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Summer Days with my Family

Left: On the day we collected the keys to our new home. An empty house really excites me. Right: I had to quickly get the house ‘Christmas ready’ for Santa.

Our summer break stretching from Christmas Day to Australia Day has become such time I crave and look forward to. Simple and salty days spent by the sea, watching our children Edie and Alby grow, explore and play overflows me with happiness.

It also makes me sad, as time just goes by so fast! All the strangers who stop me in the street and say ‘It goes by so fast Love’ are so right! These days of innocent childhood really do fly by and I’m trying to hold on as tight as I can to them.

My camera is the only way I know how to slow these days down, so my camera is always in my hands when it comes to our summer days. As a way to record and remember our simple times together as a young family.

Left: On Christmas morning. Edie looking inside her Santa sack, while Alby looks to see what Santa and the reindeers ate. Right: I think this Christmas was the first that they might remember.

This year we created fresh memories over on the island and also new memories within the timber and tin walls of our newly found family home.

We moved into our new home just days before Christmas, after a long search for our ‘forever home’, while packing up and selling our previous home, which was a huge effort. (I will write a blog post about all this soon).

I got to work quick smart to make our new house feel like a home in time for Santa to visit on Christmas Day.

Left: Testing out lots of paint colours on the walls, in amongst a pair of paintings my dad gave me of  The Glasshouse Mountains, which are just up the highway and a hand caved boomerang from the 1950s. Right: Sunrise in a favourite corner of our house. I love it when the morning light drenches this room in goldenness.

From the very beginning, even before we found this home, I would dream about our next home and I would imagine it filled with colour – lots of dirty greens and dull sea blues, everywhere. On the walls, the trims, the upholstery, everywhere – which is such a departure for me as I have always been loyal to warm neutrals.

I’ve been testing out lots of paint colours for the walls and having fun with it and sourcing vintage painted cane pieces, which really adds an element of nostalgia to the home, which I love.

But overall I have been going slow. Slowing down with the decorating so I can truly understand the house and what we really love as a family, so in time our home will be a true expression of us.

Left: Alby takes his midday nap on a vintage cane sofa I recently found. I’m obsessed with painted cane. Right: Edie, wearing my straw sunhat and laughing at herself.

Talking about going slow, I was also able to slow down to think what it was I truly wanted from my work life this coming year. I was able to listen to my instincts on what I wanted to carve out for myself, what excited me and what life could look like.

Essentially I have had to make some uncomfortable changes so I can live a happy life and attempt to get closer to some sort of work life balance. Having children changes you and the most important thing to me is being a present mother for them.

In previous years I would dive into the year with a whirlwind of projects and long lists of things I wanted to create and do, and along with my team we would somehow manage to achieve all the things, plus more.

But for the year ahead I want change. I don’t want to be bigger, I really want to have a small life, while being the best I can be.

Left: Magnolias would have to be my all time favourite flower. Their sweet scent lingers from room to room. Right: On the coffee table, Australian artist Cressida Campbell’s latest release sits on a stack of coffee table books upon a wicker tray.

Late last year I read something in a magazine, it was a quote, I think it was from Sydney florist Saskia Havekes of Grandiflora. She said that each year she has done just one extra thing alongside her main core floral business, and over time her offering slowly has been built. I found this very inspiring.

So this year my ‘one extra thing’ is going to be a gallery. I’m building and opening a gallery for my photographic print collections, which will also have a very small shop within the space, filled with special things I have found for the home. It will be a destination shop, so to see the things you will need to come and visit me, as it won’t be online. Small and really special. It sounds ambitious, but I feel it’s within reach if I keep it simple.

With the new house and the gallery I feel like myself again, even though I don’t remember losing myself, but this new chapter really feels so familiar, in the best possible way.


Left: My favourite vista, where the bush meets the beach. Right: Edie and Alby sit inside ‘Dusty’ our old Landrover. Adventures always start when you sit inside Dusty.

After Christmas we headed over to the island. It was a strange summer to be honest. The weather really did put a dampener on things. Lots of grey skies, sticky heat and so much rain.

But we ran with it and had the best time together. A few nice beach days, lots of indoor activities and lots of cooking.

Left: From our deck looking out to the uninterrupted bush and beach. Right: Timothy O with Alby and Edie after a beautiful summer’s beach day. I want to frame this photograph.

Timothy O and I also decided that since we are going to have the new house and the gallery on our hands to bring to life, we probably won’t be heading over to the island as much as we usually would throughout the year.

So we decided we will holiday let our island house. I will release a handful of dates soon. Again I’m not looking at it being a huge thing, just a few weeks a year where we let others who love the island come and stay.

Left: A glimpse into the dining room and kitchen from the lounge room of our island house. Right: Timothy O hanging my new photographic prints, along with two very eager helpers. This one is called ‘Underwater Play’.

Left: The new / old Moroccan tiles my father layed on the pantry floor. Right: A vintage fish plate which I actually decided to hang in one of the bedrooms in amongst framed photographic prints for something different.

Since deciding to holiday let our house we finished off odd jobs around the house and freshened a few things up. It’s funny what a deadline will do to that list of odd household jobs.

Dad came over to lay the traditional antique tiles from Morocco in the pantry room, which I bought a few years ago from Jatana. They feel so cool underfoot, I love them.

I also added new photographic prints from my Stradbroke Island Collection from my Print Shop to the walls in the three bedrooms and down the hallway, and added some new vintage finds to the house. I can’t wait to show you when it’s all done.

Left: Their skin. I just love their arms and legs. So perfect. Right: From inside our island house.

Above: Edie and Alby playing in the shallows of the beach.

We had the best fun at the beach. We built sandcastles and played in the shallows of our favourite little island cove. The beach has a way of always feeling timeless and nostalgic.

Left: A shell detail in the sand. Right: Endless free days by the beach.

Left: Building sandcastles have become a big hit for us. Right: Mesmerised by the flow of the tide, in and out.

Above: Special moments for them both, which I’ll have framed for our collection.

Left: The joy on Alby’s face from seeing the beach cricket match. Right: The kind young boy playing cricket behind us.

Alby has become obsessed with bats and balls, aka cricket. I don’t really know where it has come from, as we aren’t particularly ‘sporty’, but he is obsessed. ‘Bat, ball’ are even the first words he says when he wakes.

While we were at the beach a game of cricket was happening behind us, which Alby was watching intently while telling me ‘Muma, bat, ball, Muma!’

Then to his absolute delight the ball was accidentally thrown in our direction and a young boy ran after it. Alby immediately toddled off towards the ball, picked it up and handed it back to the young boy.

The light was all golden and Alby was just glowing with happiness as the young boy said ‘Thank you little fella’. Day made. He couldn’t believe it. Felt like a scene from ‘Bluey’.

Above: Walking back home from the beach. Love them so much.

Above: Salty fun times at the beach on the island.

Left: My vintage underwater film camera. Right: Edie and Alby at the kitchen bench with ‘Afternoon Sun’ on the wall of the hallway.

We did a lot of indoor activities due to the tropical stormy weather and I shot a lot of film on my little Canon Aqua Snappy camera. I’ll show you when I get the rolls back.

Gosh I love the unknown charm of sending off your rolls of film.


Left: A detail of their handprints while painting. Right: Painting outside while the rain was falling.

Left: This is a popular spot where they play undercover, at their table and chairs. Right: Nothing says summer quite like slices of watermelon

Left: Freezing frangipani flowers in containers. I used to do this when I was little in the 80s. Right: Once frozen it was a nice activity to feel the textures of the ice and admire the colours of the flowers.

We painted, ate lots of local fruit, cooked lots of food and even put frangipani flowers in containers and froze them – to keep curious little minds and hands occupied.

They loved it all.

Left: Our toddler tower is so handy for both Edie and Alby to be part of the action at the kitchen bench. Here is a similar one. Right: I love her small hands.

Left: Fresh strawberries after swimming. Right: Love watching their little hands busy doing things, like playing or eating, always so busy.

Above: Along with cricket Alby loves to draw. We started a ‘Summer Scrapbook’ and drew all the things we saw each day to remember the days by.

Left: I love to bring in the tropical leaves from the backyard into vases around the house. Right: A glimpse of the living room with my extra large ‘Australian Summer’ framed print.

It was nice to just be and think about the year ahead and feel excited (and a little nervous) about the forth coming year.

Left: Old fishing floats which I collected from local island shop ‘Cloudfish Gallery’ hang on the wall of our deck. Right: Timothy O and Alby on the deck under the umbrella.

Left: Lunchtime on the deck. Right: Poke Bowls were a real treat this summer. Made fresh from ‘Seaside Straddie’. We order them takeaway and then make a meal of it as a family on the deck.

Left: Over summer I had more time to cook nutritious breakfasts and I always promise myself to not give them up when things start to get busier as the year rolls on. Right: My favourite ‘Everything Oil’. Goes on everything.

My homemade ‘Basil Oil’ should really be called ‘Everything Oil’, as I put it on everything we eat from breakfast through to dinner.

Here is the simple recipe from last years post. So easy to make, you will love it.

Left: The tropical gardens of the island house. Right: They won’t be in these highchairs forever, so I make sure to photograph these seemingly ‘nothing’ moments to remember these days by.

Left: Timothy O cutting Alby’s hair for the first time. Right: His ringlet. Chopped off.

We also gave Edie and Alby their first haircuts. My mum had been nagging me about getting their hair cut, and to be fair she had a point, their hair was looking ratty.

So we decide to do it ourselves in the backyard to make it personal and minimise tears – they didn’t cry, but me, I cried and cried and cried. They both looked so much older afterwards.

Left: Edie having her hair cut and looking a little confused by it all. Right: She looked so much older afterwards.

Left: Lunchtime island naps. Right: A glimpse out to the deck and down to the beach after the rain.

Left: The lush green outlook. Right: Story time, as a summer thunderstorm rolls in.

Then before we knew it it was time to pack up and leave the island behind and return to the mainland for Edie’s 3rd birthday.

Left: Edie’s birthday morning, in her pyjamas with hanging tinsel garland. Right: A homemade card I made her.

 I always know it’s nearing the end of summer when Edie’s birthday comes around. Oh, to be 3!

We went to Australia Zoo, the late conservations Steve Irwin’s legacy, which was absolutely incredible. We learnt so much about the animals and the environment. We can’t wait to go back for another visit.

Left: This is 3 years old… and the time just goes by so fast… Right: Almost as tall as her special birthday balloon.

Left: Edie’s mermaid cake – ‘Mermaid on the Rocks’. Right: She really couldn’t believe her mermaid cake, and that she got to keep the mermaid inside her cake.

And we had a small family party. We made it a mermaid theme party and I had a mermaid cake made by our wonderful local cafe. I usually make Edie and Alby’s birthday cakes, but the mermaid was a little beyond me and I wanted Edie to be so wowed – which she was. We have definitely hit the ‘Barbie Years’ and I’m thrilled for her.

And that was it, our Summer Days.

I hope you enjoyed seeing them, they are always so personal. Be sure to sign up to know when our Island House is available so you can come to stay.

Until then if you would like to freshen up your walls at home visit my Print Shop. Here are my ‘Best Sellers’.

Kara x

P.S: Thanks for reading. Don’t forget to use your code COLLECTOR10 to receive 10% off your print orders.


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3 Comments to “Summer Days with my Family”

  1. Absolutely love reading all of your news Kara and loved looking at your beautiful family and gorgeous Straddie home. Very happy & special memories. My ‘babies’ are now 26 & 23 years old and I look back at how much I also loved those early years. I cannot wait to come and visit your shop as I always love the treasures you have collected for your homes and always find your photographs inspirational! Congratulations!

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