At home, the Australian way

December 16, 2014

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Some apartments are more Pinterest worthy than others, let’s be truthful. In my language that means that when I come across a beautiful house, what separates it from the rest in terms of good design and eye catching decor is the amount of rooms I pin on Pinterest, meaning if I get extremely excited there are good chances that almost the whole apartment will be pinned. And that’s what happened with this Australian home, which I found on Desire to Inspire . There are a few elements that make Australian homes particularly fascinating in my eyes:

1 there is a freshness to them that you don’t always find anywhere else and that most likely is the product of a very exciting and young design scene.
2. The light. Australian homes are often inundated by that beautiful Australian light (I know this is more some kind of romantic invention of mine) for some reasons and therefore they photograph beautifully. I bet they are any photographer’s dream.
3 . Even when set in urban environment there is always an element of connection to the nature, which is also deeply ingrained in this country’s roots of wide open roads, ocean and mountains.

In case you are wondering yes a have a weakness for all things Australian and I think that started with that trip I took years ago when although I didn’t see as much as I wanted of this vast country, the bit I saw definitely stole my heart . Sigh.

Building Ninjas, painting trucks

December 10, 2014

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I took this picture this morning and was undecided between using this or another one showing his face. I don’t think I have anything against showing my kids photos online but somehow this photo was more representative of him as he is now, that he’s turning five years old. He’s swinging between being shy and brave, dreaming of being a superhero and still facing his fears. He wants to be awesome , as he says, and strong and fast , and realizing his limits often gets him frustrated. It never occurred to me that his fantasy world of ninjas and swords, might just be a way to equip his five years old self with the best weapons he can to fight his own insecurities and the challenges he faces every day, which is why I decided not to worry about it anymore. I don’t encourage it, but I won’t stop him because that would mean stopping a process of growth and self discovery .Happy birthday, little prince. Yes it seems like yesterday but let’s not even start on that one…

I am writing from our dining table which, at the moment, is covered in Lego pieces , stained by painting proof of their latest creative endeavor, scissors, keys, a coconut with a straw and plates with some snack remnants in them. In my room a half full suitcase is waiting to be filled in as in two days we are leaving for Christmas holidays. The thought of a plane trip with the three of them is enough to give me anxiety chills,but there it is, my little family picture, a glimpse into what my life looks like at the end of this year. I won’t start by saying how busy have I been because nobody wants to read about it, I guess, but I have been busy, very much so. And I will be for the next, well twenty years? There are so many projects, ideas in my head and so little time to accomplish anything that it can be frustrating at times,and makes me wonder how come I decided to unleash all this creativity right now that I have three children? Right now my true enemy seems to be the constant tiredness I can’t seem to get rid of.This end of the year has seen the start of something new, tiny seeds of possibilities that I need to nurture and take care of in the months to come. In the meantime I am building Ninjas and painting trucks because you know being a mother is the full time gig that doesn’t give you time off, that thing that keeps you on your toes even when you don’t have the strength, the party you have to show up to even when all you want is to be in bed reading a book.Don’t get me wrong I am not ending what has been a beautiful year in a bitter tone, no this year truly has been beautiful. Challenging at times but so full of life and I enjoyed most of it, good and bad. More than anything since I don’t know if this will be my last post of 2014 I’d like to end with some resolutions:

-I’d like to learn how to put my needs in front of everybody else’s, not all the times, but at least sometimes
-I’d like to learn how to be more forgiving of myself and less of others
-I’d like to continue to nurture my inner world while taking steps to merge it more and more with my surroundings
-I’d like to continue to cultivate and appreciate the simple pleasures
-I’d like to make the less is more my guidance for almost everything
-this year, I will replace all of these I’d like into “I will”.

Merry Christmas everybody, hopefully I will pop by before this 2014 will end and if not, well…have a great new one!!!

Ting Ting Cheng

November 25, 2014

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All images are © Cheng Ting Ting

Ting Ting Cheng is a Taiwanese artist who currently resides in the UK. I got to know her work because we purchased one of her print a few years ago and I just only now got it framed . I am in love with the simplicity but the powerful concept behind it. Tign Ting explores themes such as cultural diversity, communication , consumerism in a fresh original way. Her works goes from photography to artistic installation and it’s quite prolific. These pictures are taken from the series called “Invisibilty” in which the artist photographs found objects found at street’s edge to “celebrate the banality of everyday” and at the same time raising environlemtal issues considering the amount of items disposed in garbage every day and that seem to be invisible to most of the people. Her more recent work is focused on geographic existence, language barriers and cultural belonging and it’s been exhibited in various galleries worldwide . You can find her work here.

Hong Kong neighborhoods: Hollywood Road

November 18, 2014

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I took a day off my usual morning duties to hop on the mtr to Central last week and wonder off Hollywood Road and surroundings. It felt like I was on holiday, camera in hand all by myself.A luxury I can rarely afford these days. Lost myself in time I felt recharged and energized when taking the train back. Street photography. Still my favorite kind of stress therapy. I hope I can do it with more different neighborhoods in Hong Kong. But you know Hollywood Road is in my heart for several reasons (you can find out here) although these days it’s not so much about what’s happening in the street itself but more in the lanes around it where little boutiques, coffee shops and restaurants are popping out almost every week. Anyway this leafy street that has the perfect mix of antique, art, food, and retains so many memories of week ends spent wondering hands in hands when kids were not yet in the picture, it’s of course my favorite place and that’s why it named this blog, among other things.Hope you enjoyed the photos. I know it was long time overdue!

At home: indoor gardens

November 10, 2014
image via kerouac and coke on tumblr

image via kerouac and coke on tumblr

image via my scandinavian home

image via my scandinavian home

image via happy interior blog

image via happy interior blog

image via kinfolk

image via kinfolk

image via finelittleday

image via finelittleday

image via decor8

image via decor8

image via freunde von freunden

image via freunde von freunden

image via design sponge

image via design sponge

If you remember I am on a mission that involves make some changes and generally improve our home, one room at the time. I started from the front porch, which by next week end should receive some serious and long awaited revamp and I intend to carry on roomy by room. This is not something that involves major changes like change of furniture or anything like that. It’s more an attempt at rationalizing the space we have , clearing up the clutter , make a better use of the storage available and well yes, generally make our space (and life) a bit cleaner. Part of said improvement is the intention to introduce more plants in the house itself and put them on strategic points where they are not at risk of being killed. So I thought I’d share with you some picture of indoor gardens taken from my Pinterest board, flowers and plants. Since I have started blogging I have seen many trends passing by in interior decoration and indoor plants (succulents in particular) is definitely a current one although it’s been around for a while now.Hoever more than a trend to follow, incorporating some green in your life is a way of being and a way to improve your home and your life. It makes me happy just looking at these pictures! Do you enjoy indoor plants and how do they improve your air/life quality?

p.s. for a list of plants that purify your indoor air you can check this fun illustration here

You can find all the links to the original articles here.

Photography: capturing your life

November 6, 2014

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It is undeniable that the last few years with the exploding phenomena of blogging and social media, photography industry has undergone radical changes that have totally transformed the traditional image of the photographer as we know it. Some people say it’s terrible, some people stick to the positive side and see this as an opportunity. The world, on and off line seems to be more and more hungry for images and day after day we are literally inundated by images so much so that sometimes I wonder if people still use the verbal word to communicate (but this is a topic for another time, perhaps). I don’t know what it is that compels us so much to produce and share countless of images every day. Memory is one reason, being accountable is perhaps another one, but I see around me a kind of frenzy that pushes people to capture things , surroundings and well… themselves.
I think the main reason behind that is that people are more aware of their lives these days, they want to make the most of it, they perceive life as precious and ephemeral and so strive to have something tangible to go back to when the old good days are gone. Pictures are a wonderful thing indeed. They are able to transport us to places and moments that we had thought were lost in time, sometimes they move us, sometimes they upset us, sometimes, they just are what they are a record of days that in retrospect somehow always look better. It’s like we want to preserve a moment to enjoy and taste it for a later day. All good, but is this always good? And what’s the point in capturing life if we don’t live it after all? So I thought about a little vademecum for compulsive shooters to break down do’s and dont’s of recording life moments.

1 not everything needs to be photographed: this connects to the point I was trying to express above. We compulsively shoot shoot shoot and by doing this we miss the moment. So what’s the point? I was with my kids the other day and they were doing something I am sure unbelievably cute so I was tempted to rush to the Iphone until a little voice told me to chill out and just observe. Because by observing I would have been able to really absorb the moment, enjoy it , being moved by it , give it the importance it deserved right then and there. Also, let’s face it we all have our computer hardwares full of thousand of shots that most probably will never see the light of the day because who has the time for that? so it’s best to pause and understand when it’s time to grab that camera and when it’s not.Time is going fast yes, that’s an undeniable fact and our photographs will not stop it.

2. Have a purpose: thinking about what is that you’re trying to capture and so shooting with an intention will most likely lead to more thoughtful photographs that will perhaps stand out from the ocean of mediocre shots we took of our child’s face when trying solid food for the first time. If that’s what you want to capture well yes it is a good enough reason so plan in advance and choose the right medium which leads to the next point.

3. Choose your camera. it doesn’t have to me a fancy dslr. too many people ask me in frustration what do they need to take good pictures and what camera should they get for this. What I always tell them is that the camera is only one step along the way. It’s your intention, your vision, your eye the most important thing to bring to a picture. There are some excellent point and shoot cameras out there and even smart phones do a great job these days but my opinion is don’t stick only to Iphones. Invest in a good, simple, easy to use camera (maybe a film camera?? Yes!!!) and challenge yourself a bit, if you love capturing life, you will be rewarded with beautiful photos.

4. Edit it, print it.Edit ruthlessly, even if you’re only left with one picture. One picture is enough. just print it (or again use a film camera, the money you will have to spend to develop the photos will push you to think more about what to shoot, trust me). When we were kids, my mother used to compile photo albums for each and every one of us and to this moment these are the best memories I have of my childhood . The pictures were not perfect but I still remember my mom , camera on hand, trying her best to make a memory out of our birthdays , our days at the beach or days together as a family. Some of them are really good (by the way I am still using that camera from time to time) some of them are a bit out of focus but who cares. What emerges from these pictures are the memories, the belly laughs, the happy days, the people that are not there anymore and this is enough,when time comes to blur everything out this is what we want to remember I guess, the love we gave and the love we shared.

And indeed there are some very special moments to be remembered and captured. Our own stories. Stories of bellies growing and flourishing, births, teeth falling, lazy days at home or special days we want to remember. In that case you can always hire a storyteller to do it for you, so all you have to do is really just enjoy.And be in the picture.

Signs of Autumn

November 4, 2014

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And suddenly it’s Autumn all around. We have been busy with last trips to the beach as the summer ended, grandparents visits, a halloween/birthday party that was a great success, first experiments in gardening, clumsy attempts at crafting with the crafty group of mums at school, a week end in Shanghai, my first photoshoot in Hong Kong with a beautiful (now) new mama, beginnings of autumn and of course …the sea. Oh and I also become a contributor for C+B the website founded by my friends Francesca, which offer resources to creative female enterpreneurship in Italy, for which I am now the photo editor. I have already said that but yes life seems to be so full right now so much so that I think I am on the verge of a momentous decision which involves a complete change of my mind set and try to become a better life planner. I guess if I learned how to drive I can manage to learn that too.I am trying to figure out what is that I want to achieve in the new coming year and how to achieve it while still be a full time mum. It seems so far fetched, but I understood that it all comes to that, what is that you want to achieve and how much you are willing to sacrifice in order to achieve it. You see, I have a hard time setting priorities, I am infamously bad at planning I work pushed by enthusiasm and feelings because I do put my heart into things, but this sometimes leaves me with no rational control over the parts of my life that are inevitably neglected. I decided that perhaps it’s time for a change if I really want to set goals for myself.So as my favorite time of the year starts and the cooler days are leaving a bit more time to introspection, I pledge to make some resolutions and for God’s sake finally stick to them.Enjoy Autumn, wherever you are!

At home: shelving challenged

October 27, 2014

There is a corner of my living room that all of a sudden has gone empty. There used to be my son’s wooden playpen in there, the same playpen where all the children have played and learned how to stand and that was affectionately called “the cage”. But Noah although not walking yet, seems to have outgrown it already and much prefers to be part of the action rather than being convicted to this supposedly safe area that in reality was just a place were all the toys were mercilessly dumped.Anyway decided to get rid of the thing, made sure it was in safe hands (I passed it on to a friend of mine) and I was suddenly challenged with the dilemma of how the hell am I going to fill this corner that now just seems to be a parking lot for all sorts of toys. At the beginning I thought I’d wait until the perfect kind of bookshelves showed up, but when I rapidly understood that the perfect bookshelves are at least at the moment out of my budget , I did what everybody does when they’re desperate: took a trip to Ikea. I am not going to tell you, at least for the moment , how this trip ended up but in case you’re daydreaming of shelves yourselves will share with you what I would have put in that corner if money were no object in the hope you’ll find it useful, or perhaps just inspiring. (by the way I have a Pinterest board dedicated only to shelves, and that’s how crazy I am).

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The Muuto shelving system is one of my favorites, if not THE favorite. I love the kind of messy looks it gives to a library and the fact that you could potentially have endless stacking combinations . If you want to practice at that you van use their website’s stack configurator.
p.s. I think Ikea has something similar in their new Ps collection…

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I kind of gasped when I saw this super simple style of shelving system some ladies on Pinterest told me I can find it on any hardware store…obviously not in Hong Kong

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Another favorite of mine, is the shelving system by Dieter Ram now produce by Vitsoe

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Love the elegant and refined look of these brass and wood shelves. For a similar look you could try Organic modernism. They have two gorgeous shops in Central and Horizon Plaza.
Whenever I set a foot in there I feel like I should have brought a tent along to camp in there indefinitely.

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And here it is. The Ikea alternative. Ikea has quite a few choices in terms of shelving and not long ago I would have chosen the ubiquitous expedit (now oddly named Kallax) because, although it is probably on ever house on this planet, I still think it is a great piece of design. But this time I chose differently because I like the versatility of this newish bookcase and thought, yes now I am telling you, it could be a good try for our living room. Will keep you posted on that one!
Have a nice week x

for the original sources of the photos you can check out my Pinterest board

Back to the Mainland

October 24, 2014

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I was in Shanghai last week end and it’s been great to go back to a city I love and above all to see dear friends. Technically Hong Kong is part of China but it still feels so different to be here that being back to the Mainland was like travelling abroad. It carried a certain degree of emotion of course after almost one year on the other side of the border, but eventually I was happy that Hong Kong was the place I was going back to.Unfortunately I don’t have great pictures to post, only a few snapshots taken here and there, on the streets, They certainly don’t give justice to the charm of this amazing city. I was with my little one so hands were often busy and my heart full of happiness.
I am in a kind of biting more than I can chew moment, starting collaborations, hopefully new projects, and an immense desire to make things work but above all to have fun and learn on the way. All this while still being very much involved with my three little ones. What a roller coaster, but it’s so worth it!

At home : what makes a family home

October 14, 2014

I recently (a few months ago already) came across a book ” Creative family home” as I was looking for inspiration to spruce up our space a bit, knowing that these days I have to be very realistic about the fact that I can’t have (and in fact I don’t want) a spotless perfectly groomed house. I suppose I have learned how to surrender to the idea that this is our home but also our children’s home and therefore it’s important to respect everyone’s right to live comfortably in a space that takes into account everybody’s needs. When it comes to think about how to decorate your home if you have kids, I like (as I usually do) a middle way approach. This means that I don’t want our house to turn into a kindergarten just because little kids live in it, but at the same time I can’t have the unrealistic expectation of everything to be in the right place at any moment of the day. Having said that I am far from having achieved the task but I am slowly working towards it.

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If I have to choose among the various brainless activities you could devote your time to when you are online, interiors browsing it’s absolutely my favorite one. You see I lost interest in fashion, I am not particularly into celebrity gossips (except for due exceptions) , and I even lost that addiction to beauty products that dominated my twenties. But when it comes to homes, although I have been flipping through interiors magazines since age 8, I can honestly say this is something I haven’t grown tired of. Internet it’s a golden mine of pretty spaces, and the more I dive into millions of house tours the more I define my style and I know what I like and what I don’t in a home which leads to the next question: what makes a family home?

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To me a family home should be:
Practical without being boring. Once somebody told me, I don’t understand why you make so much fuss for a rental house, these are just four walls after all, it’s not even your own house. Well, I could not disagree more with that point. Even as a student with no much money at my disposal, I have always done my best to personalize every space I lived in. Be it hanging or sticking things to the wall, moving furniture around, no place I have ever lived in has stayed dull and boring like the day I rented it out, this is just not me. The same applies to homes with children. Who says that just because kids live in it, the furniture should be the lowest possible quality or generally we don’t need to surround ourself with pretty stuff because there is the constant risk of them making a mess out of it? First of all it is precisely because you have kids that you need to create a beautiful space for you and for them, to teach them how to appreciate and respect the beauty around them . Secondly, I am not talking expensive furniture here, I am just saying that a family home requires a balance between beautiful (that does NOT mean expensive) and practical, but no it definitely doesn’t mean boring. There should always be a place for both useful and beautiful thing in a balance that is both harmonious and achievable.

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Neutral, with splashes of colours and textures: people who know me personally know I love white. I love the airy feeling white walls and white furniture give to a space. But white is The enemy of little hands as we all know and besides that I have grown fond of colors because their are an instant mood lifter and also are very much in tune with the spirit of a house inhabited by little kids. I also tend to prefer the natural color of wood for furniture this days because somehow it makes me feel more grounded and makes the rooms warmer.In addition to that, every house should make room for some plants to improve indoor air and create a connection to nature especially if you don’t have the luxury of an outdoor space.

Art, pictures, and music filled: kids love to see themselves in pictures and it is lovely to remind them of the nice moments you have shared with them. I believe for a child seeing himself in a picture is a way to reinforce his sense of identity and always always makes them smile. I have to do a better job of this because although I have millions of pictures they are all not very safely stored on my hard drive…As far as art and books What can be better for a child than be surrounded by creativity and being encouraged to knowledge? And about music and laughter, do I really need to say more? I try to make a point of playing some music everyday for the children to enjoy and dance as they please.

A family home MUST have a big table and an open kitchen The big table is essential for all the activities that revolve around it: eating, drawing, crafting, talking. And I love it when the kitchen is open and blends seamlessly into the rest of the living area. Makes everybody feel invited to join what’s happening in there.

Mostly, though, a family home needs to be respectful of everybody space and right to live comfortably in it and it needs to have a big heart because above anything else a house, for me, must be open

When I was younger a friend of mine asked what the life I envisioned for myself looked like. And I remembered replying I saw myself living by the sea, in a house full of light and children. All the children it could contain. Mind you, they don’t have to be all mine! I always had this dream of having my children and my children’s friends playing , walking around, opening the fridge, taking whatever they fancied from there and just feeling like they were generally happy to hang out at my house. A home must be warm, open and generous.Inclusive and not exclusive and when I say it I cannot help by thinking about this song.

Of course, this is only my personal vision , now I would really love to hear what do you think? What makes a family home?
First picture by Mariella Amitai the other two are via desire to inspire, ,
desire to inspire, ,