Sunday, 29 April 2012

Night time painting

Anyone would think Jason was a competitor on The Block with his irregular painting hours. He likes to start painting in the late afternoon for an hour or so.... For me, the dilemma is whether to watch a TV renovating show or watch him.

As a wise woman just told me via the magic that is social media, it is best to stick with the TV. At least you can shout abuse and pass on your two cents worth without any real repercussions.

night time painting by Jason
Painting under the deck

And in other big news...I fell down the crack house side steps yesterday while it was raining. It was like someone pulled the rug right from under me and I fell flat on my back. Yikes, it really hurt. Thank God for my excess padding.

Today the bruising came out on my right butt cheek. It has to be the biggest, angriest bruise in the world. Don't look if you don't like people over sharing...

For someone who is shy about showing her face on the blog*, I'm totally at ease showing you my butt. 

* The vote for my avatar is leaning towards a photo. I'll be getting a better photo to put up as my new profile  picture soon. Thanks for all your very nice comments...and you too Tom. xx

Saturday, 28 April 2012

If there's a way to renovate in the rain...

...odds are Jason will find it.

It's been raining incessantly for the past 24 hours, ruining what would have been a very productive weekend.

New weatherboards under the deck. Hopefully it will be ready for painting next week.

Jason was determined to work around the Sow's Ear, so he took on the task of filling all the gaps in and around our new weatherboards located under the deck.  He's been focused on filling and sanding the boards exposed to the weather but this weekend he had no choice but to work undercover.

sikaflex pro which we use to seal the gaps in the weatherboards
His favourite new-to-him product is Sikaflex which he's been using to seal the gaps between the weatherboards and to cover up the nail holes. It is polyurethane based and allows a great degree of flexibility for when the weatherboards shrink and swell. (He loves the stuff. Disturbing. Let's hope he doesn't start chroming it.)

I think life is too short to be gapping every nook and cranny, Jason thinks otherwise. Obviously.

It will take a while for the Sikaflex to dry with all this rain about, but it will be a nice neat finish. After all, it's all about becoming a silk purse.

Jason in gapping action

Wednesday, 25 April 2012


This ANZAC Day we remember QX16895 Private Jim McCreath, 2/25th Australian Infantry Battalion who was killed in action in Gorari South, New Guinea on 10 November 1942. He was 29, single and had no children.

The Battle of Gorari was the last major engagement of the Kokoda Trail campaign.

His baby sister and last surviving sibling, Belle died last year, aged 92. She was Jason's Nana and she kept this photo of Jim on her wall for her entire life.

It is important to keep on remembering them. They were much more than just their serial number.

Private James McCreath, 2/25th Australian Infantry Battalion

McCreath Family in 1920s in Mitchell Qld
From L to R:  Percy, Belle, Jim, Elsie and David

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Vote for my avatar

I need your help. I'd like to put a real profile picture of me on this blog. It's probably about time I stopped hiding behind the sketch and emerge like most bloggers do. Also, most first time visitors who read the blog think I'm a guy. Ha! Seriously.

So, you the readers can decide on whether I use a real photo or retain my existing profile picture. I've already started using the real one on Twitter as an experiment but I wasn't sure about using it on the blog.

Your mission is to vote which one I use from now on.

1. New Brismod avatar...trying hard to look like the old avatar. I'm not quite as serious as I appear in this photo...much more charming in real life, if I do say so myself. And I generally wear my specs when I cruise around the burbs...


2. Old Brismod avatar - I'm very attached to this. I guess people can't relate much to a sketch when they read this blog though...You can read the story about this avatar here.

 Let the people speak. Vote away!

Friday, 20 April 2012

Pineapple Series: Sausage Tropicana and Grill'd Wintergarden

I'm resurrecting the Pineapple Series on the blog. Consider it my service to all of you stuck on quick easy meal ideas. Now that winter is fast approaching, we all need the sunshine that is contained in a tin of pineapple.

I was in a quandary about what to cook one evening. I had some sausages in the refrigerator and not much else. What could I make? Then I remembered the pineapple in the pantry and referred to the pineapple bible that is the Golden Circle Tropical Recipe book circa 1960s. Surely, it would have a recipe?

And sure enough, there was Sausage Tropicana (page 23 under Sunny dinners) screaming out to be made.

Sausage Tropicana waiting to be cooked in the oven.

Sausage Tropicana
15 oz can Pineapple pieces or crushed pineapple
3 cups boiled rice, drained
1lb. cooked beef or pork sausages
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
salt, pepper, mustard

Place the rice in a well-buttered casserole. Arrange the browned sausages over the top. Drain the pineapple and to it add the brown sugar, vinegar and seasonings. Spoon the seasoned pineapple over the sausages. Moisten with a little of the pineapple syrup. Dot with butter. Bake in moderate oven for about 20 minutes.

Verdict: This dish is essentially rice and sausage with pineapple, so it was quite bland. The kids didn't mind it but it needed more of a flavour boost for my liking. This could have been a winner with gourmet sausages, like spicy chorizo or a herby vegetarian sausage. It was however a wholesome, filling meal that Betty Draper would have been proud to serve to Don and the kids.

And on a slightly different tangent, a lot of Brisbane bloggers around the traps get invited to some very la dee da events and launches.

We don't.

But we were invited to the launch of a burger joint in the newly-opened Wintergarden in the City - Grill'd

I was so excited! Sadly, I couldn't make it... but I did send my commissary, Jason to move it and shake it with Brisbane's 'Burgeratti' elite earlier this week. He took along Mr D the builder as his date (Mr D worked as builder on the Wintergarden site, so it was an inspired choice).

As my blog correspondents, they were entrusted to deliver me feedback (as well as return sober) and take some usable photographs. They had to work for their junket.

This was their masculine take on the evening:

"There were a lot of glamorous looking 'modelly' types with severe expressions. They needed to eat more burgers. The men were small and wore their pants too tight." (Jason's words...)
That's Mr D, the builder, cutting a rather fine figure with his Grill'd burger.

"The burgers were good. They cut them up into bite-size pieces and we could try all the different types. And they had all this nibble food. Really good olives."

'WTF is that?' I asked. "I don't know...I think it was spicy meatballs," Jason replied.

"The staff were friendly and they kept us well-supplied with food and drink at our table all night."

Jason said Mr D pointed out some of the flaws in the building finish and wasn't a fan of a large concrete post that was used as an architectural feature in the restaurant.

Anyway, the boys had a good time rubbing shoulders with the movers and shakers and have given the new joint the thumbs up. Thanks to Grill'd Wintergarden for the invitation to their launch!

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Danish stoneware find

Very rarely do I find anything at my local op shop. I look all the time and nada. Nothing. Just a lot of mugs and old china that don't take my fancy. But I always check it out because you never know what may crop up.

Like this small earthenware dish. It caught my eye because of its bright orange swirly interior. I checked for a hallmark - the name Ulrik Lundbergh Ebletoft was embossed underneath it which meant absolutely nothing to me. It was $2.50 and not made in China, so it became mine.

I googled the hallmark (edit:make that back stamp) and it turns out the dish is Danish. Ebletoft is a small town in Denmark which is known for its artisans such as potters and glass workers. I know this because Wiki told me so!

Retro Pottery Net featured a similar dish on his blog site but he did not know much about the potter. The designs are very 1970s though, which is my kind of vintage!

Isn't it good when you find something vintage that suits your decor perfectly? Anybody else have good luck lately?

Ulrik Lundbergh dish with Japanese doll's head from ES Traders

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Renovator's Rescue: part five

It's been a little while since I've shown you the latest on the Renovator's Rescue house which I've been stalking these past few months. You can read the beginnings of its transformation here.

The renovation is progressing steadily.  It's been raised, built-in underneath, and the exterior has been painted a pale grey with white and dark blue trim. They still need to build the front stairs and I'm curious to know what else they will do to the front. Usually a valance or paling screens are added as they are characteristic to Queenslander homes.

I have to say some of the choices regarding the external facade are probably not ones I would've made... I would've opened up the front with larger windows or a verandah to allow more light and breeze for our sub-tropical climate, but given I'm not living there and not footing the bill, it doesn't really matter, does it? There's often a very valid reason for why people renovate a home the way they do...

It doesn't look like it is too far off from being finished. I'll keep you posted when it's done.

That dinky window on the right still bothers me. There has to be a reason for that. window being so little...

Side view of the renovated house

It looks like there is double car accommodation under the house. 

Friday, 13 April 2012

I will love you forever

Remember how I said that I will never, ever enter another blogging competition after my failure in last year's Best Australian Blog Competition...?

Much like how I said there will be no carbon tax  blogging contest under a blog I lead...

Well I lied. And I nominated myself yet again. It's that self-destructive mechanism kicking in. Please, just overlook some of the oversights in my administration  blog.

The lapsed retro Pineapple series, the shortage of before and after renovation reveals, the less-than-professional iPhone photography, the poor grasp of social media networking, the paucity of shirtless Jason shots, not replying to every single comment... so many things to forgive.

I'm not proud of this record, but I do aim to do better. Truly. If you give me the chance.

Just remember the pleasure I have given you at Jason's expense. Didn't you love it when his Peugeot broke down and we all laughed together? And remember the time he sustained a head injury while working on the deck and we all gasped at the horror of the wound? And the gratuitous nudity with mid-century chairs...Surely, these blog posts count for something?

There's over 1,000 blogs nominated (and not all self-nominated methinks), some of which are on my blog roll. So, if you are heading over to vote for your favourites and you are feeling generous, head on over and tick Fun and VJs.

We will love you forever. Long time.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Discerning Dirt Association

Today we conducted an indoor plant intervention.

Yes, we've (Jason will tell you that is the royal 'we') neglected them. My (cough) domestic (cough) goddess status, much like my Klout score has nose-dived during the last few weeks.

The various retro West German ugly pots contained just the merest suggestion of what was once considered flora.  To the uneducated eye, the pots were just vessels for our dried-out dirt collection. I'm sure if I googled it there would possibly be a Discerning Dirt Association which we could join...a 'clean' one hopefully.

Unfortunately the poor old plants were stationed in our front entry, fore-warning anyone daring to enter the Sow's Ear that this was not a place to bring plant life or else. The first thing visitors would see was a bullet planter containing dust and a brown spider plant beyond resurrection...despite it being Easter.

I don't know what happened with the plants? I'm going to blame the distraction of the building works we've just had...not that Mr D graced us with his shirtlessness...but his shirt-wearing presence was a distraction nonetheless.

So, with the greatest of efforts I collected my vessels of grey dirt and did my best to resuscitate the plants which still had leaves. It was a heart-breaking mission. A few weeks of little or no water can kill a plant, y'know?

The peace lily is resting in peace I fear, the anthurium may be salvageable and in the saucer pot I planted a new spider plant which I found in the garden.

This poor thing was a philodendron which I re-potted in this planter. It should have glossy leaves. Pray for it.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Another job done and builder for hire

All our current building projects have come to an end. Mr D finished up today after completing the final bit of weatherboarding on the Sow's Ear. We are over the moon with the final result. He's done a great job and was  a pleasure to have around for the past few weeks.

So here's an update of where we are at with the renovations:

Jason has almost finished painting the new front fence. He's painted the entire fence in gloss white; the top rail is not yet complete but it should be done by the weekend. He's using the Dulux Peppercorn Rent which we've previously used as the contrasting trim on the Sow's Ear.

Here's a photograph of the gates which Mr D built for us.

Below are our new walls which Mr D finished today. Jason (and I maybe?) will fill, gap and paint the new weatherboards over the coming weeks at a leisurely pace.

This little area will make another entertaining spot. We usually have all our backyard parties for the boys down here.
There's actually quite a lot of painting to do...again....but that's fine. Paint is relatively cheap and will give us time to save for the next major projects in due course. We are now in an enviable position of having the exterior looking quite smart. The stair situation at the front and side of the Sow's Ear will still need to be addressed though, as well as the weedy garden!

Mr D installed our old hopscotch window in this spot.
I've updated the resources page on the blog with the contact details of Mr D if anyone is looking for someone for their renovations. He comes highly recommended.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Old houses and their stories

My mate Katherine from the oldboathouse paid us a visit just before Easter. It was good to catch up as we hadn't seen each other in an age. We talked a lot about old homes in Brisbane and how there are so many wonderful stories contained within their old homes provide a tangible legacy for the families that built or lived in these houses.

Katherine says she loves reading the stuff I've uncovered about the original owners of the Sow's Ear - the Stables family. We got on to the topic of the book Tare Harvest which was written by Zoila Stables. You can read about how I obtained a copy HERE.

It had been about a month since the book was purchased...and it still hadn't arrived. I feared it was lost in the mail.  Katherine said I should contact the seller just to double check that it had actually been sent. I had given up hope.

That very afternoon you can guess what arrived on my door step...Yes! It was the book.

Although I've only read a few chapters, my sense is that Tare Harvest is based more on fact than is a family saga which seems to mirror her family's life in Argentina before emigrating to Australia. It is also dedicated to her mother.

It is fascinating to read Zoila's words. I now believe my house history research is only a small part of something bigger.

I'd like to send a big shout out to Sherri Jameson owner of Jameson Hard Goods (purveyors of uncommon wares) in Detroit, Michigan. Sherri came across the book and contacted me after she googled the title which eventually led to this blog. Thank heaven for people like Sherri!

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Pineapple Series: Pineapple Pavlova

It's been a long time between pineapple posts. The last one was the Sweet Pineapple Omelet which just polarised people. It's taken us several months to get over the trauma of eating that sh* much for the Julie and Julia aspirations I had...

Yesterday I cracked open the Golden Circle Tropical Recipe book circa 1960s after the long hiatus because we were invited to another pineapple soiree. I was asked to make a dessert. Thank the pineapple gods that be, as the savoury pineapple dishes have been very hit or miss. Usually miss.

Flicking through the yellowed pages of the pineapple tome, I spotted the perfect recipe on page 35 under the Pineapple Party Time heading - Pineapple Pavlova. Pictured was a round mess of meringue topped with sunshiney pineapple and cream. A nice simple recipe for those not looking for a challenge...

Here is the recipe:

Pineapple Pavlova
15 oz Can of Golden Circle Crushed Pineapple in syrup
2 tablespoons cornflour or arrowroot
Your favourite recipe for a 3 or 4 egg Pavlova*

I made mini pavs, so I spooned tablespoons of the pav mixture onto a tray lined with baking paper. I got around 12 pavs. Bake until firm in a slow oven. Cool.

12 mini pavs baking in a slow oven. I let them cool in the oven. They had a very crispy texture.
Empty pineapple into saucepan and heat to boiling. Thicken with cornflour or arrowroot. Cool, then spoon into meringue shells. Serve with cream or ice-cream.

Boiling crushed pineapple. It smelt like Nana food, remember that smell?
 I threw in a vanilla bean so it wouldn't taste so bland.

It really is as simple as that.

We added extra fruit and passion fruit pulp because someone had made a killer fruit salad. It was delicious.

The dress code was strictly tropical.
Our hostess Y is modelling her tropical attire as she prepares the pineapple dishes.
The verdict? A winning combination. I thought the pineapple mixture would be too sweet teamed with the meringue. Indeed it was sweet as far as pavlovas go, but the addition of the cream and other fruit salad made it into something very special. A good dessert for those with a poorly stocked pantry.

Happy Easter everyone.

*My Pavlova recipe is four egg whites mixed with a pinch of salt, then mix the buggery out of it while adding 200g caster sugar gradually until it is glossy and stiff. Bake in a slow oven for approximately 2 hours. The texture is very light, crispy and fragile.

Friday, 6 April 2012

Under the house progress:Part 2

This is just a very quick post to show you some of the progress which has been made at the Sow's Ear.

The weatherboards have been put up on both sides of the house. It's looking much nicer than the old asbestos  fibro cladding we had, so it is a big improvement. Mr D has done a lovely, professional job.

Next week, the cladding for the back of the Sow's Ear, under the deck, will be installed. That will look absolutely terrific and will dress up that area nicely.

We were also rather pleased to have our old VJ door re-hung. It had been taken off by the previous owners so it's been laying about the place for nearly three years! Yikes. The plan is to paint it orange. 

old VJ door

weatherboards on the sunroom side of the house. New side stairs will be the next project 

This is the bedroom side of the house. Here is our new window opening with recycled timber sill.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

For Annie

The call went out to all of Blogtopia to paint our toes for Annie - rainbow toes solidarity. You see, fellow Brisbane blogger Annie from Artistica Domestica was diagnosed with breast cancer a fortnight ago and has just undergone surgery to remove a breast. It is a terrible thing for anyone to go makes me think 'there but for the grace of God go I'...because cancer does not discriminate. It is the unlucky dice-roll of life.

Annie, who is an artist and mum of five,  is facing her diagnosis and treatment with as much grace as possible and even with some humour. She painted her toes rainbow colours with her daughters to cheer everyone up. Small symbols of hope to buoy the spirits.

A number of her friends have done the same. To let her know we are thinking of her. There is a linky HERE where a whole gang of people are showing their support with rainbow-coloured toes. Join in too if you have been touched by cancer some way, it would mean the world to us. Go here to be involved.

I'm totally on board, so I scrambled to my beauty drawer and fossicked for my nail polishes only to discover three pathetic bottles of polish in varying shades of red - scarlet red, lotus rouge and raven red. As a beauty blogger, I fail...regardless, a colour intervention was required

I have since rectified my poorly equipped beauty drawer and I'm the proud owner of neon yellow, show girl pink, high impact green and midnight blue.

So, go on, paint your toes and link up. (I really hope Tom Stephenson, the stonemason in Bath, gets involved too)

rainbow toes.
My poor feet are paint splattered from all the painting we've done this past week.
Barefoot painter toes!

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Under the house progress

The work under the house is going great guns. Mr D and his trusty side-kick returned today to start framing the areas which will be weatherboarded.

The builders removed all of the old wall framing on the sunroom side of the Sow's Ear and built up the concrete hob on which the framing sits. The old frame had suffered some past termite and water damage and all the tin ant capping (flashing) was rusted to bits. 

rusted ant capping
It's not terribly exciting work they are performing but it will have a big impact on the final result
 - practically, as well as aesthetically. Jason said it will just neaten the whole look of this downstairs area which  he assures me is what will make the Sow's Ear a silk purse. 

Shame about our rickety side stairs which look like crack house stairs...

On the other side of the Sow's Ear, Mr D removed some old louvred windows and made a new opening to install a casement window. We have an old hopscotch window which will be recycled for this spot.

new window opening and sill 
The weatherboards will be going up tomorrow if all goes to plan.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

The things you find in the wood work

It's always a thrill to uncover a little bit of the history of the Sow's Ear while it's undergoing work.

After all the old fibro cladding had been removed under the house last week, a couple of old VJs (vertical join timber boards) were found in amongst the framing. Normally this would be very uneventful but these particular VJs were painted with what appears to be a decorative frieze.

We had no idea the Sow's Ear was so fancy back in her day.

I wonder which room it would've adorned? Or maybe it was an old cupboard in the house? I love how this single piece of timber tells me so much about the house and its occupants.

remnant painted frieze on Queenslander VJ board
I also took a few snaps of the areas which will be re-clad with the timber weatherboards next week. My God, we're sore and sorry after painting those blasted things this weekend. And we still haven't finished. There's about 30 or so left to paint...before work begins on Tuesday.

This is the sunroom side of the house

Under the deck

under the house on the sunroom side

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