Sunday, 31 January 2010


A knock on the door was all it took to seal the fate of the loquat tree.

Our neighbour (not Boo, our other neighbour) had asked us to do something about our loquat tree just after Christmas. It borders our common fence line and the tree had grown rather unruly.

The tree's branches hung over quite substantially onto the neighbour's property, blocking her gutters. It was also too close for comfort to our house, dwarfing it even. Truthfully, it would suit us just as well to have the tree removed completely.

I was planning to get quotes but was putting it off because I knew it was going to blow out the money put aside for groovy light fittings...

Yesterday, some enterprising tree loppers were in the area on another job and were door knocking our street to see if there were any trees which needed lopping.

"Well, yes. We do have a tree you can look at," I offered.

I hate organising quotes for work done around the house - the easier the process, the better, I say. The price TJ the tree lopper quoted was fair and with a hand-shake it was a deal.

Two and a half hours later with the assistance of five Samoan tree loppers and a 10 litre water cooler esky full of red cordial, the tree was no longer.

Now, we can see more sky.

p.s. We are planning to replace the loquat with a suitable native.

Saturday, 30 January 2010

Colourful collection

I have a morbid confession.

When elderly people in our acquaintance die or are moved along to the nursing home and their relatives don't know what to do with the ugly* colourful art glass, my name is instantly suggested.

Interestingly, when dividing up the Waterford or Lalique, my name never comes up...

Yes, I am the beneficiary of other people's misfortune. It is a terrible way to acquire one's collection of art glass vases.

Here are just some of the pieces obtained in this way:

Green and amber rippled art glass. It gives off the most striking reflection and is very heavy. I'm not sure whether it is English, Japanese or Italian.

Small Anchor Hocking ruby red bud vases. Really cute with fresh geraniums. I've got two of these.

Mint green and white milk glass vase. Unusually ugly, therefore a sentimental favourite

Orange and cream urn. The boys are fond of its orangeness

My most favourite piece is the ruby red soda glass vase designed by Geoffrey Baxter for Whitefriars in the 1960s. The soda glass series was based on light fitting shapes. It still has the orginal price of $9.95 from Myer on the bottom of it.

They are an eclectic mix but I like them all because they are so unusual in shape, colour and design. Not only do they add easy colour to the home, they are also beautifully made.

People shouldn't be so eager to get rid of it.

*Please note: I do not consider any of the art glass to be ugly. Really.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Retro telephone table part II and a nice mention

I'm glad I consulted my fellow bloggers regarding Jason's family heirloom - the retro telephone table. I wasn't actually planning to do all that much with it, but seriously, your enthusiastic responses spurred me on.

Mind you, I didn't exactly follow any of your advice, but the fact you commented was enough to breathe some funkilicious life back into this sad piece of furniture.

I started by sanding down the little bugger because it was covered in a very thin layer of flat brown lacquer. very fashionable in 1967.

Fortunately the base is a lovely solid teak. And the boxy top part still had the teak veneer intact minus a couple of small nicks.

After a good dust down, I applied a thin coat of oil based Estapol. After allowing it to dry for the required eight hours, I sanded it lightly and applied a second coat.

When it was dry, I sanded it very lightly and applied some natural teak oil (Scandinavian) with a soft rag to make it gleam and bring out the natural grain in the teak.

Yesterday, while the table was drying (and the rest of Australia was barbecuing) I quickly ducked into Spotlight to see if I could find a suitable fabric to cover the old cream vinyl seat. I didn't exactly want to break the bank for Jason's heirloom - something affordable would do the trick.

For $12.50, I bought half a metre of this turquoise and brown patterned material. It has a mid century vibe to it and I like the vibrant colour against the white walls.

I've just glued it down for now and will have it stapled properly when I borrow a friend's staple gun.

Retro telephone table with ruby red Whitefriars soda vase

It is a definite improvement from before. I hope you are not too disappointed that I didn't heed your advice, but it was certainly helpful in that I couldn't leave that brown paint (and lazy me would've been inclined to do so).

I will end up using Jason's Nana's telephone table as a quirky lamp table in the lounge room...when I get a lamp...

On another topic, Melbourne blogger, Helen Webberley from ART and ARCHITECTURE, mainly wrote a blog post on Queenslander homes with some references and links to Fun and VJs. (Helen's blog topics are many and varied - from a 1660s cook book to the history of beach huts in Australia and Britain - making it an interesting read.)

Fun and VJs is a very small blog, so when it gets a mention elsewhere in blogland it does not go unnoticed.

It is very, very flattering and I just wanted to share the love.

Monday, 25 January 2010

Retro telephone table

What does one do with an old telephone table? We were given the table when Jason's Nana moved last year and we have been at a loss as to what to do with it.

We brought it up from downstairs where it has been languishing. It's now in the lounge room considerately hiding some TV cords for us.

It is cute and it certainly fits in with the rest of our furniture. The cream vinyl upholstered seat is looking pretty tired but I'd like to recover it with something different.

Any suggestions?

Friday, 22 January 2010

Another thing ticked off the list

Our lounge room walls and ceiling are completely painted. Woo hoo!

A Marquesan tiki on antique Art Deco table which belonged to Jason's Nana 

We are just finishing off the french doors and frames in a gloss white. This is the really tricky part. We are never really happy with the results. Is there an easier way to get a perfect finish?

Jason also wall mounted our TV flush against one wall and last night put a floating shelf directly beneath for the DVD player (we don't have any other electronics. Gasp!).

I'm not sure I'm a big fan of this - it reminds me of a doctor's surgery waiting room...It does however keep the TV from the clutches of 19 month old Number 3 son who has octopus arms.

1960s Japanese art glass bowl teamed with Georg Jensen container and sea shell

We are really pleased with the light the white walls have given us in this previously dark and dingy lounge room.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

The alternative light sources

This is a half-hearted attempt at finding budget light fittings. I am despondent because the lights I admire are too expensive - we have other needs to squander our cash on right at this moment (like bread and milk).

The Jeremy Cole Aloe light I wrote about yesterday is definitely in excess of what I am comfortable with in terms of paying for a light. Hmmm...let's just say that if there was a 50% off sale, we still wouldn't be able to afford the smallest sized one.

The fact it is unattainable makes me desire the Aloe light all the more. Damn you, Aloe! You mark my words, you shall be mine, perhaps not today or this year, but in 10 years time when your triffidness is tired and passé. When you are donated to Vinnies or listed on ebay, you shall be mine for the fraction of your real worth! (maniacal laughter).

On the up-side, the Coral light by David Trubridge is an absolute steal comparatively. At a sixth of the price of the Aloe, it gets the thumbs up. (Coral, Aloe...New Zealand designers must share an affinity with nature?) And a nice person called Eve left some good first-hand feedback about it, so I'm sold.

Here are some other realistically priced lights which caught my eye:

This Holmegaard glass fitting with teak cap was on ebay. Cute!

This one is from a chain store. Nice, modernist  shape.

 Same chain store. Jury is out on this one but it does remind me of the Moooi random light

This is from IKEA and is called the Glansa

I also had a look at the knock-off online shops, but I just don't know about this whole replica thing...Chain store lighting generally carry re-invented designer stuff as well. I'd prefer to buy old stuff which presents the issue of waiting and waiting for something that may never crop up.

Anyway, it pays to have an open mind. I'll let you know how I get on with the search for the ultimate light.

Monday, 18 January 2010

Simply illuminating

Our eyes are peeled for different light fixtures for both the front entry and lounge room.

Let me refresh your memory and show you what is there now:

 Possibly the original light fixture in the lounge room. Painted orange shell.  I find the light it casts depressing.

 Front entry light: plastic, green and conical. Hmmm or is that comical?

This is what I have been looking at for design inspiration:

Coral light by David Trubridge

I would love this to hang in our front entry. I love the simplicity of the design. The light that it will cast will suit the shadowy nature of our latticed entry.

Jeremy Cole's Aloe Blossom

The concept of a blossoming light is breathtaking as well as sculpturally beautiful.

Interestingly, both contemporary lights are designed by very talented New Zealanders. We are just getting a price for both lights to see if they even remotely fit into our non-existant budget. I'm guessing the Aloe will be out of reach...

I am also partial to a spot of Danish:

Poul Henningsen PH5 Lamp

A contender for the lounge room.

Utzon lamp designed by Jorn Utzon

This is a possibility for the front entry.

I haven't looked at the chain store light fittings just yet. No doubt they will be more affordable. I'm also checking out ebay and the op shops just in case there is something that takes my fancy.

I'll post my selection from the budget friendly range soon.

Saturday, 16 January 2010

The walls speak

Sorry, this is not a paranormal post about Zoila - just a progress report about our lounge room.

There is a short bit of skirting board which is different to the rest of the boards in the lounge room. We didn't pick up on it straight away. It is very similar to what is already there, so you don't instantly notice it.

The odd one out

What the profile should be

After we became aware, it taunted us defiantly, "Look at me! Nah, nah, ne-nah-nah." The insolence!

This morning it was payback time. Jason ripped it off the wall and discarded it on the pile of building detritus he is accumulating.

Jason pulling off the offending board

I always get a bit excited when things get taken down or ripped off walls. I always imagine what we might find, like gold dubloons or gemstones hidden under the boards. Stupidly hopeful, eh?

Well, there were three reasonable sized holes on the VJ walls (it looks like borers had had a feast at one stage?) hiding behind the skirting board. Perhaps the skirting board had been replaced with the incorrect profile. It would be easy enough to make that mistake and easy enough just to nail it on anyway. Who would care? (but OCD us)

From the holes in the VJs, all this dust and other rubbish spilt out onto the floor; disgusting but interesting.

When Jason swept it up, I saw there were scraps of torn newspaper in the dust pan. I fossicked like I was on an archaeological dig, carefully unfolding the bits and pieces I retrieved.

Scrapping through the rubbish

It appears the newspaper is the now-defunct Brisbane daily The Telegraph. Unfortunately, the paper is just torn yellowed scraps but it did give me one piece of important information from the classified ads: 1935 Oldsmobile, newly ducoed (?).

I know I am clutching at straws, but it gives me an approximate year of when that particular board was replaced and clearer information about when the Sow's Ear was built. When the walls speak, I listen.

The final walls being prepped for painting

I'm keeping the scraps of newspaper to put it in the house dossier. Also, I'm holding off on the house research at the library until the bigger boys are back at school.

Three kids and archival research don't mix.

Thursday, 14 January 2010


Painting the lounge room is a slow, slow process. And white is not a satisfying colour to paint, especially if you do two coats and undercoat. Colour is always more fun (the blondes of the paint world!).

Jason is extremely precise with his painting. He says he hates using a roller on the VJ walls and prefers using a brush - ensuring the paint is evenly distributed within the grooves.

Slapdash he is not. I suspect undiagnosed OCD is closer to the truth...

Last night, he completed the second wall. Already, it has given us instant light; allowing us to see clearly through the custard-coloured haze which now occupies only half of the lounge room.

Two walls, one set of French doors, one panelled door and ceiling to go and then install a new light fitting, rehang art, solve our indiscrete TV problem...a long arduous process, done with loving meticulous attention.

Hope you don't get bored with these lounge room posts.

Now when I have my second morning coffee, I can gaze contentedly at the continuous white walls.

Jason painting late last night. He really does love this house!

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Award acceptance

A cute 60s jar which I adore

Okay. I'm very slack. I received a Kreativ Blogger award last October from 5 minutes just for me and then promptly forgot to do what was required of me. Then last week I got another award  (A Fabulous Sugar Doll Blogger Award) from Dreaming in Pink with Roses which reminded me of my previous negligence...

And getting the awards really did make my day  -  they are from two of the sweetest bloggers I read.

My only problem is that I am too shy to give these awards to other bloggers (despite being a serial commenter) and the bloggers I want to give the awards to were already sent the award by the person who nominated me!! Far too incestuous.

So, here is my half-arsed attempt at accepting my awards:

Kreative Blogger Award:
1.Thank the person(s) who has given me the award - Check
2. Copy the logo and place it on my blog - I'll pass on that
3 Link to the person who has nominated me for the award - Check
4 Name 7 things about myself that people might find interesting

 1. I have an arch enemy
 2. I studied Journalism and French at University
 3. I am half Tahitian and half Italian
 4. I have three elder brothers, no sisters
 5. I suck at proofing my own writing
 6. I have a bad habit of not finishing my sentences, mid -speech. Or is that early dementia?
 7. I used to be in the Spilt Enz fan club - Frenz of the Enz.

5 Nominate 7 Kreativ Bloggers - just go to my blog list - if you are on the list, it means you rock.
6 Post links to the 7 blogs I nominate. Check
7 Leave a comment on each of the blogs to let them know they've been nominated.... -if you read me, you don't need me tell you.
The Fabulous Sugar Doll Blogger Award—Rules:

1. Post the AWARD. Pass
2. Don't forget to mention the person who gave you the AWARD. Check
3. Tag and distribute the AWARD to 10 Fabulous Sugar Dolls. Read my response to #5 above
4. Write 10 fabulous things about yourself that you want to share with other Fabulous Sugar Dolls.

I'm only going to do three because you can check the other seven above:

8. I play chess to win (therefore I don't play with anyone older than five four)
9. I can draw portraits
10. I believe I will be rich and famous one day (I've only realised it won't be through blogging).

5. Don’t forget to notify the Fabulous Sugar Dolls about their AWARD and post a link to their blog. Again, you make the bloglist, you rock!

But in all seriousness, thank you Natasha and Teresa for the awards. I am so happy that you thought of me, but even happier that you read my blog. Cheers!

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Searching for paranormal Zoila

Having established the Stables family (click to read more) had owned the Sow's Ear from 1927 to 1988, I thought it would be interesting to Google their names - to see if there was anything ever witten about them and shed some light about the Sow's Ear.

I actually didn't think it would be a successful experiment... I began with Zoila because in 1920's Brisbane her name would have been highly unusual. It is a Spanish name and it means life.

Bingo. Six separate entries existed for Zoila Ceferina Mabel Stables. Who would've thought?

The entry below was found in a Catalog of Copyright Entries Part 1, 1936, Library of Congress, Copyright Office, United States Dept. of the Treasury P.1418.

It appears she owned the copyright to a  book called Tare Harvest by Eleanor Peters.

I also discovered she attended The University of Queensland in the mid 20s and the she was awarded a Bachelor of Arts. She studied English, French and Logic. This was in a day when women were a minority at the University.

Perhaps the most revelaing thing about the Google search is that she is quoted and used as a case study in a book regarding psychic communication. She experienced astral projection or out-of-body-experience!

"My first projection was in my early teens..."( Crookall, R.,The Study and Practice of Astral Projection, Citadel Press, 1977 p.74.)

Screen print of cover from

Zoila gets more fascinating by the minute.

Now, this is by no means an exhaustive history of Zoila Stables - just a few stolen moments on a computer search engine from the comfort of my own home. I haven't really tried to find out about Florence or Stanley yet, because Zoila is so damn interesting.

Although I still haven't found out much about the house, it is a good beginning.

Jason reckons I should invest in a ouija board (à la Prince Charles) and consult with Zoila personally about the history of the house. What do you reckon?

Saturday, 9 January 2010

three seven

An old screen print finally framed

Blue Envelopment 1975 - Veda Arrowsmith

Tuimata written by my great-grandfather Bjarne Kroepelien (1890 -1966). It was tanslated from Norwegian to French in 2009.

Tuimata was originally published in Norway in 1944. I received this new edition in the post a few days ago from relatives overseas

clean up after drinks and h'or d'oeuvres with some lovely friends and

Jason is kindly doing the dishes this morning

the prospect of a nice day with all my boys.

Aging is good.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Renovating refugees

When Jason starts a job around the Sow's Ear, we (the boys and I) have taken to fleeing the house for the day.

We did that on Sunday after the impromptu bout of renovating. With no warning, we descended upon my Mum (lucky her). We like to avoid that Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde thing Jason has going on when he picks up a hammer.

Unfortunately, the timing of Jason's efforts was off. He started back at work this week, so it will be slower going - painting and prepping one VJ wall at a time. It is not ideal but at least it's easier with kids.

When we got back on Sunday evening, Jason had prepped two walls for painting and had undercoated one wall.

One wall nearly finished. Painting is being done in the evening when Number 3 son is asleep. It is the only way with an 18 month old.

Removing the picture rails has made a big difference to the room - giving the illusion of more height.

It will look great when finished.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010


I discovered something about our house yesterday afternoon...

We are not entirely sure when the Sow's Ear was built. We've pin-pointed it to perhaps the mid 30s. Some of our friends who are architects and builders all seem to agree the house is pre-WWII, but built sometime in the 1930s.

Although that should be satisfactory enough, I am curious to find more detailed information.

The barrel bolt incident last week has made me mindful of our renovations to the Sow's Ear. Our renovation needs to be respectful to not only the style of architecture but also sympathetic to its humble history. Knowing the history of our home can only make our renovation decisions slightly more informed.

(Brisbane's architectural history had been under valued by local and state authorities of the past - some would argue that it still is under valued. It was very nearly destroyed in the 1980s with the outrageous demolition of important cultural buildings and the removal of about 1000 Queenslander homes per year. Here is an interesting post about the demolition of Cloudland from the blog - Your Brisbane Past and Present.)

Anyway, there is a fabulous document, produced by the Brisbane City Council, for helping residents research the history of their house - Your house has a history: keys to unlocking its past. It includes a real case study of a Queenslander home which I think is a cool chronicle to have as a homeowner - regardless of the age of your home.

I also spoke to a friend who is a Heritage Architect for the Queensland Government who gave me a few extra hints to guide my research.

With this education, I called the Titles Office to arrange an historical title search. Although it didn't give me an exact date, it did give me details regarding the original subdivision of the land and when mortgages were taken out on the property.

I did a quick google search and it appears that Herbert also held quite a few mineral leases between 1871 and 1940

Our parcel of land was part of a subdivision in 1888 by Herbert Alfred Watson. The next time it changed hands was in 1927. It was transferred to two spinsters (Zoila Ceferina Mabel Stables and Florence Mary Ethel Stables) and a man (Stanley Day Stables) who were joint tenants in common. The Title also shows that the Stables purchased the block next door (not Boo's block the one on the otherside) in 1931.

Interesting that women were advertised as spinsters - how times have changed. And what about the bloke?

They presumably built this house on the vacant block (but I don't know that for sure). The property was to remain in the family for over 60 years until Stanley died in 1988. The Certificate of Title tells me that Florence did not remain a spinster and was married in 1933 to Alan Lucy. She died in 1971. No word as to what happened to spinster Zoila.

The property has changed hands three times since Stanley's death - 1990, 2004 and finally 2009, when Jason and I bought the property.

The information we have gives us no details about the house, but at least we know it definitely does not pre-date 1927.

My next port of call is to make an appointment with Brisbane City Council Archives to research their building records to see what else I can uncover about this Sow's Ear. I need to know more.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Unofficial start on the lounge room

This morning we were sitting in the lounge room casually having a second coffee. From where I was sitting I could see the lovely white walls of our new kitchen and absent mindedly commented how nice it would be when the lounge room was fixed up.

Transition from lounge room to kitchen - the view from my seat (this shot was taken in October 2009)

Before I knew it, Jason whipped out his chisel and hammer and he started demolishing one of the architraves. Off came the picture rails on the left wall.

"Whad'ya doing?" I asked, wondering what was in his coffee to create such a burst of activity.

"Well, d'ya want me to do the work or not?" demanded Jason.

"Yeah, but not right this minute...once you start it, you have to finish it..."

"Nag if I don't. Nag when I do. Can't win!" he muttered under his breath.

Me thinketh he will be rather sensitive in the year 2010.

Removing the picture rails - they are not original nor are they straight. The architraves where not properly mitred at the corners either.

Using a heat gun  (thanks to generosity of Mr Rooney) to strip the paint off the repaired architraves.
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