Update and New Beginnings

How do I write down an update to sum up my life right now? I have tried four times and deleted all of them. Its a bit hard really. So I’ll begin it by bullet pointing.

  • New baby, Xanthe Kylie Louise Hills. Arrived 22nd November 2016. Born at home, no complications. She is incredibly delicious. Gets nibbled every day and keeps me awake at night. Quinn the son has started school (WHAT?!) in April. Love him, he is hilarious and growing up so quickly. Quite hard work at times but thats to be expected with all the changes.
  • Kylie, my love, rock and local funny man is also a zombie tired wreck who is ever hopeful he might get some… sleep at some point in his future.. possibly not in the next few months!
  • Cara – My little sister who was in an awful car accident 18th October 2015. She is in a Christchurch care and rehab facility. She is awake but needs 24 hour care, rest and gentle rehab. This is going to be a very long journey, for her, for her family and friends. We have small signs of her being still with us, but its cloudy in there and beyond hard to try and get out. We do whatever we can to help. Head injuries suck. Head injuries that would kill most people suck even more. Keep her in your thoughts and send whatever get well vibes you can.
  • Creative stuff. I painted a few pictures before I hit huge pregnant. Loved it. I have started a crochet blanket for Xanthe’s big bed. Always knitting, always sketching.
  • Food and Health. Things are tracking really well now. I have worked hard to find out what my body thrives on food wise and have been feeling the healthiest I have been in years, even when growing a baby and having no sleep. Shows how bad I got before i took back some control.
  • Garden, ticking along, quite neglected at present. With all the time spent breastfeeding I have used that time to read books and listen to podcasts, mostly about gardening and permaculture. I have been SO inspired, hoping to apply said inspiration and get in the garden soon. Many new layouts have been sketched, methods to make new beds researched… trying to get Kylie enthused to help also a daily activity… he helps, but usually to keep me happy… which I guess works well enough, I just need some other garden geeks to chew their ears off instead of Kylie!
  • I would like to be filling up this blog more. I have an itch to write, take pictures and create a space to catalogue exploits and ideas, even if largely unread… I know my family and friends read 😀

I’ll leave with some random piccies I have been taking recently. Botanic Gardens

Botanic Gardens

Margaret Mahy Family Playground

Xanthe Hills 6.5 months

Watercolour – another new hobby

Awhile ago I realised I needed something arty that I could pick up and put down in a moment. Something that worked with little ones and their unpredictable interruptions. Something that could look nice with quick washes, a book to help with colour mixing and maybe just maybe something that could end up being quite useful to make some sort of career out of as I get better at it. I decided that watercolour was the most logical choice and I have been having quite a lot of fun with it. The below is my first attempts at trying out different “styles” playing with colour and coming up with a nice end print for Little Man’s wall.

cars2 cars

What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.


Cara, me. 2004

As some of you will already know my sister was involved in a serious car accident in the US last month. I am finding myself finally able to breath as the flights to bring her home are booked. Now I feel like I can maybe write about this, a bit. You can find a description of the accident I wrote on the Give a Little page setup.

The last month has been the closest to hell I have had to experience so far in my life, I hope to never have to again. Reality is though, we all have to go through things like this at some point. Being far away and her being so ill has been so ridiculously hard. I remind myself every day that she hasn’t died and she is stable and recovering. Due to her head injury we still don’t know if we will ever get ‘her’ back. However, she is a little bit responsive and is more so each day, little arm movements, kicks, her pupils dilate and her eyes occasionally follow you around the room. For each day she adds to her list of abilities is a step in the right direction, something I continuously remind myself of when I start down the overthinking spiral of “what if’s”. One thing I know is she sure as hell would not give up on me, so I won’t her. I also know, she is stubborn and if she can recover, if anyone can, its her. She is one hard nut to crack.

Cara will be home on Wednesday, I will finally get to hold her hand and resist squashing her in a huge hug (still very much recovering, squeezing hug not so good). Finally, finally be there to help her when she needs it.

I have set-up a site to combine everything in one space that’s going on in “Campaign Cara-Joy“… the fundraising, the social network, the donation pages and more. So if your interested its all there.

Godley Heads Gun Emplacements Walk

For quite sometime I have felt no desire to blog. There was no room in my head. Make no mistake – I could probably make time. But you know when you just cannot face something? Or even think about it? Its not like I don’t LIKE blogging, its just I have been so mentally occupied. It wasn’t just the blog either, it feels like many things have been put on the back burner. Slowly however I am starting to feel like me again. Taking more photos for the sake of it, even a bit of art. Here are some shots of a walk Kylie and I managed to take when a friend of ours put our wee man to bed, allowing us to get out that much earlier to catch the lovely light.

Banks Pennisular Gun Emplacements
Banks Pennisular
inside old gun emplacements
old gun emplacements
banks penninsular
banks penninsular
banks penninsular
banks penninsular
banks penninsular
banks penninsular
banks penninsular
banks penninsular
banks penninsular
banks penninsular

I feel very out of practice with the photo taking these days! Its usually my point and shoot with kiddo and chaos reigning. It might be time to start hauling around the big camera even for the standard family outings. Get the hang of it again. Not to mention I am using Kylie’s camera after selling mine. I need to get used to a whole new camera!

Art in the Garden 2014

Last Saturday we spent the morning in Flaxmere Gardens enjoying the “Art in the Garden“(facebook page) exhibition. I only took my point n shoot due to having Quinn about, I did regret it! The gardens were so beautiful and the exhibits left me feeling inspired. Kylie and I are now quite sure we need to convert some evenings over “art nights” where we attempt to be more creative. I have put together a wee flickr slide show of all the shots, because there are so many! Look out for the “Tea Party” that was our friends exhibit. As I was taking my photos I heard quite a lot of dialogue on how people at first took it as a “chaos of tea pots” then slowly realized there was a lot more going on, tea pots having a tea party…

Making Websites again…. but not by myself.

Well life’s been far from quiet as of late. I have started working again! As a contractor for Board of Design. Setting them up so that they can offer web design and development as a service. It works perfectly for me right now. It allows me to “leave the office” (well for the most part) and be mum at home in a very flexible setup. Ensuring my little man is never far from home for very long, thanks to an awesome day care, grandad and my partner (the daddy) taking some time off work to be with him too. It’s really not a huge amount of work. But it has been just enough. Which is all I am thinking about for now! I have a few very cool projects in the works. Will post up here when they are done.

But for the mean time….. I have not stopped taking pictures! Here are a few from a wee trip one weekend we all headed into town for free Tram rides…as a result this mum got some free time to play with her camera in The Christchurch Botanic Gardens. What me take photos of plants? That’s new! 😉






Christchurch Botanic Gardens


Sewing a little Jacket


Recently finished a tweed jacket for my adorable 2 year old. I cannot find FIVE buttons that I like. So we have been managing just fine with the two I took off an old jacket. Buttons are pretty expensive these days, so we muddle through with what I have from a stash I brought second hand and pilfering off garments we don’t wear anymore! Its not like we can’t afford them, but I have been poor in the past and I cannot seem to shake my cheap skate ways.

The Details!

Pattern: Out of Town Jacket from the book Sewing for Boys: 24 Projects to Create a Handmade Wardrobe

Size: 2 Years.

Fabric: A thrifted tweed for the outside and soft check fabric for the lining (hoping the actual fibre content is wool and cotton respectively). Used a thick cotton flannel in the middle.

Review: Easy instructions for my sewing level to follow. Pattern needed no adjustments, may have done a bit more top stitching and edge finishing than specified. This is my second project from this book. Enjoying it thus far, really like how the patterns are pretty basic styling so you can put your own stamp on items by changing out the fabrics.

Mummy review: I get SO MANY comments on this jacket. Its the classic clothing you put on to get smiles and make an impression! Also good for those days where the wee one may all of a sudden throw a wobbly – people seem to be more forgiving when they look cute. Also really handy as a windproof layer that’s not a rain jacket. The three layers of fabric just gives it that warmer edge.

On doing it again I would make the ends of the sleeves fatter and less tapered. I really use it as a layer on top of sweaters etc and the narrow sleeves make slipping it on and off a bit more work than it needs to be.

jacket (1)

Exploring my wasteland

I live at home, in the ‘burbs, bringing up my wee 2 year old boy. Rarely do we go into town. If we do, its Hagley park, big enough to never need to venture beyond, or the hospital (for many reasons it has been way to often in the last few years). So when we do go to town to look around, each time I feel like I am some tourist in a creative, destroyed wasteland. Not in my home town visiting a local cafe. New sparkly buildings contrast with the remains of old skeletons and rotting remains of what were once the most beautiful. Dying prematurely. Miserable aren’t I?

There are many thoughts and emotions running through me as we walk around, such anger for it all leaving. So suddenly. With such sadness in its wake…  And relief at the new pretty ones popping up. Curiosity, the artworks that are appearing everywhere fascinating me, drawing me in. Graffiti is king in Christchurch right now (thankfully its not just tagging). I watch and wait for things to improve as we slowly, building by building, claw our way back to having a city again.
This is to our left,
4-11-14 4
And this is to our right,
4-11-14 2

Big holes for new buildings,
4-11-14 9

Cleaning up after demolishing another,
4-11-14 8
Art in windows,
4-11-14 7

and on walls,
4-11-14 3

Shrink wrapped buildings – quite a few of these,
4-11-14 6

And old facades that look beautiful even from the back,
4-11-14 5

Health Message Video

She’s pretty intense so don’t switch off because she scares you! Libby Weaver has a really important message. If you can only take on a small amount on she can help. I have drastically reduced how much sugar I commonly eat, or caffeine I drink in the last 6 or so months. I decided to do this after I brought her cookbook and read her introduction. I usually just grab it for ideas and jump off points as it has good guidelines to follow in terms of what not to eat when your eating potatoes or rice ect and what foods will help you get what you need from your food. I also try and get in more nutrient dense food throughout the day. With smoothies and healthier snacks. Not just the sugar and flour options that seems to be the easiest to make and find. I feel SO MUCH better than what I did and I now keep to a nice enough weight to keep me from feeling rotten about myself. Without the huge amounts of exercise (which I need to do more of!). I love her “rushing women’s syndrome” message too. I guess what I am trying to say is that I hear how people are struggling with sugar addiction, or going on chocolate binges – I have been there and it never felt good. This little change in attitude and constant desire to try other sorts of food has been an enormous help.  I have not gone totally health mad overnight, just a little bit here and there and its working and I’m not stopping. There are little “off the path” sugar binges but then I get straight back to eating how I was and those sugar binges are becoming less and less attractive. In fact now if I am given a yummy baked goods, I give it to Kylie to take to work and be shared among many after I have one piece with a cuppa and REALLY enjoy just that, instead of scoffing it all back for a “pick me up” throughout the day. I feel like I have a way to go though. I really want to have less wheat (not no wheat, just less) and try to figure out how to make good food that toddlers/kids like and adults.. that is easy and quick to make (with a toddler interrupting constantly)! I will probably write more about all of this in future because I have come across quite a few good recipe websites and blogs, books and even made up my own recipes along the way. I would love to share them more!

Preserving madness

The garden has done pretty well this year. To make me quite happy the tomatoes went a bit “bananas”. I have never to date managed to grow so many. I can tell you what I did, but as most gardeners can tell you, I was also lucky; avoiding ravenous insects and disease.  But the slightly mad thing was me, designing and drawing individual labels for each batch of preserves.  I am still a designer at heart and the latest design trend is “hand lettering”. I have always rather admired this and decided to hand draw, scan and print out our preserve labels this year. Not just one “blank” label, but specific labels for each thing. Yup mad. I did three. Then made a blank one. 🙂 I did have a few self imposed”rules”. It must be hand drawn (no re-touching just sizing and pencil lines maybe allowed). Below are the results, pretty “newbie” looking I think, but I am still pleased, if I had let myself tidy them up (or trace them and make look professional) they would have never have made it on the bottles.

Tomato ketchup tomato sauce courgette relish

Liqueur label

First I would sketch out a super quick idea, then measure the label in my workbook to twice the size. Then pencil out the final, colour in with black ink pen. Scan, size down by 50%, digitally rub out errant pencil lines I forgot to rub out then repeat them across a A4 size file and print them out, cut them up and attach to the jar/bottle!

workbook labels