning myself into a hole of misery by the time I was 30.
In the meantime, London was burning away at the back of my mind.
I had always adored London. I was fascinated by British culture and history. I loved British bands. And although I had visited London a few times, I wanted more. I finally made the move, along with my husband, who was happily up for swapping Bondi for Blighty. We had no plans, no jobs and nowhere to live. Like thousands of other Australians before us, we were just going.
1. February 2007: London
We found ourselves living in East London on the Kingsland Road. On our first weekend we went for a stroll along Regent’s Canal, and stumbled upon Broadway Market. Despite it being a market for over 100 years, it was still relatively under-the-radar and mostly frequented by locals. It was just starting to find its hipster cred – not that I had any clue about that.
But my – how I adored my new local market. A Ladybird Book Lady! Kate Sheridan handbags! Violet Cakes! I told a few London mates about my wee finds, and they were intrigued. Where was this place? Who made these luscious violet-flavoured cupcakes? And who on earth was the Ladybird Lady? The idea of a Wee Birdy telling you a secret was hatched.
2. July 2007: The inspiration
So I started blogging about my wee finds. Writing and publishing stuff wasn’t exactly new to me, but writing and publishing stuff that I was actually passionate about was a revelation (confession: I was never really a Cosmo girl). And while it wasn’t a deeply personal blog, it gave purpose to my day – I was still unemployed at this stage – and focussing on stuff I loved about London was the perfect antidote to the stuff that I didn’t particularly love about my newly adopted home (ie. getting mugged, bleak weather and mind-numbingly tedious bureaucracy). I set out to become the little bird who told you where to find all the cool stuff.
3. Making mistakes street-stylee
At some point I thought it would be a brilliant idea to take photos of some of the cute girls around town and find out where they bought their clothes and what shade of lipstick they were wearing. Thankfully, I soon realised The Sartorialist I was not, so I abandoned The Great Street Style Experiment. Lesson learnt.
4. The shops
I discovered Cheshire Street – just off Brick Lane – and a cluster of shops I adored. I spent time getting to know the owners, examining the wares, learning about their providence and points of difference. I dedicated one blog post to each shop, detailing the best buys, the most unique items, and what to take home. And I took lots of photos. It’s a format that I continue to this day.
5. Bird is the word
At this stage, I was reading and linking to other blogs like Liberty London Girl, Meet me at Mike’s and Girl with a Satchel. Suddenly, they started reading me. And leaving comments. Liberty London Girl tagged me in a meme, Meet me at Mike’s told me she missed me even though she’d never met me, and Girl with a Satchel wrote about me on her blog. I made new friends. The word about the bird started to spread.
6. Mapping it
One of my major goals was to help my readers find the best that London had to offer, so I started to map each shop that I visited, as well as nearby cafes and other favourite spots. I created maps for different parts of London, as well as “Secret London” maps, specifying the locations of some of my favourite London insiders’ secret haunts.
7. Other good stuff
My magpie’s eye for sparkling treasures turned online, and I started to blog about wee fashion, beauty, design and crafty finds. And birds, of course. Somehow these new posts worked alongside my London shop profiles. People started emailing me about stuff that they thought was “very Wee Birdy”. It was a particular look and style. And then it hit me: Wee Birdy was me! And I guess that’s my point of difference, too.
8. Paris and beyond
I had an idea: if people liked my take on London, then they might like my take on other places, too. So when I went to Paris, I blogged about my edit of the best shops. Ditto Glasgow, Wales and Copenhagen. And I’m still going.
9. Time Out
I was desperate to work for my favourite magazine (and London institution) Time Out. But even though I had loads of mag experience on my CV, I was still the new girl in town. And Time Out staffers were not only passionate about London, they had the most extensive local (and insider) knowledge. So I had something to prove – and a dream to chase. Finally, in 2009 I was appointed deputy shopping & style editor at Time Out London. My (first) dream job.
10. Back to Sydney
Just as I was having the time of my life at Time Out, covering London Fashion Week, interviewing designers, and going shopping for a living, I got sick. I needed my family, I needed to rest, and deep down I knew that we had to move back to Sydney. So with a heavy heart, we packed up our lives again, and resigned ourselves to the next chapter in our lives.
11. My own wee birdy
Surprise! I’m pregnant! Back in Sydney, I fulfilled another dream and got myself well and truly knocked up. But I gave new meaning to the medieval notion of lying-in – and not only did I struggle to walk, I was too sick to blog. So I had to take an extended maternity break, which was difficult but I was heartened to find that the Wee Birdy community was waiting for me on the other side – along with my own wee baby bird.
Blogging and being a new mum is hard. There are 49 other blogs that attest to that. And I’m still trying to work it out. But with the promise of all that Sydney has to offer, it’s an exciting new challenge. And there is still loads more to talk about in London. So Wee Birdy continues to be my work in progress, just like me. Funny, that.
12. New York or…?
Next stop: New York? Well, that’s entirely up to you. I’ve been nominated as one of Kidspot’s Top 50 Bloggers for 2012 with the chance to fly to New York and attend BlogHer – the ultimate blogging conference. The winner also gets to drive a fancy pants new Ford Territory for a year.
So if you’d like to see me go to New York, you can vote for me here.
Best of all, YOU get the chance to win AU$5,000 – just for voting. Amazing, right?
Click here to vote for Wee Birdy – if I make it over there, I’ll blog about New York’s best shops, secret finds and best places to visit.
Thanks everyone and good luck to my fellow nominees – check them out, they’re an amazingly talented bunch.
* This blog post forms my entry in the Kidspot Top 50 Bloggers competition (with apologies to J.R.R. Tolkien)
All photography by Wee Birdy (except for the photo of Bird Textile by Lucas Boyd).