Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Sign

We have finally got a sign made to go out the front of the property. Hopefully, everyone who sees it will be so dazzled by its wonderfulness that they'll all book weekends there instantly.

"Honey, look - they have linen AND a fireplace! We must stay there," they'll say while scrambling for their mobile phones.

The Sign

The birds at the bottom are not actually present on the real sign, just to be clear.

The Background

A lot of people have never heard of Karragarra Island - even people who have lived their whole lives in or near Brisbane - perhaps because of how tiny it is.

It's part of a chain of four islands which have a reputation for being a little bit rough. There is undoubtedly a rough element present on the islands and, to be completely honest, the one time we took the water taxi to Macleay Island to go to the pub there we ended up fleeing when a nasty fight broke out.

The largest of the chain is Russell, then Macleay, then Lamb and then little ol' Karra. Together, the four of them are called the Southern Moreton Bay Islands.

If you're interested, you can get a better idea of the size and layout of the island chain on Google Maps, here.

We chose Karra because it's tiny and sleepy and well-loved and cute as a button.

There are no shops and there is no pub - no commerce at all, in fact.

The permanent population of a few hundred (and I'm being quite generous there, I suspect) care for the island like it was their own backyard - as is evident as soon as you get off the ferry.





The process of buying our holiday home there was a rapid, ill-considered and foolish one. We discovered the island while looking online at real estate on its much more ritzy cousin, Stradbroke Island.

The next day, we took the ferry there and found the house we'd fallen instantly in love with. We checked it was empty, climbed to the deck, peered in the windows and took in the views.

Then, we rang the real estate agent and made an offer. Without looking inside.

Foolhardy? Definitely.

But we just knew this little island was something we had to be a part of in the future.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A New Phase

This weekend, we start renovating again and I have the usual pre-renovation excitement, which rapidly deteriorates into renovation frustration as the weeks pass by.

We last downed tools in August 2009, after completing the huge back deck just before our wedding in September.

This is what it looked like just before we got the walls at the end up. It looks much the same now, only with couches and odds and ends scattered around it.

Deck 1-2 copy

Dan and I have developed a renovation pattern in the 4.5 years we've been working on this house.

We generally avoid doing serious work on the house for six months of the year, when the tropical climate here makes doing much of anything quite unpleasant.

As winter creeps up, we plan the next phase, then Dan works like a demon to get it done by August.

I am not generally allowed to participate with much manual labour, owing to the fact that my handiwork is generally sloppy, half-hearted and has to be re-done by Dan afterwards.

He's a perfectionist. I'm not.

Instead, I handle the house work, cooking, gardening and chores that we usually share.

Come September, we're thoroughly sick of living in a construction site and are ready to down tools again for another six to eight months and slow down again.

Hopefully, this will be our last phase of renovating this house. We need to paint the exterior, we need to landscape the gardens and we need to paint and tile the downstairs interior.

Then, we plan to put it on the market and move on.

I have come to love this house since the back deck went on, but I'm really excited to be done with it, sell it and start a new phase of our lives.

Bangalow Markets

On Sunday, we went to the Bangalow Markets - the ultimate paradise for hippies and yuppies and yippies. A yippy is a cross between a hippy and a yuppy. Feel free to use that word if you like.

Oh, you're welcome.

The Bangalow Markets is all didgeridoo healers, tarot card readings, lentils, organic soaps and hand-blown glass ash-trays.

There's a paddock next door to the market site where the VW Kombis are almost outnumbered by the Ferraris and Alfa Romeos and Lotus Esprits. I don't know about you, but had I spent six figures on a car I would most definitely not be parking it in a paddock ANYWHERE and, really, who cares how good the organic soy lattes at the market cafe are.

Bangalow Bubble

There was a guy there demonstrating his bubble blowers and I snapped this one as one of the bubbles drifted past my head....

Aaah, weekend activities. Is it Friday yet?

Sunday, May 23, 2010


Dan_Lovely Action

Dan at Byron Bay, 2010

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Game On

There's been a bit of a shift in the plans around here.

We've decided to finish renovating our primary house so we can put it on the market and sell it, then move onto the next phase - building something from scratch.

That means Karra gets put on the backburner for the next year or so, while we work most weekends on this place to get it finished.

It also means less time for relaxing... They don't look too happy about that do they?

Deck-2 copy

We will keep Karra as is for the time being, although I'll still be getting over there regularly and working on the garden, to continue with my plans to turn it into a little island jungle...

I'll also be posting plenty of photos - like, for example, this one of the old jetty at the eastern end of the island.

Old Jetty-2 copy

I guess that changes the nature of this blog a little - although it hasn't been purely a Karra renovation blog at any point anyway.

It's now a renovation blog about two houses - and a personal blog. And it's about photography and sewing too.

As for this weekend, we're going to Byron Bay for a couple of days with friends. Next weekend, the madness begins. Game on.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Polka Dot Bride

Now for some shameless, cringe-inducing self-absorption... as opposed to the rest of this blog which is all soup kitchens and free hugs and saving the world, one beauty pageant at a time.

OK, that was clearly a lie. Although, I did save a puppy once.

Anyway, gorgeous Australian wedding blog Polka Dot Bride is featuring Dan and my wedding today.

I have nothing else to add. I am very grateful for the honour.


Wedding_Ed and Dan

Wedding Photos 451

Photos courtesy Jonas Peterson

House Fever

I shouldn't read interior design magazines.

I know this, of course. I tell myself this every time I see them on the shelf, their glossy interior shots beckoning to me like Playboy centrefolds.

"Do not buy that magazine, Edwina. You KNOW how this story ends..."

Let me start at the beginning. Yesterday, Duffel and I travelled to Melbourne for work. Because, that's just how we roll...(ROLL! Get it? Because, Duffel is, like, a WHEELY BAG??!)


Anyway, so there we are in Melbourne. Duffel is stuffed full of clothes and gadgets and I'm stuffed full of coffee and biscuits and we're both making ourselves useful around my company's Melbourne office.

You want to see my trip in photos? You do, right?


Yeah, in a nutshell, it looked something like that.

At the airport on the way home, I went to the newsagent because I had forgotten to pack my Kindle and, frankly, iPhone Tetris is beginning to sh*t me.

The latest edition of Real Living Magazine was there and, like a sucker, I bought it. I read it. As usual, I got all lusty over the photos. I got home. I got inside. Then, I kissed my husband hello, pushed past him and into our bedroom and spent the next 1.5 hours frantically re-organising my scarf and underwear drawers.

No, seriously. I'm not exaggerating.

At one point, Dan came and sat in the corner and watched me, asking distracting questions like "So... are you feeling alright?" and "No really, why are you being so weird?"

But I couldn't talk about my trip, or anything else for that matter. Not until those drawers were organised and our bedroom was looking a bit more Real Living-worthy.

If magazines like Cleo and Cosmo promote unhealthy body image, then interiors magazines should definitely take some responsibility for promoting unhealthy house image.

I hereby pledge not to buy any more of them until we have time to pick up renovations again. I will even try and steer clear of the most dangerous house blogs until life settles down a bit.

After all, life's hard enough without feeling inadequate because your sock drawer is unorganised.

Sunday, May 16, 2010


Today we caught up with some of Dan's extended family, including his sister Brigitte. Her hair colour is almost exactly the same as mine is when I don't colour it. I got the stock-standard red headed eye colour of dark green though - while Brig lucked out with a big pair of baby blues...


You just KNOW this kid's going to break some hearts one day.

Saturday, May 15, 2010


You're never too old to float around when the water's warm.

Jules at Beach


Swimming at Karra

The Beach at Karragarra, 2009

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Link love

I was about to send a friend an email with links to a few blogs I've recently discovered and thought she might like, but then I decided to post them here instead for some light weekend reading.

Does anyone buy magazines any more, out of interest?

Grosgrain: This is a gorgeous sewing blog I have recently fallen in love with. It's inspirational and it's beautifully designed and it just makes you want to put down whatever it is you're doing and RUN to the nearest fabric store.

Bluebirdbaby: Lots of lovely photography and general earthy, organic-ness happening here. The blog's writer is Erin and she's so gorgeously full of joy that it's quite infectious. She has chickens and a cute house and cute clothes and a cute family. It makes for good reading.

What I Wore: Jessica, who writes this blog, is adorable and the photography (done by her fiance) is so lovely that this blog has much broader appeal than a lot of the other 'WhatIWore' blogs out there. Jessica actually inspired me to knot a scarf around my neck recently, a look which won me much praise at work that day. Points to Jessica.

Little Wild Girl: Carri Ann is the creator of this wonderful photo blog. She is in her early 20s and just overwhelmingly talented. Well worth a visit to drool over her beautiful photos and beautiful hair.

I'd be interested to hear of any good photography blogs out there too. I mean, beyond just SHOWING photos like most of us do but actually including actions and tutorials and tips and so on.

If you've got any suggestions or recommendations, please leave a comment.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Island Love

After a stressful morning at work, I got to come home a bit early this afternoon to prepare for a work function tonight.

I had a couple of hours to spare, which seemed like the perfect length of time to finish the project I started last night - another carry bag for a cool box. This is one is for my Mother who, incidentally, has a weekend island of her own.

I know! Island love runs in the family!

Mum has land and a caravan on Bruny Island, off the coast of Tasmania where she lives.

Hopefully this will be just the right size for her to carry over a few essentials for her weekends there.

Cool Bag

Eski Bag 2

As for getting over to Karra, the next two weekends are looking unlikely now between courses and office moves and a trip to Byron Bay. I hope my herb garden will still be alive by the time we finally do make it back there...

Earth Mother Type

Ok, I admit it. I miss that little boogle-eyed freak. He was only here for two days but he was such a charming little soul with such bizarre ears and I grew quite fond of him.

There are a few things I like to do when feeling a bit down-in-the-dumps. One is drink a few glasses of cheap red wine (I mean, I like the good stuff more but we've got two houses to pay off here, people - let's forget our delusions of grandeur), another is take photos and another still is sew.

Doing all three together? That's my kind of weeknight de-stress session.

I don't sew to get great results, or out of frugality or because I'm an Earth Mother Goddess. I like to sew because there's nothing more therapeutic than the noise and rhythm of the machine after a hectic day. It's such a hands-on, simple pursuit after eight hours in an office, on a computer, on the phone talking and debating and rationalising and justifying and dropping your head to the desk and banging it when everything goes horribly wrong.

It's just you, your foot on a pedal and a predictable line of stitches - simple and beautiful.


If I make something decent, well, that's just a bonus. Often I just make head scarves out of scraps of colourful fabric because they're easy and they're useful and they take just about the right amount of time, patience and energy on a week night.

Tonight though, I might start on something a little more ambitious...

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Then There Were Three...Again

Pip (sorry, Rebel) has gone home.
Picnik collage

Yes, that is a photo of Maisie sitting at the computer. She can open the car window herself too you know. I suspect she may be plotting to take over the world.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Without A Cause

We found Pip's family.

Turns out his name is not Pip - it's 'Rebel', which I suppose suits him when you consider he's been a fugitive for days now.

I kind of prefer 'Pip' though.

Anyway, his owners have indeed been missing him terribly and will come and collect him tonight.

Dan and I will be sad to say good bye, but I know someone who'll be only too happy to see his little back disappear out the door...


Sunday, May 9, 2010

Having Pip To Stay

This afternoon, Dan and I are taking Pip to the vet to scan him for microchips.

I've also printed out a dozen more flyers to put up around the neighbourhood, to add to the 10 or so I put up yesterday. He's registered with every local vet as a found dog, the RSPCA has his details and a photo of him and I'm running out of ideas about what else to do.

He made a dash for the open front door yesterday and I half wanted to let him go for it in the hope he'd run straight home.

But, there's every chance that he'd run straight under the wheels of a car on our busy road. I just couldn't let him.

Every time a car drives slowly outside, I think Pip thinks someone has come for him. It's really sad to watch.

Dogs on bed-2

Dogs on bed-2-2

I really hope we find his family soon. It's been nice having him to stay and all, but we reckon that someone out there is missing this little doe-eyed dog horribly.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

House Guest

Maisie's not sure about the house guest. He's much more photogenic than her and that seems to annoy her.

Pip and Maisie3-2

Pip and Maisie2-2

Pip and Maisie-2

Friday, May 7, 2010


As I was leaving home today, with car and sans Duffel, I nearly ran over a little brown dog. We live on a busy road, so there was no way I was leaving him there playing chicken with the traffic.

He has no collar and, unfortunately, I can't check if he's microchipped until tomorrow because the vet is closed.

So, we've registered him with the RSPCA and it looks like he'll be staying with us until his owners come forward.

His temporary name is 'Pip', because I think it suits him.

Me? Getting attached? Never.


Thursday, May 6, 2010


I have become a bag lady.

Not so much of a bag lady as, say Danielle from Hello Owl who makes oh-so-cute, trendy little adorable bags, but rather a lady who covers copious amounts of ground on foot every day with a little wheely duffel bag behind her.

I know. I'm an embarrassment. I wheely wheely am.

When Dan finished at his last job, so too did our long relationship with his company car. We're now a one-car couple and, unfortunately, it's Dan that gets the car to use. My car.

And I walk to the train.

It's not SO bad. The exercise is good and I really don't miss the traffic every day, but I have struggled to work out how to carry all the bits and pieces that I generally need at home and work.

Somewhere between my laptop, its charger, the giant pink ring binder that contains course notes, my Kindle, work shoes and that really big bottle of dry shampoo I refuse to be separated from, the walk to work was becoming murder on my shoulders.

So now, I am trailed everywhere by a bag loaded full of books and folders, papers, gadgets, make-up, shoes, clothing and an umbrella.

It's like a little stray dog I once threw a chip to who won't leave me alone. I've named it Duffel and am wondering whether I need to register it with council and get it a tag.

Tonight, Duffel and I are accompanying a friend to look for wedding dresses before rolling our way to Bardon for a party then trundling on home.

With a bit of luck, we may even get to the ferry tomorrow afternoon and get a night in at Karra.

Fingers and wheels crossed!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010



The beach at Karragarra, 2010

Monday, May 3, 2010



Bird of Paradise, Karragarra Foreshore, 2010

Sunday, May 2, 2010

To be a bit lazy

We didn't end up getting to Karra this weekend. Too much to do at home, plus the desire to be a bit lazy and catch up with friends.

I did get a bit creative and made a new dog muzzle for Maisie. You're allowed to take dogs on the passenger ferry, but they have to wear a muzzle at all times.

We have this black one but it doesn't fit her at all, plus she looks like Hannibal Lecter with it on.

"I ate her liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti..."


Just in case you ever find yourself wanting to make a cloth muzzle for a dog (and why on Earth WOULDN'T you at some point in you life?), I present to you...

The Weekend Island guide to making a dog muzzle

Firstly, I traced around the old muzzle to get the shape, which is basically just a triangle with the end snipped off.

Actually, I think it's more of a trapezoid. I'm not really sure, geometry and I never did get along.

If you're using a light-weight fabric like the cotton I used, reinforce the pieces with a calico backing to make them stronger.

I made the bottom part - the bit that goes under her mouth - from plain calico. I sewed it together at either side, being very careful to get it the right size for Maisie's snout. It needs to be reasonably tight, but have a little give in it.

I used the same cotton and calico to make two straps, which I sewed to either side of the nose piece.

I sewed velcro on the straps to fasten it. It's not super strong, you would want to use a more secure fastener if you had a bigger or more aggressive dog.


Ta-da! The end result fits her much more comfortably than the black one. She even happily wore it round the house a while while I was getting photos.


Plus, she now matches the sling bag I made to hold the small cooler we take over for weekends. Wow! What a lucky dog...


Saturday, May 1, 2010



Macleay Island Jetty, 2009