A Complex Giveaway for Christmas

As my American friends celebrate Thanksgiving, and as Advent approaches it is time to not only be grateful for all we have, it is also time to think about those who maybe have less or maybe need a little brightening moment in their lives.  In keeping with the true spirit of the season, this is the time for giving.

Let’s join together and bring back a little of the giving spirit here in Contented Land and see what we can come up with.

I’ve made a traditionally coloured Christmas Light Catcher – one that can be kept especially for this time of the year or, if the winner is so inclined, to hang up all year round.


I love making these light catchers, to me they are a really special combination of textures, light and colour – they are always woven with the magic of intent and good wishes for the person for whom it is destined and time and thought goes into each one.

I don’t have much I can give, but I can give this.  I want to make a giveaway that is absolutely altruistic – no-one can enter for themselves, each must think of someone else and put in a little effort to share what that person means to you and why you want them to own this light catcher.

I know it means a bit of thought and effort – different to a usual blog post – but I do hope you will be willing to take part.

Anybody, any where in the world is eligible.

This is a giveaway with a difference and every reader of this blog who wishes to take part gets to nominate someone to receive the gift and gets to be a voter for who will finally receive it.

Here’s the process:

  1. In a private message to me, details found in the ‘Contact Me‘ page, please share a little about what your nominee means to you and why you want them to be gifted this light catcher.  Names and other identifying factors can be omitted if you choose – after all, they are not necessary, just tell a little story about why you would like them to receive this special gift.  You have seven days from the date of this post to share your story – approx 300 or so words only please.  (I’d be really grateful if you didn’t wait til the last minute to get your story in too, but that’s just a timing thing.)
  2. At the end of the seven days another post will be made where I will cut and paste all the stories minus your identification and a poll will go up.  You will be able to vote for your first and second choices from the stories.  The story with the most votes gets the gift.
  3. The poll will close three days after it opens.
  4. I will send the catcher directly to the person you have chosen in time for Christmas.

What do you think?  Do you know someone who deserves an unexpected gift?



Now here’s a little about the light catcher.

It is a three strander with three AAA crystal balls and several crystal rondelles threaded through out.  The main strands are threaded with red and green beads of crystal, glass and acrylic, many hand made. There are twelve charm threads with more crystals holding the different charms.  There are many, many charms on this catcher and more can be added when the winner is known, especially for that person!

The right strand includes a sun; a heart; a house with two children and a cat and a dog and a pentacle for protection.  Beneath that hangs a disc with ‘Remember the moments’ written on it.  This strand may represent past or present Christmases – it is for the child, whether it be within or actual.

The centre strand holds the archangel Gabriel; a bell and a musical semibreve and a book.  This represents the spiritual content of the season – the magic, the stories, the music. It celebrates the message ‘Peace on earth and goodwill to all’  It is for making memories old and new.

The left hand strand holds a Buddha; a bird, a butterfly, a holly leaf and a flower; a lantern and finally a small disc with the word ‘miracles’ engraved into it.  This strand reaches out to include all the world in the spirit of giving.  This includes all ethnicities, all religions, all nationalities, all kinds of beliefs and all ways of life.  It includes the wonder of nature and reminds us that we are all, every one of us, united on this fragile blue globe that hangs in the darkness of space and each of us is a light that shines into the world if we so choose to be.


For those of you interested in monetary value, the Christmas Light Catcher is valued at $NZ75.00

I hope you will share your special people, I hope you will come back to help choose the winner.  I hope you will enter into the spirit of this Season of Giving.

Thank you for coming by today, I love that you did!   <3




The Teeny-Tiny Courtyard Make-Over

Those of you who have been reading and following for some time know I live in a teeny tiny house with a teeny tiny outside space that I have over four summers experimented with.  First I planted some climbers and perennials in the sour and empty soil.  I buried garden waste for a year, planted lavender, thyme, mint, parsley and other herbie type things and watched as over a year everything began to grow at a rate of knots.

Then last summer I decided to grow my own vegetables and turned the teeny-tiny courtyard into a salad lovers nirvana.  Everything grew extremely well but I had nowhere to sit and enjoy the lovely summery days and evenings.

As I live a stones throw from the best farmers market in the country with a full and exciting complement of organic vegetables, this year I decided to claim back the space and make myself a lovely outside room for the wonderful summer, which I am told, is about to descend on the southern hemisphere.

This is my aspirational picture:

Aspirational garden photo 15

Now I know I can’t have much of what is going on in there – the courtyard is half this width to start with – nor do I want to spend the summer heaving myself up and down off the ground – but the colour and the texture and the ‘come hither’ vibe is what I’m going after.

As Robbie Burns so famously said

“The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft a-gley.”


The garden was left to wither and fester and give up the ghost over the long hard winter not yet entirely passed, so that the spring clean would be a bit of a doddle.  [Throw in another ‘Hey-ho!’ if you feel so inclined round about here.]

I bought six super large trash cans, thew away the lids and planned to fill them with my super composted soil and distribute said trash cans tilled with super soil on top of the other grey concreted areas surrounding my teeny tiny house and introducing some much desired green into my daily viewing pleasure.

Working in this teeny tiny space was tantamount to trying to do jumping jacks in an outhouse


That photo was taken the day I started work.

The plan – have I told you yet? – was to remove all the built up gardens and make more space for a larger table and four chairs and just to have the newly potted jasmine and some smaller pots of colour and maybe a few cloths and dangly things and some bright coloured cushions on top of some new chairs and don’t forget a nice new table with maybe a pretty lacy cloth draped beguilingly over it …….

The rusty old fence would be painted in a fetching shade of blue-green and the concrete slabs power blasted clean and maybe painted a fetching brownish-greyish shade to ground everything.   The magnificent Boston Ivy would be cut back severely and put in a tub.  The magnificent jasmine would be encouraged to keep as many of her tendrils as possible and would also be tubbed.  The rest would be sacrificed to make way for smaller, tidier, newer and more colourful pots of flowers.

A word about the trash can utilisation – are you curious?  Trash cans are affordable – clay pots the size I need are not.  Trash cans also keep the soil damper than clay pots which are inclined to dry out quickly in the heat.  Holes are drilled around the sides, about 30 – 50 cm from the bottom, depending on the kind of plants that are going in. Then pebbles are poured into the can, up to the hole height.  This is the water catchment area.  Excess water drains out the holes.  Fill up with soil and good compost and plant away.  It worked a treat for me last year, though I was using smaller tubs rather than trash cans, but the principle is the same.  Place smaller tubs in front for maximum disguise and over plant for maximum effect.

This was the scene after four months of zero sun in this courtyard and constant rain and icy temperatures.  All that is alive is my hardy and much loved jasmine and a rather bedraggled and woody lavender.


A month later it looked like this

Halfway 1

And I’d hit the wall – the built-up garden was maybe a metre smaller than before, the six trash cans were all filled with rich black soil, planted up with native shrubs and some petunias and lobelia and lined up outside the kitchen door, where in time to come they will offer me a nice screen between my kitchen exit and my neighbours front door.

Black garden bags were filled with the dead and dying – the aged garden furniture was designated new status as pot holders, every available container was planted up with a mixture of pansies, lobelia and petunias and random self sewn herbs and vegetables from last season.

Three more trash cans had been purchased, filled with soil and heaved on top of the remaining garden beds, because there is nowhere else to put the unwanted dirt.

I’ve realised that my original scheme is going to require some creative thinking.  So far I have images from the movie ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ going round and round in my head.  This requires me to pour a trowel full of soil into my pockets, and every morning as Siddy and I wander through the green and leafy surrounds of our park, to shake said soil loose and leave it there.  I’ll have the remainder of these built up gardens gone in about half a century I guesstimate.

But, never give up, never say die!  In the meantime while I work away on that plan, here is what I’ve come up with for this summer:

finished 1

What you can’t see from the above photo is that the trash cans are planted up.  There is a Meyer lemon, a Papa Meilland rose and a winter flowering Viburnum; each one surrounded by hanging petunias and lobelias and pansies – come Christmas it should be a riot of colour, a sensation of scents and all the plastic containers will be invisible.

Except I bought $12 plastic chairs.  Not knowing yet if I can remove the remaining built up soil without the rusty old iron fence falling down or the old brick wall at the back toppling over, I thought it best to hold off on my super-dooper wrought iron bohemian style table and chairs this year and make do……. and these are surprisingly comfy.

November 3 15

This is my chair – that’s my book keeping it safe for me.

The heat pump engine is mostly hidden beneath a bench which holds all the pots that are coming on as replacements as required.  It also holds a sun-drenched corner kept especially clear so one pampered kitty can stretch out and get his daily dose of vitamin D.

Siddy has claimed his chair

November 9 15

It’s a work in progress and all I can say is that one of the blessings of living in a teeny tiny house with a teeny tiny courtyard is that one spends a great deal of creative time making things work.  This courtyard works as long as no more than three people and a puppy and a cat are here at any one time.  Although, if you fancy dropping by, we could squeeze a fourth onto the step if pushed – there’s a spare cushion.  :-)

And I’m sorry if you came by looking for the give-away – it will be up in a few days.   Promise.

And for all Siddy’s fans, here’s a smile especially for you

Siddy Smiles 19 11 15

Isn’t he just gorgeous?

Thanks for coming by today, I love that you did!

The Hedgies Just Flew In

Evening All – or good morning, depending where in the world you may be!

I thought you might like to see these – biggify to really admire


They arrived this morning to join my [late] first coffee and blog reading time.  Flown in all the way from Wales to join my lovely Welsh Dragon


Orlando’s Aussie Mini-Me from Sharon



And my Blue Flying Pig from Lisa

Flying Pig June15

The book shelves are getting animal heavy!

So there’s me, having my [late] first coffee, applying myself to reading your posts when the lovely postman knocks and we have this

Hedgies4‘This’ is my receiving end of our swap – a blue hand crocheted bath pouf, a crocheted tiny birds nest pocket for hanging in the garden and the expected Hedgehop friend ‘Shy’ and his unexpected travelling companion ‘Tiny’.  Look closely at Shy


How’s that for artistry in the yarn field?  The only difference between these chaps and the real thing is these guys have soft coats and are very cuddly.

Siddy thinks so too ………… ‘Go on, can I have him?  You want me have him, right  ……!’


27 7 15 2

The package came from Jan who masquerades on WordPress as the Snail of Happiness.  She shared her delight with our swap here 

Thank you Jan for your wonderful artistry and kindness – I’m delighted with our new friends and just hope I can keep them safe from the little black and white chap!

And to end, just a heads up my bloggie pals –  if you are thinking of commissioning a light catcher for a Christmas gift, last date for orders is 14th November.


the next post will be about a rather special Christmas Giveaway.  Stay tuned.

Thanks for coming by today, I love that you did!





The Books Piled Beside the Bed

I went through a spell of not reading earlier this year and had no idea why, though I did wonder if sharing my bed with two little fellows was maybe distracting me from reading as much and as often as I once did.  So my book pile kept growing and I kept climbing into bed and falling asleep without picking up a book from that pile.

My pal Lisa and I were chatting about sharing our reading lists and somehow or other we ended up thinking it could be a shared thing ……… so here we go.  I’m writing this post, Lisa will write the next and if you want to jump in at any stage feel free and link in to this page.

And just because it’s me and it’s my blog and I never follow the rules anyway –  I’m kicking this thing off with a book I didn’t read!

The Luminaries

I started reading the book at the beginning of October and by the end had given up.  I wanted to read it, I really did.  I wanted to enjoy it, I really, really did.  It has everything going for it – it’s set locally, it’s historical, it’s well written – it won the Man-Booker ……….  It appeared to tick all my ideal reading biases………… Or so I thought.

The story is set in my country, in regions I am very familiar with; in the nineteenth century – an era that fascinates me;  is written by a woman and is one of those weighty books with lots of pages – it really ought to be a riveting read.  I love history, I love a big thick book – it means hours being lost in words and worlds not mine…..  And this is indeed a massive tome of 800+ pages, following a convoluted mathematical design and telling the same story from several different points of view………..  I’d read a couple of pages and wonder what I’d just read.  It felt ponderous, like reading the bits of Dickens that become lectures on the spiritual needs of the poor and destitute of London which left me thinking ‘get on with the story already Mr Dickens!’  I’d go to bed and be reluctant to pick the book up – this has never happened before in my life – there is always something to be gained in a half hours dedicated reading time that can stretch out to an hour or even longer whenever required.  I’d pick it up and dive back in and feel no connection to the words on the page.

Eventually I took the advice of my friend Robin who told me she gives a book 50 pages and if it hasn’t drawn her in by then she puts it down.  I gave the book 88 pages and decided there must be a better way to spend the last half hour of every day……….   I decided to wait til the movie comes out!

Instead I picked up ‘We Never Asked for Wings’ the second book by Vanessa Diffenbaugh.

we never asked for wings

I loved her first book ‘The Language of Flowers’ and soon found myself just as lost and involved in this new story from her.

In both her books Diffenbaugh writes about loss and finding yourself and about finding a new kind of family.  She tackles some hard questions around how one feels when abandoned, when alone and in chaos and does so without losing hope and without an overdose of syrup.

‘We Never Asked for  Wings’ tells the story of Letty, a young unmarried mother who finds herself suddenly and abruptly fully responsible for her two children when her own parents return to Mexico.  With no idea how to be a mother – her own mother raised her two children and asked nothing of Letty – she finds herself abandoned and having to step up for her teenage son and much younger daughter.  There’s chaos and grief and levels of love and a slow unfolding of hope and resilience and the birthing of a new family.

I felt kind of elated when I finished reading it and the characters stay in my memory – all signs of a good read don’t you think.

So what’s sitting beside your bed, what are you reading now?

I have to go rummage through my book stack now to find something new to start this evening when me and my little furry babies all tuck up into bed – here’s one tired little fellow.

Siddy onchair1 cropped

Thanks for coming by today, I love that you did!





Getting Creative in the Craft Room

I’ve been busy making light catchers for the first wonderful customers who wandered into my shop and decided to start their Christmas shopping right there and then.  Thank you all so very much!

They are all finished now and on their way to new homes around the world, and as my friend Bruce says ready to ‘catch the light’ wherever they land.

Here is a bit of a glimpse of some of them

Bianca's pizap

I was issued a challenge – to create something using oranges and shades of green for a beloved mother

Lisa pizap

and hot on the heels of that, another using fiery oranges, amber and blue

Cynthia pizap

Aren’t these brights just wonderful!

Then I returned to a softer palette and made one for a friend – it should be with her by now ……..

K pizap

And another one for a swap – this one destined to hang in a limery ………… which is a lime version of an orangerie.

Jan pizap

I’ve made some that can’t be shown just yet and I have one more to make – for a Christmas Giveaway.  Stay tuned.

Somewhere in the middle of this playing with beads and sparkly things, Siddy had his hair cut.

Later that day he saw there was some cheese being eaten ……  Siddy is very fond of cheese!

Siddy&Cheese gif

Siddy had some cheese.

Orlando was not allowed cheese and was therefore not amused

S&Cheese &O

And the garden makeover is continuing slowly ………. So slowly there is nothing to show you yet – except chaos……….. Soon you know order has to emerge, right?

Thanks for coming by today, I love that you did!

Starry Nights Light Catcher

This is a recent photo, taken one evening on the sofa  – Orlando is being cuddled with  – not sure if he is enjoying it …….. but he stayed.  Siddy was exhausted after a busy day and his mumma wasn’t sitting still, so the kitty had to do.

S&O cuddling1 5 9 15

Mumma was busy.  Making light catchers for my customers, another one for a friend, another [really special one] for a Christmas gift.  I’ll show you most of them in another post, right now I want to show you what I’ve just finished.

If you have been popping into my store in recent weeks you may have noticed that most of the light catchers have ‘SOLD’ printed across them in big letters.  Which is not a good look for any store is it?  So I’m off to clean up my shop as soon as this post is up!

Any way, having woken with a bit of an inspiration yesterday morning, I set to and made another one.

For this one I had two colours in  mind that I wanted to play with.  Blue and purple.

I chose the beads.  I chose the bead caps and the little extras – and started to thread.

Almost immediately Don McLean began singing in my head.  ‘Starry, starry night, paint your palette blue and grey …………’ and then I began musing on starry nights and dreams and wishes.  the beads grew and the strands multiplied beneath my fingers as my mind wandered through wishes and dreams and the magic of the night that grants those wishes and dreams……………..charms began to appear dangling from the charm strands – a unicorn, a fairy, an angel sitting in the moon.  Harbingers of dreams coming true were placed, a bell, a crow, the word ‘miracles’, a heart, young lovers………….

And I found I had made a light catcher for a dreamer, one to make wishes come true.

Starry Nights 2

Starry Nights 3

Starry Nights 4

Starry Nights 1

It’s not quite as deep a blue as the photos are showing – it is a softer hue of lilac, pinky purpley blue ……..  unfortunately seemingly impossible to photograph with my skill level.

I think it’s really pretty!

What do you think?

Thanks for coming by today, I love that you did!


Michaelmas Thoughts

I quite like September 29th.  It is Michaelmas and comes hard on the heels of the equinox.  Here in the Southern Hemisphere it coincides with Spring and all the renewal that she brings to us.

It is my favourite time of the year.

Traditionally Michaelmas always arrives and I have a bright idea  – this year I thought it was letting me down – but then it arrived bang on time!

Previous to its arrival, I had said ‘I must write a blog post, but there seems to be nothing new to write about …..’  my ever helpful youngest daughter looked me squarely in the eye and said “You’ve already written a post about procrastination, maybe you could revisit that…….”

She’s right of course.

I have light catcher orders to fulfill.  But I’m waiting on ‘parts’ to arrive……….

I have knitting and crocheting projects to finish ……….. Oh-oh, no excuse there…..

But I am working away at this

bit by bit, row by row – it is crocheted all in one piece from the top down

which is a new experience for me.

D's crochet top

It’s actually a pretty pink, but I took this shot in the dim early morning light……

It should be finished by now!

 I am blaming my dear friend Alys, who sent me some fabulous Pitt Pens for my birthday – horribly expensive here, I  never had more than three or four and used them sparingly and with great afore-thought!

colouring in 1a

Do you notice the striking lid of the box?  Alys made that :-)

And then my daughter who gave me one of those grown up colouring in books ……..

Which has led to hours of happy, meditative idleness……..

Colouring in pizap

But, it’s such fun!!

As an absolute aside, and apropos of absolutely nothing, I thought to share this bit of news – As I’ve been colouring, I’ve also been moisturising:

This long cold harsh winter has played havoc with my skin – I feel like I’ve added new layers of sag and wrinkles and dryness to my once elastic and pliable skin.  [No tittering in the back stalls please!]  Then I purchased some Rose and Almond Dry Skin Cream from Wendy at Tumble Downs.  Fantastic stuff!  I could write an advertisement for it, but I won’t.  I just thought I’d mention that I got it and love it and no, she isn’t paying, bribing or back-handing me in any way for this mention.

A mere glance at my moist and glowing skin would have you convinced – has anyone else tried it?Wendy's cream

An order for mittens from Lisa for her brother sent me scurrying back to my wool stash.

Mittens for a man.

Manly colours.

Manly style – no flowers or frills huh?

So I played around and came up with these –

[Staying with the La Boheme theme]

‘Rodolfo’s Hand Warmers’

Rodolfo Mittens pizap

One pair will make it into the shop, the other two have a home to go to.

I particularly like the optional button detail.

What do you think?

But back to the Michaelmas Inspiration!

Michael is the Archangel of ‘doing the good’ – good deeds in the community is the leitmotif for young children – right actions across all spheres of life is the challenge for adults.

I like that concept.

So as I gathered together the above rambling list of bits and pieces that I have actually been achieving, despite believing I was DOING NOTHING – the bane of any choleric’s life – and I realised it was Michaelmas Eve here and still I had not had my inspirational moment to lead me onwards and upwards!!

…. No sooner had I had that thought when…..

…some very good news arrived…..

My door was knocked upon by a real estate agent who had come to tell me my challengingly unsavoury, alcoholic neighbour was selling his flat and leaving the area.

Oh, halloo, hallay!!

And then, hard on the heels of that good news, in the middle of the night, I had a brainwave about my tiny courtyard garden.


I’ve decided to go minimal this year.

Buddha 3 cropped

I went maximal last year and the plant life was so prolific there was nowhere left for me to sit and soak up the rays.

23 12 14 4

The work will be hard, I have to remove three – four metres of built up soil [I use that word, soil, advisedly – despite my best efforts it remains mostly sour and solid dirt piled on top of concrete.]

I will replant the thriving plants into tubs, baskets and whatever else I can lay my hands on and scatter them artistically about the perimeter

after I have painted the fence a bright and cheerful colour.

I shall take before and after shots for your eddification and possible enjoyment.

Wish me luck.

I have some orders to make up before I get stuck into that project!

If you have any bright ideas to contribute – thoughts or experiences to share

Please do!

Thanks for coming by today, I love that you did!