Friday, January 29, 2016

Today was better..

Before the sun got out of bed yesterday my beloved Mr. Fox set off on an exciting work opportunity. Across the oceans to Tel Aviv, Israel. Far, far away. Much further than either of us has ventured before. It fills me with excitement that he is adventuring over there. We already miss him awfully and are counting down the days til his return. 

Yesterday those of us left behind felt impatient and out of sorts. Lily the cat was clingy and Mae even more so. There was tantrums and tears. Missing Daddy and teething is a rather wretched combination. There were lots of messes and a couple of breakages. Naps were refused and plans to meet friends had to be cancelled. By mid afternoon I surrendered to the chaos. We escaped to park for fresh air....and I ordered in pizza. 

Note...this is not from yesterday!
Today however was better and the muddle of yesterday seems distant. Four litres of homegrown tomatoes/basil/oregano were simmered together for pasta sauce. Miss Mae even enjoyed some for her dinner (fingers crossed this continues. She has survived the past few weeks on weetbix, yoghurt, cheese and not much else!). Giggles instead of tears. Naps were had. The giant pile of laundry is now folded and the house is vacuumed and tidy. Oh what a difference 24 hours can make. 

Summer treats from the vege patch

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Sunshine and flowers

Before the rain came we enjoyed days on end of blazing sunshine. The Summer flowers meet the sun with their radiant faces. Attracting honey and bumble bees alike. The garden provided as many blooms as I could pick for the home and for gifting.....enough too that the garden remained a feast for the bees.

Prepping the stems

I write often of the peace and joy I gain from my garden. Happiness from the never ending rhythm of seasons and weather. With hard work and time it is becoming more appealing. The bright blue furniture and grey fence make my heart sing. I'm never quite sure which brings me more pleasure the flowers or vegetables. 

Gathering greenery and flowers. Then stripping the stems and arranging them is such a treat. I like to add herbs for extra fragrance. While each posie is similar to the last (given that my picking garden is small) the passing of the seasons mean gradual changes in the colour palette. 

Wisteria blooming and posie

Posy potential. Seeds from Mum's garden
I think of the person who will receive the posie. I like to imagine the posie is a little more special for doing so. The gentle art of creating a gift from our backyard harks back to times gone past.

 Homespun style is exactly what we strive for. Thriftiness, love, simplicity and joy represented in a pretty little bundle. Which reminds me of the handmade gifts we created for our friends and family for Christmas. That will a post for another time. Wishing you a day filled with contentment and joy. 

A cool change

There is a freshness in the air that comes only after weeks of hot sun and humidity. Gentle rain is falling and the soil is soaked. A couple of nights ago the clouds burst open and heavy drops fell turning the yard into a shallow pool. Gutters overflowed and we all sighed at the welcome drop in temperature.

Tomatoes and aspargus
Bright and fragile green leaves are breaking through the sodden mulch. The magic of dry seeds germinating into new plants never dulls for me. The enchantment has been casting a spell on the primary school boys who live next door. Both were keen to plant their own seeds as I worked in the soil last week. So each made their choice from my packets...peas and radishes for the youngest, basil and beetroot for the eldest.

Oh what excitement there was when the first shoots burst forth. I have been surprised at their dedication and tenderness in which they care for their own little patches. It will be a proud moment for them both when the harvest their first produce.

Fennel covered in busy bees

Each day we harvest about half a kilo of tomatoes from vines (not counting the many green ones Mae plucks as we turn our backs!). We cut fragrant handfuls of herbs for garnishing and posies. Leaving some blooms for the bees. Iceberg lettuces are swelling to plump little globes as the sweet peas dry and fade.

With each year I am becoming more confident at collecting and saving seeds. The silverbeet and kale have towering, flimsy seed heads flopping about. Drying in the kitchen are tiny pods of potential. The sweet pea pods are ripening, this will be my third year to gather the little black marbles.

Our apples

The sickly wisteria we brought on clearance has clambered up it's chain at lightening speed and now is creeping along it's length. In years to come we hope it will bring cool shade to the front of the house. The lavender blooms put on a great show and I look forward to an even better display next spring. Most of the flowers have past their best and as I trim the back I can feel the first hints of the coming Autumn. The mixture of summer flower seeds gathered from wilds of my mums floral garden have started to fill the gaps by the letterbox. A happy combination of granny bonnets, daisies and other cottage garden treasures.


Another bin full of dark, rich compost has been spread around the hungriest of our plants; rhubarb, passion fruit and roses. The soil is becoming lighter and easier to work. Worms and bugs are plentiful and scatter when disturbed.

The chickens have resumed laying. The fruit trees are looking like they will offer a small crop each. Mr. Fox enjoyed the first pickings from our dwarf nectarine. Strawberry runners are stretching across the patch. I am eager to try another sowing of carrots after getting some tips from my instagram friends. Lets hope I have better success next time.

Miss Lily

Friday, January 22, 2016

Space to think

I have been making slow progress on staining the fence. I have been chipping away at it during nap times and weekends; 45 minutes here and there. Some days I only get a few boards done but gradually grey charcoal is creeping along the fence line. All this time with a roller and brush in my hand gives me ample time to ponder. I have missed time to let my mind wander from idea to idea; uninterrupted and without any particular problem to solve.

True it is entirely dull work but I am really enjoying the process. And it is true that I could listen to music, podcast or audio book to help pass the moments. It would be a shame to not indulge in the quietness though.

Fence stain in progress...changing from 'volcanic red' to a less jarring hue
In our home there is always music playing often loudly, more often in the background. Melodies to brighten our days. It is integral to making our place feel like home.  Tunes we have listened to throughout our years together. Triggering memories and feelings.... continuing to layer more upon the previous ones. Perhaps the constant soundtrack is why I appreciate the contrast of quietness in the garden.

While methodically dipping and rolling thoughts of colours flit in. When we are children we are adamant that our favourite hue is the best. My mum was like a bower bird; drawn to all shades of blue. My sister is fond of yellows and lemons. If I were to pick a favourite colour it would be a see I seem to like different colours depending on the circumstances.

Warm tones of orange are my favourite for scarves and shoes, of course this may come from my fondness of all things fox. I am certain that I wouldn't want to paint a room a shade of tangerine though.

I love greens; soft mossy shades in the garden and nature. Cool and calming. But no so much in my home. Bright red, cherry pops of happy are dotted throughout the kitchen but don't feature in the bedroom or bathroom. Odd isn't it?! Gosh I'm sure that this is true of others too....not having a beloved colour but a few. Fascinating that particular colours resonate more deeply than others to each of us.

The softest pink and the brightest blue

My thoughts trail from thoughts such as these to the more mundane of  'what to cook for dinner' and the like. Frequently my musings turn to dreaming and planning. Imagining our home and surrounds when we move to a rural area one day. Of fruit trees and strawberries, of shady trees with benches beneath, of a cosy home at the end of a long, winding driveway.

So with stained nails and tired arms I return to my painting as often as I am able. The wood turns dark and my mind can ramble.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Family time down South

From our own little corners of the world we ventured to Southland for Christmas. My sister made the journey from her new home in Booleroo Centre, South Australia. Toby and I from our home in Auckland. All heading to the bottom of New Zealand to gather for Christmas and New Year festivities.

As we were served our water and bikkies on the Wellington-Invercargill leg of our flights Toby and I joked that it was a great date. Mae stretched out asleep on my lap worn out from her early wake up call. It was such a treat to be able to chat and read beside each other without any chores/obligations to fulfill! Funny how sometimes the magic moments happen in the most unexpected circumstances.

Oh Christmas tree....

A little weary from our travels we made the short journey home to Dad's place. Christmas afternoon was low key (cheese on toast for lunch!) as we caught up with each other and exchanged gifts. We snacked and planned the Boxing Day lunch. There were many open arms and warm laps for Mae to enjoy and she happily played with her new toys. Oh what fun she had reuniting with Poppa and Aunty Mary. 

Magical book with lights, falling snow and music. 

Boxing Day morning was sunny and it set the scene for a classic Kiwi Christmas. My sister had prepared a beautiful menu; she and I spent the morning cooking, setting the table and getting everything ship shape for the day ahead. Lunch was a success; delicious food, wonderful company and a charming setting. There is such magic when a home is decorated with love. 

Aunty Mary and a new book. Oh what fun

Beauty created by Mary
Familiar and cherished ornaments decked out the living room while gorgeous floral arrangements delighted our senses. It made a special day even more enchanted thanks to Mary's efforts. Dad too had prepared and made home ready for the day....although still taking it easy after his operation. 

Poppa and Daddy help Mae unwrap her new Tee-pee

Helping Grandma and Grandad with their gifts
The afternoon was spent avoiding the heat and chatting. Mae flitted from person to person rejoicing in all the attention. We attempted to get a few photos for far away relatives which of course is always a laugh with a one year old.......particularly one who has just discovered her finger can fit in her nostrils! Oh my. 

Trying to get a good shot

Cheeky monkey had other ideas!

Never an easy task getting photos of toddlers but always a laugh

There is always plenty to do and sort when we are home. Us girls spend time going through our boxes in the garage as we plan to send things to our respective homes. We also decided that it is time to sell our family crib (holiday home) as we are all so spread out now. A hard decision as it was a place that Mum adored. By the sea (her happy place) and chock full of precious memories. 

Enjoying Poppa's lush lawn

None of us really want to let it go but it will lighten the burden on the family. Over New Years we spent a few days readying the house for sale and honing our board game skills. We reminisced and collected mementos that we may keep. It is always a challenge moving forward but we are learning that doing so does not lessen our memories and connection to Mum. There is a sense of excitement too as we look forward to different places and adventures we might have now that we can gather elsewhere. 
Our beautiful seaside retreat

Making fun while we clean

A cosy corner by the front door

Mae's Grandma Ann and Grandad Kevin have a cosy home not far from my childhood home. We love to spend time there. Mae runs around Grandad's vegetable plot and we discovered a playground at the end of the street. I can imagine in the years to come we will spend many hours watching and playing with our fearless girl. The slide is high, towering above our heads but Mae raced to the top of the stairs (with Daddy assisting of course) and was thrilled at the speedy descent down. Oh boy my heart was in my mouth..this wild girl of mine. 

A trip to my grandparents farm on Scroggs Hills was a big day. My Aunts and Uncles had come to enjoy lunch and dote on Miss Mae. Nana had made a wonderful meal and while Toby caught up with some of our university friends, my family and I spent a few hours enjoying each others company. A trip back to the farm is always so fun. Nan and Pop have tended the garden and sheep as long as I remember. Memories and echos from childhood are everywhere, a place that I hold dear in my heart.

Shooting fun off the deck
The two weeks passed quickly in the end. It was good to spend time with friends and family. It was good to spend time with the special woman that Dad has met too. An old friend of Mum's whom we adore. It is with great grace and sensitivity that she has entered out lives. Her presence has helped Dad find joy and comfort, and to me also. Mae is rather fond of Joh too. She loves to give her cuddles and it is a pleasing to see their bond grow. What a lucky little lady cublet is to have so many to love her. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Christmas Eve

Our plans to fly to Southland in the wee hours of Christmas morning meant that unwrapping presents would be with red eyes and a disgruntled babe. So we moved our little family's celebration to Christmas Eve.

The change made for a special evening. Just the three of us gathered around the tree after dinner. Mae in her little white nightgown and fresh from her bath got a surprise......Santa had snuck in while Mummy had her back turned doing dishes and had left presents under the tree! What a good chap he is.

Mae is enthusiastic and remarkably efficient at unwrapping presents, so what fun she had discovering the treasures waiting for her beneath the paper. The stocking too was hiding a few little gifts. The unwrapping  held more magic than gifts but it was marvellous to see the wonder in her face. The fairy lights and ornaments twinkled, and we enjoyed our second Christmas together.

Continuing with the tradition of a new ornament for Mae we gifted Mae a little white mouse all dressed up for the snow (despite it being summer here in the Southern Hemisphere). It was a little nod to her favourite soft toy; her gray rat.

While Mae played with her toys and books (well mostly the paper really!), Toby and I exchanged gifts. Mr. Fox was rather pleased to get two new guitar pedals and some towels I had appliqued with retro Star wars fabric. I was treated to some new magazines for the plane and an Olympus camera. A quiet night in, simple memories to cherish. A gentle start to the celebrations and perhaps the beginnings of a new tradition for our family.