girl time

Christchurch - Orana ParkChristchurch - Queen Victoria Diamond Jubilee Clock TowerChristchurch - Poppies in Victoria SquareChristchurch - former fountain, Victoria SquareChristchurch - Installation artChristchurch - giant chair installation

After a friend shared some photo’s recently of a weekend spent away with her daughter, Mia and I decided to directly steal this idea and planned a trip, just the two of us, to Christchurch. We created an enormous playlist on Spotify for the trip, 105 songs for the big drive there and back, which pretty much had us singing the whole way. With stops in a few small towns to check out Op Shops, have a snack, and chat with the locals, we are now convinced that Temuka is our new favourite town. So with just four days to ourselves we planned zoo visits, shopping trips, dinners out, and a little wandering around to just soak in the sites. Christchurch has obviously been through a lot since the earthquakes in 2011, and the last time I was there the entire central town area was blocked off with much demolition and building going on. You can now get into the centre, and it’s heartening to see the progress and re-build that has been achieved so far. There is interactive installation art dotted all over the place which, when I mentioned this on social media, a Christchurch based friend replied and next time you come it will be different again!  Wonderful.

Mia and I have decided to make this girls weekend a yearly thing – and have named it Mamma-Mia. It was a wonderful time for us both – time spent just being together with no other distractions to shift our focus. What shall we do with our time next year I wonder?

Posted in gratitude, Handmade Life, inspiration, Life in New Zealand, New Zealand, photography, thoughts on living, Travel | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

on owning things

Blue Morning 1Blue Morning 2

This is our new home, on top of a hill, looking down a valley. We have been here now for just over two months, and we have discovered something over these two months – we own way too much Stuff.  It starts with the need to move all the Stuff from one house to the next, sorting, throwing out, boxing, prioritising, picking up, putting down, stacking and stashing. Then there is the need to transport it, pay some people to help, then walk up and down 75 steps what feels like 75 million times. Once that is over, well, there is Stuff everywhere. Really, everywhere. And where are we 2 months later? There is still Stuff everywhere. Despite our best efforts to find spaces and places there is just quite simply far too much. We are throwing out what seems to be a minimum of a box per week, yet the Stuff pile doesn’t really feel like it’s going down. It’s everywhere, in piles of I don’t know what to do with it, around the house just waiting to be dealt with.

Well, this is the point where I throw down the gauntlet, kick up a tantrum like a two year old in a supermarket, and strike Stuff in the face with my gloves whilst challenging it to a dual. I have had enough, Stuff can go jump off a cliff for all I care. The moment I opened a box of I don’t know what to do with it and realised this same box had held the same issue 9 years ago when I opened and closed it at the last home, and it was making my heart feel heavy. Time to do something about this. Obviously the issue also sits with going through the Stuff so it can be sorted and organised or simply thrown out, but that in itself is emotionally draining and time-consuming work This sucks, how did we ever let it get to this? Don’t get me wrong, we own just as much as the last person, no more, but when we moved home something in our thinking shifted too. This Stuff weighs you down. This is not a new or unique problem, as the hundreds of thousands of Minimalists will attest, and in no way will we ever become Minimalists because there are some things which bring us great joy but the current problem is that those things are lost under too much Stuff.  As Rob Bell put it ‘Physical things have a Spiritual weight’. Yes, yes they do.

So we have a rule for addressing Stuff, and some guidelines to help with clarity.

  1. Do you LOVE it? This is about a 5 second thing – you know straight away if you pause the answer is no. Your heart knows the answer and is extremely honest about it to boot.
  2. Are you keeping it just in case? This is a terrible reason to keep things! The it might be useful someday for… fills those cupboards, sheds and garages faster than anything else. And invariably the one time you do reach for that just in case thing it was not the right fit/size/colour anyway
  3. Are you keeping it because someone gave it to you? I think, for me, this Stuff has the heaviest spiritual weight. It’s hard when you have something that you don’t want or just isn’t your thing any more, yet you feel bound to hold on to it because it was gifted to you. I remind myself that I do not expect people to keep things I have given them forever, I gift something purely for that moment, I do not look around someones home wondering where that thing I bought/made/sourced is, and I sincerely hope there is no one out there thinking they have to hold on to something because I gave it to them. (If so this is your Permission Slip to let it go) Hopefully the people in my life have a fairly similar view.

There are obvious exceptions to the above, some Stuff you can’t get rid of, you need to hold on to it because it is simply too loaded an item, and that’s ok too, but as a starting point these three questions work exceptionally well. Right, off to attack another box then…

Joanna x

Posted in choices, Handmade Life, inspiration, life in Dunedin, Life in New Zealand, lifestyle, minimising Stuff, photography, thinking, winter | 2 Comments


afternoons 1afternoons 2afternoons 3

Today – at Warrington Beach – a truly favourite spot. Later in the day the earth threw out such beautiful light. The colours were muted and soft, moving slowly across the spectrum, a wintry warmth that belied how very chilly it actually was. We still found ourselves walking the beach with joy – there has not been a lot of this quiet time in the past months, so much to do and organise. I look forward to spending a lot more time in this way.. and it’s nice to wander again with camera in hand.

Watching – Game of Thrones Season 6 – we had no internet for 5 weeks so there was a fair amount of catching up to do!

Listening to – Paloma Faith A Perfect Contradiction, and a little Thompson Twins

Reading – All the Light we Cannot See by Anthony Doer and Villa- From Heritage to Contemporary by Patrick Reynolds, Jeremy Salmond, and Jeremy Hansen (seriously, I am now officially Villa obsessed)

Posted in Handmade Life, life, life in Dunedin, Nature, photography, winter | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment


This morning – coffee on the verandah, sitting in dappled light reading my new book Villa. Birds are chattering, Tui’s are fluttering past and singing their showy songs, the city hums softly in the background, the dog hangs out at my feet surveying his domain. Life – it ain’t half bad.

Posted in inspiration, life, life in Dunedin, Life in New Zealand, life in otago, New Zealand Villa, photography, thoughts on living, weekend living | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

and now

Our new view – rolling hills, cabbage trees and, at night, fluttering city lights. Not only have we moved on from our wee cottage overlooking the harbour, but we are now (mostly) moved in to a sprawling Villa on the hills. Yes, we do know how lucky we are. 

It’s a beautiful home, full of heart and love. We are closer to town and everyone seems to be so much happier for it, even the dog. There is still much unpacking to be done – we need to build a bookshelf for our bulging collection of books – but all in all we can find most things and are settled in enough to sleep well at night. We are still awaiting Wifi – which is part of the reason for the quiet here on the blog, but the other reason is that I am trying to decide where to from here.

I love blogging, I always have, but as my life has changed so much in the past 18 months it is hard to know how to represent it, and on what platform. I still haven’t decided, but this morning I looked out the window at the deep gray skies and shifting light and just felt like it. Continuing seems the most likely choice, how doesn’t seem so obvious. I’m sure all will become clear as life settles a little – it’s been a crazy year so far getting the previous house ready for sale, open homes, selling, then moving. It has, however, been so very very worth it.

Watching – Orange is the New Black – how did it take so long to get to this series!?! Super cool in every way 

Listening to – Hollie Smith ‘Water or Gold’ – any wait between albums for Hollie is a wait too long.

Reading – lots of NZ House and Gardens… my attention for novels is not quite back yet, and I have lots of house  plans swirling around in my head.

Thanks for sticking with my story – Joanna x

Posted in choices, life, life in Dunedin, life in otago, little minx blog, living in Otago, Nature, photography, thinking, this week, thoughts on living | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

favourite places

One of our favourite places in the whole wide world – Moeraki. We drove up there today and spent a couple of hours just sitting on the beach reading and watching and occasionally throwing sticks for Max. The beach was really busy, which is not something we are used to! The advantage of that was the amount of borrowed dogs that joined in the water play with Max. And I have finished my film, so am looking forward to taking it in next week for development. Interesting how quickly 24 photos are used up when you’re used to limitless snapping…

Posted in daywalks in Dunedin, gratitude, life in Dunedin, little minx blog, photography, weekend living | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

wild and woolly

It’s been a strange start to the long weekend – gray and cool – but it wasn’t until we decided to head to a beach that it got truly wild and woolly. In fact it was so rough and rugged that there wasn’t really a lot of beach left. That having been said the wind certainly blew away any cobwebs away and made us all feel quite revived. 

When getting my camera out of the wardrobe I found my vintage Olympus OM10 and decided to take that for an afternoon spent in analog, instead of the usual digital. I’m a little ashamed to say it took me a while to remember the intricacies of how it all worked, but once I had my head around it it became really rather exciting to hold something of such weight and substance. I’m not even sure what film I loaded in it, so the entire experience will be a bit of a surprise. After living so long in a world of immediacy it’s also interesting to spend the afternoon snapping what you think could be quite good, but not really knowing what the outcome will be well into next week. I’m rather keen on embracing this concept again. For now, however, the above pics are taken on the much more immediate and analog iPhone 5.

Posted in inspiration, life in Dunedin, life in otago, little minx blog, photography | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments