Meet Mom Peta from Australia…
Hi there, my name is Peta Misbrener. I have one daughter called Ava who is just over 2 years old. I work as a Senior Designer part time in the city (Sydney) and am the creator of Elm Design in the country! (Blue Mountains).
Elm Design is my sanity, after spending many years in front of a computer designing for other companies it’s been a God send. I love getting my hands dirty and illustrating. Ceramics seem to give me the perfect balance.
At the moment I’m also working on a collaboration with my dear and very talented friend Rebecca Davis who is also a designer. We are creating some very special little treats together including resin and porcelain, and we're calling ourselves ‘Two Birds Four Hands’ . We will be up and running in a few months time.
What kind of house do you live in – are you and the kids happy here or is there anything you find lacking or would like to change?
We live in an old weatherboard house that is a work in progress. She’s a real beauty and I love living here. There are some things I would like to change but that will happen in time. I would love to have a larger space to work in at home other than taking over the kitchen table most nights! I’m very lucky though as I’ve setup a studio underneath my mothers house overlooking her beautiful garden.
What is it you like best about living here?
We live in the Blue Mountains in Australia and it is just lovely. There is lots of fresh air and we can really see the seasons change. My husband has put a lot of effort into our garden and its gorgeous. Ava my daughter has a great time out there.
Our house has lots of space for our family to be creative in in lots of ways. James (my husband) is a musician and radio program producer. He has a studio separate to the main house and gets very creative out there. You can hear his music here and here and here.
Do you like to spend time on decorating your home and the children’s room?
Yes we both love decorating. We often move things around to suit our mood I think.
Do you keep your children’s play areas very separate or do you believe they should have a space in every part of the house?
I think our house is one big play area that gets tidied up when it’s out of control! I try to include my daughter in the making of my ceramics range, it’s a big game for her and lots of fun.
Where do you look for interior inspiration, favorite magazines, websites, blogs?
I love Vogue Living and Inside Out Magazines in Australia.
Websites I would say bloesem of course!! and bluecaravan; bibigreycat; greigedesign;
My friends also have lovely styles that are an inspiration. A very good friend of mine, Myles Heskett, is an amazing artist and musician. He is a real inspiration to me. You can see his artwork here.
What are your children’s favorite items in your house?
Play dough, the piano and drum kit.
Some tidying tips? Do your children tidy up after themselves?
Ava is only 2 and already loves to help to tidy. It’s awesome! She’s a very helpful little girl. I always encourage her to help me in whatever I’m doing. She seems to think it’s a game and wants to join in. I try to make it fun.
What places in your new neighborhood do you like to go to for shopping?
There is a fabulous bakery in Katoomba called Hominy. Also the local growers market in Blackheath is amazing.
What's it like to raise a child in your town?
Its great in the warmer months! The Blue Mountains get very cold in the Winter, so its easy to get a little bit of cabin fever. We really have to push ourselves to get out some days! The people are very friendly up here and there is a strong sense of community. There are other families similar to ourselves that have moved out of the city due to the cost of living in Sydney and yearning for more space. Its pretty great.
Who do you consider is a good example for your children?
Well I would have to say that I have a lot of very strong and creative women in my life (which I’m thankful for!!) and I love the influence they have on my daughter.
We also have a very multicultural family. Ava’s grandparents are Malaysian, Croatian and Australian. They are all good examples of cultures mixing and open her mind up to different ways of life… and awesome food!
What is your idea of a perfect day with your children?
A morning swim, rolling out clay together, a dance around the lounge room and a nana nap.
What is a normal day with your children? What do you do on weekends?
We go for a lot of walks in the mountains and try and get outside as much as we can in the warmer months. On weekends we hunt down the wonderful produce at the growers markets and generally do a lot of singing and dancing!
Tell us a funny story, quote or remark one of your children recently made.
What she has said lately is probably too inappropriate to publish!
Any books you can recommend for parents and how to raise your children?
Up the duff and Toddler Taming by Kaz Cooke
Can you mention some of your ‘how-to-raise-your-kid’ values?
Let them be themselves I think is the best way to allow them to discover who they are and where they want to go in life. We encourage compassion, sharing and honesty.
What kind of DIY projects do you like to do with your children?
We love play dough. It’s great as I can roll out some clay at the same time as Ava makes her creations. Painting is always a winner too. Ava and her dad James paint on bark and wood that they find that has fallen from trees.
Any tips for keeping the house clean when crafting?
Well not really sorry! I just clean up afterwards, as normally we get very creative and messy.
Are you a crafter or DIY person?
I’m a bit of both. I love coming up with my own ideas and creations. Sometimes its’ nice to follow a rule book though when I’m feeling lazy!
Books, websites, local shops you can recommend to get tips and ideas for kids crafting?
I’m always on the hunt for new ideas. Op shops are always great to hunt through for second hand items to turn into something else.
What do you do with all the projects your children make at home or in school?
We normally frame the pictures to keep or give them as presents.
Any decoration ideas on how to hang, keep or use them as presents?
The fridge seems to be a good display area!
How do you like to celebrate birthdays and other special days in your house?
Normally it involves making some crazy looking cake, lots of balloons, streamers and a good sing along.
Do your children have friends over very often? If yes, what activities would they do?
Ava has a lovely little friend called Sascha who lives down the road. They like the trampoline and cooking up creations with grass, water and rocks.
His parents are amazing designers, you can see their work here. http://www.racket.net.au/
What are some favorite games in your home?
Shop keeping, anything involving music… banging pots etc, dancing and turning around in circles until we are so dizzy that we fall down.
Are there musical instruments in your house?
Oh yes indeed. James has a studio separate to our house that is full of old and interesting instruments. We have a piano inside the house and lots of other goodies also.
What are all time favorite books for the children?
Mr Men, Charlie and Lola, That Pesky Rat,
How do you get your books? Bookstores? Online?
Generally at the bookstore but sometimes online if we cant find the one we want. We also borrow lots of books from the library.
What are nice activities you can do with children in your place and what could you recommend when people are visiting?
The Blue Mountains are surrounded in beauty and folklore. There are amazing views and walks that you can go on. ‘The three sisters’ are spectacular and there is a great story behind them. “The Aboriginal dream-time legend has it that three sisters, 'Meehni', 'Wimlah' and Gunnedoo' lived in the Jamison Valley as members of the Katoomba tribe.
These beautiful young ladies had fallen in love with three brothers from the Nepean tribe, yet tribal law forbade them to marry.
The brothers were not happy to accept this law and so decided to use force to capture the three sisters causing a major tribal battle.
As the lives of the three sisters were seriously in danger, a witchdoctor from the Katoomba tribe took it upon himself to turn the three sisters into stone to protect them from any harm. While he had intended to reverse the spell when the battle was over, the witchdoctor himself was killed. As only he could reverse the spell to return the ladies to their former beauty, the sisters remain in their magnificent rock formation as a reminder of this battle for generations to come.“
A lot of the land in the Blue Mountains is sacred to Aboriginals and its very important to respect that. I think discovering more about their history, dreamtime and tribal laws in the mountains is an amazing journey on its own.
What movies do your children like to watch, is there one from your childhood you would love to show them too?
Well she doesn’t really watch movies as yet as she is still too young. The Wizard of Oz is a movie I’m looking forward to introducing her to.
How do they prefer to spend their leisure time?
Well being a 2 year old is all about discovering. Anything to do with that is what she is loving at the moment; especially in the garden
Are you a ‘cook’ or ‘food lover’ or both?
I love to cook, I’ve recently discovered this great blog with fabulous recipes on it which I recommend trying!
Do you cook together with your children? Does Dad cook?
Yes we all cook together. James is an amazing cook. I love eating other people’s food that I haven’t cooked myself!!
What kind of place do you like to go to on vacation with and without the children?
Well to be honest we haven’t had a vacation in a couple of years… which reminds me that we should organize one. The south coast of Sydney is our favorite place.
Tips for traveling in a plane or a long road trip with children?
Children’s nursery rhyme and song cd’s are great. Although sometimes not so great for the adults!
ps.My very talented sister is a clothing designer also, she makes awesome adults and children’s clothes from recycled denim, bedspreads….and anything she can get her hands on. Her label is called Rednoodle and her work can be seen and purchased here.