Archive | My Life- Home and Travel

Living Slow in the Tropics..

Bali Adventure..living slow in the tropics, travelling with kids
Bali Adventure..living slow in the tropics, travelling with kids
Bali Adventure..living slow in the tropics, travelling with kids

So its Winter and here we are..back in Bali, back in our little house in Canggu and this year I’m working on some some changes while I’m here  to life and also to the business.

The kids have grown so much..you can see our family photoshoot from last year here

If there is ever a place to try out slow living then this is it.  We have no TV, I actually bought along a book..you know like a story ..not a work related one, we left the iPad at home and we like to just hang out as if we live here all the time.

No rushing off to all the tourist sites.. driving here and there and everywhere getting stuck in the terrible Bali traffic and the kids spending half the day in the car.

Just sleeping, yoga, local markets, eating, reading, napping, swimming, taking cam to play sport, surf, eat again… and yes I will be working a bit as I said.  But anyone who works from home knows that to work without kids around knows its a little luxury to have some space to yourself to work on your own project. Work technically yes.. but enjoyable all the same.

Bali Adventure..living slow in the tropics, travelling with kids

It might sound kind of boring to pretty much stay in your own neighbourhood but I guess it all depends on why you travel.

I want to know what it feels like to live somewhere else. I’ve lived abroad at various times in my early twenties and we’ve moved around a bit at home but generally I’ve found that this feeds my need to be somewhere else.  You know that feeling that life may be different or better somewhere else?? Well I know that it’s not better anywhere else..just different.  We’ve created a life we love but that doesn’t mean we all don’t crave some change to the routine.

By coming back to the familiar, same people, same places I love the feeling that we have a little home away from home… another place in the world where the shop keeper remembers you, your neighbours do too.  You note how things have changed each year, you lament it but all the same you know that life is always changing and the best way to cope with that is to go along for the ride.

Bali Adventure..living slow in the tropics, travelling with kids
Bali Adventure..living slow in the tropics, travelling with kids
Bali Adventure..living slow in the tropics, travelling with kids
Bali Adventure..living slow in the tropics, travelling with kids

You may like to check out our Bali house here

My Life- Home and Travel

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What a mum really wants..

Canggu Bali Family photo session

With Mothers Day I was thinking about what kind of gifts a mother could want..other than a good night sleep. Then I saw my friends Instagram post ( @jetsetmama) this morning about her baby daughter and it moved me to tears.

Speaking of sensing  her child, although still a baby  already in the process of leaving her. At the end in reference to her daughter she says

” Because through it all I will never forget, her tiny body, her tiny face, her smell, and the way it made me feel. And one day when I am old and my body unable to heal,

She will hold me.

And have her face pressed to mine.

And this big whole life,

was but a beautiful moment in time. ”

Claire is certainly a clever girl when it comes to writing and expressing emotions and after I brushed away the tears.. I thought its really those memories of moments in time that we can hold onto the most.

So I believe that the best present you can give your mum or yourself is to capture it all and not to forget to include yourself in it too.

And on that note I want to share with you some family pics we had done last year in the fields outside Villa Nanas , our villa in Canggu Bali.

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My Life- Home and Travel

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In the Media.. see us on Interiors Addict

We were very excited to share our story with Jen from Interiors Addict (one of Australia’s most popular design websites).


It’s interesting to look back over the last 6+ years and see how the handmade and craft industry has evolved. And as mentioned in the article I can see how the growth of Etsy has played a large part in all that.

We discuss how the business has been a bit of a family affair and our ideas for the future.

You can check out the full article here.

You may not know that before I had my son I couldn’t use a sewing machine at all, or that my amazing mum is an art quilter who has a distinctive decorative style and has won many prizes and been exhibited in countries all around the world.

You can check out her work here.


Alphabet Monkey Ranges, My Life- Home and Travel

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Hello from Bali.. travelling with kids

#tropicalstyle #villananas #pineapple #tropicalinteriors

Hi all,

Well here we are again back in Bali again to escape the winter.  Being able to spend the majority of winter somewhere warm is something I always dreamed of,  so to be doing it for the second year in a row in our own little house really is like living the dream.

If you have been following for a while you may recall that I came over in November with Cam 5 and Willow 10mths to furnish our little house dubbed Villa Nanas (which is Indonesian for pineapple).  All I can say that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and boy is it nice to be here with hubby this time.  We won’t be here as long this year but after a couple of days we all settle in, we have our routines and its like living my alternate life.  It’s like my head just gets clear about whats important to me and I just feel content.

Also no matter how lovely it is to be here I’m sure any of you with kids will relate that when you travel some days its just the same shit but in a new location when it comes to kids moods, teething and tantrums.  But at least hubby and I can sit down once everyone is in bed and enjoy a drink by the pool..and just enjoy the balmy air and the silence of the countryside.

I wondered how we would go on the plane with Willow since she is 17 months this time round and always on the go but I was pleasantly surprised. We first flew with Cam when he was 3 1/2 and boy he just didn’t sit still.  He didn’t want to watch movies or draw or do anything except escape into the aisle and walk around and around.  So I can’t believe how different it has been this time with Willow..she was happy to watch tv, iPads and colour in and look around.  How can two kids be SOO different?  Do you find this with your kids??

#bali #travelwithkids #cangguvilla #villananas

I’ve flown with friends and their kids before and had people come up and say how well behaved the kids were.  You don’t feel it cause you are constantly trying to entertain, get things out, put things away, eat food, clean up spills, change nappies, toilet breaks and so on that although you are exhausted you didn’t really bother anyone else.  We also had people say how they had cancelled trips cause they didn’t think they would cope with the kids or one husband said his wife stayed home instead of coming with the kids..I’m not sure if he was just alone or what but I think its a bit sad.

Life is short, you shouldn’t let a few hours of possible discomfort put you off what could be some amazing moments you can experience as a family together.  And I’m totally one of those people that before having my own I would’ve been pissed to have been sat next to babies or kids on a plane so I get how others may feel but then again I now think oh well suck it up. Especially when its a day flight.. we once had some trendies trying to sleep off a hangover I think on a day flight and were huffing and puffing having three little behind them..but hey not my problem!  But surprisingly most people are super understanding cause they have grandkids, nieces , nephews, whatever and accept that kids will be kids (within reason of course).

I think it’s that loss of control especially if you are a bit of a control freak or a perfectionist that freaks people out.  I’ve tried to just let things go sometimes with success…I mean with my first i was scared to take him to the local shopping centre in case he cried and I didn’t know what to do..haha I know a natural mother wasn’t I.  Then I get on a flight with a ten mth old and a 5 year old by myself..I think i have progressed and stepped out of the box a bit compared to that.

And don’t worry cause once you get here life is a bit more free for kids.. restaurants are happy for kids to make noise, play and wander and not just sit at tables like little robots as we expect them to in Australia. So anyway if you have any questions about travelling to Bali with kids, or want me to feature some kid friendly places around Canggu just ask.

#tropicalstyle #villananas  #cangguvilla #balihouse #shellchandelier #tropicalstyle #simplecoastalstyle

And as for the house we are doing a bit of DIY sprucing things up and wow the garden has grown so just making things nice because we want it to be a beautiful little tropical hideaway that our guests can enjoy when we’re not there.

If you want to know more about Villa Nanas you can see it on AirBnB or check out our instagram account @villa.nanas


My Life- Home and Travel

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A new direction…

Ive been doing a lot of thinking lately about life, business and the future.  Trying to pin down exactly what you want is sometimes hard..especially when you feel grateful for the life you have.

I have had a lot of changes in my personal life in the last 12 months and it has led to a lot of upheaval and soul searching.  On top of that trying to balance the birth of my second child with running Alphabet Monkey. And all the ideas I had to grow it in 2015-16 had to take a bit of a back seat which has been very frustrating.

But lately I’m trying to search around inside for what it is I really want. Well its taken me a couple of months but I feel like suddenly the fog is has to cleared and  I can see a world of new possibilities.

I was thinking back over all the jobs I’ve had and how I came to start Alphabet Monkey in the first place. So today I thought I’d share a little background because I feel bit like my journey is starting to come full circle.

I grew up in a home with a creative mother ( signwriter by trade) who was extremely talented at sewing.  I remember sitting on the floor among the scraps of exotic laces and silks in the wedding dress boutique where my mother worked.  I remember going to classes to make porcelain dolls and ceramics with her. Going to the Doll shows that she entered and won and selling my little Fimo (moulding clay) teddy bear miniatures for $2 a pop while she sold her dolls and dolls clothes.

She taught me to draw, paint, and finally sew when we first launched the idea for Alphabet Monkey.

mothers day

She got me my first job at 14 in a local craft store in our tiny seaside village.  We used to have classes to make fabric covered tissue boxes, decorate hats for walls..I was a gun with that spray glue..hehe it was the late 80’s after all.

Always with her support, I then went on to own a gallery, work as a visual artist ( remember the frangipani craze, I could paint one in my sleep), and worked in the interior design industry before having my little boy.


So in looking forward , I have been looking back to what I loved about  Alphabet Monkey and what is was that drove me in the beginning.   The answer is pretty simple…just like my mum, I love creating.

So the future for Alphabet Monkey is going to be all about this…

We will get back to basics with our focus on boys ranges. I’m going to explore the new world of modern quilting and bring some of those minimalist designs to you…because I need to create things I love.

And best of all I’m going to let you in on all the fun when we launch our  Make it Yourself Range in September 2016. Get ready to make your own quilt or enlist the help of your mother, grandma or aunt who are all wanting to make something for your little one.  We will have patterns and kits including pre cut appliqués and our exclusive fabrics so you can experience the feeling of creating it yourself.

I’m so excited to be sharing this with you and we will soon be off to Bali where I can can oversee the production of our fabrics ready for our kits..it’s going to be hard to narrow it down to a few designs.

You can follow my life in our Bali house on instagram on my personal account @nicole.nicol or check out our little house @villa.nanas




My Life- Home and Travel

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5 Things Motherhood has taught me

Family portrait by Jade Flores photography

Ok so with it being Mothers Day I was thinking about the things that I’ve learnt along the way.

There are so many things that mums have to compromise about themselves and their own lives.

We all know about the no sleep, the weight that’s hard to shift, the changes to lifestyle, feeling a loss of identity, the list can go on.  I know there are lots of things we fear when motherhood is looming ahead and I for one was not someone who planned to have even have children.  I guess as I got older I thought well its now or never so we jumped in.

After struggling with depression during the first trimester of both of my pregnancies I was high risk for post natal depression (luckily it never eventuated).  I admit I had fears about if I was doing the right thing, if I would bond, the whole childbirth thing (I went the c- section route), wondered if I even wanted to be doing this at all.  I think a lot of it was the hormones too but I guess it’s natural to worry.

But now that I’m on the other side I can see that my life has evolved in ways I would never have imagined if I didn’t have kids.

So here are my top 5 things that I’ve learnt since becoming a mum.

  1. The value of time.  Nothing gives you a sense of your own limited time on earth than having children and watching them grow so quickly right before your eyes.  I’m very guarded how I spend my time, and what I commit to. It’s the precious thing I have.
  2. Patience and compassion for kids and other mums struggling… I still see my old self in people like the ones who just realised they will have to sit near us on the airplane or  the childless woman who doesn’t want to talk to the boring mum at a party and hear all about their kids..eekk terrible but true..lol..
  3. Even though we are mums we are still the same bright, funny , intelligent, clever person.  It’s like becoming someones mum gives you an identity crisis.. we still have hopes and dreams past the ones of wanting the best for our kids.
  4.  The smiles and cuddles really do make up for the challenges and tantrums.
  5.  Being a mum makes you aware of what kind of things you will and won’t put up with in life.  You want to set an example to your kids about how they deserve to be treated. I know my mum encouraged me to speak up for myself purely because she was such a shy person and didn’t want me to be the same.
  6.  Oh and how about giving things a go.  If it wasn’t for having my son I’m pretty sure I would never have delved into the baby bedlinen arena.  You kind of get over the whole what it it doesn’t work out thing.
  7. An appreciation of all the things your own parents did for you… when I was a kid I guess I felt like my parents should know this or that because they were ‘old’.  But now that I’m that age I realise hey they were just winging it back then. They made mistakes cause no one is an expert we are all just trying our best.


Oops thats seven.  I’m sure there are plenty more you could add to the list.

So on that note I hope that you had a lovely Mothers Day and enjoyed your cold toast in bed..well the look on their faces is just priceless isn’t it, you can’t disappoint them.

Picture credit Jade Flores Photography

PS  I wish we had gotten family pics done when Campbell was born but we just love our family photos from when Willow was a newborn.   They really do grow so quick that you just want to catch that moment in time.



My Life- Home and Travel

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Winter in Bali…

balicollageHi everyone,

For those of you who may not realise, I have escaped the cold and am spending the rest of winter in Bali.  Yep packed up the family and off we went.

Its always been my dream to escape the cold every year but this is the first time I’ve made it happen..six mth old baby and all.  So while the business is continuing and your parcels will ship as normal, I will be working and posting from a cool little business hub in the coastal village of Canggu in Bali.

It’s nice just hanging out..living like a local.  We have rented a friends beautiful villa, Villa Stari and we definitely think we could get used to this.  The area has a very lay back vibe, we back onto rice paddy fields and my son plays with the local kids. It is very different from the Bali you may have experienced if you have only been to Kuta and the main tourist locations.

You can follow me on my personal Instagram @nicole.nicol and I hope to share a few of my experiences on here as well as some family friendly information that may help you on your next trip.





My Life- Home and Travel

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Capturing Precious Memories

Family pics by Jade Flores Photography

Newborn Photography Session

I did plan to share these pictures with you over the weekend being Mothers Day and all but you know I was just enjoying the weekend..  It was my first Mothers Day as a mother of 2..something I never really imagined but now I can’t imagine it being any other way. We had some pictures framed as gifts and they came up so well.. we are so glad that we went ahead with having our family photos taken with Jade Flores Photography.  Time goes so fast and we are already looking at these photos and seeing how much Willow has grown.

family portraits by Jade Flores Photography

Family portraits by Jade Flores Photography

Family portraits by Jade Flores Photography

Family portraits by Jade Flores Photography

Family Portraits by Jade Flores PhotographyI hope you all enjoyed your Mothers Day and possibly scored a sleep in or some brekky in bed..I did.  And if your little babe is yet to join you , well the excitement is still to come.

My Life- Home and Travel, Newborn Photo Ideas

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How to create a cute Birth announcement

Girl birth announcement by www.blog.alphabetmonkey.com.au


You may have noticed the trend for photographic birth announcements using props and themes to style up a memorable keepsake.

Do you remember when I posted this black and white one a year ago??  It went crazy on Pinterest.    So I’ve set up a new ‘Cute Birth Announcements’ pinterest board to collect ideas for you as well as having created a couple myself using my new baby.

Its quite simple really, you can keep it as simple or as elaborate as you like.  If you don’t have the right props such as blocks or alphabet tiles for the name, or a weight or measuring tape like me,  you can just add them in after with a photo editing program. In fact I was a bit slack..I didn’t even add a calendar..but I’m sure you will be more organised than me.

I use Picmonkey to add words and icons which is free and super easy to use.

Willows birth announcement .. www.blog.alphabetmonkey.com.au


Just choose a nice background pattern of a blanket or sheet or just use white.  You can create a theme based around whatever you like by selecting a toy or shoes or little hats etc. Many people have taken scattered flowers around little girls and added other items like twigs for boys.   Try to place in a place with a lot of natural light .. I actually just stood on a chair and looked down over it and took the pic on my iPhone.  But of course if you have a better camera go for it.  If you have a strong shadow you could place a white board on the shaded side to reflect back the light.

You can then upload your pic and add names or other birth details and then you are done.  You can send out to friends and family via email or get them printed and be sure to add one to your baby box or album.

If you have a go I’d love to see them and add to my pinterest board.


My Life- Home and Travel, Newborn Photo Ideas, Trend Watch

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Introducing Willow Grace

Introducing Willow Grace

I wanted to take the opportunity to introduce you to our new baby, Willow Grace.  She joined us on the 27th of January weighing 7.1 pounds and perfect in every way.

We have been taking time to get to know her and she is just a treasure.  I have been super aware of how quickly this time passes so I have been enjoying spending time with her and just chilling out. Its nice to have a break from everything else and feel like the only thing you need to do is focus on this little person.

If you are not already on instagram please come and join us.. We have our Alphabet monkey account which can be found at @alphabetmonkey1 or follow the instagram button on the top of this site. I also have a personal account set up to share all the baby and family pics which can be found at @nicole.nicol


My Life- Home and Travel