Sunday, 30 January 2011

Stud adhesive

I kid you not. This is a name of a product that Jason and Mr Rooney, our walking-wounded builder, were using the past couple of days.

It's basically a thick glue like substance to stick the ceiling sheets to the ceiling battens. Wouldn't you love to work for the Stud Adhesive marketing department? I've already created a few campaigns in my head, all grossly inappropriate of course!

The new ceiling is in. Wooden battens will be used to cover the major seams in the ceiling sheets. It will also need to be filled and painted.

Studs at work using stud adhesive while listening to the dulcet tunes of 4BH radio playing such hits as Galveston sung by Glenn Campbell. A long forgotten goodie. 
There are so many double entendres in the building game. Jason called me on my mobile this morning while I was out running some errands. He wanted me to buy some hardener at Bunnings for Mr Rooney.

"I beg your pardon?" was all I could manage in response.

It is used in a two-part compound called Plastibond, which is a heavy-duty filler or plastic putty. The hardener makes it set. Jason calls it viagra for builder's bog. They used the compound to fill in the hinge rebates of the lattice doors on the deck which will have to be rehung to accommodate the new ceiling.

Anyway, it was an extremely productive day. The bulk of the deck ceiling is done. The window hoods are painted and ready to install. I learnt that hardener with Plastibond and stud adhesive are cool products. I also learnt that Glenn Campbell has an excellent voice.

And not one injury to report today, but I did forget to show you Jason's gashed skull from Friday.

Jason - AKA Scar Head - It's healed well after a couple of days.

He bent down to pick something off the floor and  knocked his head on the sharp end of a ceiling batten which was sitting on the deck rails. It was not pretty and he was not happy.

It's healing nicely after Mr Rooney performed first aid.

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Insulated ceiling for the deck (and why I would make a great ambulance driver)

There are a lot of projects happening all at once at the Sow's Ear. It's hard to keep up at Action Central.

Jason took the day off on Friday to assist Mr Rooney, our stoic builder (you'll understand why...), to install an insulated ceiling on our deck.

exposed rafters on the deck. This photo was taken in winter 2010

Our deck has exposed rafters with a tin roof. It is almost unusable in the middle of the day because it is as hot as hell under there. I am not exaggerating either. We avoid using it during the heat of the day which is just crazy when it is such a great outdoor space.

So, Mr Rooney is helping us retro-fit an insulated ceiling. It sounds a lot easier than done, as the deck measures approximately 5.8m x 8m.

Jason and Mr Rooney have been working on it solidly for the past two days. They are extremely hardworking.

Yesterday was the measuring and preparatory stage. Since we are using hardiflex sheets for the ceiling it was important to get the right layout. It will be done in a brick pattern which distributes the load across the ceiling, as the sheets are quite heavy.

Metal ceiling battens were also affixed onto the rafters every 600mm. The foil insulation was inserted between the roof and the battens. Mr Rooney dusted himself with baby powder. He said it was to stop the fibreglass itch from the insulation. He was a sight to behold. I could've charged admission.

Once the insulation was in, there was an instant cooling effect or perhaps it was psychosomatic because it wasn't that hot yesterday.

The first of the foil insulation installed on the deck

The deck is insulated giving a space age effect
Today Jason and Mr Rooney concentrated on putting in the ceiling. They enlisted the help of a sheet lifter which was hired for the weekend. It was soon renamed the "shirt lifter". Appropriate really, given Jason's predilection  for being shirtless.

Sheet lifter

Shirt wearing Jason operating the shirt sheet lifter

The lifter was invaluable...especially when I had to drive Mr Rooney to the emergency hospital and Jason was left to his own devices for a while!!

Yes, Mr Rooney sustained an injury. The unbreakable Mr Rooney broke!

Don't worry people, he's okay now. Some nasty stuff got into one of his eyes. He thought he could wash it out but whatever it was did not want to be dislodged. 

His eyes were bloodshot, his nose was dribbling; he was not in a good nor attractive place. Again, I could've charged admission.

Off to emergency we raced. Luckily there is a good private hospital nearby. A small shard of metal was removed from his eye. It must've flown into his eye when he was drilling into a metal batten.

When we got back to the Sow's Ear, Mr Rooney put on his safety googles (as did Jason) and returned to work with anaesthetised eyes. Such a trooper. A lesser man would've gone home for a cup of tea and a lie down, but not our Mr Rooney.

Hardiflex ceiling on the deck, Mr Rooney wearing safety goggles
We are hoping to have it finished by tomorrow.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Timber and tin window hoods on Australia Day

For some people Australia Day 2011 was a sausage sizzle or a cold beer with your mates or even a day at the beach.

For us it was the day two timber and tin window hoods were constructed for the Sow's Ear. It seemed like the Australian thing to do.

This is the window hood on the front of the Sow's Ear.
The new window hoods will match this very simple style.

Jason and Mr Rooney, our expert builder, built two perfect window hoods from scratch to protect our bedroom windows from the weather. They did a marvellous job.

Here is a pictorial of the day:

It started with a plan scribbled on the makeshift work bench and a couple of lattes (very metro of them...)
Putting together the frame of the window hoods

Jason, the apprentice, nailing the timber battens to the frame.
Mr Rooney's laptop was used to calculate the correct spacing for the battens. There is an algorithm which takes the guess work out of it. 

This is gable roll or barge roll.
It is used as a decorative element (as well as for flashing) around the edge of the window hood.
It finishes the window hoods nicely.

The gable roll being nailed onto the window hoods. That's Son #1 doing the honours.

The completed timber and tin window hoods.
Don't they look fantastic?  They will need to be sanded and painted before they are installed over the bedroom casement windows

Well done Jason and Mr Rooney!

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Gable roll for window hoods

Today, Mr Rooney, our military historian builder, sent me around the countryside to pick up building supplies. Like his girl Friday.

I was hoping to put my feet up and read a book in peace, now the two eldest boys resumed school today (Sshh! Don't tell Jason. I meant to say scrubbing the toilet or something)

Instead my mission was to source gable roll and to pick up other material from Bunnings. Mr Rooney is forward-planning for when he and Jason make window hoods for the bedroom side of the Sow's Ear. They're  making a start on them tomorrow.

Timber and tin window hood
Image from here

Anyway, my eyes have well and truly been opened to the time-consuming world of sourcing building materials. I stuffed up and bought the wrong thing even after telephoning a few places to see if they had the elusive gable roll.

Image courtesy of Stratco

Being the hapless blogger that I am,  I spent a good part of the day ricocheting from Tingalpa, home, Tingalpa,'s got a certain ring to it, as only Australian suburbs do.

I swear there's a couple of middle-aged blokes having dinner tonight talking about their day and about that dumb Sheila who didn't know the difference between rolled-edged flashing and gable roll.

Yeah, well I know now.

Two more windows went in this afternoon. It is starting to look very nice!

Monday, 24 January 2011


Maybe Jason's not so bad after all...

He came home this afternoon with 13 roses for our 13th wedding anniversary.

Thirteen years ago we still had good skin elasticity. Ah, those were the days...

Signing our lives away in 1998 at our no-frills wedding

Mr Rooney, our kid-friendly builder, came around today to do more work on the casement windows.

However, he got a bit side tracked helping the boys make timber "creations"...The boys loved every minute of it.

Son #2 harassed Mr Rooney throughout the day for the use of his nail gun.
 This is his version of a watchtower. That's son #3 in the nappy.

Mr Rooney helped Son #1 make an épée 

Sunday, 23 January 2011


Renovation fatigue that is. Jason. Not me.

Jason has worked himself into the ground. He works longish hours in his day job and then he does quite a bit of work around the house.

If you had to pick a team, you'd be on Team Jason because the work would always be done. That's his personality, he is very reliable.

So, from fatigue grows cranky thoughts. He looks around him and all he sees is LAZINESS.

And naturally, I'm on Jason's hit list because I have a ...well, lets just call it a laissez-faire attitude. You know what I mean.

This photo sealed my fate. (You wouldn't want to be on my team because the job would be'd be guaranteed a good laugh and a good feed though)

Add caption

So I've been laying off the blog a bit, trying to look busy on the domestic front. It's hard mind-numbing work, I tell you, being a Stepford wife. I'll be reading the book to get some tips.

Anyway, that explains my absence in the blogosphere...

This weekend saw the removal of the final piece of lattice on our back deck.
Jason undercoated the balustrade this morning. It hasn't rained for a couple of days. Yay!

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Work progress in the sunroom

It's business as usual at the Sow's Ear.

Mr Rooney, our formidable builder, has graced us with his presence most of this week - in between threatening electrical storms...

He's working on replacing all the windows in our sunroom. The new "salvaged" windows will provide us a bit more privacy. You can read about our casement windows here and here if you are new to this caper.

Our only bathroom is located in the sunroom too and Jason has a penchant for doing the nudie run from this room after his shower. Such an exhibitionist, but you knew that already!

The windows will also be consistent to all the other windows in the house and finish the room nicely when we sheet the walls with VJs and paint it.

The first bank of windows being framed-up for the casement windows.
The door on the left is our bathroom

The hopscotch casement windows installed.
That's Jason below admiring Mr Rooney's handiwork yesterday afternoon

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Lying low in Brisbane

I've been lying low as a result of the floods.

It is difficult to write about one's house renovations when many other people in the same city have lost their home or their possessions. But life must go on and having 'survivor guilt' is not terribly productive.

A good way to appease that guilt was to go here and donate ad income generated from this blog which after six months is a nice tidy sum. See? Who says blog advertising sucks? Clicking on my ads was not in vain, my friends!

We have not been directly affected by the Brisbane floods except for Jason having two days off work - flood leave.

Jason returned to work in the CBD last Friday. His workplace is in a 1930s building near Anzac Square which luckily doesn't have a basement.  Many of the city buildings with car park basements (where the electrical generators are also located) flooded and about five major buildings still don't have power.

Jason said it was extremely quiet in the City that day with just the humming of pumps draining basements in the adjacent buildings punctuating the silence. He said he had a dream-run into work with the roads surprisingly dry and traffic non-existent.

It amazes me how normal life is for us, a few days after a natural disaster, whilst only a kilometre or so away others have suffered such enormous loss. Life is indeed cruel for some.

I'll stop the maudlin flood posts now and be back to normal Fun and VJs proceedings in my next post.

My friend Susan who manages an art shop in Milton just sent me some photos of how the flood affected her workplace. The ground floor got a few inches of putrid sludgy water. Susan has a sense of humour and I love the image she took below.

The life-size artists' model obviously didn't evacuate during the flood. What a dummy!

Muddy toes on the life-size artists' model

Thursday, 13 January 2011

East Brisbane flood photos

My parents' street in East Brisbane.
Deep brown muddy water flooding the streets around Norman Creek. 

Real Park, East Brisbane under water.
This is where we take the children to play when we visit Mum
I grew up in East Brisbane and my parents are still in the same house where I grew up. Their house is fine. It is so sad to see homes near and around Norman Creek surrounded by so much water. Fortunately, the floods  were not as high as originally predicted. It could have been worse.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Sunshine on a cloudy day

It's just started to rain lightly again.

The sun has been shining brightly for most of today as Brisbane prepares for the floods to inundate its suburbs.

As you all know, our home is fine and our suburb won't be affected too much by flood waters. Thank you for all your concern and well wishes.

As a Brisbane native, one can't help but feel gutted knowing that flood waters are rising and destroying a wonderful city.

Ironic public art at the Powerhouse Museum Brisbane.
The devastating 1974 floods have never been forgotten in Brisbane

Jason was told to stay home today - his office will be closed until further notice. The fear of city workers being stranded in the CBD and not being able to go home was too great.

I just heard that they stopped all public transport.

Jason's Mum on the other hand was telephoned this morning to go into her workplace in the City to form a skeleton staff. Hmmm...we are hoping it was very important work to warrant such a phone call.

I spoke to my friend Susan who manages a shop off Park Road in Milton where I used to work a few years ago. She went into work to try to move stock and equipment to higher ground. She knows her attempts were futile as the flood waters were already in the ground floor of the building next door. It is the dread of the massive clean up which is troubling her now.

Mr Rooney is also expecting some water to go through his home. He doesn't expect it to be too bad, however he's taken every precaution to minimise the damage.

My little friend Ana lives in the City. She lives in a high-rise but their power and water have now been cut. They are staying put. I hope they will be okay. The photos from her blog show how quickly the waters have risen overnight.

My parents are fine. They are high on their street. They came out okay in 1974 and hopefully will be okay in 2011.  However you feel for the people further down the street. Beautiful Queenslander homes will be flooded...but I guess that is happening everywhere at the moment.

Yesterday, after Jason arrived home, I went to the supermarket to restock our food supply. I got there too late though. The shelves had emptied of the things I needed. The panic has certainly settled in. There is talk of water contamination over the coming days.

There is very little we can do now but stay off the roads, wait and then be ready to lend a hand for the clean-up.

The State Library going under.
This is where my friend and I were yesterday, when we saw the Brisbane River break its banks.
Photo courtesy of Mr Rooney's facebook.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Stay safe

I saw the Brisbane River break its banks this morning.

Stupidly, we (a friend and I) made an expedition to the State Library of Qld with our children. The State Library overlooks the river. We were inside but the view was of the river lapping onto the walkways.

Debris the size of tree trunks was floating down the muddied river. It was a surreal sight - one I will not forget too quickly. My friend took photos. I didn't even think to bring my camera but I probably wouldn't have taken shots anyway.

The rumour mill was working into overdrive at the State Library. From overheard conversations, we discovered that all public transport was to be shut down. There was a general feeling of panic at the extremely busy bus terminal. The buses were  full to overflowing.

Now that we are safely home, we have found out that public transport will not be shut down, so there was no need to panic. At any rate, I am glad we are out of the river precinct. We are fortunately not at risk where we live.

I called Jason as he works in the City. He's on his way home, they're shutting the office for the afternoon. We're hoping he gets home before it gets worse but it is bumper to bumper traffic to get out of the CBD.

The rain is still falling steadily. Will it ever cease?

My thoughts are with family and friends who are living in the "at risk" areas of Brisbane and Ipswich. Stay safe and take care.

Update 3.30pm:
Jason's just walked through the door. All is good.

He dropped a friend off at Cannon Hill Station so he could pick up his car. His friend had been waiting an hour for his train to get out of the CBD - one had been cancelled. Luckily he called Jason to get a lift home.

The entire trip took 1 1/2 hours. The worst of the trip was getting out of Adelaide Street onto the Story Bridge.

I'm feeling a bit nervous because my parents live in East Brisbane nearby Norman Creek. They don't have the telephone on either (some mad idea about being harassed by telemarketers...don't you just hate old people!). They have been in the same house since the 60s. The 1974 floods fortunately never reached their house although the lower end of the street went under. I'm hoping they will be okay too.

I hate unpredictable times like these.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Queenslander house renovation blogs

Two months before we first moved into the Sow's Ear in May 2009, I scoured the internet for websites about Queenslander house renovations.

Worker's Cottage in Stones Corner, Queensland

I needed some local inspiration and somehow stumbled into the world of Blogs.

The House that A-M built was one of the first blogs I found. It was a real eye opener in the world of building a new "traditional" home in the suburbs of Brisbane.

I also stumbled upon Toxteth about a Queenslander house renovation in Ipswich and of course, Renovate Australia about renovating a Queenslander in Townsville. There was also Restoring the Old Girl blog which was about to undertake a major renovation in Red Hill.

Old Queenslander in Coorparoo
Image courtesy of State Library Queensland

Apart from those blogs, there were surprisingly very few blogs dedicated to Queenslander house renovations. I thought it would be a good idea to document our experiences, despite our renovations being not so major and in a decorating style (mid century) that is not normally associated with Queenslanders.(Nothing wrong with thinking outside the square, I say!)

I get quite a few emails from people who are working on their Queenslander house. They give me such lovely feedback and some have even started blogging about their renovations too. It is really quite gratifying.

Anyway, there are a lot more blogs about Queenslander houses now. I thought it would be a great idea to have a separate blog list on Queenslander house renovations.

This is my list so far:
(If I have left anyone off, please let me know because I follow a lot of renovation blogs and sometimes I can't keep track!)

The little house that could - this is a great little blog about the renovation of a colonial Queenslander in the outer suburbs of Brisbane.
Renovate Australia - documents the renovations to a Queenslander in Townsville, North Queensland.
Restoring the Old Girl - this is the story of how one family bought the 100 year old house next door, which had been in the same family, contents and all.
The Five Year Project - two or so years are down on this Queenslander renovation.
The Clothesline Online - it documents the renovations to a Heritage listed Queenslander in Ipswich
Toxteth - renovation of a Queenslander in Ipswich
Nostalgia and Now - interiors, before and afters and renovations
White Floors - interiors inspiration and renovation of an inter-war Queenslander in Brisbane
Bungalow Bliss  - a very new blog about a Californian-style Bungalow renovation
Timber and Tin  - a very new blog about a Colonial Queenslander house relocation
Crazy House Capers  - these people are renovating two Queenslanders at the same time !!!
My Pink Door - not so much about renovating, but it has lovely images of the interiors of a Queenslander home.
Spots and Stripes - an inspiring blog from serial renovators. Their latest project will be a 1900s Queenslander.
A Cream Cottage - a new blog about first time home owners and their Queenslander house.

And Jo from Desire to Inspire is undertaking a renovation of an 1860s home in Ipswich check it out on her page:
Desire to Inspire: Jo's page

Anna Spiro from Absolutely Beautiful Things is also planning work on her 1880s Queenslander on Brisbane's Bayside, but you'll have to click the label tags on her sidebar to find information about her house.

Also, check out No Small Dreams website which is about a sustainable Queenslander house renovation in Brisbane.

And of course, there's us!!

So there you have it, Queenslander house junkies. It is by no means the definitive list, however it is a good start if you are looking for inspiration for your Queenslander  house renovation. Happy browsing!

Friday, 7 January 2011

Home-made pasta

There were grand plans to go to New Farm Park today with some friends, but the wet weather meant we had to change the venue to the Sow's Ear. I couldn't face another wet day with just my children - it's good to have company on wet miserable days.

To amuse all the kids, I retrieved my old inherited pasta making machine from the bowels of the kitchen drawers. They were going to make fresh pasta for lunch.  My friend Kelly and I love making our children work.

Pasta making machine. An old Marcato Atlas 150.

Alex, my trusty assistant, helped make and knead the dough. She did a great job getting the dough to a nice texture. The recipe was from the booklet which came with the machine -  1 pound (it must be an old machine to have the imperial measure) of plain flour, 5 eggs, a pinch of salt, a splash of olive oil, and a little water (this will feed six people).

It was a nice easy recipe for the kids.

All the boys helped feed the pasta dough into the machine to get it to the right thickness. I hadn't used the machine for ages, so it took a few practice runs to work out the best thickness to make the noodles. You can't make the pasta too thin, we quickly realised. It tends to clump when you feed it through the noodle attachment.

(Sorry for the lack of photos. I didn't think to take any until it was all too late)

Anyway, the pasta cooked beautifully and also quickly. I made a very simple cream sauce with ham, garlic and grated Parmesan cheese.

Home-made egg pasta

It wasn't bad at all. The kids enjoyed the experience and it was really quite simple to make.

The pasta machine is not something you'd whip out for a mid-week dinner, however I'm thinking I should use it more. I could definitely make pasta in bulk and freeze it.

If the wet weather lasts, I think that will be on the cards.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Art print by Inaluxe

My birthday is looming. And I'm taking the liberty to treat myself more lately.

Look at what I am giving myself for my birthday. I ordered it yesterday.

Departure Lounge 1971
Image courtesy of Inaluxe
It is a gallery quality giclee print called Departure Lounge 1971 which is an interpretation of mid-century modern graphics by Inaluxe artists Kristina Sostarko and Jason Odd. I love bold, colourful graphics.

I've been looking for a fun smallish print to go in this corner:

A corner of our lounge room
Inaluxe is also having a 25 % off sale on all their prints. The only trouble is being able to decide which one to choose. There are some very groovy prints if you love that mid-century modern vibe. Check it all out here.

I can't wait for it to arrive.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Mid-century homes in the hood

As promised here is the handful of mid-century homes in our general vicinity. 

I'd love to see inside each and every one of them, but x-ray vision is not my forte. The exteriors will just have to do. This is what I see on my morning walk:

This 1960s home angled on its block
It is not a house that you would immediately exclaim, "Wow!"  however it is a good example of the architecture of that era. It is certainly a shift away from the more conservative designed homes in this area.

Same 1960s house, nestled into the trees. taken from another vantage point

1960s Home

I just couldn't get a good shot of this home. The bushes are overgrown around it and you just can't see any more from the street. Such a shame because it would have such striking street appeal. It is on a large corner block and from this snippet you can see there is a lot of sliding glass which opens up onto the front patio (and of course two trampolines...!?).

1970s home
I have to say I absolutely love this 1970s tiered palace. It is immense. The entire front of the home is glass and there is a large rectangular swimming pool in the front.

The solid front fence is a new addition. There used to be brick breeze blocks as the front fence, which were just perfect (in my humble opinion), allowing you more of a view of the house. It probably just didn't give the owners enough privacy.

Anyway, this place looks like it would be the party house! Martini, anyone?

Another 60s style home, brick and lots of glass
This is another favourite of mine which sits on a very large corner block. I like the feature brick structure attached to the front of the home. It is situated in a marvellous location - the whole tree-lined street is quite stunning really.

From its corner position, the house above has views towards Mt Cootha (see the TV station aerials), which is on the west side of Brisbane.

Same house from above.
But all they must see is the green plastic rainwater tank and trees!! Maybe they don't use the glass front room very much?

There you have a mini mid-century tour of our area. There really are only a handful of homes...I thought I would find more...I might have to walk further...

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

The neighbourhood

Since December last year, I've been getting up early to go for a long walk. I'm up at 5am most mornings, so I may as well use that time to get some much needed exercise.

This morning I brought along the camera to show off my "hood". There is a mix of housing types but it is typically Queenslander style homes which dot the suburban landscape.

There are also a handful of delicious mid-century style homes but I'll show them to you later this week.

1930s triple gable Queenslander which looks extremely pretty in real life. I love the leadlight windows.
Colonial style Queenslander.

There is some funny extension thing on the back of this home, which I'm choosing to ignore. It looks like it's being renovated - such wonderful potential. 

Nothing says Queensland more than wrap-around verandahs!

1890s colonial style Queenslander.

The home above always captivates me. I think it is because of all the junk that is piled onto the front and side verandahs. I'm assuming it is being renovated...or maybe there are just hoarders living there.

It is the same house as the one above taken in the 70s. Remarkably, very little has changed.

This is another pretty home - neat and tidy with a traditional garden.
I'm rather taken with the Neutra-style house numbers on the front fence.

1950s Mansion in the burbs

Whoa! Now, this house is enormous, taking up half the street block. I think someone rich lives here. There is a tennis court, a pool and a guest house.

It goes on...

...and on!

And then there is the more humble post-war style home.

A pleasant looking post-war home in Brisbane
For one of the most unassuming homes in the area, it has one of the best views of the City. Lucky them!
We often congregate on the street outside this house when there is a fireworks show in the City.

City views in the area
 House stalking while exercising makes for a pleasant experience!
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