22 August 2014

A flying visit to Makara {landscape photography}

Despite the winter being unusually co-operative earlier on in the winter, we've been making up for it these past few weeks with some crazy weather which has made it a little more challenging to get out for sunrise shots.

Take this particular weekend for example. At Friday 3pm school pick-up it was sleeting and 3 degrees. I was actually hoping for some snow like Ange and Angela-Noelle had been blessed with down in Dunedin, but it was not to be.

The following morning was still looking pretty cold and miz when I looked out the window at 6am so I chucked in the idea of getting out early and my bed firmly won out.

Having said that, the day steadily improved and after visiting some good friends out in the Hutt for afternoon tea, I made a snap decision to drop the rest of the family home, grab the camera and head out to Makara to catch the dying day. We just won’t talk about how fast I may have zoomed around the very windy roads to get there in time though…..mkay?!

I arrived with about 20 minutes to spare in the end, I knew sunset was roughly 5.20pm but wasn’t sure just how quickly the sun would dip behind the hills that hug the Makara coastline.

The first shot I took after stepping out of the car was of a regal looking seagull (you would have seen it at the very top of this post) lit up in golden light with my long zoom. Seagulls often get a bad rap for being rats-of-the-sky so it was nice to capture one looking so peaceful and serene. Golden light would do that to anyone though I think!

The 10-stop neutral density filter came in very handy to capture some lovely sunflare and silky water as the sun began to sink low behind the hills, while behind me the watchful moon had already risen above the hills sparsely dotted with sheep.

Being on the west coast in a small bay, Makara is more known for its fishing than swimming and the fishing huts that you can only reach by boat past the shoreline attest to this fact. My boss owns one of these, I’m not sure which one but I do know that on every calm day in the summer he would dash off for the afternoon to put some more work into it.

After the sun disappeared, an incredible glow appeared on the horizon, and the South Island appeared out of the haze, looking tantalisingly close.

I also found only my second ever paua shell on the beach, the last one I found on the South Coast near Owhiro Bay a good 3 or so years ago, and this one was much bigger with beautiful aqua tones. 

It got very cool very quickly without the sun’s rays and with a 25 minute trip home ahead of me (plus a quick stop at the supermarket to get some smoky BBQ Hickory sauce for Mark to take over to my brother in Melbourne as he was leaving at 6am the next morning) I knew I should make tracks.

On the way back (and driving at a more sedate pace in the near dark!) I spotted some other great locations that I want to come back and capture in the daylight – a church in Makara village, the newly constructed wind turbines at Mill Creek, and some dilapidated sheds, so I’ll keep those up my sleeve for another day.

As I climbed back over the hill to Karori, the dying light was framing the West Wind turbines beautifully on the hill so I pulled over into a safe layby and set the tripod up quickly for a couple of last shots looking back towards the coast, this shot below close to my favourite of the day as it turns out.

While I was in the supermarket, the gourmet cheeses started calling out to me, so as well as the 2 packs of smoky BBQ sauce, a blue and an Emmental somehow made their way into my basket to go with the red wine that would be a lovely end to the successful, in-the-moment decision to get out into the great outdoors.

21 August 2014

Ten random thoughts on Thursday.....

I'm taking a leaf out of the lovely Ange's book this week and thought I'd share on here what's been floating around in the old noggin lately.....

1) There have been some pretty odd things appearing on the fridge at our house....say no more. Mark started it with boobies randomly appearing one day. I thought I'd go one better and stole the i to make willy and before we knew it, Noah had added poo and wee into the mix. It makes me smile whenever I walk into the kitchen if nothing else.


2) So I might have mentioned before that we have a cleaner, and yes I know I'm blooming lucky to have one. She's great, but she is a little old Colombian grandma with very poor English. Our text messages to each other are freakin hilarious as a result. Most of the time things get completely lost in translation in both directions. So I'm currently pondering how to discuss with her the fact that whatever product she's been using to mop the floor lately has turned the kitchen into an ice skating rink. To be fair we had run out of the usual stuff so she was obviously improvising the past few weeks, but I've lost count of the times I've nearly arsed over in the kitchen in my socks, and Noah has actually done so spectacularly about five times. I even re-mopped the kitchen last week but it didn't make an iota of difference, it's still as slippery as heck. I think I'm just gonna have to leave out the Floor Cleaner bottle on the bench with a note pointing to it saying: 'please use only THIS on the floor' otherwise it's only a matter of time before someone does themselves a proper injury. It really is like that scene on Risky Business with Tom Cruise every time we enter the kitchen - you know the one I mean right?

3) Sometimes ditching a responsibility is the right thing to do when it's gotten to be a complete drag. So here's the thing.....I've been the Treasurer of our after school care trust the past year. Which started out OK and gradually got more and more stressful as the year went on. It had a lot to do with some of the other committee members (there were 5 others) not pulling their combined weight leaving me to do everything mostly because I am a completer-finisher anal-retentive type A personality who just couldn't bear for things not to get ticked off our action list so I just proceeded to then do it all myself. Then there was task of trying to implement some efficiencies in the way the administration at the centre runs.....so which mug do you think has ended up spending over 50 hours putting in a whole new IT management system from scratch to get it up and running before handing some of it over to the centre manager to use? Uh yuh, that would be me too. So last week I officially resigned as Treasurer at the AGM and what a relief that was. Unfortunately, I haven't yet been able to get rid of the billing/invoicing side of the new system as the Trust is currently recruiting a new accountant to take that on but I sincerely hope there's light at the end of that tunnel too............... and I sure as heck won't miss the frantic 4pm Monday texts between trustee members when everyone has locked themselves out of Westpac and we need to urgently sort it out with the bank so we can still get the staff fortnightly payroll approved and paid that day!

And with Mylo also moving on from crèche to Sunday School next term combined with the very low numbers I've had in classes each week the past term or two, I've decided to take a break from any involvement there next term as well. It might mean I actually get a chance to get onto all the creative want to-do's I just haven't found time for like getting a photography website up and running...well that's the idea anyway!

4) My love of one of our tried-and-tested doughnut muffins has waned....last time I made them they just weren't as amazing as I remember. They seemed pretty dry after the first day - but maybe it's just because I don't eat much with normal flour in these days. These on the other hand have claimed top spot.....snickerdoodles, they stay super moist and delicious for at least a week and they are sugar-free, dairy-free and gluten-free to boot!


5) I've discovered that is actually possible to be in two places at once! And is there anything more satisfying than sitting at the pool while the boys do their swimming lessons and getting the weekly shop done at the same time? I think not. What a revelation it has been to use the Countdown Click and Collect service and not have to drag two ratty children around the supermarket for an hour on a Friday afternoon or worse on the weekend when we could be enjoying family time together! Plus we can manage what we spend each week so much better! Yes I know we could get it delivered and save even more time but popping into the nearest store for five minutes to pick up the order does mean we still get a chance to pick up anything we might have forgotten plus it's cheaper!

6) I could happily do without getting lopsided wrinkles. It has become apparent when peering in the mirror that I seem to have more smile lines/wrinkles around my left eye than my right eye. I mean come on, how's a girl meant to grow old gracefully without it happening to both sides equally at once?! Gimme a break Mother Nature.

7) It's only a month tomorrow till Mylo starts school. What the?!!! Which means I'd better get my a into g and finish organising his LEGO Movie party. I started with a hiss and a roar with loads of ideas and started planning it, but fell off the wagon the past few weeks actually implementing it all. So I guess you'll just have to watch this space.

8) Speaking of when Mylo starts school, I'm going to stop driving to town every day and walk as much as possible. This will not only save me nearly $200 a month in parking, it'll also benefit my exercise regime. It might actually mean I get to sleep in a couple of mornings a week till 6.30am (from my current wake up time of 5.30am which is when I get up to do exercise now) too - result! I haven't quite decided exactly how many days a week I'll walk and I might just go with the flow each week depending on what we have on after school but it'll be nice to get that extra dose of fresh air each day and give the boys a chance to scooter home with their mates who also live on our street too!

9) Not having to cook much last week while Mark was away in Melbourne was a god-send. He's a pretty good find that man of mine. The week before he left he made double portions of Bolognese (which we used for Nachos one night and a Lasagne another night), Thai Green Curry, and Sausage Casserole in the slow cooker. This meant all I had to do was heat up a meal or add some rice and we were sorted. Sa-weet!

10) So lately we've sold a whole bunch of baby gear that was gathering dust on Trade Me (which is I guess a fairly final acknowledgement that yep - we're sticking with two!). We have just about made enough money to fund a new camera body for me with the proceeds, and if I can find the time to go through all the baby clothes and some other baby toys that we haven't quite got to, then I definitely will have. An end of an era for sure, but one that is right for our little family.

19 August 2014

33/52: Teamwork at Maccas and a cat who likes boxes

A portrait of my children once a week, every week in 2014

Mylo: you rather missed your Daddy last week, particularly when your mean Mummy made you sit for an hour and finish your tortilla wrap (it had chicken in it which was causing the big delay). You told me with tears in your eyes as you sat chewing each mouthful slowly while looking at our family portrait on the wall that you missed Daddy, and that you loved him. You felt better after we were able to do a Google Hangout with him and set eyes on him through the wonders of technology. It was worth finishing your dinner though as I’d promised Maccas for dinner if you’d both been helpful and eaten your dinners all week. You and your brother make a good team when it comes to the Happy Meals – you happily eat all the fries from both meals but aren’t fussed on the burger, while Noah polishes off the burger and the chicken nuggets that came with your meal. Teamwork indeed!  
One morning last week I took a little guy to daycare, and came home with a dragon!

'My cat likes to hide in boxes' - turns out we actually made the book come true!
Noah: you’ve been pretty gutted that so many of your weekly football games have been cancelled lately (the last three weeks in a row!) due to bad weather and the soggy park that you play at, so it’s been great that you have been able to get along to the weekly Wednesday practice and learn some new skills so you can still get your football fix one way or another. On the weekend, you were most amused that Murphy (whom you heap so much love on every day) decided to park himself in the box of a board game we were playing and remain there for quite some time. You even picked him up and carried him around the house like that and he didn't mind one bit!

18 August 2014

Why I write - and a blog hop

Do you ever wonder how a blog post comes to life? Sometimes it's as easy as words flowing like silken water onto the page or incredible mind-blowing photos that accompany every single post. And yes, I'll admit some days are like that. Other days it's a hard slog and you backspace more than you type, and you critically find yourself wondering whether it's even worth hitting the Publish button because is anyone going to be even the slightest bit interested in what I've got to say?


I was tagged by the effervescent and talented Miriam at Create Hope Inspire whose own creative processes you can read about here. I have had the pleasure of meeting Miriam on a couple of occasions and she is the spunkiest breath of fresh air you can possibly imagine. She and her family are currently experiencing an expat life in Adelaide, and I love how Miriam has already embraced finding some wonderful, unique places in the city. Her weekly series on Learning Together and Becoming the Mama I want to Be are just two examples of the amazing love and time she's willing to put into growing great human beings. Oh and did I mentioned how handy she was with a sewing machine? I didn't? Well she also Makes my Week here.

So over to me to think about how and why I do what I do:

What am I working on?

This may be obvious (or not!) but lately on the blog I’ve pulled back from posting 4-5 times a week and some weeks I'll be lucky to do three. Since I’ve been upping the ante with getting out for photo shoots around Wellington most weekends, something has had to give if I want to spend the time editing and processing all the photos I'm taking to a decent standard!

At the moment in life in general I feel like I have more creative stuff that I want to do than I can possibly handle and definitely not enough time to do it! Don't you hate that?! So here’s what’s on my want-to-do list:
  1. Set up a dedicated photography website – all I need to do is buy the domain name, start up a self-hosted wordpress site and use one of the great template designs I found specific to having a photography website. Sounds simple right?! Simple in principle, but requires some time investment for sure. So that'll be done in around 2018 at the rate I'm going!
  2. Sell some prints (set up an online shopping cart system through Etsy or Shopify). That can't really happen until I do point 1). So the ETA on that is 2023....(jokes!).
  3. Print some photos on canvas and/or other mediums ready for the Thorndon Fair (some friends and I - we call ourselves the Creative Chicas are going to have a stall at the fair on the first weekend of December). Exciting and scary at the same time!

How does my work differ from others in the genre? 

In terms of blogging I’m not entirely sure what makes my work unique other than the fact the design is my own and I think the sheer volume of landscape photos of late have expanded the overall feel from just being a family, travel, and sometimes crafty blog.

I’d still like to think my voice on my blog is unique – even if it is a mish-mash jumble of landscape photography, things I’m loving, portraits of the boys, reviews, crafts and recipes. One of the things I do is try very hard to focus on the positives for the most part – and whilst some might say this gives a warped impression of life being 'all roses' at our end which is far from the truth, I think it's important to keep perspective and that stopping to record the moments in life that are positive breeds an attitude of gratitude for this one wild and precious life we have been given.

Why do I write what I do?

I write about my boys week to week as I want to remember all the funny moments and special achievements that might otherwise easily pass me by. I write about my experiences while out taking photos of my gorgeous city, and I hope that the love I have for my home town shines through in these posts.

I have been so inspired by the creativity that abounds in the blogsphere and there are so many creative things I've been able to try myself as a result that I have then shared here. Who would have thought that my How to make a Death Star Pinata would be my most viewed post - with 15,000 views. Apparently there's a lot of Star Wars fans out there!

How does my writing process work?

I try to stay ahead of myself so I’m never faced with an empty week with no blog posts planned – that way if something unexpected crops up in the family schedule which invariably happens I’m not stressing that I have nothing to post. I used to mix it up and have a fairly set schedule of what types of posts I would do on a given day but now I just go with the flow for the most part – that in itself has been quite a freeing experience and has taken the pressure off.


Writing a photography based post is a bit different as the photos are the main course and the words more just like the sauce on the side to go with it. Even so, sometimes it's hard to come up with words to describe the places I've been and things I'm seeing without just saying 'hey look another nice sunrise' or 'wow more scenery!' but I try to tell the story of how I happened to be there on this particular day and how I captured my shots.

I am a bit of a perfectionist though so where some might be happy just to tap away, have a quick read through and hit 'Publish', often my posts are a bit more like write something....come back to it later and write some more.....edit....re-edit.....check...check....check some more.....hit Publish...and then WAAAAAH I can still always seem to find a mis-spelled word afterwards!! Or if not me, my Dad always does!

I'll often have a few drafts sitting as ideas in my posts to finish off at a later date, but if I come back to them and find I can't remember where I was going with it, I'll just delete at a later date. And I find myself composing blog post sentences in my head sometimes too.....do you do that too or is that just me?!

Either way I find the process of taking jumbled thoughts and crafting into something resembling a small essay, or at the very least a series of bullet points an enlightening experience. It's not always masterful or colourful or even that interesting to anyone but me I suspect, but I love it nonetheless. I guess that goes without saying as why else would I have written 1075 posts these past seven years?!

Anyway, it's time for me to hand this baton over to some lovely people whose every post I get so much enjoyment out reading. The first is the lovely Leonie over at Sunshine x 3. You certainly won't find a more talented creative mama whose delight and joy is her three girls and making beautiful things for the people she loves. I also love the fact that she is still very much committed to capturing her journey on her blog (when others have fallen by the wayside lately - ahem!) and her weekly Show & Tell links are a veritable feast for the craft senses. Most of the time I simply gaze in wistful awe of the things she creates - like gorgeous personalised quilts for her girls. Plus she has this amazing ability to make me smile on a Friday morning with links to great music that are usually previously unknown to me like Geronimo by Sheppard - a new family favourite in our house!
Another lovely lady I'd like to nominate is Sophie at Little Gumnut. Sophie writes the most beautiful heartfelt thoughts on her faith, she manages to write so eloquently about what's on her heart and every time I read a post I have come away feeling challenged or refreshed and usually both at the same time. One of my favourite posts so far, her post on believing God for the impossible in 2014 gave me some amazing insights into the things that I could be trusting God for if only I can scrape up a little mustard seed of faith. Also Sophie is on a health journey that I know all too well and it's nice to have another bloggy friend out there who knows what it's like with these challenges! I'm especially interested to hear how Sophie manages to come up with such beautifully written, spot-on-for-my-soul thoughts.

Last but definitely not least is my dear in-real-life-but-also-bloggy-friend Marie over at It's Marie Made. I've known Marie for a good few years now, and I have loved watching her creative talents simply blossom. She hasn't even been crocheting a year and unlike me who learnt one weekend and promptly forgot, she has been creating the most amazing creations ever since like this beautiful blanket that I got to see in progress being created, all of which get gifted to lovely people around her. Her transformation to creative queen has been quite epic and I'd love her to tell you what inspires her to write about her creativity!

So over to you lovely ladies now.....

15 August 2014

At the close of day {Wellington sunset photography}

It's not often that I get out on an afternoon for the opportunity for end-of-day instead of break-of-day shots. But I'd seen the weather forecast and after missing out last weekend when the weather was very unco-operative I thought I'd better seize the moment.


My plan was to drop the boys to Mark's work at around 4.30pm but as the afternoon was really quite lovely, we decided we'd scooter and ride a little way around the Parade for a Kaffee Eis gelato first.

These two really are chalk and cheese. Mr Always Chocolate on the left, Mr thought-I-was-getting-lemon-then-said-white-chocolate-then-threw-a-hissy-fit-when-it-wasn't-lemon on the right.

It was one of those glorious Wellington days that only Wellington knows how to put on. It was hard to tear myself away with the boys even if it was just for the ten minute round trip to drop them at Mark's work before I got down and dirty with the tripod in the sand.

Despite the glorious day, signs of winter were still clearly visible up the valley.

And even though these next shots could easily pass for a lazy late summer's evening, they were in reality taken at 4.30 in the afternoon not long before the sun disappeared for the day.

I still haven't used my 10-stop neutral density filter much yet so I figured I'd have a play with it. Basically it's like putting on very dark sunglasses for your lens. The result: wicked sunflare to capture the last light of the day.

And silky smooth waters to follow.

The shot below my favourite of the three, taken at about six seconds exposure.

I thought I should make use of the lovely fountain to frame some photos whilst it was still going so made my way back toward the spot where we'd eaten our gelato that just an hour earlier had been bathed in bright sunshine.

The seagulls were bobbing up and down near the shore and put on quite the entertaining show, raising themselves up high on their wings before diving under the water to grab what seemed to be an abundance of fish.

It must have been a glorious evening to arrive on the Interislander ferry.

The air so clear that the dusky pink sunset simply hung on and on in the air.

Up on the roof of the Bluewater Bar & Grill that has been many a different restaurant over the years, you get a pretty darn good spot for viewing the city. I mean, how's this for front row seats for the night show? All the rest of my photos below were taken from here, and I must remember it in the future as a great location for city scape shots.

This photo below reminds me in a small way of scenes from places on the Italian Amalfi coast like Positano or Sorrento.

Once the lights are turned on, the fountain glows in spectacular colour, the centrepiece to the glorious city light show behind.

It's not easy capturing the lights of the city while the sky is still so light behind but I do love this shot I caught after trying a few different settings.

I think this photo makes the city looks so much bigger and more built up than it really is. We are just ickle in the grand scheme of cities around the world. But I think that is exactly the appeal and why people rate Wellington so highly as a cool city to live!

Ah my city. Now quietening down for the night, as the salmon fades into royal blue.

Softly sleep now until morning.


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