january

  

Do you ever do that thing where you’re like “whoa January! you’ve taken off ahead of me like an olympic runner“, and the christmas holidays feel like lifetimes – rather than just one month – ago?

January has been filled with corn on the cob, watermelon + feta + mint + chilli salad, bbq’s and cloudy apple cider. It’s been constructed of swims, paints, travel plans, weddings, time with friends, dancing (there should always be dancing, yes?), creative live broadcasts, preparation for a change of WP theme. It has included skype dates, with plans for more + firm dates for friends & family visiting.

Our little living area has been cluttered up with things out of the toilet & bathroom. Our toiletries are in a box on the floor by the fireplace, the wall cabinet sitting next to them. the toothbrush has a temporary home next to the coffee machine and towels are draped over whatever we can find. Holes in the walls have been filled in, then sanded, plus i’ve put architrave up where there used to be a sliding door. And, for the final week of january, I’ve been painting. There’s still more to be done as the prep took twice as long as i anticipated due to the humid weather. Still, the toilet looks amazing with its new coat of paint. New toilet accessories ordered, on to the bathroom next.

Bethells Beach, 31 January. Total surprise at how little I knew of the place and how much I fell in love with it when we visited. Only an hour from the car ferry terminal (on the mainland), Bethells is a stunning black sand beach on the west coast of Auckland. There for a wedding, we are now making plans to go back – me with a camera slightly more powerful than my iphone!

I am so excited for the year ahead.

monday morning

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Theres a library book next to the bed that I am not inclined to finish. Gone are the days when i will read a book to the end regardless of whether i am enjoying it. Back to the library it goes.

It has been a weekend of non-fiction… Some cookery books (Sunday Suppers, The Ethicurean, Plenty More) plus The Latte Yearsmy friend Phil’s first book. Beautifully written, this memoir about a time (mostly in her 20’s) when she makes some major life changes, is a book I really enjoyed reading. There were parts of the story I already knew and parts I didn’t, parts that made me giggle and parts that brought tears to my eyes. I guess, because I know her, reading the book was the next best thing to having her sitting here next to me with a cup of tea (or a pint!) and telling me in person about the bits I didn’t know. She is living proof that change is possible and she had nothing but encouragement for me as I was training for my first half-marathon. I am so thrilled for her and can’t wait to read whatever she writes next!

I read an article over the weekend that suggested that the first email I send each day be to someone saying thank-you. So today I did just that. I have no expectations for any replies, but I think I am going to love sending little notes of thanks out into the world at the beginning of each day.

I am excited about my week (I am always excited about my week). It contains spin classes, HIIT classes, pilates and (for the first time since the half marathon), I will be going for my first very short run to see how my foot is. theres a skype call with a friend in Canada tomorrow, a meeting with a new client later in the week, a wall hanging I have made that needs finishing, duck proscuitto to make, a new course to check out on creative live (thanks Fernando!), plus a short work week for Nic as we head away for a long weekend this coming weekend.

Awake at 5:30 my brain is charging ahead into the day. It would be so easy to tear off after it once Nic has been fed and I have dropped him at the ferry, but I sit and meditate first, knowing that there is time for everything and my day will flow better because I allow myself this.

The fuel light glows orange at me on the drive home but the petrol station isn’t open yet. My grocery list is full but the supermarket isn’t open yet either. And, even if it was, I know the shelves will have been stripped bare over the weekend and the first of the trucks bringing more stock from the mainland might be on the island but the food won’t have been unpacked yet. Not for the first time i think perhaps i need to move my grocery shopping for the week to another day…

I have a roll of 120 film to be developed that I put into the holga so long ago I’ve forgotten what is on it, there’s an aphid infestation in the garden I need to deal with and a batch of black pepper tincture I’m itching to make.

Have a great week everyone, I hope you are as excited about yours when Monday rolls around.

* photo is a re-edit (well, a removal of the PS filter I had applied) of one from around this date in January 2012 – a long weekend in the Cotswolds with some of my favourite women on the planet.

december

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the closest thing we have to a family ritual at christmas time, is staying away from the hype. we don’t buy each other (or anyone else) gifts. not because we don’t love and appreciate our friends, we simply find other ways – at other times of the year – to show them.

instead, following in the footsteps of Nic’s parents, we usually find a place in nature to explore. last year we spent it in our new island home, swimming and bbq’ing turkey.

this year we walked the routeburn track (more on that in later posts). spending time together like this – no cellphones, no internet, playing outside – feels like a truly amazing gift. i want to remember our christmas day for years to come – waking up in a doc hut, shared with 20-odd other people, hot coffee and tiny christmas mince pies before breakfast, the views as we climbed up and above the treeline. how it felt to be standing on the top of conical hill – as if supported and surrounded by friendly giants. the walk down to the falls hut and the screechingly-cold water i took a dip in at the end of the day..

we stayed in a hotel in queenstown on either side of our routeburn walk that serves the most delicious and nourishing food; so now i am home again, putting my own spin on things that we ate there.

three things i am truly thankful for right now are my island home, my husband (who loves a good adventure as much as i do) and friends who send lovely emails and cards in the post. and i am grateful for being home again now, so i can bake bara brith, make bread & butter pickles and have a go at a couple of new sewing projects.

right now, our our beautiful wanderlust-loving cat is doing just that (again). he took off on boxing day, whilst my parents-in-law were here and he’s not home yet. this weighs heavy on my heart but, since there’s a storm brewing, we are hoping he will decide to come home tonight… that would make the start of 2016 really great for us.

today being thursday, the last day of the year, sunny and a day begging to be got out in, we put on some walking gear grabbed our towels and drove to stony batter at the eastern end of the island. we were headed for the small bay just east of hooks beach which we thought might be good for a swim.

the route markers took us down through through hilly farmland, past a few wooly clumps of wary sheep and the sun-bleached bones of a couple that met with some untimely demise.

the final descent through huge pohutukawa, just now coming into flower…
then a bit of a scramble to a rocky bay that we didn’t feel at all like swimming at…
so, after a bit of a rest, it was back up the hill, through the sheep to the car.

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This is my wish for 2016 for you all…

Let it be a year with more friends and less Facebook. More loving and less liking. More long walks and mad love-making. More art and less artifice.
– from Let it Be by David duChemin.

»» Read the whole article by David here. I could not have said it better myself.

easy like sunday morning

milo, coffee and mini xmas mince pies
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7:46am feels like a mega lie in for us – we are usually awake by 5:30

our furry flatmate is asleep on the bed, paws covering his eyes, making tiny snoring noises

in the other room, the coffee grinder burrs into life, then i hear the coffee machine and the rustle of a brown paper bag. nic returns with coffee and three-bite mince pies.

milo wakes to investigate… something for him?
no. back to sleep then…

the gear for our christmas trip is mostly assembled, just needs the gear we wore for bootcamp yesterday to dry, then we can pack ready for tomorrow’s departure south.

there are vegetables for kimchi to be sliced and put in the crock, bikes that need oiling and locking up, and floors that need to be mopped.

everything else is done.

no reason to get up yet.

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currently tickling my fancy: do you have / are you an instagram husband

the truth of today

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it was almost 10am before i finally changed out of my pyjamas. not because i hadn’t thought to do it before then, i just kept getting distracted by other things.

last nights dishes were still stacked up on the bench this morning, and they are still only half done now. i ran out of bench space, plus yep, distracted.

i’ve re-potted plants and moved them, despite them being perfectly okay where they were before.

distracted.

the list of things to do today hasn’t moved much, even as the day marches on. i’ve got parcels to post, some business admin that needs doing, a new client to follow up with, and a load of laundry that would probably be dry by now if i’d hung it out sooner.

i’m still waiting for a quote from a plumber who came round over a month ago to price up a couple of jobs. that, apparently, is pretty standard on the island. months can go by before tradespeople come back with quotes. sometimes never. but this guy is so good that he’s worth chasing up and i don’t want to have to go through the process of finding another plumber.

i’ve been thinking about coffee for our christmas adventures. shall we take the aeropress? or some bean bags? or the pour-over bags gifted to us by a friend in tokyo? or should we just take chocolate coffee beans? or cold brew? i guess i’ve still got three weeks to figure it out. but, it’s coffee, people, coffee. this is important!

the first two issues of say yes to adventure magazine are giving me the glad eye from the arm of the sofa, but stopping to read them would be just another distraction, so i’m leaving them until the end of my work day. you know, as a reward for getting stuff done.

at least i’m dressed now,
and lunch is made,
ooooh! maybe it’s time for a swim…
squirrel!

 

november

monk with an ipad on castle hill. copyright leonie wise

we gave up watching ‘regular’ television years ago and now just buy all our tv series using the itunes store or watch on netflix. my current favourite – suits.

another surprising month for me. i haven’t embarked on any ‘new’ exercise regimes recently, and i don’t ‘diet’ but the constant commitment i have to exercise and taking care of myself seems to still be paying off. more jeans gone from my drawer, replaced by a smaller size.

there was a visit to christchurch to see family. and i got to hang out with one of my sister-in-laws that i’d not previously spent much time with. we had a load of laughs, bonded over shopping (for – amongst other things – those new jeans for me) and glasses of wine.

and i spent a morning at castle hill. i’d just been sitting on top of a stack of rocks pondering something i’d read about the dalai lama naming the place as the spiritual centre of the universe and what do i see below me? a van full of monks! so perhaps there was some truth to that.

then i hopped on a bus to queenstown to run a half marathon, with a foot/ankle issue, so i’m trying to get things sorted out before i commit to another event of a similar length. i don’t want a short-lived long-distance running career so i’m working with a physio and a chiropractor to treat the underlying cause now that event is ticked off my list.

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today i’m feeling a little sad, as i write the last daily dispatch to my little list of 31-day subscribers. it’s been so much fun writing a little note to them every day and has made me realise just how varied and amazing my days are.

during the month, my 5dmkii stopped working properly. so i’ve sent it off to the camera hospital, crossing my fingers in hope that whatever needs to be done to repair it can be done quickly so i have it back in time for christmas, because…

i’m thinking about that already, planning and eagerly anticipating a tramping holiday. i have made a list of all the gear we need, and formulated a basic menu. there’ll be home-made turkey jerky and christmas mince pies, and we’re testing some tramping food to see what we can take that is light, wholesome and low on packaging.

i come across these photos of iceland and show them to Nic. the trip we had planned for 10 days in august 2012 (that never happened) feels like unfinished business. two trips in the winter to that beautiful country leaving me wanting to explore it in the summer and these photos just add to that desire.

31-days. a subscriber-only project

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seems there is a bit of a trend on the interwebs to post a photo every day for november again this year. i am not feeling like i need to do that, as i have been planning a 31-day project beginning on the 1st. its a subscriber-only daily email (free) that i am sending out just for fun. fill in your details below if you want to be on the list.

[Sign-up form removed as this project has ended]

october

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i used to think that if i had all the right gear – enamelware, hunter wellies (well, i never actually had those), the right brand of handbag and overcoat, shelves overflowing with all the right kids of books, fantastic travel stories (ok, i do have a few of those), an instagram account that everyone wanted to follow, a blog with loads of commenters, a life well-lived in a vibrant city, that i would have it made. thing is, in nz, nobody i want to hang out with gives a shit what labels i wear and they’ve never even heard of the company that makes my handbag. so what was it all for? yeah. nothing. so i threw out all the toast catalogues and sold my kinfolk magazines. because i don’t need them and because they don’t make me feel good. this realisation comes with liberation – more clearing out of stuff i thought was necessary to enhance my life that really just took up physical and emotional space. the less stuff i have, the easier it is for me to appreciate exactly what i do have – a really amazing life. and when i spend less time trying to be like you and more time simply being myself, that is where my truest, and kindest, moving loving and peaceful life is.

so much of life on the internet is displayed through filters (others, as well as my own), i wonder how much of another being i can truly get to know this way. enough, I suppose, to be able to tell me if I want to get to know someone a little more so I can then reach out and say hello.

i never understood running until being introduced to the trails here. now i can’t imagine my life without early sunday morning runs that can last up to four hours and include beaches, stairs, rope climbs and hilltops with stunning views.

brisbane: the hum of thousands of air conditioning units, street sweepers and boy racers at 2am. no thanks. I am definitely not a city girl. i like the island life we have chosen for ourselves.

the conversation with my sister that starts: “just after it flooded here we found a snake curled up in the BBQ” and I think to myself “a whole lotta nope” with regards to living in Australia.

Ways to charm me: edible flower bunches for sale

september

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For the past 12 months, Monday evenings have always started around 4pm. That’s when I’m thinking about winding up whatever I’ve been doing so I can round up all our gym gear, make myself a protein shake, get changed and ready so I can head to the gym just after 5pm. Monday evenings are a 50-minute spinning class, followed by a HIIT session then home for showers and a quick, healthy dinner. This week though, I didn’t go. Still sore from the long (for me) run on Sunday morning, I chose instead to go for a walk along the beach with Nic, come home for a massive bowl of salad leaves and an episode of American Horror Story. I am learning more ways that I can nourish and care for myself – sometimes that means full-on gym nights and sometimes it doesn’t.

I spent a week in Australia at the beginning of September. Some of the time with my sister and brother-in-law and some at a workshop I’ve been wanting to do for years. Some of what I’ve learned has been difficult to process… My head trying to make sense of something that can’t be explained with any kind of logic. So begins a daily process of asking myself to suspend disbelief and get out of my own way. And some part of me knows that we are all more capable of magic than we could ever imagine.

Things on my mind today:

  • Where are my camera batteries?
  • Did I turn the stove off just now
  • Do I have time to go for a run in between skype, dropping the cat off, catching a ferry & shopping for our weekend away
  • Remember to pack towels
  • And there might be swimming, so pack for that too
  • Shall I run with up Palmers track to Mt Hobson with Sarah on Friday morning (a route I walked with Nic on my first trip to GBI)?
  • I gotta find those camera batteries!

Home is becoming more of a home as we settle into this place. With a lovely boardwalk meandering through the trees connecting the house and the office, I am taking great delight in travelling between the two in my slippers! We have pulled up the carpet and underlay in our bedroom (+ the lino we discovered underneath!) so we can have the concrete ground back and treated with a moisture seal. Another of the perils of buying a holiday home that used to be a storage shed. But this way we get to make the room exactly how we want it. Plus we get to sleep in the studio for a couple of weeks whilst the floor is treated, we paint the walls a colour we like and we have new carpet installed. We are now making a joke about #shithillsideroadpeoplesay that includes “this is the last big expense for this year“. Haha

I’m loving cooking with some new (to me) salt mixes – one a chilli & lime salt made locally and one a spicy herbamare mix. And we seem to be piling okonomiyaki sauce on pretty much everything. Inspired by drinks in cafe’s, I’ve also been making my own turmeric tonic, and herbal tea mixes and dreaming up some ways to make iced teas for the summer. And picnics. I’m dreaming of picnics.

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My surroundings continue to inspire me, even though my weeks might look fairly mundane to an observer. Not always in ways that make me want to pick up a camera to document it, sometimes just stopping for a moment to breathe it all in is enough.

There’s been running. Not a whole lot of it but what I have done has been mega. I’ve already run 2 half marathons in the past 2 months and that’s just been around the trails here. The queenstown half should be easy terrain-wise.

Thanks to everyone who filled in my survey. I almost have enough people to get on and do a 31-day project that is subscriber only content. If you haven’t already filled it in, and you’re interested in receiving a short daily email from me, please do so. Monthly projects seem to be a thing for me and I’d love to do one that is shared only with people who really want it.

I have a feeling October is going to be amazing too.