Tuesday, December 22, 2015


My blog has been a place of reflection and memory keeping over the past five years. It is a wonderful record of our doings and my feelings as we have grown from a couple living high in an apartment right in the center of the city to becoming parents, owning our own home way out in the suburbs.

My voice here has grown, I feel less self conscious as I type. My words are for me and my family, the nature of blogging lets in friends and people from around the world visit too. It has been wonderful to connect with others, particularly since becoming a full time mum who stays at home. Popping in for a quick read of others blogs over a steaming hot cup of coffee has been meditative on the days when I feel a little frazzled.

Here and on Instagram I have been able to peep into the lives of people who share similar values and seek out the simple life. Who want to do better by people and wish to tread softly on our earth. I have found makers and doers. Mummies and artists. Everyday I am inspired by these people and in turn hope that others are by me.

I am tickled pink to have been mentioned by Emma from Thrifty Green Baby  when she was interviewed on by Balanced Beauty Bristol. A wonderful surprise and honour. Emma has a great blog on parenting, she writes with such humour and honesty. You will find great advice on parenting with the environment in mind too.

Social media can be such a positive influence (of course it can go the other way too!). Over the past few years I have been trying to be mindful of how I shop for our family's clothes. We are wearing more ethical and secondhand clothes. My wardrobe in particular has shrunk significantly after reading The life changing magic of tidying up by Marie Kondo. I only have pieces that I really love
(or need). When I do shop for clothes I think about what I have, if I really need (or just want) the item and consider how it was made.

On Instagram I came across The Seamstress NZ, after admiring her clothes I now have two beautiful pieces in my wardrobe. A little reminder that my blog has introduced me to a world that feels a little less hectic and a bit smaller.

I felt this too when I won a competition run by NZ Green Buttons. A beautiful book now rests on our shelf; thumbed through by me after long days and awaiting to be read by Mae when she is a little older.

The blogs I love to read are often fellow Kiwis; in fact the very first blog I ever read was Melissa's from Tiny Happy. I had stumbled across an magazine article and checked out the link. I remember how magical it was to read the diaries and musings of someone far away. From here I searched out other bloggers who liked create and tell stories, blogs like Soulemama.

I convinced my mum to check out these blogs too and she fell in love. She often said that she found great comfort in knowing that there were hundreds of others out there who loved nature just as she did. Who loved to keep a beautiful home and busy hands. People that weren't swept up in the tides of commercialism and keeping up with the Jones's.

When she became ill and endured many rounds of chemo/operations/radiation it kept her connected to crafting; the days when she was too ill to count stitches or set up the sewing machine she was able to scroll through her favourite blogs. On the brighter days she blogged about her life at Daisies, doilies and donkeys. These words and images are so treasured by us now that she has gone.

So I will continue to blog here, to share my days and creations. I do hope to connect with the folk who pop in to read. To discover new blogs and cherish the old ones. Over the next weeks I'll step away to enjoy the summer and festive season. Wishing you all Happy Holidays wherever you may be.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Crumpled paper treasure

As long as I can remember my mother loved words; novels, poems and quotes. She had beautiful handwriting; curved and friendly in appearance. She was a dab hand at calligraphy too. Notebooks were filled with quotes and poems cut from magazines or printed from the internet. All artfully arranged between vintage illustrations and images of nature.

Even her recipe books are dotted with inspirational quotes and snippets of wisdom. Mum read daily and must have surely devoured hundreds of books in her lifetime. Her love of Enid Blyton, Laura Ingalls Wilder and Beatrix Potter have been passed on to us girls. Collections of Ladybird books, and old gardening books still cram the shelves of home. Some books are there just for their beautiful spine and covers.
A posy by Mum
Mum could whip up hilarious poems to amuse us or tease her friends. She sent letters off to friends. I have more than a few shoe boxes of precious letters and cards I received. So it was a warm moment when some rumpled papers appeared as I rummaged in a drawer last time I was home.

Nestled in amongst the memorabilia, bits and bobs and random ornaments were two quotes. Printed on plain paper; words that must have once been significant enough for my dearest Mum to stash away. A lump formed in my throat as I read lines. Too beautiful to be a crumpled sheet hidden in a drawer.
Spring in Mum's garden

The first was from the blog Sarah-Jane down the Lane

       The wisteria was tumbling over itself in it's excess of life, it's prodigality of flowering; and where the pergola ended the sun blazed on scarlet geraniums, bushes of them, and nasturtiums in great heaps, and marigolds so brilliant that they seemed to be burning, and red and pink snapdragons, all outdoing each other in bright fierce colour. The ground behind these flaming things dropped away in terraces to the sea, each terrace a little orchard, where among the olives grew vines on trellises, and fig trees, and peach trees, and cherry trees.

     The cherry trees and peach trees were in blossom; lovely showers of white and deep rose colour among the trembling delicacy of the olives; the fig leaves were just big enough to smell of figs, the vine-buds were only just beginning to show. And beneath these trees were groups of blue and purple irises, and bushes of lavender, and grey, sharp cactuses, and the grass was thick with dandelions and daisies, and right down at the bottom was the sea.

    Colour seemed flung down anyhow, anywhere; every sort of colour, piled up in heaps, pouring along in rivers - the periwinkles looked exactly as if they were being poured down each side of the steps and flowers that grow only in borders in England, proud flowers keeping themselves together over there, such as the great blue irises and the lavender, were being jostled by small, shining common things like dandelions and daisies and the white bells of the wild onion, and they only seemed the better and the more exuberant for it. They stood looking at this crowd of loveliness, this happy jumble in silence.                                
                                                              excerpt from "Enchanted April" by Elizabeth Von Arnim

The second is a poem I believe is by David L. Weatherford

Slow Dance

Have you ever watched kids on a merry-go-round?
Or listened to the rain slapping on the ground?
Ever followed a butterfly's erratic flight?
Or gazed at the sun into the fading night?
You'd better slow down.
Don't dance so fast.
Time is short.
The music won't last.

Do you run through each day on the fly?
When you ask how are you?
Do you hear the reply?
When the day is done
Do you lie in your bed
With the next hundred chores
Running through your head?
You'd better slow down.
Don't dance so fast.
Time is short.
The music won't last.

Ever told your child,
We'll do it tomorrow?
And in your haste,
Not see his sorrow?
Ever lost touch,
Let a good friendship die
Cause you never had time 
To call and say "Hi"
You'd better slow down.
Don't dance so fast.
Time is short.
The music won't last.

When you run so fast to get somewhere
You miss half the fun of getting there.
When you worry and hurry through your day.
It is like an unopened gift...thrown away.
Life is not a race.
Do take it slower
Hear the music
Before the song is over

A reminder to be mindful and present, particularly as the festive season approaches. To notice the beauty of everyday and for me to keep working towards creating a riot of colour in the garden.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Garden musings

My garden this year has rather a large gap in productivity. A very busy Spring socially meant that I missed the window of planting for my Summer crops. The approaching festive season with all it's magic and haste has led me to hold back from popping seeds into the soil. The tender shoots would fry in the hot sun without frequent watering and nurturing.

Despite this we are eating kale and silver beet leaves plucked from beneath their flowering tops. Herbs embellish most meals with their zesty perfume. The tomatoes are starting to flower and little green bulbs are swelling. We have been enjoying sweet, juicy strawberries that burst with flavour as only homegrown berries can.

Zucchini seedlings

Mae started walking independently at the end of October and she follows me in the garden. Running off round the corner of the house to visit the chooks. Pulling off ripe strawberries, taking a bite then tossing it away. My little shadow as I pluck weeds and nip out laterals from the fork of clambering tomato plants. Mimicking me and chatting away. Dream moments for sure.

My gardening girl

When we return from the Christmas break I have plans to start filling the vege patch with Autumnal crops. Giving the soil a little love with new compost and mulch.  Harvesting sun ripened tomatoes, capsicums and spring onions. The air will be heavy with humidity and we will escape to the beach for cool reprieve.

We will be picking up paintbrushes and staining the now water blasted fence. We will be planning a trip north to Doubtless Bay to visit sweet friends how are starting their new adventure next week. Spontaneous picnics will happen. The paddling pool will be filled with tepid water and shrieks of laughter. Oh how I adore Summer.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Waiheke Island getaway

A while back in Mae and I were treated to an amazing overnight trip to Waiheke Island. Our beautiful friend Brylee had entered a newspaper competition and won! Oh lucky we were that she chose us to join her for her getaway. Squeezed between Mr.Fox's Dad coming to stay and cublet's birthday celebration the island break was just what the doctor ordered,

Just the girls!
From the moment we hopped on to the ferry we enjoyed the spoils of living the high life. With everything paid for and organised we could relish a good girly catch up. There was a small hiccup with the accommodation but it was quickly sorted. Our place for the night was at the luxury Enclosure Bay B&B. Our apartment was beautiful, spacious with incredible views.

Mae's second high tea!

We dined out at the Oyster Bay Inn that evening then all snuggled up in the giant bed for the night. Mae thought it was great fun to share the bed with both Mum and Aunty Brylee! We woke to a cloudy and windy morning but it was perfect for exploring the little shops and art galleries. The highlight of our trip would have to the high tea lunch at Batch Winery. Oh I do adore the specialness and of course deliciousness of a high tea!

 After a whirlwind tour of the winery we headed back down the to the ferry....and back to the simple life. Gosh it was wonderful to be treated to such an incredible getaway. A memorable holiday with a cherished friend. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015


The garden has been oh so generous with blooms this year. To my delight I have been able to create a posie whenever we visit a friend, for birthday ladies and to brighten our home. I love that the garden has got to that stage where plants are becoming established and happy.

It really is a cottage garden in the sense that there is riot of mis-matched colour, no particular formal scheme. Lots of different textures and foliage that combines into the most unexpected way when gathered together for a little arrangement. Harvesting vegetables is very satisfying but oh how my heart sings in those moments when I can create a small handful of happiness. 

As children we had a beautiful book about a small girl who learns to make tussie mussies. I loved that book. Mum and a few of her green fingered friends would always take a little posie or tussie mussie when visiting....I think I'll be following in their footsteps.

Little petals and buds, layered round and round with silvery leaves. Fragrant blooms and aromatic herbs weaving together to create sweet perfumes. Small moments of meditative creation. An easy craft that blends my love tending the garden and crafting. A simple and heartfelt way to express gratitude and love.

Party for our Darling

It was such good fun to celebrate our little girls first trip around the sun with beloved family and friends. To laugh and eat on a Spring day while the little ones played. Mae had a wonderful day and was thoroughly spoiled with gifts and love.

Opening gifts from Mummy and Daddy
I had been dreaming up a woodland/spring celebration over a few months and had sent invitations out early. A little planning went a long way to make the day more enjoyable. The food was wholesome and simple. I gathered decorations from around the house; bunting that adorned the trees and tents for our wedding, christmas decorations, vintage tablecloths from the linen cupboard and vases. A few brought paper butterflies and some balloons added to the festive feel.  

The plum tree that overhangs our fence burst into flower right on cue and a few branches were trimmed to bring a bit of nature to the courtyard. We picked flowers from my garden and my sister arranged these just perfectly in little glass vases and bottles on the tables.  Some of these flowers were from the plants that once grew in my mother's garden which was a bit special. 

The cake in progress
My sister helped me bake up a storm the day before the party and kept little Mae happy as I worked. It was such fun working together, especially now that we are such a great team. Oh what a special blessing it is to have such a wonderful sister.

My Dad flew up and helped set up the party room, helping with jobs like cutting blossom branches, sticking butterflies to poles and other jobs I'm sure he thought were crazy!

Our cousin Emma made some beautiful mini cupcakes and an extra special 'smash' cake adorned with butterflies. She and Roman helped amuse Mae and hang decorations. It was a real family affair and we couldn't have pulled off such a fun afternoon without such great help.

Poppa buttering bread for sandwiches and fairy bread
As our friends and family started to arrive we made last minute tweaks and set out the food. All the decor, planning and food came together beautifully. We had a wonderful time chatting and eating. The children played with the toys and the sun shone. There was a cool breeze but it was warm enough that we could use the outdoor courtyard at the venue. Mae was a little shy at first but soon warmed up and enjoyed herself. 

Vintage tablecloths, fresh flowers and polka-dots

Friends gathered under the bunting

Poppa Don playing with the little guests 

It was a special moment lighting the candle on her cake. A hedgehog cake made from the recipe that my mum cooked for us children. A chocolate cake that is not too rich and always fluffy. Chocolate peanuts for his wee eyes and chocolate buttons for prickles; Mr hedgehog looked very cute indeed. It was an idea I had seen on pinterest that looked not too hard to replicate. As the candle glowed and everyone sang Happy Birthday I could have nearly burst with joy. Mae surrounded by so much love is a feeling I will always cherish. 
Happy Birthday Moment

The smash cake was a bit of fun. It was almost too beautiful to let Mae destroy. After not too much encouragement Mae squished her chubby little hands into the icing! It was so funny to watch. I don't think she could quite believe her luck. She got covered in icing and had a blast. What a fun memory for her to look back on. 

Beautiful cake with tiny butterflies
We kept gifts from Mummy and Daddy to a minimum knowing that our family would probably be quite generous! They do love to spoil Miss Mae. We tend to buy bits and bobs throughout the year and put some thought into what we choose. We gave her a Belle and Boo plate, cup, bowl and cutlery; both gorgeous and useful (something she needs). 

As for something to read we brought the delightful Roadworks and Demolition books by Sally Sutton. Two books I adored reading to children when Nannying. Such fantastic rhyme and rythm. The illustrations are vibrant and realistic. I would recommend these for any child in your life.

We added a hedgehog, skunk, wolf, badger and baby gorilla to her Schliech collection. These are already loved and added to baskets for adventures. They provide some relief to sore gums and cutting teeth too. Bonus! We counted these as her want.

Her something to wear we added our favourite vegan moccasins to her shoe drawer. Liam and Isabella Vegan Leather Moccasins on etsy make high quality and comfortable shoes for wee ones.

It felt good to give high quality and ethical gifts to Mae. We hope that she and her future siblings will get much joy from these things as I'm sure they will endure the test of rough and tumble; and frequent use.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Getting stuff done

We are big on getting sh*t done round here. As much as I enjoy sitting down to watch a movie more often than not it is with a crafting project in hand or while we fold washing. The warmer weather has seen the garden spring to life and a chance to tackle neglected chores outdoors. 

Mr Fox fired up a borrowed wood chipper shredding the pile of branches from when we thinned the trees in winter. The lawns have been moved every couple of weeks and I think will now need a weekly trim as the weather warms. Weeds are popping up everywhere and I have been doing my best to remove the little buggers before they become established. There are less weeds this year for sure; the reward for our efforts since moving here. 

The back of the house looking tidier now the branches have been chipped

New planting for the season is a favourite task of mine. The disappointment of my last sowing failings is fading as new seedlings begin to thrive. Recently planted are; tomatoes, zucchini, spring onions and lettuce. Thyme, sweet william and larkspur have been loving nestled in some gaps also. 
Deep mulch around the plum tree

Most exciting of all is receiving boxes of plants from my parent's garden. It is real treasure to me. Such a comfort and joy to tend the very same plants my mother did. It brings a sense of connection to the wonderful woman I still miss with every fiber of my being. The last boxes had some gems like hellabores, trilliums and spring bulbs. Some lovely plants from someone special who is saving plants from a closed cottage garden too. 

There is so much colour in the yard this year as now established plants hit their stride. Settled in and happy they celebrate with blooms. Chirpy little forget me knots and paper daisies! Lavender is humming with happy bees. The wisteria though still small is putting on quite the show and smells heavenly. Bluebells and daffodils have been and gone but the violet still flowers. 

Lavender and a little busy bee

Compost is one of the most exciting things I 'make'! It brings me such satisfaction to see discarded food and garden waste turn to rich mulch. Our two bins provide about three or four wheelbarrow loads a year. Not a lot to be fair but it is good to reduce our contributions to landfill while making goodness for the garden. Both the tomatoes and zucchini had generous lots of this compost dug in at planting, hopefully providing them with a good boost. The less decomposed compost is now mulch on the flower bed. 

The rhubarb is peeking up after sleeping through the colder months and I am looking forward to adding this too pies and puddings. Mmm. The asparagus has barely survived; I think it is a little wet where it is planted and something (I'm guessing snails and slugs) attacked new shoots as they tried to pop up. There are a couple of plants that seem to be soldiering on. There will be no homegrown asparagus on our plates this year but next year should see a few to munch upon. 
Hello again rhubarb

The blanket that needed drastic repairs has now been finished. I backed it with a vintage sheet after Mae begin picking at the embroidered ends on the reverse side. Embellished with bees and flowers to cover the rips and stains it now is a cosy blanket for Mae to snuggle in too. Other inside projects were put on hold while we planned for and recovered from Miss cublets party. I am itching to get back to them but not until I finish writing out the Thank You cards first. 

When making the last of the party food one of our stove top elements started to glow red, hiss and in a shower of sparks it blew. Thank goodness it didn't break earlier. It has been rather a faff cooking with just the two smaller elements (the other large one had never worked). This weekend with much patience and a far bit of fiddling Mr. Fox removed the old elements and rewired in the secondhand replacements. Doing it ourselves saved us an electrician bill and reflects how far Toby's DIY skills and confidence have come. I am very pleased to have all four elements back in action. It's those little things that make life a bit easier. 

We have a few weekends at home while Mr.Fox is in the final stages of his marathon training and I am looking forward to knocking a few more jobs off the list. Hopefully a fine day or two to finish painting the outdoor furniture too. I'm sure we will squeeze in a few little geocaching adventurers too. Perhaps a trip to a Farmers Market this weekend too. 

My little helper wearing a mummy made fabric basket!

Mae is One!

Our beautiful girl is one! I can scarcely believe it. The first year has flown by and I have no doubt the years to come will pass with similar speed. I'm not sure I can put into words just how much joy, love and togetherness she has brought to our family. We are forever grateful that this girl is ours to cherish.

A cheeky smile, nose wrinkled just like her Nana Fox!

From before she was born we knew she was energetic and boy is she ever! When awake she is in constant motion, curious and brave. When she sleeps she hardly moves...such a contrast. She is sociable with such an expressive face.

Quick to laugh and smile but equally quick to stamp her wee foot if things aren't going to plan! Oh she just might have inherited a fierce will from her Mum and Nana. We have noticed that she is developing a strong sense of humour just like her Poppa and Aunty Mary.

Around her birthday she began to chatter; her babbling is now peppered with words we can understand and gestures that make sense. She can wave hello and goodbye. If you are lucky she will greet you with an enthusiastic "Hiii"!

 Mr. Fox and I are 'Dad-da' and 'Mum-mum'. Rolling her tongue is a favourite noise and she calls to our cat with a trilling 'Lil-lil-bly". We have had to be rather strict on Mae as dear Lily became quite stressed with all the chasing and grabbing.

Saying hello
After an unsettled and clingy period Miss cublet is once again content to play independently for a while. Pushing books, boxes and cars across the room with a 'brmmm brmmm'. Turning the pages of her books back and forth. She bangs and whacks her blocks together and scatters them across the floor.

Sometimes she will sit quietly placing toys in and out of a basket but more often she is walking around the furniture. Occasionally she is brave and lets go for a couple of seconds to balance. If music comes on she bobs to the beat or sways side to side with great delight.

Her teeth cause trouble as they swell and move in her gums. For weeks now she has been out of sorts as a teeth on either side of her upper gums force towards freedom. It must be very painful as she loses her appetite and finds sleep difficult. Bonjela gel, Weleda teething powder and oral pain relief have been necessary of late to prevent constant tears. She has a total of seven teeth; four on the top and three on the bottom. Her little toothy grin is just the cutest!

We were all excited one night last week when just as Mae was settling to sleep she clapped! She is so very proud of this new skill and takes great delight in clapping to music. It is fun to see her glee when we clap back in response. Finding that she can point out items and we will look where her finger is directed has been a wonderful discovery. It is clearly a thrill to her that she is able to communicate more easily with the world.

Eyes hold a new fascination lately. My sister taught Mae to 'blink' and she thinks it is the funniest trick ever. She has been confusing strangers by greeting them with a fixed gaze, chin dipped and the most concentrated brow as she determinedly blinks in their direction. If they flit their eyelashes back they are rewarded with giggles. Oh she is a funny girl!

A week before her birthday we spent an afternoon in the park. Mae's Grandma Ann was keen to carry on the family tradition for having a one year old portrait. Our cousin Emma is passionate about photography and created some special memories for us. It was fun to let Miss cublet loose in the park, it must have been tricky trying to capture our busy girl. We had a lovely day in the sunshine and Mae just adores her Aunty Emma and Uncle Roman. Spring was bursting forth in all it's glory, the sun shone and the birds sang...not a bad day to record our baby's first birthday! 

We celebrated with friends and family with an afternoon party. It was fantastic, I can't wait to record the details here soon. 

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Rangitoto summit conquered

During Mr.Fox's Dad stay we really wanted to climb to the top of Auckland's youngest volcano. A short ferry ride from downtown Auckland this dormant volcano is an attraction for both tourists and locals alike. A year or so ago we met with friends at the Ferry terminal with intentions to explore but the weather packed it in so we sought shelter and brunch instead.

Last week we watched the weather reports and hoped for a rainless day. On Toby's last day of leave we saw a window of opportunity. The evening prior we were busy bees. I baked a pie, packed the sunscreen, a warm, a sunhat and all the other bits and bobs that need to accompany a baby on an island adventure.

Rangitoto Island in the Harbour. View from Michael J Savage Memorial Park on a recent Geocaching adventure
Of course in the morning it took a bit longer than expected to get out the door. It was mid morning when we took our seats and admired the harbour scenes as we cruised to Rangitoto Island. Mae of course loved exploring the boat and crawled about pointing and shouting in excitement. Being a weekday there were few people about and we mostly had the track to ourselves. We chose to take the track to the summit; keen to see the view back to Auckland and check it off the list! 

Exciting to be getting on our way. Miss Mae looking extra sweet in her jacket knitted by Great Nana McLeary

It is an otherworldly place with large bare and rugged patches of black lava rocks where vegetation has been unable to take root. Eerily quiet as there are no birds until you get nearer to the top where the Pohutakawa forest grows. It is an easy and gradual climb until the last fifteen minutes which meant we could drink in the view. We half expected an Orc or Warg to charge at us from around the next bend.

We didn't rush and stopped to read the signs. Cublet seemed content to be in the backpack as long as we never lingered for too long. As the vegetation became denser little treasures grew in pockets of shade. Tiny Kidney Ferns clustered together; it seemed to me they should be growing in rock pools or ponds but they seemed content in the rugged conditions. The trees gave us welcome shelter from the wind and cooled as we hiked higher.

Kidney Ferns. Tiny and brilliant. 
Rangitoto explorers.

The crater at the top was quite spectacular, a cavernous hole that made you feel rather small. Circumnavigating the rim is the track with places to sit and admire the views back towards the city, out to the Coromandel and the islands in the Gulf. It was quite something to eat homemade pie atop a dormant volcano. Little wax-eyes and sparrows flitted about our feet; not all nervous about humans.

The clouds gathered and the temperature dropped as we finished lunch so we rugged up and started our descent, this time with Mr. Fox carrying Mae on his back. With full belly and warm perch she let her eyelids close and slept.

The summit!


We had time enough to explore the lava caves before catching the last ferry. It was a short walk from the main track and beautiful. Twisted tree roots crept over and around mossy rocks. It was still and quiet. We caught glimpses of a rare Saddleback bird in the branches overhead. We clambered through some caves, cool and damp under the earth. It felt like an adventure from the Famous Five stories. I am looking forward to return visit with more time (and a torch) to investigate these subterranean tunnels.

I can imagine Fairies gathering here

Rangitoto Lava Caves

After a quick explore of two Rangitoto Bachs we boarded the ferry back to the city. Wild Freesias bloomed near the jetty and despite the winds the air was thick with their heavenly fragrance. It is incredible to have such a enchanting wild place so close to Auckland's bustling downtown. We will be back to walk the Wilson Park Track and check out the Museum during the Summer season.....there are a few caches we want to try and find too!

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Keeping my hands busy

Keeping my hands busy keeps my heart happy. I have been making time to create more often in past month or so. My unfinished projects are being completed. The entire house except one window has new net curtains. A few more handmade gifts have been added to the stash as I wait for their recipients to be born. The sewing machine has been serviced and waits to be plugged in for another sewing session.
Adding fabric to towels
Sewing fabric onto towels is one of my favourite simple sewing projects. If you use extra soft, high quality towels they make a luxurious gift. I spent a pleasant few hours choosing, pinning and sewing fabric strips on towels for gifts and Mae....now that she is nearly one she needed some 'big girl' towels! I like to do two rows of stitching both for strength and aesthetics.

Completed towel stash

Mae's new towel stash.

A week of stunning Spring days meant that I was able to scrub down, prime and paint the outdoor table and seat. Every nap time I raced out to the garage and got stuck into it. How wonderful it was to get craft outdoors again.

We had chosen a bright blue; Resene Eastern Blue to bring a bit of freshness and fun to our backyard. It has turned out very bright indeed! A couple more coats are needed on the chair before it is done. I am looking forward to enjoying cups of tea in the garden without the fear of splinters in my rear! I will share photos when the painting is complete.

Our backyard has a brown fence (it seems every house in the area has the same). I really detest the colour. It would seem that brown would be natural and blend in with the garden but this brown has reddish/orange tones that are quite artificial. Since we have moved in I have been itching to change this to a less jarring hue.

This Spring/Summer I have plans to paint the fence, it will be a long term project......prepping and painting when cublet sleeps. A borrowed water blaster waits in the garage for me to fire it up ( a job I am looking forward too!). At this stage we intend to re-paint/stain the fence in  charcoal. Hopefully this will provide a less offensive and more modern backdrop for the greenery of our urban jungle. If time allows I might just paint the raised garden beds too.

Chilly Spring morning in the park
Planning for the garden takes up much of my thoughts these days. Reflecting on past successes and musing on how to avoid past failures. We have two new passion fruit vines to plant. Our last one died; poor thing was attacked by vine hoppers and it's base rotted. Here's hoping with a little tender care these vines might flourish.

The recent rain rotted my last seeds before they had a chance to grow, all except the sweet peas, sugar snap peas and broad beans. I have had absolutely no luck with carrots. When the clouds depart I'll get some more seeds in the ground. A few hours weeding lately has been good for my soul. I even managed to mow the lawns for the first time in months.

Our fruit trees are bursting into flower and it brings me such joy. But the mud, oh the mud is everywhere. Wearing gumboots is not ideal for hanging out washing line. There are plans to install plastic paving and resowing grass when we replace the clothesline. This should keep the area pleasant to use all year round....a must with all the washing a little one creates.

Finding a great view on a recent wander round the neighbourhood!
Running has been keeping my feet busy. Getting up very early during the week means I can squeeze in a run before Mr. Fox heads to work. It has been wonderfully satisfying to feel my fitness return and get out of the house alone. Running invigorates and relaxes me at the same time.

Now that we have Mae fitness is more important. I wish to a healthy role model and know that it also decreases my chances of developing bowel cancer (Bowel Cancer New Zealand has wonderful resources). Mr. Fox training for the Auckland Marathon is certainly inspiration to lace up my running shoes too! As is the bonus of my jeans fitting better.

The last week or so I have hardly picked up my embroidery needle and I am yearning to do so. We have had friends and family visiting almost constantly. Pa. Fox and his girlfriend came to Auckland for a few days. We busied ourselves with meals out, wandering the shops and most exciting a visit to the Auckland Trade Fair.

It was incredible to see the variety of gifts and wares available to stock the shop. What a big job to keep on top of the latest trends and predict what people might like to purchase. It rained cats and dogs nearly the whole time they visited, only clearing on the last afternoon. Perfect for a wander around Ponsonby.  How special to spend time together. Mae just loved the attention!

This week we have Mr. Fox's Dad up from Fox glacier. He is spending ten days here in the big smoke and we are keeping busy with adventures despite the rain. We have explored the Museum and tried a few new places to eat. Including the Miss Saigon Restaurant in Newmarket; my first experience of Vietnamese food. It was delicious and am looking forward to returning for a special occasion. We are hoping to try out our new to us child carrier backpack we got off Trademe with some walks in the Waitakere Ranges. Maybe even a trip to Rotoroa Island if the rain clears....fingers crossed it does. I am certainly ready for a little sunshine.

Late July and the month of August

My birthday falls on the last day of July. Birthdays were a big deal in our house, Mum would whip a chocolate cake and we got to pick what we wanted for dinner. She and Dad would make you feel so special and loved! My sweet Mum enjoyed gifting presents so much, she delighted in choosing and wrapping gifts. It was a wonderful feeling to wake up on your birthday morning to feel her and Dad so excited.

This birthday my darling Mr.Fox surprised me with a chocolate hunt, handmade card that was a collaborative work between Mae and himself. Dad got me the Practical Self Sufficiency book that I have been wanting for many months. My sister got me the subscription to the Frankie Magazine. It was a lovely day and I was certainly made to feel loved. Birthdays are chance to celebrate your loved ones and shower them in good vibes. Oh how I enjoyed all those good vibes!

I am so looking forward to making Mae feel extra cherished on her birthdays. It is only a few weeks away, the planning is mostly done. Mr Fox and I have chosen a couple of gifts that are waiting to be wrapped. Her birthday card is yet to be made and written in....it seems so hard to put into words the love and adoration you have for your child. My darling girl has given us so much happiness. The grocery list is growing and am looking forward to making festive food with Mary and Emma; two special women that love our girl fiercely.

The morning after a hail shower

Mud; so much mud!

After returning from Sydney our family spent an afternoon exploring our local neighbourhood and locating our first Geocach. It was a thrill to find the rusty container hidden under a footbridge. It was on a track that would be easily walked past and one that we wouldn't have explored otherwise. We signed our name in the notebook and are hooked on this new hobby. What a fun way to spend a few hours. We are planning our next search soon, there seems to quite a few in the surrounding streets. 

First Geocache discovery!
Mr. Fox has been working long hours and in addition has been training for the Auckland Marathon. He is running to raise money for two charities; RSPCA New Zealand and more dear to my heart Bowel Cancer New Zealand. He is running in memory of my Mum, he loved her. The links to the fundraising pages are here and here if you wish to take a look and perhaps donate. I couldn't be prouder of him and his efforts.

Toby will run in memory of my beautiful Mum.

 We are making the effort to get out and do stuff. It can be hard to walk out the front door and leave behind chores we should be doing or plug away at rennovations but I think the past few years have taught us that life is for living. There will always be washing, dishes, lawns etc but days we have with our Miss Mae Molly Ann living with us are precious and meant to be enjoyed to fullest. So last Monday when Toby had a surprise day off we did just that.....packed up the picnic basket, loaded up the car, pulled shut the front gate and off we went. 
Karekare beach picnic...oh those sweet little feet!

Energised by the novelty of a three day weekend we drove to KareKare Beach, a beach close to us but we had never visited. The road winds it's way down a steep hillside and at one stage you drive right under an ancient fallen Pohutakawa tree that arches from one side of the road to the other. To get to the sea we needed to wade across a little river but we had no towel, instead we climbed a small rise and set up there. Sheer cliffs to our right, craggy boulders to our left and a beautiful view of sand reaching towards the waves ahead. What a perfect spot! Sheltered from the wind we enjoyed our snacks and a cuppa. Feeling like we were on holiday we made a spur of the moment to spends the afternoon at the Zoo.

Karekare beach
It was wonderfully quiet at Auckland Zoo. We spent a wonderful few hours wandering past the exhibits. There is a new Tasmanian Devil exhibit that is so beautifully done. We spent ages there watching the funny wee fellas go about their afternoon. One wee Devil was sprawled out on his tummy soaking up winter sun rays. We were one of the last patrons to leave, all the animals were heading into their cosy homes as dusk approached.

Sunbathing Tasmanian Devil

My loves enjoying looking at the Cheetahs

There are so many things to do in and around Auckland that we wish to do. Often we are recommended or read places we want to visit, only to forget a few weeks later. In an endeavour to remember we created a shared list on our phones which we can both add too. It is fun to see what each other thinks might be an exciting adventure. The list is growing quickly.

To end August we invited friends to join us for a BBQ at Queens Wharf. It was a windy, cloudy and cold evening but it was forecast not to rain. Luckily our friends weren't put off by chilly conditions and joined us for a meal al-fresco. Several coin operated BBQs are located at the end of the wharf with views of the harbour. It was such a cheap and merry way to spend a few hours that we will repeat over the coming Summer.