Wednesday, 30 June 2010

West German Pottery

Retro collection of West German Pottery 

It seems like all the groovy people collect West German Pottery. You know who you are if you are reading this.

And now I am groovy too. An instant collection from ebay for $15. They are now sitting in all their textured glory on an old Ranleigh tray in the dining room, but they will move around when we ever get around  finish renovating the sun room.

On that front, we are still waiting for Carlo the Electrician to come back to complete the rewiring in this room - his apprentice is back in college and we may not see them for a few weeks yet. At least it means more time to scout around for lights, which is quite depressing.

Chain store lighting is a challenge. They don't seem to have what I like as most of  it went out of fashion at least 30 years ago.

Anyway. I saw this light which took my fancy. Perhaps for the master bedroom.

Poppy Decke/Wand
Image from here

It looks like something alive, especially with its 15 moveable arms that open when the light is switched on. I think it will be too expensive. I might email the store and get a price so I can rule it out.

My guess is that it is in the $1500 mark. Am I in the ball park? Or way off? Who knows? What do you think? 

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

James the bookend

James the bookend in orange by Black + Blum

My dream of becoming the Angelina Jolie of Blogtopia is almost a reality - our "rainbow family" of little faux people is expanding at a rapid rate.

We have red Jack coat hook, black Jill coat hook and now orange James bookend. It is a remorseless search but I think I'd like a pink or purple little faux person next. What function they will serve is a wild guess.

Monday, 28 June 2010

Rancho Relaxo

I channeled Marge Simpson and spent the weekend at Rancho Relaxo. Well, it wasn't called that but it had the same effect. It was actually a luxury retreat with private day spa in beautiful Byron Bay. 

A couple of good friends organised the weekend away and it was so much fun. A very self-indulgent thing to do especially while Jason stayed home to look after the three boys...but sometimes a girl needs a break. 

In my case this break was the first one without children since 2001.  I don't know why I never did this before? A fabulous chilled way to start the June/July school holidays.

The highlight was definitely the 90 minute back massage and facial in the timber hut outside our villa. Anymore relaxed and I could be dead!

Byron Bay and where we stayed.
images from here

The courtyard - the decor was Balinese inspired. Cedar windows and shutters and teak furniture featured heavily.

One of the three rooms in the beach villa

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Home advice for Julia

My day was a complete waste, sitting in front of ABC TV's coverage of today's brutal leadership spill which led to Julia Gillard becoming Prime Minister. It's true what they say in politics - a lot can happen in 24 hours!

Well, I pondered on Julia and her rise to the top job. Then I wondered about where she lives and the sort of home Australia's first female PM would own. It must be really lovely, stylish...

Prime Minister Julia Gillard's Altona home. 
image from here

That's not what I was expecting. She must live in the most nondescript house (with bullet-proof glass) in all of Australia.

And her kitchen...

This image is from 2005 and is from here

Oh Julia. I know you're busy but you need to stop running the country for a moment or two and follow a few house and garden blogs.

The blogging community will help transform your place into something extremely stylish.

If you read blogs you would know you were ahead of your time with the turquoise cabinets. It is very fashionable. Turquoise is the colour of 2010 or was that 2009?

From the image above, I believe you are a French Provencal enthusiast with a love of colour. Anna Spiro could be the designer to tweak this for you.

I can pop around when parliament is not sitting and help you pull up the vinyl from the floor. There's sure to be pristine timber waiting to be polished. Jason could chip in with painting your walls too.

Jane from My Pear Tree House and Amanda from Small Acorns can take you decor shopping since they both have impeccable taste and Sarah B from Molly's Maison will help plant beautiful iceberg roses and give you some bulbs to spruce up your front yard.

Let's see....I'll get Sandy from Paint Me White to fly down with her compressor to spray paint your Provencal style kitchen table. Perhaps French Grey?

And I know Katherine from the old boathouse will have some great vintage items to adorn your turquoise cabinets.

Mise from Pretty Far West can give you lifestyle advice from an Irish perspective and advise you on the many ways to display Bonne Maman jars.

You'll be amazed what a difference this will make to your life. Transforming your country will be a cinch after transforming your home.

Go on. It's good publicity. Vogue Australia will want an exclusive of your before and afters.

And if you become a follower of my blog, not only will I vote for you, I'll make sure you get an extra entry in my next giveaway.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Earth wire to planet VJ

Earth wires

Out of the blue, late yesterday afternoon, Carlo the Electrician called.

"Do you still want me to fix up your earth?"

"I sure do."

"Ok. I'll be around tomorrow. Is 7am ok? We should be there most of the day and I'll have a couple of guys who'll be helping," said Carlo.

"No problems," I casually drawled.

"Sh*t!" I sighed when I hung up the phone.

Carlo, my dear, you must give a woman more than 15 hours notice to mentally prepare for such a visit. But I was hardly going to tell him no, was I?

A few weeks ago, Carlo came over to hang a chandelier for me. It was then we discovered there was no earth for all our lighting, apart from the new lights in our kitchen.

Most houses our vintage have no earth wires, but they usually get rewired along the ownership chain. We assumed our house had been rewired. I don't know why we thought that? Denial. Perhaps we weren't prepared to put our hands into our empty pockets again to pay for something as invisible as electrical wiring....?

Anyway my grand plans of buying more light fittings for the bedrooms never became a reality. One light is a pretty poor effort. Damn you, procrastination!

As promised, Carlo rocked up bright and early with Warwick and Robert the Apprentice who were going to do most of the work. This morning they managed to lay all the earth cable in the main part of the house which is great.

Coral light being earthed

The big problem was it started to drizzle continuously throughout the morning. The boys had to leave the sunroom for another time because to access the electrical wiring in that part of the house, they have to take off the roof. It wasn't going to happen today. And showers are predicted tomorrow.

They were very tidy workers. They even wiped the dirty marks from the fixtures and ceiling.

This is probably a blessing in disguise because now I can try to source some new light fittings rather than dreaming. I reckon I have some time up my sleeve before Carlo comes back...hopefully.

Retro mod light. It casts a gorgeous light in this otherwise dingy room.

On the plus side Number 1 son has the new mod light in his room which he dislikes.

Ha! I told him, as CEO of, "It'll grow on you."

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Green Bin

I need to get out more because I get excited about things like the new Green Wheelie Bin which I have just ordered from my local city council. And I really shouldn't, should I?

It's a new fortnightly garbage service offered by the Brisbane City Council to recycle your green waste. (Yeah, I might have to start a new hobby).

I don't know about you but whenever Jason and I work in the garden we generate mountainous piles of green waste which we have to cart off to the dump.

We don't own a ute or a trailer, so it is just a pain. We generally try to put it in our normal garbage bin each week or pay for someone to cart it away. We do have a compost bin but there is only so much that it can take.

This service is perfect for us. You can put lawn clippings, prunings, weeds and leaves into the bin and then it is carted away to make compost. Wonderfully eco and more importantly less work for us!

Unfortunately, it is not free. There is an initial set up fee of about $30 and then a quarterly charge of about $16 on your rates bill and you are committed for a minimum of 12 months.

Green Bin image from here

The service is probably not for everyone but it is still cheaper than hiring a green mini-skip or renting a trailer for a day, which we have done in the past.

The Green Bin will be delivered from next month and collection will start in September for our area - perfectly timed for spring.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Just an update on things

This is a post about a few different things.

Firstly, Remodelaholic have featured our lounge room "Before and After" on their site today. Yay! Click here if you'd like to see it again.

Secondly, I found out our house was not chosen for the TV commercial I mentioned a few weeks ago. Boo Hoo! Apparently a Queenslander house in Ipswich was chosen. I kind of expected as much because they were looking for a very large lounge room with VJ (vertical join) walls. Our lounge room is not terribly large...However, we are still on the books for Queensland Film Locations, if ever another opportunity crops up.

Thirdly, I'd like to say thanks to Anna from Cornflake for the Buyster gift voucher I won through her giveaway. Yay! Her blog is about achieving chic style whilst being mindful of your budget - so very important in these post-GFC times. It's good to be thrifty when you can.

Anyway, I was thrilled to bits to have won. Thanks Anna!!

It was a hard decision to chose something from the many things sold at Buyster, but you'll all laugh at my final choice...

He's called James and hopefully he will arrive this week to adorn our bookshelf.

James the Bookend designed by Black + Blum

He'll be able to play with Jack and Jill who are in the front entry. It can never be said that we discriminate against little faux people around here.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

My style in one picture

I'm joining the action which is on the blog From the Right Bank. Ally's challenged her readers to define their style in one picture. And this is it.

image from here

There are no surprises here for those who have been reading my blog for a while.

I have modernist leanings which is reflected in my choice of decor for my home. (Unfortunately limited by money and restricted by the older timber and tin style home we own. But I'm trying hard despite all this!)

So why this room? Elegant slim line furniture, a sprinkling of art glass, wall mounted sideboard, clean uncluttered lines and natural light. It has many elements I love.

I would perhaps try to inject my own personality into this room with quirkier lamps and carefully selected objects d'art and a sublime Ray Crooke painting (in my dreams). But definitely with a focus that less is more.

Ray Crooke

Islanders c.1975
oil on canvas
image from here

Thanks Ally for hosting this challenge!

Thursday, 17 June 2010

The perfect outdoor chair

That is my quest.

We are down to our last three timber director's chairs on the deck. We used to have eight. The canvas fabric is perishing before our very eyes. (I was heavy-handed with a bottle of bleach a few years ago ...)

It has even gotten to the stage where our BBQ invitation list is dwindling in direct proportion to the demise of each chair.

We now only BBQ with one extra adult - the newly separated or constantly single. It doesn't make for a jovial BBQ atmosphere.

So, the perfect outdoor chair. Does it exist?

My criteria:
  1. must be able to endure damp weather and harsh afternoon sun on a covered deck
  2. cannot be too heavy or large
  3. cannot be padded
  4. look good (according to me)

Here are some contenders on my list:

Calligaris Hero-chair
image courtesy from here

 Italian - with leanings towards Swiss cheese.

Jenny cafe chair
Image courtesy from here

Very plain and also the cheapest on my list. The cafe up the road has something similar and they were very likeable in person.

IKEA urban chair
image from here

I've heard these urban chairs are not comfortable or is that a malicious rumour?

Ebay - Vintage tulip style fibre glass chairs

 Not sure who made these chairs but I have friends who have a similar set and they look fantastic on their deck.

Sebel Integra
Image from here

I like vintage Sebel chairs but will my deck look like a pub's beer garden. Hmmm...I could live with that anology if the beer is low carb and cold enough...

What do you have as outdoor dining chairs? I'm very interested because I don't like to reinvent the wheel.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Mod light

retro mod light

Here is the light which I purchased last week at the architectural salvage shop. It was worthy of a photograph this morning after it was cleaned - it was covered in a thick layer of dust.  

I don't know what vintage it is exactly. Maybe 70s? You have to love the copper anodised parts. Anyway, it has the right "look" for the house and is destined for one of the boys' rooms.

There is a paucity of good affordable lighting shops here in Brisbane, so my eyes are always peeled for vintage lights. It just requires patience and knowing what you like.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Black and white bookshelf - before and "not quite" after

Former country pine bookshelf in situ

We brought the newly painted bookshelf upstairs and put it in its new home in the sunroom.

It was a bit wobbly at first, because there is nothing square in this old place. With three boys running around, we thought it best to secure the bookshelf to the wall. Jason did that this morning with his trusty hammer and nails.

Base trim and covering strip added

He put a new base board on the side of the bookcase and a covering strip to hide the gap between it and the wall. It gives a nicer finish. Those new additions will have to be painted as they are only undercoated, hence the "not quite after" from the blog title.

To refresh your memory we tried to "de-countrify" the bookshelf so that it was plainer and would fit in better with our existing furniture. I removed the colonial style moulding from the top and the bottom and removed the country-style doors from this piece. Jason added the plain timber trim.

Firstly, I sanded and undercoated the entire piece. I then gave it about three coats of acrylic paint and used painter's tape to cut in the black and white to get a sharp edge. If you're interested, you can read the progress reports here and here.

When we put the actual shelves back into the bookcase, it scuffed the black interior paint work because it was a very tight fit - that too will have to be touched up. You live, you learn.

Anyhow, I've already loaded the bookshelf with our books. The bottom three shelves will be used for the boys' books, while the top two shelves will be mostly for reference, language books and decorative objects.

I couldn't style a bookshelf to save myself. I kind of believe bookshelves should be for books if you have them, but anyway I tried...heh, heh, heh. I really did try!

In all honesty, I'm pleased with the final results, despite having to touch up the paint work here and there. This job I will delegate to Jason because he is more careful with that sort of thing.

Thanks again to everyone who gave me advice about what to do with this piece of furniture and those who were very encouraging. I now have a very useable and easy-on-the-eye bookshelf.

The bookshelf fits snugly into this corner of the sunroom. We removed our old faux wood bookshelves that used to sit behind the door.

Before shot of the country pine bookshelf

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Lemon butter

This Queen's Birthday long weekend, I've been making jars and jars of lemon butter, lime butter and passionfruit butter (or curd) for my sons' school fete which is next Sunday. My inner-Martha is coming out in full force.

One of the teachers at the boys' school has a lime tree and donated the fruit for making preserves. She doesn't normally know what to do with the limes.

Clearly, she has never heard of Tanqueray...If I had a lime tree, I think Jason and I would be perpetually drunk. 

Fortunately, I was given the limes and know how to make a great citrus butter (and a wicked G&T as well).

Lemon butter in just some of the Maille jars .

In the process of making all of the curds, I've realised my parents have an addiction to Maille cocktail sauces and mustard. They gave me over 20 empty jars. Their year's worth of jars works out to be far in excess of what one should consume, especially for an elderly couple!!
If you too have an excess of citrus and jars, here is a fool-proof lemon butter recipe:
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
180 ml lemon juice
2 tblsp of lemon zest
125 g butter
Whisk eggs and sugar until combined in a large pot. Add the other ingredients and mix well. Place over a slow to medium heat and stir continuously until it becomes thick. Once it coats the back of your spoon, switch off the heat. Poor hot curd into sterilised jars and seal well with sterilised jar lids. ( I wash my jars in a dishwasher but also sterlise in a slow oven for 20 minutes, the lids are boiled in water for five minutes).
This should fill at least four or five smallish Maille jars.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Architectural salvage

This morning, I went on an expedition with my friend Melissa, to an architectural salvage shop which sells used timber doors, leadlight windows, sinks, bath tubs, light fixtures and kitchens. You name it, they had it.

Melissa insisted I accompany her as she wanted to pay for some French doors and casement windows she'd picked out for her house renovation. She had chosen lovely French doors for her entrance and gorgeous old casement windows to reinstate into her home.

She is renovating a post war timber and tin home. Last month, the house was raised to enable it to be built in underneath; effectively making it a double storey home. It is such a huge job but fortunately Melissa's other half is a builder.

I'm so grateful to have seen this amazing salvage place, however I curse myself for not having #3 Son minded for the morning. I wanted to have a good rummage for more windows for the sunroom, but the little one had different two-year old ideas. Thwarted yet again!

This place had the most amazing pieces for sale - cathedral windows from an old church and this leadlight ceiling which came from an old pub.  It was breathtaking. Sadly, photography wasn't allowed in the store, but being anti-authoritarian as I am, I took a couple of snaps anyway in the backroom. Sssh! Don't tell!

Walls and walls of casement windows

Casement windows

I also found a number of light fittings which appealed to my Danish Mod sensibilities. I bought one simple fixture which has a white glass shade and copper anodised parts. Sorry, that wasn't terribly descriptive.

Let's just say it is reminiscent of an Utzon lamp when you squint. And for $20 I was happy to secure it for one of the boys' rooms when the electrical work is done on the house.

Utzon Lamp image courtesy Great Dane. This light was designed in the late 1940s

Needless to say, I shall return to the salvage place soon when I am child-free for the morning.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Black and white bookshelf progress

It's nearly finished. Yay! A few paint touch ups here and there with the shelves in place, then it should be ready to bring upstairs this weekend.

The paint work is ok. I think to obtain a perfect finish; a spray gun would have been invaluable. In hindsight, I probably shouldn't have used such high gloss paint; it tends to show the brush strokes. Despite painting along the grain it was hard to keep a straight and steady hand.

The cutting in with the black paint was the most difficult part but the end result is good.  I think what made this job difficult was the large size of the bookshelf. It would have been much easier if this piece was smaller, especially as it was my first furniture painting experience. You live and learn.

One thing for sure is the excellent advice from my fellow bloggers was gold. A big thanks for your assistance, because I really had no idea.

Looking at the above photo, it's hard to remember that it was originally a country pine wall unit. Paint really does transform all things.

I'll show you the photographs of the finished product soon.

Monday, 7 June 2010

Awards and Jason revealed

There is some very important business to attend to - the business of award(s) acceptance. Yes, you saw, awards because there are several!!

I'd like to thank the lovely people who have given me The Versatile Blogger award. Sarah from  Molly's Maison, Nellie from McCarthy Designs and Michelle from Paper Tree Design.

I never realised my versatility until now - it has been reaffirmed three times!

Actually, I do love getting awards. There is nothing better than to know people read the blog and like it. Thanks a million. It is very much appreciated.

As I've already revealed interesting fact about myself here, wouldn't it be really fun is to reveal seven interesting facts about Jason? He is developing a bit of a his mind...

Seven things about Jason you might find interesting:

1. appeared in a number of feature films. You may remember him from such productions as Bible Squad, No Smoking, Sh*t List and Random Violence III. His Director is now a mover and shaker in the movie industry on the strength of these films, while Jason's acting potential was never fully realised. (They were amateur short films and no nudity was involved.)

2. possesses an encyclopaedic knowledge of military history. Name a battle, any battle. There are limited uses for this talent.

3. was asked to pose nude for a photographic exhibition after finding fame on the Brisbane Blogosphere. Nudes on iconic chairs. Oh and he's considering it. Seriously.

4. lived in a small country town near Toowoomba as a young child.

5. does not watch sport. He does't even know the names of the State of Origin Captains. Seriously, when he is invited to corporate boxes, he goes for the food and bluffs his way through the night.

6. remembers clearly the Queenslander home that his parents owned in Fairfield before they moved to the country

7. had brown hair, before his genetic history robbed him of his fine mane. He shaves his head now but most of his friends think he's a blonde.

I need to nominate 15 people for this award and because I'm a weakling, I always opt out of this part of the award acceptance. It is very hard to single out just a few....

I have updated my blog roll and there are a few new blogs, so why don't you check them out. I read them.

Also, you may have noticed there is an ad on my blog. Sorry if it offends you. I'm just experimenting and working out what to do with the blog.

I laughed when I saw it. Mickey Mouse is perhaps symbolic of my ability to generate advertising revenue!! No doubt an omen.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Blog makeover

Fun and VJs has had a mini makeover. A few botox injections here and there to make it easier to use and nicer to look at. It certainly looks a lot more fun than before!

Many thanks to the very lovely Katrina  who writes her self-titled blog Katrina Chambers and A Very Fine House - she zhushed my blog after I entered her blog makeover competition and won!

She was so nice to work with and is incredibly clever. I'm over the moon with the new look especially since I am a html dunce.

Since this blog is a renovation blog we kept the picture of the house in the banner in all its pre-renovation glory - it is the number one star of the blog after all. The other embellishments are a nod to the mid century vibe we have going in the house.

There are still a few areas under construction and I will have to reinstate my blog list over the coming days. Also, please let me know if you encounter any difficulties with anything on the blog.

Thanks again Katrina!

Friday, 4 June 2010

One job always leads to another...rewiring a Queenslander

Remember the retro Murano spider chandelier that was to hang in the dining room? It was going to be installed today.

Carlo the Electrician arrived first thing this morning. He took off the existing fitting and noticed there were no earth wires.

As the chandelier is metal, installing it would have meant that in the event of an electrical fault the chandelier would be live and electrocute someone.

(Probably Jason because he likes to swing from the chandeliers  changes the light bulbs...)

Zap! Carlo checked out the rest of the house. The kitchen is fine because that was rewired, during its renovation, by the highly expensive electrician recommended by the kitchen installer (good lesson learnt to source your own electrician and plumber in future jobs). But everywhere else has the original wiring with no earth wires.


It's not a huge problem at the moment - most of our old lights are plastic. As I hear the imaginary penny drop, I finally understand why this house had only plastic light fittings.

We could just leave the wiring (like all the other previous owners of the house) but it will be very limiting when we do any electrical work down the track. And since we plan to renovate the bathroom, change light fittings etc we are going to encounter this issue again and again.

So, we are just going to bite the bullet and make the house safer.

Carlo the Electrician will return with his apprentice in a few weeks time. It won't be the most straight forward job because the sunroom has a flat roof and there is no access to the ceiling without taking the roof off....Oh and our ceilings in the sunroom are asbestos fibro requiring that area to be sealed off when the work is done...Fun and games VJs!

In the meantime, we will need to think seriously about our electrical wish list. This was not in the six month plan but I guess one must be flexible with such things.

You gotta love these old houses. Zap!

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

At Remodelaholic today

This is just a quick post to say that our kitchen renovation is on Remodelaholic today. Click here now to check it all out if you want a remodel fix.

 Thanks Remodelaholic!

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

New specs, birthdays and painter's tape

image from here

I bought some new specs recently. They are black with green trim and are made by Collette Dinnigan. Not personally I assume. They are my favourite glasses ever. You cannot hide discretely from your short-sightedness in these.

And here is what they look like on my visage courtesy of our computer's webcam. A challenging photograph to take without looking cross-eyed.

The youngest member of the household celebrated his second birthday yesterday. I know, no fancy schmancy cake; just home-made chocolate cake. A Devil's Food Cake to be precise, in honour of the former little angel entering the terrible twos. I think he has fully embraced this next stage in life. He did have a nice day though.

And I'm still working on those bookshelves. I am really grateful for all of your advice because it has been incredibly useful. I bought real painter's tape rather than the cheap stuff (that I would normally buy) and invested in a good angled brush. It makes the job easier.

I'm just painting the fiddly bits at the moment and I hope to have it finished on the weekend. Jason helped me lift the bookshelf up so that it is standing upright. It is looking great. There is nothing country style about the bookshelf now.
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