Monday, December 20, 2010

The Fog Lifting

Well, here we are finally at the end of Dan's weekends of labour at Karra. We're leaving on Christmas Eve for Tasmania for 10 days to see my family and I can't wait to get out of Brisbane for a while.

The last few months of lonely, rainy weekends have been, well, kind of shitty. Our house is constantly flooded now, our possessions smell of damp, the yard has gone completely haywire and the couch and carpets smell of wet dog.

And I've had the energy and motivation to deal with pretty much none of these problems. Every time I fix one thing, something else is full of water or under water or leaking water or smelling of stagnant water.

But, fixing up the regular house is a problem for next year.

We're leaving the nearly-finished Karra'd Away to the care of guests for the Christmas break and, being keen boaters, I am sure they'll have a blast there, if the weather holds out.

But hey, at least the house is watertight.

So now, here is some of the after photos.

Karra Bedroom 1 (2 of 1)
The new master bedroom.

Karra Bedroom  2 (2 of 1)
The second bedroom.

Karra Lounge  (2 of 1)
The lounge room.

Karra Lounge 2 (2 of 1)
The lounge room, as seen from the kitchen.

It's looking pretty sparse right now, and I plan to take a couple of extra lamps and paintings over next time we visit, but I do actually quite like the look.

Sparse sort of works for a holiday cabin, where you don't want to feel crowded in by someone's personal trinkets and different taste.

Anyway, I'm so proud of the work Dan has done on it and I think it looks fantastic. Next time it's sunny out, I'll get some photos of the new, improved deck area to post too.

If you know anyone looking for a TWO-BEDROOM (!!) holiday home with water views near the beach, then direct them to

So now, the reason I've been MIA from renovations, blogging and pretty much life in general, which I think quite a few of you suspected:


I'm having an ALIEN!!!

No, apparently it is human, and we're very excited. It's due in June. I've been pretty unwell, a sort of round-the-clock morning sickness that's left me exhausted, miserable and REALLY hypersensitive to smells.

Not a good thing when your house has morphed into a swamp.

I'm in the second trimester now and I feel the fog lifting a little. I can handle basic tasks like doing laundry and retaining meals much more effectively.

So anyway, Merry Christmas to you and yours. Enjoy it and have a drink for me!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Smidgen and a Dash

I've always wanted to try my hand at cheese making, so when I saw a cheese making kit available on Green Living Australia, I knew where to direct Dan's attention when it came to buying my Christmas present.

Dan, being infinitely more pragmatic than romantic, just gave it to me last night when I got home - still wrapped in the bubble wrap it came in - because there were various components that needed refrigeration or freezing.

So here, nearly four weeks early, is my Christmas present (minus the parts in the fridge and freezer, of course).

Cheese Kit

I'm really excited about having a go. The instructions say you should start with an easy cheese like cottage cheese or fetta before moving on to the tougher ones like cheddar, so I probably should follow those directions, but we'll see.

Dan also ordered these cute measuring spoons, featuring handy measurements like a smidgen and a dash, apparently very useful in the making of cheese.

Cheese Kit

Bring on a cheesy Christmas!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Patience, Grasshopper

This weekend, while Dan is again working at Karra (he'll be done by Christmas), I'm going to do some sewing.

I've been doing a little lately, not huge amounts due to The Exhaustion - but a bit.

A couple of weekends ago, my friend Aisling came around for what we dubbed 'Grandma Day'. She brought her machine, I fired up my machine and we got busy sewing away on the back deck.

Well, we sat there and chatted while sporadically stopping to swear at our work, our clumsiness and our chosen hobby.

"Why did I not take up whittling instead," I cursed to the heavens, after sewing bias binding onto the wrong side of my fabric.

What I've realised since I decided to learn how to sew 1.5 years ago is how much harder it is than it looks. Who knows, whittling probably is too. Maybe all hobbies are, perhaps that's the point of them.

This top here? This is probably the first piece of clothing I've made that I will actually wear. I made it from my own pattern, no less. I'm pretty proud of that.

I've also made a few bags I use, a few cushion covers and altered a few pants and skirts. Successfully, I mean. My sewing room is full of aborted projects, abandoned after the sixth attempt at unpicking a seam finally destroyed the fabric beyond redemption.

They say practice makes perfect. And I'm practicing, I really am. But I'm still a long way from competent, let alone perfect.

Patience, Grasshopper...

Monday, November 22, 2010

Functioning Beyond 'Asleep'

So, I've pretty much been the slackest blogger ever to blog lately. Or not to blog, more to the point.

I've always had a policy not to apologise for not blogging. I mean, ultimately, it's not really affecting anyone too much if I don't. I suspect my 46 loyal followers are not sitting out there, weeping into their morning coffees as yet another day passes with none of my ramblings posted on here.

It's funny, really, that I've chosen this period to have a break from blogging, because there's actually been heaps going on in the way of Karra renovating. Dan has been working HARD. For health reasons I will share with you soon, I have not. At all.

I've only been over with him on weekends a couple of times and both times, I was so struck down with sheer exhaustion just from watching him, that I made a little nest of bedding in the midst of the renovation rubble and slept.

Like last weekend. Sick, tired and unable to function on any level beyond 'asleep', I curled up at about 10am on Saturday morning and prepared to doze through another day.

I did manage to get up sporadically and snap a few photos of his progress though.

Karra Reno1 (2 of 1)

The internal walls go up. Note the shiny, lovely new floorboards.

Karra Reno2 (2 of 1)

There are two bedrooms: the master bedroom and a smaller room which will fit in a bunk bed and some drawers and not much else. There will be a mezzanine above them for storage or extra sleeping space.

Karra Reno3 (2 of 1)

Maisie spent the weekend planning and executing escapes, invariably taking herself down to the beach for a swim.

Karra Reno5 (2 of 1)

The exterior, all freshly painted.

Karra Reno7 (2 of 1)

The little bedroom.

Karra Reno8 (2 of 1)

The master bedroom, which has a built in robe and room for a Queen bed (just).

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Mr Weekend Island

Today's renovation update is brought to you by Mr Weekend Island, Dan, who has been busy over at Karra on weekends while I have been tied up with Other Stuff.

He kindly took photos of his progress so I could share them here. Generous, isn't he?

In the end, we outsourced the rest of the sanding and exterior painting, and the end results are pretty good, although the battons downstairs still need to be done (that's a job with my name all over it).


Last weekend, Dan and his mate pulled off the railings at the side of the deck and started building the frame for the large screen that will run down one side.

We're building it because the new house going up next door is RIGHT up to the boundary line, and we like our privacy.

With bush on the other side, and water ahead, building these screens will mean the deck will again be somewhere you can wander around in your underwear.

Or less. Whatever tickles your fancy.


The screens mounted on these frames will be bamboo, in a reddish shade to tie in with the Western Red Cedar Walls of the house.


The boys also replaced the railings and are preparing to paint the deck surface.


Dan says they worked pretty hard last weekend. But they still had time out to hang out with some of the islanders, particularly of the feathered variety.

This little unit is particularly tame. Demanding, too. Particularly at lunchtime.



Monday, September 20, 2010

Relaxed, Hippy Vibes

Last weekend was Dan and my first wedding anniversary and we decided to take a weekend off from life in general.

No renovating, no housework, no friends - no anything-that-is-familiar or a typical part of our life.

In fact, we decided to leave Queensland altogether and revisit our mutual-favourite region of Australia, the Northern New South Wales Hinterland.

Dan booked us into a farmstay near Tyalgum, which was advertised as 'pet-friendly and gay-friendly.

As he put it, it looked like 'our kind of place' - we both love staying in places like this. We get to take our dog AND stay with people we invariably find to be friendly, accommodating and easy to talk to and share a glass of wine with.

In fact, half the reason we advertise our own holiday-rental as 'pet-friendly' is because we know that the people who rent it are invariably more relaxed and easier to deal with.

This time, we stayed at the home of Pete and Chris, and shared the home with another couple - also celebrating their wedding anniversary.

Between us, we had four dogs - a border collie, a kelpie, a Belgian shepherd and a pug.

We also spent quite a considerable amount of time between us out the back drinking wine and chatting.

This was the view from the house.

Tala Farm View (2 of 1) copy

See that Mountain in the distance? Dan and I climbed the nobbly nose bit on the left on Saturday.

It was pretty steep. In fact, in parts, there were chains to help you get up and down.

We both used them with the descent (pictured below), but on the way up - motivated perhaps by desire to get to the top after 1.5 hours of climbing, or the fact there was a queue to get onto the chains - Dan and I both crawled up the rock face like spiders, chain-free. It was great.

Mount Warning2 (2 of 1) copy

For the rest of the weekend, we explored the region and Chris and Pete's property. Croquet was clearly a popular past-time.

Croquet Balls (2 of 1) copy

This is one of Pete and Chris's dogs, Joey. I gotta admit, I don't usually go in for kelpies, but this one won me over. Sharp as a tack, and quite lovely. Dan bribed him with a piece of sausage so I could take this photo.

Joey2 (2 of 1) copy

We ended up revisiting a lot of our favourite little towns, places we last visited a year ago on our 'Minimoon' - the week-long roadtrip we took after our wedding.

The Northern NSW Hinterland is an unbelievably beautiful part of Australia.

I love the lush, verdant, overgrown scenery - it just reeks of abundance, tropical climate and relaxed hippy vibes....

Tumbulgum, Chillingham, Uki, Tyalgum - these are the towns we'd live in if we could make a living, living in such towns.

And you know what? Out of those four towns, turns out we've been pronouncing every single one of their names incorrectly.

"You two couldn't sound more like tourists," a local pointed out to us on the weekend.

I think we're OK with that.

Chillingham (2 of 1) copy

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

From Another Angle

I took this photo from the bottom of our block on Sunday. The house looks huge from this angle.

House From Below (2 of 1)

This is it from the road. Suddenly it looks tiny again...

House From Road (2 of 1)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Cotton Harlequin Beetles

I've shown photos of Cotton Harlequin Beetles before here but I found some really nice looking examples of male beetles on Saturday, so here's a few more.

I took dozens of photos but there's a pretty low success rate when you're trying to do macro photography without a macro lens - it wreaks havoc with your autofocus.

Cotton Harlequin 4

Cotton Harlequin 3

Cotton Harlequin

Cotton Harlequin Beetle

The female beetles, which are larger and orange, weren't looking as spectacular this time around. Must be the wrong time of the year for them.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Tough, Amped, Mentally Prepared

On Friday night, Dan and I went over to Karra to commence two days of hard labour.

We were feeling tough, amped, mentally prepared:

The Sanding Team

On Saturday, I pulled out the old straw mat flooring while Dan rigged up his new trestles and cleaned out the gutters.


It was pretty messy work.


Next job was to use the hose to clean off the outside of the house. When I hosed off these timber slats, most of the paint just fell straight away. Some of the timber did too. Turns out a Karcher pressure hose held five centimetres from old, rotted timber is not really an even fight.

Karra - to paint

The timber that was strong enough to survive came up pretty nicely. All these slats will be painted a dark grey-blue.

We had the idea of getting rid of the karravan. It's starting to look pretty shabby, and doesn't really fit in with the fresh, clean look we'll be going for here.

We've spoken with a few of the other locals over the last couple of months and found an islander who was very keen to take it on.

He came round yesterday to investigate, and after a long session with a measuring tape, we realised that there was no way the van is going anywhere in one piece.

Seems like the house was actually built around the karravan. It must have been where the original owners stayed when the house was being built and they just decided to leave it there.

So, we'll have to spruce it up a little and leave it where it is. Or hack into it with a grinder. We haven't really decided yet.

Karra - to paint

In between jobs, Maisie and I made several trips to the tip, filling the back of the ute each time. We threw out a lot of old timber, flooring, furniture and green waste.

I like driving the ute almost as much as I like riding in the back of it. I think Maisie feels the same way.

Me and Mais

Sunday, we started sanding back the exterior. We were both stuffed after Saturday and didn't get as much done as we would have liked...

In fact, this wall is about all we managed before collapsing into deck chairs and breaking open a couple of beers.

Sanding Karra

So, now we're going to hire someone to go over in the next fortnight and finish the sanding for us, so we can start on the painting when we next have a weekend there.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Here We Come

Obvious statement for the day: It's been a while since I've written.

But I'm here. I've got my typing fingers on, I'm dusting off the camera and I'm ready to start contributing again to the great, bubbling cauldron of words and photos that is the internets.

We're about to again ramp up renovations at Karra. I believe, back in the dim recesses of my mind, that that was the point of this blog to begin with, was it not?

This weekend we start preparing the outside timber work for painting and measure out walls for a couple of tiny bedrooms we plan to put in at the back.

There's lots to be done, Dan has written many lists and drawn many plans, and I have had much preparation to do for my role over the weekend.

Well, I charged my camera battery anyway.

Karragarra, here we come...

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Bread Recipe

Yesterday, I posted pictures of the bread and today the recipe... Please note, I am no baker and this is one of only two bread recipes I've tried, ever. If you know a great one too, please link to it in the comments.

It was Kara who requested this recipe and Kara, I know you're American so I apologise that this is in metric measurements but I do not speak the language of imperial measurements.

500g strong or bakers flour
6g sugar (I've been using white)
6g bread improver
7g dried yeast sachet
6g salt
20g (not mls) olive oil
310g (not mls) water

Mix it all together either by hand or in your Kitchenaid (I've tried both ways and a Kitchenaid with a dough hook is a god-send...).

If you're doing it by hand you need to knead it for about 10 minutes. Cover it and leave it to rise. Once it's roughly doubled in size, 'knock it back' (knead it) again for another few minutes. Leave it to rise again to double in size. Then, do this a third time and put it in a tin sprayed with olive oil, or just mould it into a cigar shape.

Leave it to rise the third time, then cook it in an oven at 220 degrees celsius for 25 minutes.

Then, turn it onto a rack to cool. One thing I learned last night is that, if it sticks to the pan, do not viciously try and shake it out. It can split down the middle and, unlike with a cake, this can't be remedied with icing and sprinkles. On the plus side, now we have two loafs of bread for this weekend.


It never occured to me to make my own bread. It never occured to me that with a bit of flour, salt, water and yeast I could make bread that tasted so much better than shop-bought.

A month or so ago, I just got a hankering to bake bread. Out of the blue. So, I found a recipe, pulled out our beautiful red Kitchenaid and got busy.

I haven't looked back since.

I now make a couple of loaves a week- one usually on a Friday night and one mid-week, and we've been pigging out on the stuff.

This is what it looks like going into the oven:

Bread Before (2 of 1)

This is what it looks like straight out of the oven. It fills the house with the most amazing smell.

Bread After (2 of 1)

It is one of the more satisfying tasks I've ever encountered. We keep it in a big red tupperware container that keeps it fresh and moist for days.

Time to make a fresh loaf, come to think of it.

Monday, August 9, 2010


Sometimes I wonder if perhaps Dan spent a little less time measuring things and drawing plans and costing plans and correcting plans and re-doing plans, we might be a little further along in this five-year (so far) renovation.

I wonder it. I would ABSOLUTELY NOT EVER say it aloud. Not anywhere he can hear me, anyway. He might strangle me with his string line.

Personal 010

Anyway, apparently now we're landscaping the backyard. Spirit levels have been utilised, giant orange markers spray-painted across the lawn.

And the plans. Oh, the plans.

Excuse my pessimism, but I remain skeptical that I'll be planting anything in newly-terraced, rice paddy-like flower beds come Spring.

Which, come to think of it, saves me a lot of hassle anyway. As you were, Dan.

David Beckham

Maisie's been keen to show off her sporting prowess. Clearly, she is feeling threatened by all the talk about clever sheepdogs and their clever cleverness.

She waits until someone is watching, preferably also holding a camera, and then...

Maisie on Deck (2 of 1)

BAM! She morphs into David Beckham.

Maisie and ball (2 of 1)

Sunday, August 8, 2010


I moved to Brisbane five years ago, but have never managed to make it along to the Brisbane Exhibition - or Ekka, as it is known in these here parts.
To be honest I haven't ever been that keen to go. Shows to me always conjur up images of being ripped off in sideshow alleys, ripped off in the showbag pavilion, ripped off at the food carts and ripped off at the rides.
Then there's the carnies...
This year, however, I decided I wanted to see the sheep dog trials. So we got our Ekka guide from the paper, packed a little backpack with goodies and took the train to the showgrounds to make a day of it.
The sheep dog trials were fantastic, even though only two dogs were competing. But they were two very, very clever dogs. The audience was spellbound and the announcer said, at one point in hushed tones, "You know, if we were in New Zealand and not Australia, this would be on the TV a few times a week, instead of Rugby..."
Well, Dan and I just looked at each other agape - WHY DO WE NOT LIVE IN NEW ZEALAND??
Sheep Dog trials (2 of 1) copy
It's possible that we were high on sugar. Dan got a bit overexcited at the fairy floss stall and bought a bucket of the stuff, which he happily munched on all afternoon.
Somewhere, a dentist is crying.

Dan with fairy floss
Then we commenced wandering and people watching. Didn't these caps used to really daggy? They're back in vogue now apparently. Kids everywhere were wearing them. Young people these days, I just don't know.

There were cows, like this lady called Bellbird. She was pretty.

There were little toy choppers zipping around in the air, taunting those propeller hat-wearing teens by actually possessing the ability to fly.

Toy CHopper
There were rides too, although we didn't go on any of them. Must be a sign I'm getting old that I'd prefer to keep my feet on the ground and shoot pictures of them instead.

Ferris wheel
Then, we came and sat down to have a good long talk with Maisie.
Call yourself a sheep dog, young lady? We expect to see some serious improvements in your behaviour. We've met your cousins now, we've seen how smart they are. We don't have any sheep for you to herd, but if you can learn to make a gin and tonic, we'll call that sufficient use of your powers.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Service Bay

This old garage is at Redland Bay, a stones throw away from where the ferry leaves for Karragarra.

I've driven past it many times, but never bothered to stop and photograph it because it's always been full-light and I knew the results would be mediocre at best.

On Wednesday night, the light was just fading from the sky as I got to the ferry terminal, so the light was right.

Service Bay

I still think the results are mediocre, but at least there's some colour in the sky. It got me to thinking about my speed light and how terrified of using it I am. A bit of fill flash might have made all the difference in this photo. I could have darkened the sky dramatically in Photoshop and just had the garage door lit up.

I saw this photo yesterday, posted on a blog. It was taken in depression-era America, when very few photos were being taken in colour.

And I just love it: The colours, the sky, the use of fill flash, the solid edges you get with film. I wish I had a high-enough resolution version of it, because I'd be blowing it up and putting it on my wall (if that wasn't, ahem, copyright restriction...)

So now, my aim with my photography is to learn to master my speed light. Expect a lot of flash photography posted on here in the near future...