Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Hopscotch window installed

Jason was his regular busy-bee self on the weekend. He successfully replaced one of the casement windows in his man cave/gimp room which is located under the house. He'll be replacing the other one next weekend.

Have a looksy.

 The new but old windows on the right are salvaged windows from an old Queenslander. The single light windows on the left will be advertised for sale along with the other windows we have lying around.  

We've been changing all the single light casement windows and steadily replacing them with windows in the hopscotch style to make the Sow's Ear more consistent.  The single light windows are a consequence of previous renovations and changes to the Sow's Ear over its life. 

Most restoration purists would say that we should leave them, as it forms the fabric or story of the house...Jason likes his windows to be all the same though...at least in terms of profile style. On this side of the house we have a quirky colour combination of the original amber glass, plus windows which have green or clear glass. This is the colourful eclectic side of the house which is not visible from the street.

Anyway, it actually didn't take Jason that long to install the windows. The most time consuming part was taking out the old windows, ensuring they didn't crack.

As you can see in the image below, the new old windows are hinged. We'll add brass casement stays and handles to fasten the windows shut after they are completely painted.

Planing  the casement windows slightly to make them fit.
Jason is sporting his winter work clothes... on a chilly-for-sub-tropical-Brisbane day.
I'll show you the final result when it's all done and dusted.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Indesign Brisbane style

I had my design hit for 2012 with Brisbane Indesign yesterday. It's an event held every few years to showcase and celebrate good design whether it be products, interiors, architecture or creative arts.

This is the third time I've been to Brisbane Indesign and I use the event as research for our renovation. Although Internet research is quick and convenient, nothing can beat seeing products in real life, particularly if you want to purchase the big ticket items.

The event is also free, with shuttle buses taking you from one location to the next. I left Jason at home with the kids and tagged along with some of my design junkie friends - a design tour group of 10!

Our first stop was the Ilve showroom in Coorparoo for breakfast. This is one of the places to go if you want to get serious about your kitchen appliances. From ovens to dishwashers to inbuilt coffee machines. I could wax lyrical about this place because we are very happy Ilve oven owners...
My friend Susan enjoying the lovely breakfast in the ilve showroom.

From there we took the shuttle bus into the Valley to hit the other places on our itinerary. We spent the rest of the day visiting displays at Living Edge, Coco Republic, Innerspace, Argent, Milano Furniture and Space Furniture...amongst other designer type places.  It was a lot of fun, especially as most of the stores had hospitality catered for Brisbane Indesign visitors. It was bubbles and hors d'oeuvres central in the Valley yesterday!

I hadn't seen a real Eames Hang-it-all up close.
The round timber balls have a smooth matte finish. This is at Living Edge

There was a vending machine at Living Edge which dispensed propaganda badges for the Authentic Design Alliance which champions original design. I got a badge which said "Keep it Real".

The line of the day goes to our friend Kelvie who on dispensing her badge said, "Great! I'll display it on my fake Noguchi coffee table. Mahahahaha!" She has no shame.

A lighting installation at Living Edge

Re-issued Featherston Contour chairs found at innerspace
Our friend Chris who has a number of originals said that these are more compact than his.
He also said the footstool is not as nice as the original.
The retro range of SMEG appliances found in the Coco Republic space. This is the dishwasher.
Completely adorable in real life. I would be so tempted to buy something like this if we were ever to do another kitchen.

Mr and Mrs Kelly. I was so happy to see these letterboxes at Eco. I'm still sold on Mrs Kelly, I'm waiting until we have the spare cash to splurge on this whimsy....
We had the most fabulous day sightseeing the very best of what Brisbane has to offer in terms of design. Apparently there will be an Indesign Saturday in Melbourne sometime in August. If you are looking for some design inspiration or even just some information for your interior design, it's a fun way to do it in one big hit.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Car trouble... encore!

Yep. The Peugeot is giving poor old Jason grief again.

The familiar screen of death flashed up on Jason's dashboard this afternoon.

"Engine fault. Repair needed."

And then the Peugeot shuddered and conked out on the corner of Adelaide and Wharf Street in the City. This is the third warranty repair and it doesn't include a factory recall when he first purchased the car.

I feel a double cab ute could be on the cards for our next vehicle. The Peugeot's days are numbered.

So I dedicate this Peugeot song to Jason. Seriously hilarious. I suspect it will be Jason's theme song. Click here.

(many thanks to Nick at Stop the 70s! for tipping me off about this audio clip)

Monday, 21 May 2012

Bedroom side of the house

There's still so much painting to do on the Sow's Ear. It's ridiculous. We think we are Dulux's best domestic customer in Australia because we just finished another 15 litre drum of exterior gloss this weekend.

Jason spent a few hours on Saturday and Sunday painting the new weatherboards on the bedroom side of the little pigster.

Jason painting the window sills.
(You know that there's a chill in the air when Jason's wearing a shirt.)

Jason has big plans to change the single-pane casement windows that are in his gimp room under the house (windows on the left in the image above). He wants to swap them for windows in the hopscotch profile to make it consistent to the rest of the Sow's Ear. We already have the windows from when we bought a stash of windows from our mate Will (you can read here about it here).

Jason must've been feeling super-energetic because he also painted the joists on the underside of the bay window. If we stood still enough, I reckon Jason would paint me and the kids too.

Painted joists under the bay window. You can also see one of the original hopscotch windows of the Sow's Ear here
And this last shot is for the hard-core Jason fans. There's the faintest hint of man flesh there for huge fans like the lovely F from The White House. No need to thank me...

Look at the painting stance and technique...
This is Jason's new-work-around-the-house uniform.
My Mum kept my brother's old shirts from when he was a teenager in the 80s and often gives Jason first dibs. Ha!

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Orange blanket

It's getting quite chilly in Brisbane as winter approaches. This usually means another wool blanket on the bed.

I found this orange blanket at the local op-shop. I bought it purely for it's 'orangeiness' and also in honour of the 2012 Pantone colour of the year: Tangerine Tango. 

Some would be appalled at buying second-hand bedding (ie Jason), but I try not to use my imagination when it comes to such things. I focus on the benefits of sleeping with wool. A wash and an airing does wonders too.

I bought a new wool blanket a couple of years ago from Target and it is not as well-made as this old blanket. The weave is looser and the quality is inferior when compared with the old one. 

So, the op-shop one is a winner - cheap as chips and in a colour that suits my aesthetic.

Vintage orange blanket
As you can see, I fail in ironing pillow slips...

Orange blanket

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Retro style cushions

It's been mentioned out there in Blogtopia that to under-cushion is a deadly sin. It slots in at number two position, between Lust and Greed in the lifestyle blogger's bible.

Retro cushions

Beautiful embroidered fabric repurposed into a cushion

My mate Melissa has been fighting the good fight against under-cushioning and has made a selection of handsome one-of-a-kind cushions. She uses mostly vintage fabric, which she has collected over the past decade or so, to create unique soft furnishings. Her vintage fabric collection is amazing - I particularly like the fabulous barkcloth fabric Melissa has in her storeroom.

Melissa's also putting the love back into unloved chairs and giving them a new lease on life. Aren't they happy and fun pieces for the home?

upcycled chair with vintage barkcloth  upholstery

upcycled chair with new upholstered seat 
If you are in Brisbane, Melissa will be selling her wares on Saturday 19 May at a small market to be held at St Joachim's Church Hall, Crown Street in Holland Park from 2pm to 4pm. She's selling lots of cushions, the chairs above and handmade sun hats amongst other things. You can call/text Melissa on 0447 517 492 if something in particular caught your eye.

* I may possibly receive a bottle of wine for my blogging services....it depends if Melissa sells anything as a result of  this blog post. Ha!

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Bit nervous

Today I'm breathing (with a gas mask) a sigh of relief as the burnt out house which backs onto the Sow's Ear had its asbestos roof removed. You can read about the house fire here.

I'm relieved because after all the work was done, they laid tarpaulins over the blackened roof trusses which I saw as a sign that they would not be demolishing the house...I'm hopeful at any rate. Surely, they wouldn't take so much care if the house was going to be demolished?

Old house having its roof removed

It's not an overly beautiful house but usually when people build in this area, it's often two storey McMansions which take up every square inch of available land. Not that I'm knocking that, but as a  neighbourly person I love distance between me and the neighbour's toilet, if you know what I'm saying.

We also have a really nice outlook to the mountains from our deck at the moment - a new house build behind us would probably mean hasta la vista to our quaint vista. I have my fingers crossed that the house is repaired rather than demolished.

It's something which bothers me all the time since we have Boo Radley's house next door to us as well! Who knows what will be built there?

Am I the only person who gets nervous when the neighbours start renovating or building?

Monday, 14 May 2012

Three years at the Sow's Ear

Three years ago this week we became the owners of the Sow's Ear. What a busy three years we've had in the old house.

I was not at all keen on the Sow's Ear when we first saw it. In fact, I was dead-set against it - it needed too much work (given we have three growing boys and Jason works long hours in his job). Who wants to be a slave to their house?

Jason on the other hand was very much in love with it and said that we should grab the opportunity to buy it. He also said while caressing the VJ (vertical join) walls: "Don't worry. I can do most of the work myself. It just needs paint."

Three years on, Jason is still painting - the shine of romance with the Sow's Ear has somewhat waned but he's still committed.

For me, the best thing I did was to start this blog a few months after we moved in. Writing about the changes we've made and the weekly goings-on in the Sow's Ear has definitely made me like our home more.

See what I did just then? It's no longer a house, it's our home.

The Sow's Ear during our second inspection
The Sow's Ear today

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Under the deck progress

It's all coming along rather well under the deck.

The May Day long weekend meant we could have a few days straight of painting the new weatherboards. It's looking much schmicker than the old cream fibro that used to be there.

Under the deck

It still has a long way to go. We still haven't finished painting all the deck joists which were painted in heritage green. It just needs one more coat of gloss white.

Newly painted weatherboards under the deck

We also plan to change the style of French doors we have here, so we haven't bothered to paint them. Jason's keen to get French doors in a hopscotch pattern to match the rest of the Sow's Ear. He's very into matchy-matchy.

Six-light French doors under the house
You can also see the joists under the deck are now white

The whole under-the-deck area needs a good hose down too after all the building work which was done last month. There's a few paint splatters which will come off with a bit of high-pressure cleaning. We'll wait until we completely finish painting this area though.

Here is what under the deck looked like a couple of months ago. Cream fibro cladding and heritage green joists.

We are also on the look out for a cool hose reel or hose hanger to keep things tidier. All our hoses are a big hot swirly mess on the ground near the outdoor taps. It's kind of sad.

Does anyone have some good suggestions about what to get or use? What do you use?

Monday, 7 May 2012

Outsider Art pieces

I finally ventured back to the Monte Lupo ceramic studio - remember when I visited back here? There was a new Mother's Day exhibition coinciding with the launch of a new coffee shop at the on site gallery.

I was very keen to see the new pieces that had been made since my last visit, particularly as I had a child-free afternoon. Many of the pieces were selling very fast.

The word on the street is that other galleries purchase pieces from Monte Lupo to add to their collections. Even some interior designers purchase what is made in the studio to sell in their shops. It's great to see the support that the artists are given.

Monte Lupo provides a career path for people with disabilities who wish to be gainfully employed in creative industries. They employ over 30 people with a disability. The work that they produce in Brisbane is truly amazing - such talented young artists.

Here are a few shots from my lovely afternoon out at the gallery:

Awesome garden sculptures welcomed us at the gallery entrance. These can be used as planter stands or outdoor tables

Life size garden dwellers. The work involved in these pieces is amazing. The ornamentation is individual hand crafted mosaic tiles. They are so unique.

Happy and cheerful tin people to hang in your favourite tree or on your deck

I couldn't resist purchasing a few small pieces which took my fancy.

This piece is by artist Peter Hughes. It was part of a collection of circus audience members.
She is the only other female in the Sow's Ear. I love her pink hair and alert eyes. It is very Reg Mombassa in style.
A gorgeous bird to keep Buster the Budgie company on the deck.
Apparently birds sell fast because they are all the rage. They are predicting fish to be the new birds as the future trend.

This piece is made by Isaac Patmore who is the production coordinator at Multicap. He is a very talented Queensland potter.
This is a small cup - it reminds me a little of Danish style pottery. Very cool.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Up in smoke

It was about 3am when we heard the loud cracking and popping of what we thought were fire-crackers. Why anyone would want to be setting off crackers in the ungodly hours of Saturday morning annoyed Jason to the max! He jumped out of bed, opened our window and was ready to give someone an ear bashing.

He looked out the bedroom window and then he went to the back of the house to go outside. Thirty seconds later Jason rushed back into the bedroom and started throwing on his clothes, "Get up. The house behind us is on fire."

"What? No. Oh my God."

As I raced out onto the deck, I was shocked to see the old timber house which backs onto the Sow's Ear streaming with the thickest blackest smoke I had seen. You could barely even see the house it was blanketed with that much smoke. It was at that moment we heard the sirens of the approaching fire engines.

Jason and I just looked at each other, helpless to do much but watch what was unfolding before our eyes. It was too late to do anything. We had slept through the window of opportunity where we could be of any use to anyone. It is a sickening feeling.

The quick response of fire emergency was such a relief and they contained the fire within minutes. We could hear and feel the steam in the air when they were dousing the fire from the front. We couldn't see anything from where we were, as there was too much smoke.

I took this at about 6am, a few hours after the fire. It doesn't look too bad from this angle except that the roof is blackened and the windows are charred.

The house is rented out. We weren't too sure whether the tenants were there at the time. When I went to have a look later that morning, one of the neighbours told me that there was no one inside during the fire.

I took this shot later in the morning. The fire damage is quite obvious from the front. The police and fire investigation unit were there for most of the day too.
I didn't want to be too obvious taking photos lest they thought I was one of those disaster tourists.
The very scariest thing about this fire, apart from it being too close for comfort, was how silent it was for us. We heard nothing and we smelt nothing until the house was well and truly blazing.

Our children never even woke up. They slept blissfully unaware of all the noises around them - the fire, sirens and neighbouring smoke alarms going off.

Old timber houses and fire are an unhappy combination. We're getting a second smoke alarm for the Sow's Ear after this experience. There is no way we ever want to be caught in a burning house without a fighting chance.

EDIT: I'm including a link to Qld Fire and Rescue's website about smoke alarm placement. It might come in handy for anyone spooked by this post. Link is HERE

Friday, 4 May 2012

Vintage goodies for sale

One of my readers is having a bit of a mid-century/vintage clean out.

Jo who is a graphic designer from Murwillumbah, in northern NSW, has some fabulous stuff that she is selling. I said that I'd help her out with her clear out (because I am such a sticky beak) by doing this post...also I know that some of  you are always on the look out for some vintage goodies. It's also a nice excuse for a Sunday drive for those living in Brissy.

So, here are just some of the things which are for sale privately before they are farmed off to antique centres or ebay...I believe Jo from Murwillumbah may be a bit of a bower bird much like my mate mid-century Jo from the 'Swich given all the photos she sent me. (Seriously there is much, much more!)

mid-century timber shelf
Retro kitchen canisters

There's two of these timber chairs

There are four of these yellow chairs
Retro kitchen hutch
Vintage hats to be sold in one lot. There's more than just this
antique clothes airer
Retro tea/coffee crockery set

So if you fancy any of the things above or if you want to see more of Jo's sale items, make sure to give her a call.

Jo's mobile is 0404 831 353 or drop me a line and I'll send you her email address. She'd love to hear from you.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

French style...

Jason was rather glum the other week. It was heartbreaking. I wanted to cheer him up in a way which didn't involve me getting naked...and then I received an email from the Nuffnang Product Talk people saying they would be sending us an iron to test and review.

Perfect! I'll give Jason the iron. What else could a man want? That'll cheer him up.

And it's not an insignificant iron either. It's one of those Tefal steam generator irons which generates, you know, a lot of steam. And it's French. Even more perfect.

As regular readers would know, Jason has a penchant for all things French. French women (that would actually be me as I possess a French passport), Champagne, Peugeot cars (only if they don't break down), and now the 'you beaut' Tefal steam generator iron.

To quote Jason when I showed him a picture of the iron:

"I never imagined there'd be a day when I'd say this, but..... That is pretty cool."

Now this is ironing French style.
Squint and that guy could be Jason with hair, squint harder and that chick could be me trim and taunt.
Poor ol' Jason irons his own work shirts. I used to iron them back in my Betty Draper days, but I saw the light after Son #2 was born. I set out on a path of Constructive Incompetence. Forgetting to iron a sleeve here, burning a hole in the collar there, ironing shirts he no longer favoured...until I was given the sack as Chief Ironer. Take note, my life has been more fulfilling since.

Anyway, the Tefal iron arrived yesterday and did I get the the shock of my life...I hadn't paid attention to the scale of the iron when I looked it up on the website. My frame of reference was our 17 years old iron which is tenuously held together with yellowing masking tape.

This is the old iron. Long past its use-by-date. The shame.

I'll tell you what, this Tefal Pro Express Turbo Iron is one big mofo of a unit (the ghetto talk is seriously the only expression to describe it when you're expecting something more petite). It's the Hummer of the ironing world!

We were sent the Tefal  Pro Express Turbo GV8460 model.
The iron locks into place on the steam generator when it is not in use
So, after reading the instructions I set the Tefal Pro Express up to give it a test run. You basically fill up the tank with tap water, switch it on and get steamy.

For the first time since 2004, I proceeded to iron Jason's work shirts. Not just one, but all of them. I think it was the novelty of the new iron and its impressive steam making capabilities which propelled me to such dizzying heights of domesticity.

Jason's newly-ironed work shirts. He was so happy to see this sight.
The Tefal has a retractable power cord, the iron handle has a trigger which allows you to release steam as you're ironing and it glides effortlessly over clothes. It's as close as you will get to ironing nirvana, if such a place exists. Here is a link to a short (about two minutes) video on how to use it. (It shows you how to vertical steam suits and jackets too.)

Since using the Tefal, I realise just how crappy our old iron was and how inadequate it was for our requirements. It is amazing what you put up with when you don't know what's out there to make life easier.

Don't worry, I'm not about to make a habit out of ironing Jason's shirts full-time, but it will certainly make it a lot easier for Jason to do his own shirts and steam his work suits between wears.

Pre test run, I would never have contemplated buying an iron like this, thinking it was too big and just overkill.

Post test run, I have completely changed my mind. It's a really good product for people who have lots of work or school uniform shirts to iron every week. Like us. Although it is a big outlay initially, it would certainly be worth it.

And remember, it's French. You can Foux Da Fa Fa while you're at it. Repasser!

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