Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Raw and beautiful ...

I made this wreath last weekend at a workshop at The Craft Parlour in Palm Beach. It's a lovely space. Light, airy and surrounded by beautiful makes and supplies. And I came away with something beautiful for our home and some new skills. I always love playing with greenery and these seed pods and eucalyptus are no exception. Being creative makes me happy. 

I feel light of heart and excited at this time of year. A brand new, fresh year ahead.  It's like the beginning of a road trip.What will I do with it? I have a list of things to do and places to go in the new year that I'd like to achieve. Things that feed my soul and make me happy. 

In the meantime, the summer holidays are here.  It's my reading season. The kids are chilled out. And we have low key family outings to the beach and to visit friends. Doing nothing but restful things is so valuable. As a parent, we're always on duty but we simplified and culled back our gatherings and our Christmas celebrations, intentionally keeping it simple so it was relatively stress free.

2016  has been both raw and beautiful for me personally and for us as a family. A lot of changes, learning and literally becoming undone. Finding simpler ways to live has helped bring more ease and peace into our lives. Life is never easy, there's always challenges. By keeping the important things like family, faith, peace, simplicity and happiness at the forefront, we've survived another year together. xo

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Vessels ...

An old bottle, a bit of yarn, jute  string and a quiet afternoon. Made a loop so it can hang too. A new 'old' vase or an interesting  water bottle for the dinner table.

I enjoy living  mindfully. Wanting new things for my home but having to look around and use what I have. We are downsizing and aiming to spend less and reduce debt. I do enjoy raiding the reserve across the road for gum leaves and branches. They smell good and look better as they start to deteriorate. And they are free and plentiful. 

I enjoy the challenging of rejigging my things and my space. I'm  a lot housebound these days but my mind and hands aren't.  Have been finding the slower pace a lot more manageable and really enjoyable. xo

#ahiparagirl  #ministryofhome #wabisabi
#yarn #crochet #stitch #knit #handmade
➕  ➕  ➕ 

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Connectors ...

I love a great button tin. These particular buttons literally came from our beach in Titahi Bay in New Zealand. I collected them on our many walks along our local beach when the boys were little before we moved to Australia.

My wardrobe is currently boring me and funds are tight, so I'm remaking some of my wardrobe using clothes I already own like a couple of my cheapy cardigans. One of my fave things to do is to switch out my buttons.  These buttons are a bit of my collection of thrifted and sea buttons that I've  gathered over the years. My kryptonite is haberdashery, natural fibres and yarn - especially vintage pieces.

My fave form of mark making is stitching and I enjoy the slow pace of handstitching amd I adore the challenge. My fave media is textiles. I love wearing my own work. And I love a good story.  I'll  print, stitch, dye, cut,  deconstruct and reconstruct things  in a way that makes sense to me.

It's a bit cooler at the moment. Queensland winters aren't as cold as Wellington winters but we still need an extra layer. My cardigans are cotton rather than merino wool. A bit of applique and new "old" sea buttons and handstitching and Bob's  ya uncle.

The thing is, when I wear my cardigan, I can feel the stitching and the decisions I made on each stitch placement, each thread chosen or button placement. Its a very organic process. No straight lines. No rulers  or tape measures which allows  for the unknowns to happen. I respond to the garment and trust my own vibe. It's  awesome when that flow hits. Being in the zone is the best rush a maker gets. Like a wave, you ride it in.

And those buttons, they link me to my kids, to a special time and one of our fave places in the world. My marks turn my clothes into beautiful narratives that are meaningful to me. And for me, nothing has more value than my whanau and our connection to our whenua and the ocean, to others and ultimately to our Maker. xo

#ministryofhome ➕ 

Friday, July 1, 2016

Threads ...

THREAD/S: A strand of cotton; slang for clothes; and/or a familiar theme or characteristic that ties a story together.

I lived with my thrifty grandmother growing up who repurposed everything. And an artistic mum who would give me the odd $5 at the Otara fleamarkets. I would fill kleensaks with old fur coats, frocks and cardigans. My fingers and toes wore rings and my arms jangled with bracelets up and down them.

It was the time of Madonna and Prince and Billy Idol and The Sex Pistols and Frankie Goes to Hollywood. Cyndi Lauper  and Culture Club. My mum would bring home the best record albums. That is a serious vinyl collection I'd  give my hair for!

My mum God bless her was young. She wore high heel sneaker and short shorts. She had stilettos  and minis. Heads turned. She dyed her hair purple and while other mums were baking, she went dancing and studied psychology. She was the first woman to be employed in the steel plant she worked in.

My childhood homes were cool. My grandparents  lived in a seaside bach in Ahipara (Kakapo Street) on Te Oneroa A Tohe - the infamous Ninety Mile Beach in the far north of New Zealand. Beach for miles. Killer tides. Incredible  fishing. I grew up on Snapper and tuatua fritters in beer batter. My grandad built our home and fitted it out himself. 

My grandmother literally preserved and baked, knit and crocheted, sewed, recycled and repurposed everything. My clothes were originally cut down from hers or she'd take us thrifting in the op shops in Kaitaia. I never understood why the kids laughed at my shorts until I realised all the girls wore rompers (elasticated puffy pants) and I had boys rugby shorts. We had going to town clothes and home clothes. We found the city kids left behind clothes on the beach in  summer and took home our finds and washed them. 

We'd  trash pick at the local tip. You could back  then.  No disposable nappies and everyone composted food scraps and burned a lot of waste. It was the 70's. We had retired grandparents who had three of us mokos to raise and my mum was a single parent. There was no shame. We loved it. I had so many found treasures and my grandad built me shelves to store my collections of books, thriftee high heels, playing cards, my shell and rock collections, and odd vases and random stuff. We were honest and we shared with everyone cos you just did back then. It was how a community and whanau survived. There was no 'mine' and me or I. It was 'ours' and we and us! 

We lived in an original tiny home. Nothing was wasted. The gardens fed us. Grandad went fishing. He did cabinet making and fitted out our local marae. He sharpened everyones mowers and farm implements in his mega garage he built. In return, the locals would pay him with fish, half a side of beef or lamb (our kitchen would become a butchery). We had chickens for eggs and occasionally a roast. Mama baked sponges and pavlovas and made jams and pickles to sell at the fleamarkets in town. 

My dream would one day be that we owned our own tiny/small home in a small town in New Zealand. Before we are too old. It's stupidly expensive and a waste of life to buy huge homes  we spend our entire lives paying off. Most of us can't  do it and tiny homes make sense to me anyway. 

Our house with my mum in Auckland city was brand new. We had a black vinyl lounge suite I would give my teeth for and the wallpaper! Gold and black in the kitchen (my fave). Blue and yellow giant peacock  feather patterned in the bathroom to match our yellow bath even! It was the shizz. I decorated my own room with posters  of my music heroes. My mum was out there and it was pretty awesome. She did the best she could and I'm  thankful for both my mum and my grandmothers influence.

Later in life, when I studied Visual Art at Whitireia Polytech in Porirua, I couldn't  stay out of the textile and jewellery classes. I was a certificate student and drove the degree students and tutors nuts. Eventually  I fandangled my way up into textiles  but I was too out of the box. I had trouble towing the line and struggled writing my conceptual ideas before I created. It was a pain in the arse when it came to describing my ideas to my tutors. It hindered my learning. I just wanted to make stuff. I don't apologise. It takes courage to tread your own path.

I've  since discovered  that I'm an intuitive maker rather than a process oriented one. Maybe if I hadn't  had so much going on in my life like 3 kids and an injury, I  may have persevered and developed  more discipline. There are times I sit at the sewing machine or get halfway through a project  these and think "$h!t! this is why I needed to focus more back then!". I realised I couldn't  play the game. I wasn't  great at any one thing and I had family commitments and health issues. I knew I would have to finish my journey on my own and in my own time.

I've  learned that I respond to things and right now my eyes are finding inspiration on Pinterest and Instagram. I'm  needing a project and I have a personal need for a better look that reflects me. I have time and I feel inspired to respond to my need. And maybe inspire a few people along the way.

My wardrobe looks tired and middle-aged much like me.  I live in a different climate. It's hot here. Mid-30s in summer. Our coldest winter day on the Gold Coast is like a nice summer day in Wellington.

I'm keen to do a bit of stitching and making. I love handmade. Natural textiles, found or thrifted objects, handmade stuff. My legacy from the women I grew from. I have always loved Zambesi and Nom_d  but my wallet doesn't match. I like the idea of a capsule wardrobe. It speaks of intention and making awesome choices. It also plays well to my real need for frugality. I have tutu (mischief) fingers. I like to play and try different things.

Having a family means I have an extremely modest budget. But we have screeds of op shops here on the Gold Coast (GC). I'll  have to wade through miles of polycotton and lycra and resort wear help me God. We have online garage sale pages and Gumtree  you beauty.

Leave a comment below so I know I'm  not nuts and talking to myself. xo

Follow me on Pinterest: ahiparagirl 
Instagram:  #ministryofhome 
Facebook: ahiparagirl

Welcome to my #ministryofhome

And finally, I found  the following inspiration today. I love creative folk. We are so much richer for having internet access to artistic people globally. Meanwhile I'm eyeballing  my cardigans because of hers and they are getting makeovers. I love cardigans. It's a nana thing!

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Creating A Simple, Kind and Gentle Daily Life

Being kinder to myself this year includes simplifying my daily life. It's not easy because I'm actually having to learn and action a lot of new things. Writing I love but keeping lists and a diary; and journaling daily are new.

Truth is, I am and have always struggled with the immense demands of managing a family, home and marriage. I often feel overwhelmed regularly by the relentless work involved. Making meals, cleaning, shopping, finances, caring for three sons and home upkeep, staying married and having quality friendships - that's a lot of work. First world problems I know but it's my life and these things are hard. 

I'm solution oriented. I've spent so many hours reading blogs, perusing Pinterest and Instagram,  and watched lots of YouTube  videos on managing a home especially. I'm drawn particularly to minimalism themes, frugality and self sufficiency. I also love reading blogs of women who create homely atmospheres and quality time for their families. I read  books by the dozen and talked to friends all to glean ideas about raising a family and being married so I can tweak my own relationships. I have an awesome community and I'm wealthy with great people.

It's why I've determined to simplify  my life this year. I can barely handle the basics when things get too complicated so I'm starting with our daily processes. For instance, I get stressed out everyday making meals for my family. We bought a Thermomix machine (expensive but very useful investment) to make cooking healthy and frugal meals for our family simpler. I'm culling and reorganizing the kitchen to have less stuff because I can't stand not being able to find things in the pantry. We're doing a 7 day meal plan. Same meals = same ingredients = simpler grocery shopping = saving money. Plus I'll just have a few meals to concentrate on, and my confidence and skills will increase. 44 and I'm still learning to cook. Sigh.

My inner dialogue about this kind of stuff is very critical. "Useless mum can't  cook", "useless wife making her working husband cook at the end of his long hard days" etc. Richard actually loves cooking and my boys never complain. I want to champion these areas for myself. This is my gift to myself so I can rewrite my scripts and know that I can cook. I've taught myself simple ways to keep my home clean and tidy. I have only a few things to deal with and I can do it.

Simple, Kind and Gentle are my guiding words. I have to slow myself down and focus on one small project at a time. Live one day, one moment at a time. In a world that is fast paced it's almost anti-cultural what I'm doing but it makes the most sense to me. Focus on the basics. Only do what's important and meaningful and adds joy to my family.

For years I've focused  outwards to the needs of others but right now in this season, I'm giving myself permission to slow down, rest and resolve my own issues first so I can be more present for my loved ones and be happy within myself. xo

Tuesday, December 22, 2015


Another year almost done. I'm reflecting on the year gone and the fresh one ahead. On my mind are the areas I want to build on personally. I don't go in for huge changes but rather daily tweak the things that are important to me as we roll through the different seasons of life. Keeping our home lovely and functional, managing our family and working on my cooking skills. With three sons and a hard working husband, it's  all about the food around here.

Without a doubt, my number one priority  is still and always has been my family. It's my biggest life project. Our home and the people who dwell within these walls are centre stage in my life. Ministry of Home was born out of this several years ago after I had spent time seeking God's purpose for my life through prayer. It's not just a clever little hash tag,  it's my calling.

I also have personal goals for next year which includes WRITE MORE and BE HAPPY. Today I'm testing the blogger app to see how it fairs.

It's been a big year. I'm thankful that the whole family crossed the finishing line again together. I'm more passionate about home and family than ever especially a short stint in paid employment.

For now though, I'm focused on resting and enjoying  time with our kids and my husband over the Christmas  period with our family and community. It's a bit of an effort to not start new projects or start overthinking next  year.

I've been  doing a bit of crafting  because that puts my head in a happy space. Inspired by my friend Melissa, I'm stitching a few things for our Christmas tree. Check out her blog Tiny Happy Hand Stitched Ornaments to be inspired too.

A mum's work is never done but this mum is determined to have fun with my kids and romance my man because we've worked so darn hard all year long. Now it's time to let loose, chill, eat, sleep, read, play games and get the house ready for next year's requirements.
Merry Christmas from our family to yours. xo


Monday, July 8, 2013

Piece, dye, stitch

These two pieces of cloth have been picked up and put down over the last four years. They're hand pieced from small fragments of old cotton and silk pieces of kimono from Asia Gallery in Wellington. Dyed with a combination of maple and eucalyptus leaves, onion skins and steel. Then more surface stitching. And once they are finally resolved, they'll hang like paintings on wall or across a chair or bed.

These complex cloths tend to travel with me, offering me still quiet moments to contemplate my life. Sometimes my concerns lead me to pray for my family and friends. Other times its just the opportunity to calm myself because life brain are busy. Or to occupy myself while waiting in a doctors surgery or at the train station.  

I am constantly running my hand across the surface.  They are lovely to touch and a bit like a blankie as they cover my lap when I'm working on them. And the earthy organic smell of the dyepot lingers. There is no rhyme or reason. They just make sense to me. x

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Rag Rug Goodness

It's extremely hot here in summer. Some days we hit the high 30s. It's also quite chilly in winter in comparison. We are still trying to align ourselves with our new climate having spent almost a whole year here.

Many of the new homes in Queensland have tiled floors throughout which are cool in summer but cold in winter. I wanted some beautiful rugs underfoot. The cost of lovely handmade ones was beyond us, secondhand ones were in bad condition and I can't stand the cheap acrylic ones. I'm a natural fibres girl wherever possible.

Luckily for me I was invited to a craft group who were making rag rugs. Thank you Varni for sharing your skills and passion.There are lots of online tutorials. Youtube was especially helpful. Learning to make yarn from t-shirts and bedsheets was awesome.

Mine are crochet and made from thrifted or gifted recycled bed sheets. I love them and loved teaching other families how to make their own beautiful bespoke rugs for next to nothing. My favourite was by my nephew Nathaniel who is only ten years old. Give it a go! Fill your home with beautiful things you make or find.

Here's a couple of useful link to get you started ... and but there's lots of links so look around. You can braid, knit or even hook a rug. Keen to try that. Have fun. x

Nathaniel and Tamira proudly displaying Nathaniel's work. 

Monday, June 17, 2013


I lost my handmade silk dress this weekend. Easily a hundred hours or more patching and stitching her surface. I carry my work with me everywhere and while doing a photoshoot put my bag down on a table at a local community event. Someone picked it up. My silk bag holding my silk dress, the last of my silk thread and my needle case holding my favorite hand sewing needles. I don't hate but I really miss my work. And now there is a wee hole in me. Because I loved that piece of cloth and had almost resolved the work I was doing. I cannot remake those autumnal leaf markings nor the memories it holds. Time however to let her go with the only image I captured. x

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Maunga Tambourine

I went up the mountain to see what taonga I could find.

My skin sister India. A new tribe. Magic cloth. Royal feast. Liquid black gold from Jindaloo. Stitching hands. Autumn leaves. Iron river stones. A fragment of 'my Australia'. Peace. X

Click HERE for India's website

(Follow me on Instagram. #ahiparagirl to find me.)

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


Its Autumn, its cooler thank God and we're crafting of course. I've run a couple of workshops, taught myself how to make rag rugs, attended a craft group and slowly am building a circle of artistic and creative friends here in Australia.

I've also started a small craft group and craft ups on the Gold Coast and have been approached by the local community centre to run a group. I've yet to figure out the logistics for this including how to make it pay for itself and whether I want to run a community group or create paid work for myself. In the meantime, I continue to love making for the sake of making itself.

Today I started to make dreamcatchers using things I already had. Our youngest son claimed the first one for himself. It was the opportunity to remind him to pray and ask God for good sleep. There is no power in feathers and mummy's makes. I love children's prayers. Their faith is so uncomplicated. Unlike this first attempt at a dreamcatcher which surprisingly took me hours to figure out. I'm happy with it and more importantly, my boy reckons its awesome. x

(Photos via Instagram. Trialling Andriod blogger app.)

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Yarn Bomb

Our newly formed Hillsong creative ministry simply dubbed 'The Artist' had its first assignment this week. For the next two weeks, we have artists and makers in residence. In conjunction with the release of the new album 'The Chapel', our brief is to create works around The Chapel, the building which is based in Sydney and intimacy with God, as well as the album itself. 

With one hour to create a concept, one day to prepare and one service to complete the task, we were up for the challenge. I formed a project loosely based around stained glass windows and pews, and church being 'home'. Yes I'll admit it was a stretch but with such a short period to form a work, something speedy was called for. I have a collection of thrifted, hand knit blankets that I've accrued in the last two months I've lived in Australia from various op shops. We also scored a couch (modern day pew) from the youth ministry with a goal to create a warm place for people to sit  within our 'chapel'. Other artists are also working on a variety of projects they have formed too. Its going to be a great two weeks at Hillsong Brisbane campus. I'm so excited. x

We had lots of fun and got stuck in with great gusto. One of our youth girls stopped by, threaded up and did her first hand sewing. I love projects that involve lots of people both as spectators and participants. I firmly believe that art should be made as accessible as possible. My time at art school and working in an art gallery put me off the pretentiousness and exclusivity that can exist in some circles. Making purely for the love of making, to share skills and to encourage is how I roll.

Our team had a great time as we worked like the clappers to finish within an hour. The process was as awesome as the outcome. It was a great team building event and I loved seeing all our different ideas come together to create a cohesive conclusion. It was fun explaining to people milling around what we were doing and encouraging others who identified as creatives, to come check out our ministry. I loved working with our team. Thanks Annie, Sabina, Nicola and Jess for a great experience.

 I would have this couch in my home any day. x

I love The Artist ministry. That there is a regular, ongoing place for visual expression within the modern day church. For artists, makers, writers (poets, novelists, bloggers), photographers, graphic designers and the like. Always, church is about loving God and loving people. As someone who loves to create and make, I welcome the opportunity to encourage others in their unique capacities. I also rise to the challenge of creating an awesome atmosphere wherever I go, one that is positive and uplifting. Its so important that God's love is shared in ways that are relevant across the many spheres of society, and for me particularly to young people and their families. But really, just to anyone who is open and hungry, and passionate about life. x

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Here ...

Making cotton dishcloths. 

We arrived in Australia five weeks ago and are currently living in Brisbane with my parents and grandparents. Including my three sons and my husband, that's four generations. The weather is all that its reknowned to be with only one rainy day since we've been here. The heat is overwhelming and they say that with summer coming, we may struggle somewhat. I am used to overcast skies, cooler climes and more wind and rain. The other day the boys wound down their car windows as we hurtled along the highway because 'we miss the wind'. With the temps already mid 20C in Spring, I heartily agree.

Sitting here catching the breeze and marvelling trees have flowers. 
                                   Feeling like a snail with my home on my back, or at least in my basket.

My thrifted basket with some cotton yarn, a great read by an Australian author, my bible, journal and phone. I read Paula's post this week and she said that until she had her home, she  had felt like a snail carrying her home around on her back. I understand that concept. Paula migrated to Melbourne via London from South Africa. She is also my dear friend Shells sister and the other half of their online business Lovely Sweet William

I'm also enjoying Rhonda's book 'Down to Earth'. Go here to find her 'Down to Earth' blog. In a highly consumerist society (try a mega mall every few blocks!), its refreshing to read about the joy of simpler things in life. Of course its nigh near impossible to be all things to all people and I'm certainly no purist but if one finds just a few simple principles that help us look after our planet and one another better, even ourselves, well that can only be a good thing. 
Eating strawberries, watermelon and pineapples just feels plain odd in Spring but we are not complaining. 

Everything as a result is more lush here. The trees have the biggest seed pods which my son and I love collecting. The bird life is prolific and I found a nest on my way to the train station one morning.

We've walked along the shore at Sandgate while the tide is out (for miles) marvelling at the large jellyfish and weird looking blue crabs, collecting shells. Naturally a nature basket has evolved which gets added to on our outings. I love these free treasures that abound. Australia has its own kind of beauty. There is no point making comparisons. It is simply what it is. Vast, hot and lush. And we are adapting to our new climate with a freezer full of ice blocks for the kids, Lipton's peach ice tea and lightweight clothing. 

The kids have settled into their schools and Rich is busy applying for jobs and attending interviews. He is also studying and working towards more qualifications. I have a wee job volunteering at the local Vinnies just a few hours a week. Its good fun and as you can imagine, I've gleaned a few treasures. I am impatient to move but deciding where we settle will ultimately be defined by where Rich works and where I feel I most can serve a community. So far the south side of Brisbane is looking good because its where our church community are and many our family activities revolve around our church life. I really love Hillsong's global outreach into each cities communities. Just people caring for people but when you have a grand scale of people, then grand scale projects are possible. And where there is a selfless community, well that's where I want to raise my kids amongst.  

I realise that though I am ok about using my life to help others, I also require private moments and space where I can collect myself and my family. I am constantly reminded that life is not a sprint, its a marathon, and we must be wise where we spend ourselves if we are to live intentionally and purposefully. These jaunts to the sea have been lifesavers especially now that we are living in a communal manner.

There's been a few struggles. I knew there would be but solutions are coming, its just a matter of time and opportunity. 

Having extra hands which makes managing the children easier, as is having people who can help guide us when we need extra assistance, financial and moral support and having other relatives who've recently migrated offer us companionship. Someone wrote me a couple of weeks ago on facebook and talked about the trade offs between staying and leaving NZ. We have gained so much but I lost a few of my vital supports and without internet access, I've felt very isolated and cut off from things that make sense to me. Its a personal thing and feels intense and complicated at times. So thankful for my husband's steady ways. 

He took me thrifting the other day where I happily scored a couple of vintage blankets. We then headed to the beach with coffee. Fortuitously, it also happened to be the one rare day that it rained and as I stood out in the rain with the breeze coming off the inlet (its not really a beach, more an inlet) and the sound of thunder reverberating above, I felt more energised than I have in a long while. 

Self-care, its something I'm passionate about. We become so accustomed to taking care of others but I'm only too aware that we can only give out what is inside us. If I'm full, I'm able to be about others easily. Its why I craft. Its why I spend time with great friends (speaking in faith for new friends to come) and its why I love quiet days in my own head space just reading my bible, catching up on sleep, journalling, pootling around op shops and walking along a shore. 

And I have to admit, I probably more than the rest of my family am feeling more isolated and disoriented than I have in a very long time. The fact there are so few seaside suburbs and everything is so far away from everything (Brisbane is huge and goes on forever), the fact that I am used to being able to access my friends and my artistic creative community, and now I can't, it presents me with new challenges.

One thing I know is that challenges don't kill, so its just a matter of biding time, accepting the discomfort for a season and trusting God. And when I stand under a booming sky, suddenly I don't feel so alone or separated from what really matters to me.

My kids are tanned and making friends. My husband loves the newness of it all. Its great to see my folks who have been helpful in so many ways from building us our own private room to loaning us a car and resourcing us until we get on our feet. 

And then there is my grandmother. I love praying with Mama and talking with her. She's old and crotchety but every now and then the woman that I knew, the one who taught me the value of making and being creative with everyday things, of being tough and not wimping out just cos it hurt or someone didn't like me, the one who was so magically powerful and insightful when I was a young girl, well she makes an appearance. My youngest son plays with the dogs at her feet and I'm blown away with when I realise that she shaped me like I am shaping my son. 

You see, I collected shells and pinecones when I was a kid. And she had my grandad build a special garden space where I could put my found treasures. She's camera shy (in a grumpy kind of way, lol) and so I have no photo of her but I am thankful for this opportunity to spend these days, months and perhaps years with her, while my children adore their grandmother (my mum) in a similar kind of way. Its synchronicity that I believe has God's fingerprints all over it. x