This guest blob is by the brand, brand new Jess Jackson, Dee’s bestie and my fellow ginga! You may remember I blogged about her wedding way back when. So I recently asked Jess to give me some insight into how she pulled this off. (And plus all this wedding stuff looms upon Dee and me soon). And here it is…Enjoy!

On 18 August I married a pretty awesome guy.

James proposed when we were in New York in December 2010. To be honest, I was completely shocked! Sure, we’d talked about getting married, and I knew James was the guy I wanted to spend the rest of my life with…. But I guess I’d only ever thought about ‘being married’, as opposed to the act of ‘getting married’.


I was never the type of girl who sat around planning her dream wedding, but when James presented me with the opportunity to plan a wedding, I was pretty freaking excited.

We didn’t set out to intentionally have a non-traditional wedding. We just did what felt right to us, and that’s how it turned out.

Our wedding criteria was thus: nothing lame, nothing stuffy – just a whole lot of fun in an environment conducive to maxing relaxing and some serious partying.

I’m also a total control freak, so I wanted the whole thing to be DIY… Crazy! We managed to pull it off with the help of our amazing friends and family. More on that later!

So this is the story of how we planned our vintage inspired pizza party barn wedding!

The non-bridal party

I’ll kick things off by explaining that we didn’t have a traditional bridal party. There were a few reasons for this, but it was mainly because we liked the idea of our wedding being just about the two of us… I hope that doesn’t make us sound like selfish A-holes!

In place of a bridal party, we decided to involve all of our ridiculously talented friends in ways that would exhibit their incredible creativity. It worked out amazingly. Here’s a list of our suppliers (all our dear friends!):

Save the date and invitation design – Ben Breitenstein
Celebrant – Paul Voge
Cake maker – Tegan Travers
Ceremony music – Lloyd Budd and Andy Martin
Photographers – Bayleigh Vedelago and Chris Proud
Videographer – Paul Voge (multi-tasking extraordinaire!)

It meant so much to us that we were able to pull together pretty much an entire wedding with just our network of friends. Amazing!

The venue

Kenilworth Homestead was the first and only venue that James and I looked at. We knew straight away that it was perfect.

After a few trips to the venue, our plans really started to take shape. The barn was to be the focus of the wedding. With two distinct areas, a huge fireplace, and plenty of space for dancing… It was perfect.



We decided we would use the big tree next to the barn as the focal point for the ceremony, and pre-reception drinks would be held on the lawn in front of the barn. We figured this was the best use of the space, and would allow the whole day to flow nicely.



Please refer to the barn floorplan below for further illustration. (This floorplan was my pride and joy in the wedding planning process… It’s to scale!)


The greatest part about the venue was that there was accommodation on site for over 100 guests! We offered free accommodation to all of our guests, and to our delight, most of them accepted! I drew and printed maps of the venue and individually tagged them for each person staying the night… On the day of the wedding, we had a ‘self-serve’ check-in area set up, with the maps displayed in alphabetical order for collection… It worked flawlessly!


The styling

Styling the venue was always going to be a mammoth task… It’s a huge space, and I’d seen photos on their Facebook page of weddings that had tried and failed to achieve that worn-in rustic barn feel. In order for it to work, the space needs to be filled well.

My ‘wedding vision’ ended up driving James and my parents crazy… I was so particular about what I wanted and how things should look, that it made the acquisition of decorations a nightmare. I wanted nothing swirly, nothing that screamed “love” (when trying to explain this to my dad one day, I told him it was because “love is gay”), nothing that looked remotely modern, and everything within a neutral, earthy colour palette. Lots of wood and glass. White flowers only, with lots of greenery. This = wedding vision.

I think it’s super important to decide on a wedding vision early and champion it throughout the whole process. Everyone involved needs to be on board with wedding vision!

Our friend Paul gave us a piece of advice that proved to be invaluable in the styling process – whatever you’re doing, do it big. And so we did.

After a year of collecting and crafting, our styling inventory contained:

800m of fairy lights
70m of handmade bunting
12 couches
5 coffee tables
5 floor lamps
2 sideboards
6 A-frame chalk boards
1 bolt of hessian
~50 assorted vases
100+ glass jars
100m of twine
1 custom stamp
100 mix CDs as wedding favours (branded with our custom stamp)
150 lolly bags for the candy bar (also branded with our custom stamp)
A whole lot of confetti
+ other miscellany



Plus, we needed a few feature items. We went with three cardboard deer heads for the barn (from Cardboard Safari), and a giant red wooden love heart for the ceremony (drawn by me, cut out by my dad, and painted by James).

My amazing dad also made us the arbour that formed the entranceway to the ceremony.

The only items we hired were the trestle tables, dry bars, Americana chairs and bar stools. And the pews for the ceremony were owned by the venue.

We bought the flowers from the Rocklea Flower Markets and made the arrangements ourselves.

The Wedding Dream Team

With so much STUFF, we needed some serious help to a) transport everything to the venue, and b) set everything up!

And so, The Wedding Dream Team was born:

Jess Jackson (nee Kearney) – bride, director and visionary
James Jackson – groom, lighting expert and sound technician
Judy Kearney – mother of the bride, chief style consultant and voice of reason
Steve Kearney – father of the bride, executive producer and slideshow guy
Dee Spink – pseudo bridesmaid, style consultant, BFF
Jess Jardine – pseudo bridesmaid, style consultant, BFF
Andy Martin – MVP, all round awesome dude
Michael Job – MVP, all round awesome dude
Michael Kearney – uncle of the bride, licensed heavy vehicle driver

The Wedding Dream Team assembled at my parents’ house at 8am on Thursday 16 August. By noon, we had loaded a ten tonne truck, two 4WDs, 1 van, and 3 cars with all our wedding finery, and we were on the road to Kenilworth.



We spent the next two days stringing fairy lights, placing furniture, arranging flowers, hammering stakes and filling jars with candy.

It was so rewarding to see everything fall into place. I loved the two days we spent setting everything up. After a year and a half of planning, collecting and crafting, we were finally ready to get married!








The big day

When the big day arrived, I was surprisingly calm.

The morning seemed to drag a little, and by the time the ceremony came around, I was super anxious and excited.

The ceremony was my favourite part of the day. James and I wrote our own vows, and in place of a “reading” we had our two oldest friends (Ben and Dee) write and recite something anecdotal about us. It was super special.



Reception format, et al

Something I’ll note about the reception is that we didn’t have a seating plan. It worked really well to create more of a relaxed party vibe. All we did was reserve a table for us and our parents to sit at during the speeches, and the rest was a free for all!


We kicked off the reception by going straight into speeches. We wanted to get the formalities out of the way so we could all get dancing. We had five speeches, which totalled about 45 minutes, and then dinner was served.

My darling husband is nutritionally challenged. He’s seriously the most fussy person I have ever met. So what do you serve at a wedding where all the groom eats is meat and bread?… Pizza!

We hired a guy to come to the venue and make woodfired pizzas on site. We had these served to tables banquet-style, so people could help themselves.

Loaves and Fishes took care of the rest of the catering. They prepared two antipasto feasting tables for pre-reception drinks, complete with local Kenilworth cheeses and olives. They also prepared salads to accompany the pizzas, and took care of the beverage service.

Not many people stayed at their tables for dinner, which was what we had hoped would happen. We wanted people to enjoy the venue, and not be stuck at a table for the whole night.

And after dinner, the dancing started! I’m a firm believer in maximising time allocated for dancing at weddings… Very important!

The rest of the night consisted of dancing, drinking, and eating cake and candy…










All in all, a perfect day and night!


DIY weddings are GREAT fun, but a lot of hard work. For any couple out there planning a DIY wedding, I’d give this advice:

1. Decide on a wedding vision early and stick with it!
2. Take any help you can get from friends and family!
And 3. Whatever you’re doing, do it BIG!

GUEST BLOG “My Secret Phobia”

Today’s guest blog is by Els, one on my oldest friends from my Sydney days. I had no idea about this aspect of her! And you might want to put this song on while you read — although it is not quite appropriate — and Els informs me she actually loves the song, and declared it only says the word once. Anyway, here it is:

Ever wondered why Steve Jobs wore skivvies? Koumpounophobia. Button phobia. Chances are if you are not one of the 1 in 75 000 people with this affliction, you haven’t heard of this freaky, so-called phobia. I say ‘so-called’ because I am not actually afraid of buttons in any way. I just find them utterly revolting. Filthy, disgusting, gag-inducing things. Why? People, we have Velcro, we have zippers, we have black skivvies, PLEASE! No, no, sorry… . in my rational, objective mind I can admit the evidence.. that it makes no sense, that 74 999 people in my vicinity don’t think twice about wearing these commonplace everyday items, and thus I am willing to stand in my little corner and wave my little freak flag and laugh along. Ha ha. Yes, it is funny.


In fact, when the day came, in this glorious internet age, that I first tapped ‘button phobia’ into Google, I laughed long and hard. It was the hilarity of relief and recognition, as well as the inherent absurdity of it. I learnt that day that this phobia sits on a spectrum, and I am fortunate to only be mildly afflicted. I also learnt that it follows similar patterns in all sufferers. It’s a revulsion – ranging from avoidance, through gagging, and into actual nausea and vomiting. Some people don’t even want to breathe next to them. It specifically relates to plastic buttons. Metal buttons, such as those you find on jeans are usually totally acceptable. It is worse if the button is a little loose, and it is particularly GROSS (and I am honestly having trouble writing this) if someone sucks or nibbles on them. Buttons and mouths NO NO NO. People who collect buttons trouble me (sorry if that’s you). Items of clothing which have prominent buttons used purely for decorative purposes do my head in, and I will remember them for years afterwards, long after the interaction I had with the wearer has been forgotten. And, as one forum user said ‘buttons on duvets… the devil’s work!’ I need to take a little break and think happy thoughts now…

Ok. I’m good. Like I said, I am only mildly afflicted. I can physically handle the buttons on my children’s clothing, if I do it quickly. I just have to take a deep breath, let my mind go blank, and (weirdly) swallow all the saliva in my mouth. Also I can totally be around people wearing them on normal shirts. I just have a blind spot . I don’t pay them any attention, and they don’t bother me. As long as I don’t have to wear them, it’s all good. Live and let live.  Some people’s lives are actually severely restricted by their phobia, vomiting at the sight of them – you can imagine the trouble this would cause. And others have to wash their hair and skin after contact like an OCD.

After I discovered this world of fellow koumpounophobes online (some of whom can’t even type the word – they write b*@#*s, or ‘those filthy things’) I started coming out about it, working it into conversations. It makes an amusing anecdote, and it can help people with relatively normal phobias, like fear of heights, to feel a little better about themselves. I thought it was so funny that it actually had a name that I began to own it. My freaky phobia. My (then) husband was not helpful. He thought it was great fun to put them in places where I would find them, or chase me around the house with them. Not funny. Actually not so funny. One day I was sitting opposite him at the kitchen table when he began to snicker at something he was reading in the Drum Media. ‘What is it?’ I innocently asked. He shoved the paper under my nose and announced gleefully ‘Look! There’s a band called THE FUCKBUTTONS!!’  Without missing a beat I screamed, grabbed the newspaper and threw is straight out the open back door. Ugh.  All true.

No-one has yet managed to come up with a psychological explanation that made sense to me. I did not choke on a button as a young ‘un, and am otherwise relatively sane. No really. REALLY! Ah

Whatevs. Anyway maybe it’s a good thing for humanity. Maybe we have koumpounophobia to thank for touchscreens. Think about it.

And here is a shot of the Glenmore Road reuninion (Els is second left) that happened two weeks ago that I missed 😦


I just remembered I took these two photos in Manchester on my first trip to the UK for Jeb (who is a big fan of buttons) and the third one in London.


So this is by one of my super-cool ginga homegrrls. (I can’t believe she likes water so much!)


Wrecked March 2012

My name is Lara and I’m addicted to swimming.  I’m also bookish, of slight build and… a ginger.  I like cups o’ tea and romance novels. Probably not your average go-to image of an ocean swimmer.

And yet I love ocean swimming and was down right excited about taking part in a 2.4km ocean swim this past March in the crystal clear, calm, azure waters of Moreton Bay.

If you’ve never visited Moreton Island and stayed at Tangalooma – do yourself a favour and get on that!  It’s a subtropical island paradise 35km from down town Brissy.  It’s like being on the set of Fantasy Island, complete with staff in Hawaiian shirts who deliver you to your lodgings in a golf buggy! It’s excellently bizarre and a dream like setting for a nice big ocean swim.

As luck or Murphy’s Law would have it though, on the morning of the swim our beautiful Moreton Bay was less than calm and azure.  It was dark, choppy, the current we would be swimming against was strong and the course was full of “Moon” jellyfish.  Moon jellyfish aren’t deadly (unless of course you have an allergy) but they are unpleasant and the tentacles do sting a bit so I figured I’d just do my best to dodge them and wack them outta my way as required.

My “race strategy” was to hang back a bit and take it pretty slow as I had a dicky shoulder.  I was glad I did.  As I fell behind the white water of the “splash-a-ton” (my swimming buddy and I made that word up) and my visibility cleared I realised I was swimming into a “bloom” of jellyfish.

This scene from Finding Nemo gives an excellent idea of what it was like


I had to think quick – should I try to swim straight through it as fast as I could or go around the bloom, which would add time and distance but I’d suffer less pain?  I looked again at the wall of jellyfish – I had no idea how wide it was.  I had an inkling that if I tried to swim through that dense cloud of stinging jelly I’d end up like Nemo’s BFF Dory. I looked up and ahead and sure enough a group of people who had swum into the worst of the jellyfish were screaming and being rescued by the Coast Guard.

The psychological terror and physical agony was pretty evident.  Not a good look.  For some reason I thought about the $50 registration I’d paid to take part in the event and that was that – decision made.  I was going to swim around the worst of it, get outta this choppy swell and get back to having a fully awesome time thank you – no jellyfish was going to rain on my parade! So off I went, swimming out wide past the Coast Guard and doing my darndest to avoid the faceless blue blobs.

Somewhere in the final kilometre the sun came out and all of a sudden I was once again in the warm, calm, azure (but still a bit stingy) waters of Moreton Bay having a really good time!

When I crossed the finish line I was ecstatic.  I’d been in the water just over an hour and I actually ran up the sand to the finish line.  This is a less than glamorous picture of me legging it up the beach – I think my face says it all.


At the end of the race I stood around with the other entrants clasping plastic bags of ice to our jellyfish welts, munching on slices of watermelon and looking across the beautiful bay to the Glasshouse Mountains.

It doesn’t get much better than that.

Dropping stuff can be a matter of life-or-death (CO-BLOG w/ SARAH!)

Tonight I am sharing my blog duties with Sarah.


And it’s all cause I have only just realised that dropping something can actually be a matter of life-or-death.

And I am only partly talking about the time I accidentally saved someone’s life. See this guy walking a few steps in front of me one time on Albert Street in the city suddenly dropped a piece of paper. And so after I had picked it up and chased the dude down and handed it back, he said quite convincingly, “Wow. You saved my life.” I like to think there was some perfectly explainable, but incredibly complex reason as to why that humble piece of paper was so vitally important.

But personally the closest I can think of where dropping something was so meaningful was at a massively crowded intersection in Brisbane just as everyone was going home. I was standing right on the curb waiting for the green man and then decided to fiddle with my iPod. And this was when iPods were still pretty brand new, very expensive and on that cusp of exploding in popularity and omnipresence. And then in a quite undignified fumble it suddenly lost the traction of my grasp and fell, smashing on the bitumen and bouncing across the road in an evil dance. I chased after and managed to quickly recover it just before it got too enamoured with this brand new activity. And I was so embarrassed I didn’t even inspect the damage – I just put it back in my pocket and tried to look as best as I could like this was no big deal — but I was weeping inside. And to make matters worse I could literally spidey-sense the snooty smirks all around. “Ha! Suck shit hipster,” they were all collectively thinking.


But this was nothing compared to something that happened to one of my good friends, Sarah, who had such an epic dropping-stuff-fail — that it almost killed her.

And I’ll let her outline the story.

It was one of those moments that moves in slow motion and you instantly regret…

It was Easter Thursday. I had been working late and by the time I managed to get dressed and head over to the party, I was well behind the group on the drunkness scales. Feeling a little unsure of myself I figured what better way to assimilate with a bunch of 20 year old drunks than to prove your youthfulness by downing a bottle of champagne and half a bottle of wine (the good stuff mind you, not the passion pop variety) in the time it took for iTunes to play the entirety of Taio Cruz’s Rokstarr?

With newfound confidence to boot, I strutted my stuff as I entered the living room where the party had shifted, when my killer high heels caught the edge of the rug. With a glass of wine in hand, I attempted to save myself on the nearby armrest of a couch. Having over estimated the length of arms, I missed the couch, and landed full weight on my right wrist. The wine glass hit the ground first, smashing into sharp shards of glass as my hand followed suit. 

Blood was squirting out of my arm. I laid on the floor by the couch (an object so close to being my saviour, if only I had the long arms of a model), holding my wrist with all my might to stop the bleeding. It’s all a blur really, perhaps blocked from my memory. The hour wait for the ambulance was a little terrifying in retrospect, thank goodness I was in shock, as friends argued whether to wait it out or chuck me in the back of the cab and head for the hospital (but really, what cabbie in their right mind would drive me?). 

One artery, one nerve and three tendons later, and all is well that ends well… I got to end my night with a party of one, in a morphine induced state of bliss, minus the 20 year olds. 


I tried to capture how hideous this scar looked IRL – but kinda failed. If you scroll down to the end you will see Sarah’s pics. Very graphic – just a warning!

Holy shit huh?

Her recovery is still not exactly secure either. She has months and months and months of waiting before she knows if she’ll be anything like normal again. Poor Sez.

And this has made me even more scared of glass. Ever since I was young and some kid at a sleep-over convinced me that he “knew” someone who got this “glass splinter” (as opposed to a wood splinter). And he explained, quite late at night,  perhaps with just a torch to light up his face – that that shard of glass had somehow entered the blood stream and then gradually worked it’s way into this person’s heart — and with every heartbeat it had stabbed away until the person was dead.

And so ever since I have been petrified of broken glass. Anytime I break glass I get ridiculously anal and vacuum the shit out of the affected area. When I left home for the first time, with the little money I had, I specifically budgeted for a kick-ass vacuum cleaner.

And to close I want to say something quite disgusting. Just cause it’s my blog. Deal with it.

One of the worst things you can drop – well apart from anything that could eventually kill you – is a toilet roll in the actual toilet-bowl right after you have done a number 2. And to somewhat explain I will say this: you have done your business, you look back triumphant, you go to grab a fist full of paper and you discover the roll is empty. Then you grab a new roll and attempt a change (just ’cause you are a fine household citizen) but your fingers fail and the brand new roll goes suicidal into the bowl. What you are left with is a very wet roll of sticky, stinky poo-flavoured paper that suddenly has gigantism. Totally.