This is the truth.

Jenna Carver


And this is the truth:
I wake up everyday,
and I do not
of God,
or the aching in my stomach,
or the beautiful creature
sitting next to my bed
whining for me
to let her out
onto the
dewy grass.
I wake up every morning
and think,
“Will he still love me
I’ll sink my head
back into my pillow,
refusing to get up
and greet the sun.
the only certainty I have
is that when the evening comes,
I will
still be loving
That is

We break it.

We break love when we try to touch it.

You learn a lot about love when you lose it, when you break it. 
I learned that we’ll beg God or the universe or whatever we believe in that makes us feel like we have a purpose to just let us start over.

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Moving in!

D day arrived. We weren’t really that well packed ( my mistake – bit too laid back. After all, we were only moving down the road.). Boxes were spewing their contents and miscellaneous items made friends from other rooms: the deodorant spoke with the gardening gloves, the kid’s toys cosier up with the baking utensils. But we got there. Friday night and we ate takeaways from our neighbouring Thai restaurant … And Ian went to bed nursing a very sore throat and head. I stayed up, lurking in my kitchen and vainly trying to clear a space so I could see the full glory of the beautiful bench.

At some late hour, while the house was sleeping, I finally cleared the bench. I love my kitchen, my sandy beach bench top, and even if, in this busy family, this is the only time I see it clear – then I will relish this moment !

Ian has got progressively worse over the last few days and is now in the throes of a full blown chest cold with sinus infections. His HUGE work over the last 9 weeks has made us a beautiful home but his poor body must be exhausted. We still have some way to go. The floors all need work an are currently keeping us cold. We need walls, wardrobes and doors, plus some more deconstruction in the hallway.
The council visited today for a site visit and do in 20 days, we expect to get the permit to remove the front wall and bring the gorgeous views of ocean and island into our cottage.
I suspect, when ally’s said and done, there’ll be one amazing party here to celebrate Ian’s skill, tenacity and foresight. On the other hand, I’m still small minded enough to be angsting about the electrics for my oven, and the serious lack of wardrobe space !!!!

Rags to well, pretty cute!!

So it’s in!! This pic shows a bit still to be done but other than that very minor quibble, our beautiful kitchen is in. I love its muddy tones, its quiet warmth, its sleek lines. It mimics both the texture and colour of the shells we find on the beach and its beautiful faux stone type is a clay cream/caramel. It delights me to see it in place. I made so many mistakes with times, dates and worst – measurements, that I really have to say the miracle of it’s completeness is all Ian’s !! So thanks sweetheart. I look forward to many hours wiling away time cooking and baking for our famille et amies in this space.




I listened to a fabulous talk recently, Ken Robinson talking about the need to not just ‘change the education system’ but to revolutionise it.  And the more he discussed the changes needed the more he linked the whole learning process to an organic event, not a fast-food style manufacturing plant.  I’ve always believed that human relationships and learning are a messy business.  Despite my love for procedures and structures and checklists, the reality is that life isn’t ordered and neat.

I found this idea behind my interaction today with a young parent whose small daughter is a true delight and who is beginning to show her distinct personality!  We both have strong christian values although I am distinctly less conservative these days.  And we also both have strong daughters!  Strong, talkative, vivacious children and with mine being a little older a church service is an interesting occassion.  One encourages whispering, quiet play, books, and distraction, but I resist with every fibre of my being a rigid and autocratic approach that seems to look like too many tears and stress.  Friends of mine have used a regime that I consider both severe and appalling.  And in the end, Ian and I have come to consider the greater importance of encouraging personality.

So today, my friend and I talked about pruning:


So pruning is an effective technique to cause new, lush growth.  It’s essential for fruiting plants and is a routine part of a gardner’s craft.  But it can be taken to the extreme.  In cases where a repetitive, formal shape is wanted, frequent and firm pruning is required.  Each little leaf that juts out of position is lopped off quickly and accurately.  A beautiful shape, planned from the start, is maintained.

Are our children managed like this?  Is every little aspect of their character cut back so that they resemble any other?  Do we treat them as if they are factory products, inspecting the quality and throwing back the faulty ones?  Now, I’m not saying there is no need for a steady and intelligent approach to guiding one’s child.  And we all understand that the careful pruning of any plant causes it to flourish.  But treating a child as a unique and beautiful entity and being careful to match one’s discipline to the individual seems a much better approach to the garden of life.  Plants that have the chance to grow free bring a sense of beauty and delight to the world.


The challenges and trials the world is confronting in the 21st century require not formal and repetitive approaches but inspiring individuals who can ramble and invade every corner of this dark planet.  My girl is the colour of the most vibrant bloom.  She invades every room with personality and is growing into a strong and articulate wee creature.  My prayer is that she remains strong and that she develops a passion for others – always growing, and always finding something that she can make look better.

No topiaries from us – just the odd clip to ensure she stays healthy and strong.

Remember that children, marriages, and flower gardens reflect the kind of care they get.
H. Jackson Brown, Jr. 

Pause for Reflection…

Between us, we’ve been working 24 hours a day this week!  I used to have a friend who, when I complained about a lack of time, pointed out I had exactly the same amount of time as Einstein, Edison and every genius on the planet.  It was never comforting to hear but having seen our Beach cottage this week, I rank Ian amongst the list of genius (does that make him a genie??!!).  In eight weeks our cottage has gone from a tired 1950s bach (albeit with a good paint job) to a new, beautiful, light and airy family home.




I on the other hand, have had a few too many of the above just in order to get through long evenings of presentation prep which coupled with dinner, bath-time and lunchmaking has in all honesty, tipped me over the edge a bit!!

However – amongst all the hectic pace, I’ve managed to watch the sun set over the island, tucking its golden rays behind the forest clad hills, and take a little time to reflect.  I’ve been thinking about love languages – we’ve all heard of the book and probably self-analysed ourselves.  What love language are you?  I have never really be too precise for myself but the last few weeks have seemed to hi-light that I’m a ‘Quality TIme’ girl.  I need my man to be with me, to hang out with us, to eat dinner together.

So tonight, he came home from work early, walking in the door in a cloud of plaster dust, with fading eyes and weary foot fall.  I had planned and prepped a lamb roast dinner.  THe potatoes, carrots and kumara had crispened beautifully and cauliflower & leek cheese was bubbling away.  But the lamb, slathered in red currant jelly and garlic was red and bloody!  I managed to control my panic and investigate the reason – the oven was on ‘grill’ and at only 150 with the lamb on the bottom, it had just not been roasted AT ALL!!  And so tonight we had a vegetarian roast!  The shiraz made it better!  

And then Ian was off out, a bit of time for himself to catch up with friends over something other than a semi-cold tea and builders biscuits!  And I went back to my reflections… with my trusty companion:



So what makes love last?  It’s too big of a question for this time of the night but It is interesting that the most sought after state is the most difficult to define or work out.  I need time, he needs praise, my mother loves through acts of service and my mother-in-law is a gift giver!  We all have such individual needs and some of these just don’t sit easy.  Part of love isn’t just knowing what your loved one needs to make them tick, or just understanding what they do for you that speaks their love,   but is actually following through.  It’s the capacity and strength to think about your own actions and reach out despite it not making much sense or keeping in check that which irritates them!.  I’m not for one moment saying I do this – I am merely reflecting that the muddy path of love isn’t quite as tidy as the FIve languages or any other book would indicate.  There is still something surreal and abstract about love – something that can’t be put in words.  It’s that something that makes you see your mistakes and wish you’d not said that.  Its that something that makes you want to touch your lover even when the war of anger has been waged and the wall seems impenetrable.  It makes me  deliver muffins and at least attempt to cook lamb.  I know that we don’t always speak the same language of love, but there’s a part of love that doesn’t have a language – that is far deeper and far wilder and far less understandable than anything we try to clothe with words and analogies.  The poets seemed to make a good effort: 

Love is more thicker than forget

ee cummings

love is more thicker than forget
more thinner than recall
more seldom than a wave is wet
more frequent than to fail

it is most mad and moonly
and less it shall unbe
than all the sea which only
is deeper than the sea

love is less always than to win
less never than alive
less bigger than the least begin
less littler than forgive

it is most sane and sunly
and more it cannot die
than all the sky which only
is higher than the sky
Love is more than my rages, my silences and my errors.  Love is more than frustration and the desert of a heart that hasn’t been feed with time, sweet time.  Love is more than mistaken words, than forgotten gestures or jobs.  Love is oh so much more.  And I am grateful to the Great Eternal that I have love.


It’s looking good…

The weather outside is frightful – there is severe gales and a dramatic drop temperature. I am so glad that Ian has wrapped our house in pink bats and can’t wait to curl up there, in front of the windows, all toasty and watch the weather from afar!

The walls are now all up, apart from the fiasco of our ensuite… not sure when we’ll get that framed up but it’ll happen.  IN fact, I’ve been thinking loads about our bedroom as it is the one room that is so remarkably different from the others – rich and dark – luxurious.  I was really cross to see that some light switches had appeared high up on the wall that was to be the showcase for our glorious navy and gold wallpaper!

DSC_0011 DSC_0005 To add insult to injury, some how we’ve ended up with 7 boxes for various wires in the lounge (and noone can tell me what for) and they’re not central to the wall… which means one cannot view the TV from the dining/kitchen area, nor can one really angle the TV away from the light towards the back of the lounge…  Poor Ian – he’d done this HUGE amount of work and I jump to and focus on precise detail so quickly.  I wasn’t polite – I’ve been holding to my ideal of a streamlined house – no bumps or interruptions to a clear, serene space (in terms of interior design) and simple pleasures.  But I think I’ll have to let it go – can’t see how else to deal with it.

THe magic of standing in the living area now is really something.  It feels like a room – like a real space.  And in just a week/10 days it will have my kitchen in it!!  It will take another few days to get the bench top sorted and ready to install but I’m so excited about seeing it all in place.  I’ve picked a sandy white for the walls – very neutral but I want the whole area to be really light and spacious.  It’s also a colour that will work well in the narrow hall way, and on the most of the walls in the children’s bedrooms.  It will reflect the light and make the space glorious:

IMG_1338 IMG_0787



Our new kitchen space… ready for paint AND the kitchen!!

It’s very exciting to imagine cooking and sitting in this space, being able to see the kids in the front garden, the view of Kapiti Island and, after the generosity of dear friends, have a decent coffee!!



And it goes on and on and on…

Poor Ian!  Nail after nail he is drilling and hammering in to our beautiful cedar house.  Each copper nail leaves it’s little rosy head glistening in the sun and yet despite all the work, the house hasn’t especially changed it’s appearance!  He has spent the week straightening walls in readiness for gib.  The electrician arrived a week ago and let us know that none of the wiring was earthed and ALL needed replacing – as does our bank balance after that news!  Ian, being as amazing as he is, managed to get wire delivered for half the price of the retail amount.  We are desperate to save money every step of the way.  Renovations are really like a hole in your pocket – a steady stream of cash seems to dribble out and one cannot seem to understand quite where it’s gone!

A passerby and two neighbours stopped by the front gate today to comment on the house.  It was lovely to meet them and hear their own stories of renovations just a little further up the street.  They have been keeping an eye on the house and love the gorgeous cladding.


So Ian spent the weekend applying himself to important tasks… whereas I and the kids on the other hand turned our hand to, well, what can only be called tasks that were low priority!!  I have to point out that I did manage to clear a huge pile of bricks from the driveway with the help of Oliver and without damaging Sophie’s wee head!  She was very insistent in taking small chards to the trailer and helping… but with Oli and I hurling them down the back it was just luck that saved her.   Today I also got rid of greens that had been lurking: we have taken down a kowhai, a camellia, a gum and a few pittosporums. I know that Ian would have heaved them all onto the trailer quickly but it just wasn’t my style (or ability!!).  So I took twice as long, sawing the tree trunks down and lurching armful after armful of leaves and twigs over the side.

I love the garden – I feel so much more at peace having a patch of earth to dig and to plant in.  So despite Ian’s rolling eyes I make no apology for popping in leeks, broccolli, cabbage and broadbeans this weekend!  I can’t wait till Spring to slice them up and eat them fresh while watching the sunset …  I suppose my guilty pleasure was the sight of the green spears from my daffs popping through and then digging in the lily bulbs I discovered.  I spied little bits of colour lurking in many corners and took such pleasure from shooting them.


I love our beach cottage – and as grumpy as I have been recently trying to sort kitchens and council consents (do they purposely try to put you off with ‘officialdom’??), I find great delight in watching the metamorphosis and can’t wait to move in.

My kitchen has had yet another change to the plans.  We walked some friends through the house and they had some more fantastic ideas.  So I’m going back to drawing board but with very little time to confirm details as Ian has laid the law down – the kitchen needs to be hear in 2-3 weeks.  I’m not sure how the showroom in Auckland feels about that, but such is life!  I still need to confirm bench tops also and so am off tomorrow to view the options.  Secretly, I’d love to have a bunch a driftwood as a countertop but that isn’t practical or in our budget!! 

So this week should give us a definite timeline – so exciting but so disheartening to pack boxes again. 


Life goes on…

… you’d be forgiven fo thinking that the only thing we’re thinking about at the moment is the house.  And it has to be said that it does consume much of our head space!  I always seem to be juggling measurements, budgets, aesthetics and panic in my brain but am cheered by the progress of the cottage.  However, this week has just been a blur.  Between parent/teacher interviews, students which need intervention, a wee girl who was a bit jaded, tired husband and all the domestic duties being dumped on my plate (to allow Ian to concentrate on building) I’ve reached Saturday and am absolutely exhausted!


My best friend this week has been coffee but away from the cottage life continues.  Oli enjoys using the off cuts to build birdhouses and car ramps. Sophie has discovered glue and magazine pictures – such fun! I’ve snuck a few minutes in for catching up reading of the light kind (!!) and even finished a few crosswords.  These in themselves are moments of breathing… long may they continue!

21st century, here we come!

We think this wee cottage was built in the 1920s, and ‘modernised’ in the 1950s.  Doing this renovation is a little bit like archaeology – we’re uncovering layers of the past; pink rosebud wall paper, lurid pink and black lino, painted green wooden flooring.   And today I really saw the literal ‘layer’ we’re adding which brings this wee cottage into the 21st century.  Ian spent ages on deciding the cladding: which wood?  what style? from where? which stain? which finish on the corners (soakers I learnt today!!)?  And to be honest, I was not really bothered about it all.  But today I saw the difference beautiful heartwood canadian cedar and deep grey/blue joinery makes:

IMG_1357IMG_0740IMG_1382The warmth and naturalness of the cedar makes the house suddenly seem part of it’s surroundings and it is a perfect match in this environment.

IMG_0742The North Wall: asbetos fibre cement clad – taking down the chimney.  This area was knee deep in vegetation and had about five trees and large shrubs that have since been removed.  IMG_1383The North wall now!

The disappointing thought today was really around the bathroom window.  We didn’t manage to get one amongst the house lot of joinery that Ian got, and so the South wall has had to be built around the old window… and I’m not convinced that that is where the new one will go.

IMG_0735 IMG_1386

 Our other huge struggle – and not yet quite resolved is that the ensuite we had planned takes up a little too much of important bedroom space, making the area at the end of the bed too tight.  The lovely french doors in the master room lose some of their elegance when there is such little space next to them for things like curtains etc.  I think we’ve decided to put the laundry in the garage now and use the entire space for our ensuite.  It will only get us a little more space but I feel that is vital.


It’s amazing to see the house come on so far and to begin to imagine where things can go and how it will all look.

I am still trying to arrange for our kitchen.  The bench tops are very expensive and a little more complicated to source than I anticipated.  But I’m really trying hard to get this sorted so that I can have that lovely kitchen in place soon! But there’s a few more decisions to make about flooring also.  Man, seems like the 3am lying-awake-thinking-about-the-cottage moments aren’t over yet!

‘Our house… is a very,very, very fine house..’

… with cedar on the walls,

and windows to the view…

Okay – so am in desperate need of photos to show just how much has changed but I stood today in our cottage and could totally feel it’s charm.  The windows (bar 1) are in with the Man of the Manor (Captain of the Cottage? Boss of the Bungalow? Hero of the House?!!) deciding during the middle of the day that he wasn’t go to install the second MASSIVE window into the living space as we were in desperate need of wall.  Looking at the lounge, I think he made a fine choice!  THere is so much light already and it would have effectively opened up onto the neighbours house which isn’t a pretty sight. 

One bedroom also has a window to the north that doesn’t especially have an attractive outlook and so now I’m looking at how to do a nice garden style design there that doesn’t block out the sun but is a little more cheering than the bland plastic fence.

Our bedroom’s large french door is stunning… I can’t wait to open them on a summer morning and walk out onto the deck and the back courtyard with my coffee.  Our builder also put the slimline window in on the east of the room – I had thought on the west side but actually, it probably gives us more flexibility again in terms of space, which is at a premium.  I’m just going to have to make sure that there is VERY good lighting for dressing – I HATE fossicking in dim light looking for the right t-shirt.  

I’m still trying to decide what to do about a wardrobe in the back bedroom – and aren’t sure that it is ever going to be a satisfactory answer… I need to claw back as much room as possible and I was going to put Oliver in here but as he has the beds we use for visitors, I just don’t know how it will work… 

I found a company today that can work my benchtop so need to ring tomorrow and confirm they can do the job – and then arrange for my kitchen to be delivered.  I’m still looking for a better price on my island unit than the one I currently have.  And the other major decision is to choose flooring: we have lovely floor boards but they don’t go all the way through the kitchen area… and so we’ll have to get it refloored… I like wood but could be pricey.  I don’t want tiles – would prefer concrete than tiles!

The cedar on the back wall looks beautiful.  It really is an attractive cladding and the copper soakers make it just so cool.  Task tomorrow is to take the camera and collect FABULOUS images.  Can’t wait to see what the next day brings!!