Monday, 31 December 2012

A new year

Didn't 2012 just fly by? It only seems like yesterday that we were preparing for the 2012 projects we wanted to tackle around the Sow's Ear. And what a very productive year we've had! Probably the biggest renovating year we have had since moving here in 2009.

Hooray!  Finished painting the second carport the other day! 

This year you saw us renovate and complete the study and the two youngest boys' bedroom.

It also saw the introduction of a new builder, Mr D, who constructed a new front fence. The fence makes the Sow's Ear like the eyebrows to a face.

We liked Mr D's work so much we got him back to build external side stairs and to weatherboard the Sow's Ear to ground level (the bottom half of the house used to be clad in fibro).

external side stairs with added roof

Jason also did his DIY thang - cladded the internal walls under the Sow's Ear with VJ panelling, made a start on adding decorative valances to the Sow's Ear's exterior, replaced windows and installed new (old) French doors and of course there was the never ending painting.

We seriously have kept the DIY house painting market afloat with the amount of painting that has occurred here. If there is a global paint bust, don't blame us because we've done our bit...and more!

In terms of personal growth, Jason learnt that beautiful French sports cars are heart breakers, knows how to paint a straight line like a well-seasoned house painter, and discovered the joys of hi-vis work wear. He tells me yellow is his favourite fluoro.

For me, I have seen the boys grow rapidly with our youngest son starting Kindy, saw the publication of a pet project Australian Modern and got a few more freelance writing gigs to keep me off the streets.

Gotta love the $5 Panton chairs. Of course they are replica but they do the trick as extra seating on the deck.

I op-shopped and found some very excellent mid-century designer wares. And I also braved the cameras to get a kick-ass photo, so that you can now put a face to the Bris Mod name after years of anonymity.

One of the nicest things of all has been meeting a few of my long time readers (a lot of lurkers...more people read Fun and VJs than I thought!) and meeting other Brisbane-based bloggers.

I have found everyone to be very friendly and amicable and it always surprises me to hear about all the negativity surrounding social media and blogs. So far, I've had a charmed blogging life and the positives have been many. Thank you for the wonderful support.

All up, we've had a good year. Not for a minute do we take for granted the good health and good luck that has graced us in 2012. We can only hope that this will last and if it doesn't, well you get that...

Happy New Year everyone. See you in 2013.

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Christmas and carport update

Christmas is done and dusted. We had a lovely day, enjoying family time together. It really is a magical time, especially now the children are older and look forward to Christmas Day. Sadly, it is over too quickly.

Christmas morning at the Sow's Ear. Lego was the choice toy in the letters to Father Christmas.

Turkey for Christmas Eve dinner. I use toothpicks to sew the bird up...lazy prep but it worked!

Jason is back to painting the carport. It's his aim to have it finished by the time he returns to work next week. And he will have it done by the rate he is going.

Jason's a thorough painter. He's painting the trusses white. They used to be heritage green.

The carport from the side stairs of Sow's Ear. 

I thought it would be interesting to show you what this side of the house looked like about two years ago...We've just tried to simplify the exterior colours and lessen the amount of visual clutter that made up this side of the Sow's Ear. And in time all our changes will settle in and seem like it was never different...

Sow's Ear two years ago 

Enjoy the rest of your Saturday everyone!

Monday, 24 December 2012

Compliments of the season

Poor old Jason is painting the car port this holiday. As you do.

The car port has the last bit of heritage colours which we are painting over. It will finish off the entire façade of the Sow's Ear. When that is complete a happy dance will be performed.

Here are some shots  of the progress Jason has made during the past two days.

Jason painting the gutters of the car port. Crazy white guy thinks he can go shirtless in summer...Anyway he wasn't up there long and it was late afternoon as the heat of the day was fading.

Jason is hoping Santa paints the rest of the car port for him as his Christmas Miracle. 

It really is a sh*t of a job and the main reason we have delayed doing it. Anyway, it will look fab when it is finished.

And just to reassure you that it's not all work, work, work....see Jason in the image below catching 40 winks...

Christmas Eve dinner with all my favourite boys, Jason snoozing in the top right. 

So we will still be hanging about in blogland over the Christmas period, so check in to see what we are up to.

Hope you and yours have a lovely Christmas. Take it easy, have fun and stay safe this silly season.


Friday, 21 December 2012

Washing machine delivered and house raising neighbours

Is it wrong for me to obtain an excessive amount of pleasure from doing a load of washing?

Perhaps. A few day's worth of dirty laundry and a broken washing  machine can do that to a person.

So life is back to domestic normality. The appliancesonline people came through with the goods and delivered the new washing machine as promised. I could've kissed those guys when they rocked up on my doorstep with their trolley.

What stood out for me was that you get a telephone call in the morning with an expected delivery time and another phone call half an hour before they actually arrive. There was none of the ridiculously wide time frames (of up to five hours) that you often get with delivery services. No wonder everyone seems to rave about it!

By the way, this is not a sponsored post. I'm just pleased to share a good experience, especially when the purchase is an emergency. Hopefully the new washing machine will last the distance and I won't have to do this again in a hurry (as easy as it was, I hate having to fork out money for white goods!)

House raising. It's been fascinating to watch from our back deck.
Also, there has been a bit of renovating activity occurring around us. One of our neighbours (we don't really know them) is in the process of raising their post-war chamfer board house and have put in a swimming pool. It is such a big undertaking. And you know what? They're using the same builders as that Renovator's Rescue (read here) home I had critiqued recently!

I thought my regular readers would get a kick out of learning that...

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Replacing the washing machine

After making some grand pronouncements in the last blog post about consolidating our funds for renovating in 2013, the washing machine just packed it in!

The old machine was tripping our electrical safety switch, which is not a terribly healthy sign. And according to the service guy, it's not worth repairing. Water got into the motor and a replacement motor would cost more than the five year old washing machine was worth.

We paid the princely sum of $129 for the pleasure of that information...clearly we had hoped it was something which could be easily fixed...So a week out from Christmas we are left washing machine-less. The horror.

Old washing machine which lasted about five years...

Washing clothes is my main raison d'etre...well no, but it does form a great part of my daily routine. I feel like I'm missing a body part now the washing machine is out of action..., well no, but the dirty laundry basket is overflowing. It really needs to be replaced ASAP.

Thankfully my social media network came through with their personal recommendations, after my public pleas for assistance.  It seems the quickest, cheapest and most convenient way to purchase white goods theses days is through appliances online.

And it is, because I just bought a new machine this evening. My new washer arrives on Friday (free delivery too), it will be installed and they will take the old washing machine away with them. You wonder what the catch is?

I'm happy though, as I didn't have to drag the kids to the shops during the Christmas rush and with the plethora of information there is on the net, the final choice was as informed as it needed to be.

Sadly, I don't have a lot of faith in appliances these days. Most are not built to last. I've been told that standard front loaders will only last for about five years; standard top loaders will give you about 10 years. That's a pretty poor indictment of our throw-away society.

Anyway, I'll let you know how my online washing machine purchase goes when it is delivered. I really hope it does get delivered on Friday...we're short on undies!

Monday, 17 December 2012

All quiet on the renovating front and a privacy latch

It's been very quiet at the Sow's Ear. The incessant renovating has ceased for now as we consolidate our money for more renovating in 2013. With the school holidays in full throttle, poor ol' Jason fighting a man-flu and a very busy social calendar, renovating is taking a back seat.

There are always lots of small jobs we do but they seem so inconsequential and unworthy to dedicate an entire blog post to them.  But some of those insignificant jobs are quite life changing...

For example a week ago, Jason installed a privacy latch onto the bathroom door. Our only bathroom is a combined toilet and bath. As you can imagine in a bustling family household, it is an 'in-demand' room.

privacy latch

The door lacked a lock. Lockless. There used to be a barrel bolt on the inside but we removed it fearing the children would inadvertently lock themselves in.

So for the past three years we have been accidentally walking in on each other as we performed our ablutions. It has not been an easy three years.

I developed a clearing-the-throat nervous cough at the sound of approaching footsteps to signal that the bathroom was occupied.

Son #2 developed a hysterical "Close the door!" scream.

Son #1 developed a nervous post traumatic bathroom twitch as he is extremely modest and would be in tears if someone caught him mid-stream.

And heaven help anyone who dared walk in on Jason as he sat on the throne. He used to cut us down with a murderous stare and be cranky for the rest of the day.

The only one immune was Son #3 who, at age four, is entirely comfortable with an audience and gives us a running blow-by-blow commentary of his toileting experience.

The privacy latch has proven a complete success. It may look a bit public toilet, but sometimes function outweighs form. (You can get some awesome repro brass locks from the UK here if you want to have something fancy)

Again, it is the small things which make a big difference in a renovation. A peaceful wee is all anyone really wants, isn't it?

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Xmas gifts for under $50

Where has the time flown? I am so ill-prepared for the onslaught that is Christmas and have barely bought any gifts. And I think I've left my run a bit late for most online retailers...

So if you are a bit like me and have left everything to the last minute, and still don't know what to get for hard-to-buy-for relatives and friends, pay attention. All of the suggestions are independent, as none of these businesses had the foresight to contact me and pay me. Shame.

Just click the image captions to be whisked away to find out more.

A good wooden cheese board will never go astray in an entertainer's home. A nice vintage one would go down a treat but who's got time to fossick in mid-December?  Go to Myer first thing in the morning and buy this one. They have other cheese boards but this one is on sale, and you should never pay full retail if you can avoid it.
image and more information here
And if you team it with a cooler pack filled with Tarago River Shadows of Blue cheese from Coles Deli then you will have a friend for life.

For a new smart phone case go to The Dairy and check out the patterns from Keren Brown. Her pineapples and cockatoo cases are fun and summery. She's a Queensland gal too which will make your purchase feel very local, warm and fuzzy.
Image and more information here
I've only just discovered this Brissy online store called Everingham and Watson. They have a lovely assortment of Australiana that greatly appeals to me. And who can dislike an acrylic pineapple decoration to make your Xmas tree authentically Queensland?

image and more information here
As Christmas is focused around entertaining and summer get-togethers, you ought to have a big 9 litre stainless steel bowl which you can either fill up with ice and champagne or a retro punch. It is much nicer looking than the Coleman's esky if you are wanting to impress.

Image and more information here

Turkish towels are all the rage. They are made from a thin, super absorbent cotton weave which makes them light weight to carry and quick to dry. I say that is a great thing for those hitting the beaches and pools this Christmas. 

Image and more information here 

If you are really, really stuck and don't know what to get the person who has everything (ie a complete hoarder) and doesn't need more stuff, why not give a charity gift? UNICEF have a great range of charity gifts to choose from that will hopefully make a small difference.

The measles vaccine to protect 100 kids is bang for your buck at $27.
image and more information here
There you have some ideas to get you thinking but don't dilly dally.. You really have no time to waste!

Merry Christmas shopping.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

A winner

Thanks so much to everyone who entered the Bunnings giveaway. Sadly, only one person can win and that person is.....drum roll....

Marjee from My very own eye goggles.

Congratulations Marjee. I'm sure the evoucher will come in handy over the silly season. Go the power tool!

Again, thanks to everyone for entering the competition - it is always good to be able to give Fun and VJs readers a little something back. And thanks to Bunnings for providing the prize.

Monday, 10 December 2012

French doors and the question of toughened glass

Hooray the French doors are now finished. And funnily enough they look like they were always meant to be there...which they were.

Jason's finishing touches are probably what makes the door. Rim lock, brass door knob and brass escutcheon will age gracefully alongside the salvaged door.

A very interesting issue also cropped up when ordering replacement arctic glass for a shattered glass pane. I ordered the new glass over the phone and was asked whether I wanted it toughened to meet Australian Standard. It is twice the price of the  ordinary 'untoughened' panes of glass.

My response was 'no', what's the point having just one pane of glass toughened when the rest of the doors, as well as the rest of the house, has the original shattering glass? The salesperson then proceeded to read out what was basically a disclaimer about how I was advised and fully aware that the glass I was ordering was not safety glass.

I never thought using salvaged building materials on the Sow's Ear could ever pose a problem...but clearly it does in our increasingly litigious society...interesting...

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Turf update

It's been 11 days since we laid the new turf (read here). Since then we have been watering the lawn twice a day to ensure that it survives Brisbane's sub-tropical summer.

Sir Walter turf
Thankfully we have a rainwater tank which makes watering the grass a relatively guilt-free pastime.

And yes, so far, so good. The new lawn seems to have taken root and is nice and lush, but we are keeping up the watering routine until the mini heatwave Brisbane is experiencing passes...We just want to make sure the lawn doesn't burn off because yesterday the mercury hit a very uncomfortable 39 degrees Celsius.


Anyway, we are so relieved to have managed to keep the lawn alive, especially as we don't have green thumbs! Yay!

Monday, 3 December 2012

Hopscotch French Doors

There is this trend out there in Renovatingland of  removing walls and doors to make homes lighter and airy, and more open.

Sorry to say we have gone against the fashion and have kept all our walls intact and reinstated doors from previously naked doorways in the old Sow's Ear. Call us pent up.

Old hopscotch French doors

Salvaged French doors have been on our wish list for quite some time but the style we were after were difficult to source. We spied some hopscotch French doors online recently, which were more or less the right dimensions and in our price bracket. A good score.

Jason planing the doors to fit...he had to retrieve the plane from a garden bed after flinging it in rage at one point in time...Angry Jason.

These French doors have slotted in where the kitchen opens into the sunroom. There would have been doors there many moons ago... we suspect that the old doors were moved into Son #1's bedroom which has French doors leading onto the back deck.

For us, reinstating the doors will be a good thing during winter to keep the core of this rather draughty house warm. And if we ever decide to go down that air-conditioning route, we can cool the house far more efficiently.

Doors waiting to be painted and to have hardware fitted.

Jason's had all sorts of dramas fitting the door and threatened to never ever to do another DIY. Ha! Good luck with that Jason. He accidentally broke one of the glass panes which just crushed his morale. We replaced it quite quickly so there are no photos...actually I didn't dare take photos of that.

Shirtless Jason painting over the very hot and humid weekend. Jason fitted a new rim lock too. There will be brass fittings because Jason loves brass. Loves.
The doors are almost finished. I will share the final shots with you when it is all done.
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