crochet ghost stops his haunting to eat breakfast

My boy likes to hide in blankets.

He loves lying underneath the bean bag.

He loves making a nest of blankets and pillows in a tight corner.

He loves a three-person pile-up where the whole family lies on top of him, squashing him until he can’t quite expand his lungs…

& having a crochet-ghost at the breakfast table is not an unusual sight around here….



an everyday dreamer



(Sweet peas from my garden. I planted them amongst the bean vines.) 

I was trawling my photographs looking for blog inspiration and I thought – Geez, there are so many random shots which aren’t really ‘about’ anything….’

…and there I found this post.



(Friends of mine have a red window at the end of their hallway, which imbues the outside world with a trippy feel…) 

Superficially, my life could look quite dull. I live in a small city with a reputation for mediocrity. I live in an urban bungalow, parenting two kids and trying to cling on to my creative life while I do it.

But it’s rich in my head, folks, rich and vivid and alive and busy….the only way I can stop my whirling mind is yoga, especially savasana which I is why I have taken to it so intently – it’s less about the physical practice for me and more about the break from my brain.



(My friend made this paver in a mosaics class we took together years ago. I am not sure about my new gold nail-polish.) 

So long as your inner life is rich and interesting, what does the outer life matter, especially?

& my shitty little Canon Ixus is like an extension of my mind – creating/capturing the world as I see it…which is a world of colour, beauty and random excellence.

Images are doing far more for me than words lately. Increasingly words are inept for all that sifts through me.



(My brother, a blokey-bloke with big builder’s hands, decorated the Christmas pavlova and was so sweetly pleased with it and himself. An uncharacteristic moment.) 



(A window in my local cafe. Yesterday I sat there with a coffee for over an hour, staring at this window and writing the world’s longest to-do list, post-school holidays.) 

I am an everyday dreamer.

My life is not particularly special/glamorous, but I am good at finding the special in it. It has taken me a long time to a) recognise this about myself and b) value it.


fresh inspiration

When is an ‘inspiration wall’ not an inspiration wall?

When it’s been up for almost two years and you’ve stopped seeing it anymore…

I have a creative room out in my backyard. Our garage was converted to a sleepout by previous owners and now we’ve set it up so half of it is guest-room (well, guest-nook) and half is my creative space.

The wall beside my desk I put up a montage of inspirational images. It was overdue for a freshen up, so for a couple of months I slipped anything that caught my eye into a folder (magazine cuttings, mail my friends sent me, vintage book pages etc etc) until I had enough material to redo the wall.

Here is the old inspiration wall:


& Here is the new:

sw_2sw_3 sw_4

Do you think I am the only 41 year old still sticking photographs of pop stars on her wall? Ha ha.

Hullo, you fullas.



(Because I can no longer buy fabulous coloured Roman Sandals due to the sad closure of the Douglas Sandals factory in Auckland, I buy black ones when I see them about and customise them. These ones I painted with silver glitter nailpolish for that ‘night sky on your feet’ feeling…)

A week and a bit of the school hols to go. So much is lovely about the hols and so much isn’t.

Lovely = unstructured time, time with the kids, summery goodness.

Unlovely = unstructured time, too much time with the kids, trying to work AND do full-time childcare.

I have already have a lot of my plate for 2014 and heaps of it is good, rich creative stuff. I have a very good feeling about this year.

We didn’t stray far this summer – just one week a little bit south. The weather has been unremittingly shit wherever we are, but ah well, it gives the summer that element of endurance which is always enlivening, right? It doesn’t stop us roaming outdoors, either. To be honest, F and I love the outdoors in wind, rain and cold. Fraser loves climbing mountains in sleet and snow. On Sunday I tool a long walk along the river in the sheeting rain. It was most stirring – even if I couldn’t see through my glasses because of the wet onslaught…..this tendency towards liking the wild weather must be the Danish/Scottish/German/Russian/Northern England residue in our respective bloods…

Here’s some stuff I have enjoyed around the internet lately:

Megan Scent-of-Water wrote a thoughtful post about what love means HERE

I just discovered the blog and vimeo channel of photographer Xanthe Berkeley – great if you need a bit of cheering up; colourful and celebratory HERE

There’s an excellent long interview with Penny Rimbaud of Crass HERE – revisiting Crass always takes me back to my punk roots and makes me feel all fired-up, like anything is possible…theirs is the best type of anarchism. Anarchism of creativity, collectivity and positive action.

If you like doing yoga at home, but can’t afford one of the subscriber-sites – yoga teacher David Procyshyn most generously posts excellent-quality full yoga classes for *free* on his vimeo channel. I use it a lot and can really recommend it HERE

I like this Brainpickings article about Brian Eno’s ‘Oblique Strategies’ for creativity and now I want to write my own….HERE

After a couple of years of having to push myself to keep my journal writing going, I have refound my zeal and inspiration (yay for post-burn-out life!) and am busily writing, painting, collaging, scribbling away….I’ve started a Pinterest board for journal inspiration HERE

I’m very excited about new Warpaint HERE ; new TV on the Radio HERE ; & new Ebony Bones HERE

Culture Unplugged is a great FREE documentary site – there’s all sorts of stuff about environmentalism, spirituality, left-politics & much more. I have watched a tonne of stuff on here. I especially love this film about a Zen cook ‘How to cook your life‘ – it’s a nice mix of food, spirituality, humour, emotional honesty…well worth a watch… HERE


Gosh, I have so much to talk/write about. Brain is brimming! But for today, hullo!

Happy not-so-new year. x x x

Merry Holidays and see you in 2014.

ts_buntingWell, I’m not quite sure what happened to December except that life is full to over-brimming which is no bad thing!

This is me ‘tucking’ the blog in for the year. I’m going to take a wee summer break from blogging so I can BE solidly in the moment offline and get all re-invigorated for a great year of blogging in 2014.

May you be well, may you be happy, may you be peaceful.

Thanks for popping in and reading my head-scrambles and raves, rants, mental meanderings and excessive plant photographs. Much love to you all & I’ll see you in the new year! x Helen



standing in an empty room, talking to myself


(Look at these outrageous Dahlias – the ones Willoughby chose – they are so big and obnoxious and like a child’s drawing of the sun. I would NEVER have chosen them, and I love them.)

I talk to myself a lot these days. I guess because I spend most days alone…and I’m good company! Little words of encouragement out loud: ‘Take it slow….careful! You don’t have to get it all done right now, you know. BREATHE.’


I just spent two weeks painting four rooms of the house a shade of warm white called ‘China Ivory’. There was a lot of talking to myself. There was a lot of swearing and cleaning up of dripped paint. There was a lot of shuffling of furniture from room to room. It took 100% longer than I thought it would and now I am behind on everything else.

Mind you, I always feel behind these days. There is something uniquely stressful about being a mother…(this is not to undercut the stress of non-mothers, everyone gets stressed, I know, but I do think mothers experience a uniquely wearing type of stress). Mothers hold the whole family in their brains (and hearts) ALL THE TIME…and it’s a lot to hold. I am always trying to remember what everyone needs and where they need to be and what they’ve eaten lately and which appointments I need to schedule for them and how I’ve screwed them up and the ways I fail them and how much I love them and how tiresome they are and how emotionally-healthy they are or aren’t and how I could do better to support them….this work never finishes. It wears at me sometimes in the form of this feeling of never being caught up, always having more to do than I have lifetimes to attend to.

(Because photographs of white walls are not that interesting – I took some photographs of the stuff on the walls….but check out that freshly applied white paint. WHOAR.)


Plus this time of year starts to feel like a hurtle, doesn’t it? The freefall towards Crassmass – yaaargh! Heeellllppp!

I liked the house empty. I liked the plain white walls. I liked painting over dark red and then dirty-beige with white. I did a kind of zen-stand up comedy routine to myself. Lots of jokes about Karate Kid ‘sand the floor’….and how many zen buddhists does it take to paint an empty room white?


I didn’t want to put the mats back down or the furniture back in or the paintings back up.

I can imagine a life for myself where I live in a white room and sleep on a mattress in the corner and the only things in the room are tea things and books.

But I did put everything back, because there are four of us who live here, because it would have been weird not to, and because that was the thing to do next.

Lately I am in this open state that can feel very free and can also feel like ‘lost’.

I have no ambition. I have no certainty about who I am or what I want. I don’t want anything except for the people I love to be well and happy. Sometimes it feels like deep peace, sometimes it feels like BLANK. Vacuum. Nothingness.

This is a common experience of ‘mid-life’ (I’m 41). This feeling is why people have affairs or buy silly cars or suddenly get tattoos or trek the Himalayas. I feel lucky that I have yoga and meditation which mean I am constantly engaged in associative practices which mean I can feel this stuff and not freak out or need to lurch towards change to fill the emptiness which is opening up inside me. The emptiness can be a huge gift and a tool towards grace and clarity, so long as you don’t freak out and fill it with random shit to distract yourself from the yawning canyon of emptiness in your centre.

paint_1 paint_3

No wonder I liked the empty rooms, white walls and single-minded task of the last two weeks.

Everywhere I look, white. Bright. Light. Just keep painting. Just make the white whiter.

Empty everything out of the room…

…spend two weeks in the empty room…

Fill the room up again.




a conquest, a battle, a victory…

One way I can tell we had a mild winter, is that the nasturtiums I planted at the beginning of last summer didn’t die off. Nasturtiums are very frost tender and they usually die and wither over the winter when the frosts hit…but because the frosts didn’t kill them off, they have been partying hard-out in the garden.


I enjoyed the nasturtium riots for a long time but finally had to pull some of them out as they were romping all over the place and taking up room I needed for spring planting. I don’t like pulling out healthy and decorative plants, but had to let my desire for tomatoes and corn overcome my silly sentimentality.

Here is just some of the nasturtium we pulled out, the air was dense in that unique wet, peppery smell that nasturtiums have – peeeyuuu!


Garden wreckage becomes spontaneous landscape art…

nst_5 nst_6

According to plant lore, nasturtium is the plant of heroes and represents ‘a conquest, a long battle and a victory’.

So who won, me or the nasturtiums? Ha ha…

There are still lots of nasturtiums blooming around the place, I only pulled out the ones in the vegetable beds.


I love nasturtiums – if I were braver and more certain, I would get a nasturtium tattoo – I really love THIS ONE.  But then I also love THESE DANDELIONS…..and THESE VEGETABLES  and THIS BEETROOT and THESE WILDFLOWERS …and this constant indecision is how I am 41 and as yet tattoo-less…..

Anyway, after creating all that space in the garden for spring planting, I entered a raffle at the Manawatu Harvest Festival on Saturday AND I WON! Sweet fortune!


Now these lovely plants are sitting in the driveway waiting to be planted – and as soon as the horrible spring wind stops blustering away, I will do just that.