Devonport and recent flowers

September 30, 2007


I love phalaenopsis orchids, and this is the first time I’ve gotten to make bouquets out of the butterfly-like blossoms. I wish I’d gotten shots of the corsages and bouts, too, but ran short on time. The rest of the wedding flowers turned out great, but boyhowdy am I exhausted.

Sunday Kyle and I went to Devonport, a wonderful little neighborhood on the tip of the peninsula to the south of the one we call home. I was a little disappointed in the atmosphere of the Farmer’s Market, tucked inside the Ferry building, but we had the *best* hot dog with sauerkraut we’ve had to date in NZ. We walked it off, carrying a dozen free range eggs, all the way down the promenade. I love looking at the cute Victorian houses, and finding decayed building signage.



I have a quaint idea of trolling the streets of Devonport with a little cart full of beautiful bouquets. Ice-cream-man style, with tinkling music to call out the ladies, who rush up to me giddy as kids. I’m not sure in which universe it would be a profitable business strategy, but wouldn’t it be fun?


On gloriously sunny Saturday morning we decided to stroll around the Britomart area just off the harbour-front in the city. The Farmer’s Market was our excuse, and I have to say, I was pleased with the frothy, white-capped cluster of tents that greeted us. The products felt substantial and authentic, which is the crux of a good market, and there was enough variety to feed our somewhat empty pantry. I love the graphic signage, applied to sidewalks, buildings and banners almost as much as I love the spirit with which the Britomart area has been renovated. Nestled among the restored brick and solid wood buidings, an underground transportation hub gives away it’s existence with monolithic ventilation towers and bulging eyeball-like sun catchers.

Smoked chili mussels? At 10 in the morning? Luckily we’d already scarfed soft almond croissants and cream cheese danishes garnished with plump apricot halves, both warmed in the sun.

We bought a teeny bottle of Tamarillo Vinegar to drizzle on salads from this olive oil vendor. But really I wanted the ceramic shell dishes that were holding the samples, handmade here in Auckland apparently.

Mac’s Brewpub is a great example of how the businesses in this district have inserted themselves into authentic spaces, borrowing an artful timelessness in the process.

Eon is a treasure trove of New Zealand-made artifacts. From David Trubridge lighting to ceramic cups encrusted with beetles, to all things necessary for a lush home. Reminds me a bit of Central Homegoods.

Can I live in this mezzanine space? Who walked on this terrazzo before it hosted style-conscious Brito shoppers?

gift hampers

September 16, 2007


We’ve been developing gift hampers at JBL. Here’s one I sent out with champagne truffles, yummy olive-oil based lip balm, soap and lotion, fresh orchids and a handy natural-fiber box. Too bad we have to use cello, but we’d have to hot-glue the products into place to avoid using a wrapper. All the products, except the box, are as local and organic as possible (and we’ve got a lead on a local wooden box maker).

Our food and baby product hampers are the same concept, and are getting snapped up by the nouveau riche real estate agents around Auckland. Christmas could see us working around the clock- one client Jane approached will need about 100 hampers (!).

feel the power of surf

September 16, 2007


We hoofed it to Muriwai beach this a.m. for a Ladder Comp. The longboard club Kyle runs with held a little competition, with ‘ladder’ style heats, and a nice bbq afterward. The morning was thick with fog, rolling in and shrouding the surfers. This image of Kyle putting on his wetsuit seems spiritual to me; I find that many surfers possess a sense of transcendent energy. All the spry, graying men in the club reverberate with calm, youthful power.

All along the beach the celadon grass covering the dunes is itself covered with fine white hair. Coal-black sand, rich in iron, blown by the wind, clings to the grass in one of my favorite color stories: metallic gray, soft green, white fog.

I really needed a day to ‘moodle’ as Barbara Ueland says, let my brain out of the confines of my daily experience… let it wander aimlessly along a warm beach. If only I could make a career out of it.


The lovely Charlotte has posted a wee interview with me on her site Lovely Blogs. She has done a huge service to Aucklanders with her Lovely NZ series- chronicling everything interesting (people, places, blogs…). Thanks for including me!

Check out her blog for more inspiration.

I’m in awe of the picture (above) that Kyle took when we were in Kaikoura. What a lovely country we live in.

mike seiben, illustrator

September 3, 2007


Austin has a hoppin’ local arts scene. I wish we’d bought pieces by lots of other folks before we skipped town, but we did get these funky little wall boxes for our birthdays last year. Mike Seiben is a friend of Kyle’s through the skate scene, and lo-and-behold if he didn’t turn into a fabulous nationally known artist. The nicest guy you’ll ever meet, he sorta looks like a thin animated character out of a Tim Burton pic. Here’s another poster he designed, please excuse the fact that it’s falling out of the frame (the last wind storm vibrated the walls and all our art is either crooked in the frame or fell off the wall ).


More on other artists and arts events in upcoming posts…

paying attention

September 1, 2007

 “When we ignore ourselves for too long, we become exhausted and weakened from trying to get our own attention. We become disheartened – without heart. The gentle pulse that we are meant to attend to, the ear-cocked, mothering side of ourselves… must be mustered to come to our own rescue.” Julia Cameron, The Sound of Paper


Here we are about 2 years ago. Seems like a long time now. We’re on the beach with the famed Moeraki Boulders, about 3/4 into our New Zealand honeymoon.

When we decided to move I knew there would be the inevitable difficult emotions about being so far from home.  I’ve been struggling lately to sift out the source of my sadness so I can get back to being the girl pictured above. I returned to reading posts on a migrant website that I hadn’t visited since we arrived; I’d stayed away because I didn’t want to be unduly influenced by others’ experiences, lest they be bad. Silly me. It’s in other people’s experiences that you can glean insights into your own mire.

A girl from Chicago put it best in her blog (Changes post). It’s sometimes rough to detangle how I feel about the different aspects of my life- new country, new job, new social circle. I went through a few weeks of missing Austin specifically, then a period of missing just the USAness of it. Of course missing family and friends the whole time. Several different people currently in my life helped me realize how much heavy responsibility I had been shouldering over the past 2 years, how I had not allowed myself to grieve the loss of my old life, and how to pick apart the different aspects so I could analyse them separately.

After the homesickness began to abate, I realized I had been feeling trapped in the business I created with a partner. But I couldn’t admit to myself that it might not be the right situation for me. I needed it to work out. Except that it wasn’t. Actually a very introverted person, I was being forced to exist in a chaotic, extroverted environment. Not until we hosted a lovely intern, who is also a sensitive and quiet soul, did I realize that I could not just be different, react different. I was completely drained and exhausted by that approach, and it was spilling over into the rest of my life; it took me all of Saturday and Sunday just to recupe from the week, and start feeling like myself again. My husband was getting the short end of the stick, and I didn’t have any energy left over to pursue making friends or attend to having a rich life.

And isn’t that the point of making a move like this? Creating a rich and fulfilling life?

After I gave myself the freedom to try another job, I immediately felt a sense of relief. It’ll be a while before I’m able to follow that path, but knowing that I can helps me get through the now.