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A Laid Back Summer at Home with Me

I don’t know about you, but this year felt big – big in everyday moments. Now that the year is about to close I’m craving summer downtime like never before.

I can’t wait to be barefoot over on the island, running from the backyard down to the cool water of the beach, in a blur of golden Australian light.

This summer will be loose days framed by sunrise and sunset, where the days are simple, yet significant, and where I can give all of myself over to my little family.

This is what summer at home feels like to me…

Left: Love a change around at home, me reshuffling my framed pieces to freshen up our island home. Right: An extra large ‘Bridle Track‘ on the lean near the fireplace, in amongst my collections of hand-thrown ceramics.

Ever since I put running to catch planes to unknown places and building my life around shot lists for photo shoots ‘on hold’, the small moments in my life have blossomed into the biggest.

Apart from my studio, I just love being at home and spending time with Timothy O, Edie and Alby, creating a loving home for them to be within.

Left: I love the scale of my extra large framed prints, they add so much atmosphere to a room Right: Organising the gifts and who is receiving which ones.

Christmas came early this year for us at our island home, so I thought I would share with you what it looked like and what inspired my Christmas theme and our Christmas table.

Left: An outtake of our family portrait. Right: Edie is always so cuddly after she wakes from a daytime sleep. My ‘Summer Holiday’ print sits on the mantle, setting the summer vibes.

The day always starts off in the lounge room, but it definitely felt fuller this year as a family. Two babies in two years, wow, how things have changed!

This is our attempt of a Christmas family portrait. Alby has really started to ‘wake up’ and is loving latching (firmly) onto my hair and yanking, ouch!

Left: Timothy O and Edie unwrapping the pillowcase Santa sacks. Right: Peeking to see what’s inside.

I used these old world nostalgic pillowcases as Santa sacks for Edie and Alby this year. When I was little I had a favourite pillowcase which my mum would bring out about this time of year and these floral pillowcases remind me of it.

I thought the flower design was perfect for summer and Edie would love sleeping on the pillowcase after its been retired as a Santa sack.

It’s funny how something so simple can feel so nurturing and comforting.

Above: Laying out the Christmas tree to make sure all the pieces are in tact.

Our Christmas tree is made from dried branches from a big old tree from our old home.

The branches, or ‘sticks’ are threaded onto a metal rod and the tree stands tall, but before we assemble it we lay out the sticks flat on the floor so we can get the shape right and to make sure no pieces have been lost, or accidentally used as firewood throughout the year… eek.

Left: I’ve always used basic brown kraft paper when it comes to wrapping presents, and then I elevate the presents with some beautiful ribbons. Right: The paper is recycled afterwards and the ribbons are kept in a glass jar for the following years celebrations.

Edie’s Christmas gifts this year include a small weaving loom, so we can collect dry grasses from the island and make a wall hanging of our local colours, a pair of butterfly wings, because who wouldn’t want to be a butterfly and a classic swing for the tree in the backyard.

Above: This is Edie’s first Christmas where she is old enough to sort of know what’s happening and be involved in decorating and all the fun details.

Her little face lights up when she sees our collection of baubles and ribbons for the first time and she gets to touch everything. It’s such a joy to see her happiness.

Left: Looking back at our island house from the backyard through the banana trees. Right: Can’t get enough of that toothy grin.

I read something recently which said childhood memories aren’t about photo albums, childhood memories are about certain biscuits, the light of the day, smells, textures of sheets…

It’s those really small details we carry through our lives that we store in our hearts, that we can flash back to in a second when we taste that same biscuit years later or feel a nurturing texture with our fingertips.

Left: Banana trees always make me feel like summer is just around the corner. Right: My new tablecloth drying on the clothesline in the afternoon sun.

The same can be said for life in general, and especially when it comes to creating special moments at home.

I like to make home as meaningful as possible, to stir the senses, and in doing so hopefully allowing moments to become memories. Feeling the texture of the tablecloth, watching the flicker of the candle light, how a mouth blown glass feels on your lips.

Even when it’s just Timothy O and I at home having casual lunch or a drink on the deck, I’ll always set the table, throw the tablecloth down, place a pair of placemats out and grab the (unironed) linen napkins from the drawer.

I think showing love and care within these everyday moments of life must be my love language, as it just makes me so happy.

Left: Market baskets full of watermelons for the table. Right: Glancing out at where I want to set the Christmas table up in the backyard.

One thing I absolutely love about Christmas is the Christmas table. I will spend weeks imagining how I can make a memorable and beautiful table for my loved ones.

I don’t usually do anything too ‘Christmassy’ for the table and prefer to keep things fairly simple.

As the seasons change in the lead-up to Christmas I start to take notice of what the light is doing at home and what my eye is attracted to. From there I’m led by nature for themes and colours for our festivities.

Left: Feeling the warmth of the golden afternoon light. Right: Our banana trees, this one with a flower bell and a bunch of ripening fruit.

This year my eye has been attracted to green, tropical green, which has led me down to the backyard.

Green is such an uplifting colour and it really is the colour of life.

So this year Christmas is outside, barefoot, in the backyard, feeling the grass underfoot, surrounded by banana trees and dappled light.

Left: Coconuts and watermelons bound for the Christmas table. Right: The native banksia grows everywhere on the island.

For the table centrepiece I loosely grouped watermelons, coconuts and banksias together.

One of my favourite entertaining tips is to use fruit as the table setting. It requires no work from you, as nature has grown it so beautifully, and it always looks impressive. All you need to do is place it down nicely on the table, plus you can eat it afterwards, no waste.

Left: Tapping the coconut shell waiting for the hairline crack to appear. Right: Hello Summer, glorious open coconuts.

I actually love to use coconuts for the table and in the past I have used them as bowls for ice cream for desserts. They are super easy to open, but can become a barrier if you don’t know how, so I want to tell you. It’s super easy.

All you need is a Philips Head screwdriver and a hammer.

Simply pierce the eyes of the coconut (the three dark holes) with the screwdriver by hammering the handle of the screwdriver. This will release the coconut water. Pour the water into a bowl, keeping it for later to drink, it’s delicious.

Then grab the coconut in one hand and the hammer in the other and firmly tap around the circumference of the coconut with the hammer. Like magic a hairline crack will appear, then give it a final whack.

Ta-dah, gorgeous white fleshy coconut.

Left: Clotheslines always pull at my heart, especially when they are as old as our clothesline. Right: ‘Ka-ka’, our resident kookaburra.

Our resident kookaburra who Edie has affectionally named ‘Ka-Ka’ comes and perches himself on our clothesline each morning and afternoon.

He likes to scour the long overgrown grass for fleeting moths and grubs to nibble on. Hearing his ‘laughter’ always feels so deeply Australian. His birdcall gives me the goosebumps every time.

Left: This banksia is called ‘Swamp Banksia’ and is my favourite variety. Right: I always keep a pair of flower snips near by, either in the kitchen drawer, my handbag or the glove box of the car.

I love to collect Banksias from the nearby beach track.

I’ve been using my new flower snips which I’ve just added to the new arrivals in my shop. I always keep my flower snips close by, as I never like to miss an opportunity to bring nature in.

Above: The Christmas table in the backyard, under the banana trees and aglow with dappled golden light.

The Christmas table, under the banana trees and gum trees in the backyard, with golden dappled light peeking through the branches.

I love the backyard being overgrown here on the island, feels wild. The local kangaroos come by and chew on the grass in the afternoons, which is just so wonderful to see.

Left: Setting the table and arranging the coconuts and watermelons down the centre of the table. Right: Love seeing all the natural elements come together, especially that ginger stem.

I found this flowering ginger plant on the roadside and had to pull over and snip off a branch (see, that’s why I carry a pair of flower snips in the glove box).

Something so simple like one single branch can set the whole atmosphere of a table.

I love that it looks like a chandelier, hanging off the foliage.

Left: The magnificent flowering ginger. Right: All the details of the Christmas table, including these napkins rings which constantly sell out in the shop whenever I mention them.

Left: Love seeing all the details of the table dappled in light. Right: And I love how the wine tints my new clear glass tumblers pink.

Left: Is there a better fragrance than a freshly cut mango? They just beam on the table, in the most gorgeous sunny colour. Right: Nothing else says summer in Australian quite like a mango.

If you grew up in Australia the fragrance of a freshly cut mango takes you straight back to childhood. I just love having these sorts of sentimental nods on the table come this time of year to stir everyones senses, plus they are delicious.

Left: Glimpses through to the Christmas table. Right: So refreshing to feel the cool grass of the backyard under foot, instantly cools your whole body.

Left: I love to remember and take in all the thoughtful little details from the table setting, to remember forever. Right: Love having this years table done in the backyard.

I must admit bringing the table together brings me such joy. Adding the practical layers like the tablecloth, pretty glassware, the plates and napkins, and then adding the special elements to bring joy like the watermelons and the cute crab and lobster napkin rings.

Left: As the sun sets I love to bring out the sparklers, I find them so enchanting and exciting. Right: Scallop shells and coconut halves, mixed with my new tumblers, anything goes when using nature.

Sparklers are my simple go to come dusk for any celebration, Christmas, birthdays, Easters, anything.

They create such a moment of wonder and awe. Everything in life is perfect and mesmerising in that moment while you are waving that sparkler, longing for it not to fizz out.

Left: Scallop shells catching the last light of the setting sun. Right: I love the way linen napkins feel across the lap, slightly weighted and always special.

Left: Our Alby’s first Christmas. Right: Edie mesmerised by the sparklers.

This is Alby’s first Christmas and Edie’s second. It’s such a special time for them and also us as a new little family of four, cementing traditions and memories for us all to look back upon.

Above: And then the atmosphere of the table changes as the sun dips down for the day.

I hope this has helped to get you in the mood for summer and Christmas. I honestly can’t wait.

Bring it on!

 I’ve also linked to my latest playlist here, inspired by… you guessed it, summer!

Kara x

P.S. I’ve added some new favourite lifestyle pieces to the shop, just in time for summer. You can see them all here.


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One Comment to “A Laid Back Summer at Home with Me”

  1. Hi Kara
    I always enjoy reading your posts. The Straddie one are special as my family have grown up holidaying on Straddie.
    Loved your Xmas table setting and wondered if you could let me know where you sourced the director chairs. I’m having trouble finding some sturdy ones and they look great
    Thank you

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