Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Single light casement window

I've just ordered a new window to be made up for the bathroom.

We decided against another coloured window, as we thought it would compete with the amber/yellow glass that is already in the bathroom. And as much as we like green glass, the mix of green and the yellow would be too patriotic for us (thanks to the commentator who kindly reminded us of this fact!).

The original plan was to get a small hopscotch casement window made, but we found out that it could not be manufactured with toughened arctic could only be done with cathedral glass which is not as textured as arctic. Arctic glass is used in most of the windows in the Sow's Ear.

small hopscotch
We will now have just a single light casement instead.

Toughened arctic is limited to how small it can be cut and our window pane sizes were too small. Normal arctic glass does not have this issue but window manufacturers can't sell it to us because of new regulatory standards. The glass must be to Australian safety standards. Who knew this stuff?

cathedral at the top and arctic at the bottom

As a default, we opted for a single light casement with toughened arctic glass instead. It was also the cheapest and easiest option by far.

we've ordered a smaller version with no frame which will then be  primed and painted.

We could have opted for an unglazed hopscotch window which we could glaze ourselves with normal arctic glass (ie glass that hasn't gone through the toughening process) ... For one small window, the bother factor was not high. 'Phew!' sighs Jason.

The window gets made up in over a week. I'll keep you posted. 

Monday, 27 May 2013

A look at an Ashgrove Queenslander

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of visiting a very original Queenslander porch and gable home nestled in the western suburb of Ashgrove. The current owners acquired the property last year and are the third owners of the three bedroom home since it was built in 1925.

Fellow house bloggers, Elizabeth from Walk Among the Homes and Magnus from A House in Auchenflower visited the home too. You can read the thoroughly interesting historical research (think links to XXXX Brewery in Milton) which Magnus has chronicled here and admire the photographs which Elizabeth has captured here

I merely tagged along as a house voyeur. Professional sticky-beak. I was keen to see this home as it is a similar vintage to the Sow's Ear - it helps to fill in the blanks of what our home may have looked like originally. It was also good to see Elizabeth again who so kindly showcased the Sow's Ear in her blog a few months ago and to finally meet the debonair Magnus.

This Ashgrove home would have to be one of the best preserved Queenslander homes I have visited, lovingly cared for and with very minimal changes to the structural integrity of the house. It is quite a special feat after 88 years.

My photographs do no justice to the home, but I wanted to capture some of the features which often disappear over time and which are so characteristic to the Queenslander. Thanks so much to the owners who were very generous in giving us free rein of their beautiful home.

dark stained fretwork breezeways above the bedroom doors

Old power points cut into the dark skirting boards

Bank of dark stained hopscotch casement windows in the dining room. It looks like the old casement stays have been removed over time.

enclosed verandah/sleep out with lino floor covering and louvre windows

Back door landing with just  the weatherboard lining and louvre window.
Notice how the back door is a double hopscotch pattern

Back stairs with roof and external privacy screen

original timber house stumps with tin ant capping

Under the eaves which were interestingly (for me) unlined
tin bullnose window hood with privacy screen 

Friday, 24 May 2013


I've escaped for a few day with some girlfriends for a bit of R&R. It's part of my festival of forty that I've been celebrating this year. Yay!

Jason's been holding the fort with the boys. He's a good man.

I'll be having a cocktail for each and every one of you who read the blog. Cheers!

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Second thoughts about our sofa

A few weeks ago, I mentioned here that we were planning on re-upholstering our lounge room setting...

We chose a great fabric but after some reflection, we've changed our mind and would like to buy an entirely new (or old) suite. Re-upholstering is a costly exercise - a perfect solution if you want to keep something forever...and we thought our current sofa is not our 'forever' sofa.

It might be time to upgrade to something a little more substantial...if we can find the right setting Jason and I can agree on.

That's the tricky part.

Jason and I love the slimline range that is sold by Angelucci's in Melbourne and think it would look great in the Sow's Ear.

A modular three-seater sofa from The Modern Furniture store has also grabbed my eye.

And I also like the look of this sofa from Great Dane...until I saw the price! It's probably too much out of our price bracket although I love its shape.

Lots of food for thought as we contemplate our next sofa. Although it will be sad to see the old one go....

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Visiting a Queenslander up for sale

The other day I inspected a house for sale with a friend who is searching for new digs. When she told me which house she was visiting, I instantly invited myself along for the voyeurism is what I do best.

It is an interwar Queenslander but I'm uncertain of the date it was built. I'd guess 1930? It is a beautiful old home which needs a lot of love. Probably more love (and money) than my friend can give at this stage. The home is being marketed to developers because it is situated in the middle of a rather large block of land.

The real estate agent said the house could potentially be moved to the front of the block and two new homes could be built out the back...It would be heart-breaking to see such a thing happen (this is why I will never be rich - too sentimental).

The front verandah has been enclosed and the entry has moved to the side of the home. It looks like it was originally a two-bedroom home with a sleep out, from what I could gather.

The home must have been quite grand in its day because of the rather fine detailing.

In the main bedroom there is a bay window with exquisite lead light. Seriously beautiful. The room also has an amazing elaborate ceiling that is breathtaking.

The dining room and lounge room are quite formal and are separated by timber French doors. These rooms have coffered ceilings and horsehair plaster walls beneath the wallpaper. It is just lovely to see such original detailing quite untouched.

I took a photograph of the bathroom because it was rather pink and its walls were adorned by floral pink wallpaper.  The ceiling was wallpapered too. ( I secretly didn't mind the 1950'ish black and pink tiling...I need more pink in my life)

I didn't mind the art deco style tiling on the bathroom floor...

I love visiting other homes which are still relatively original. This poor old home is very tired though. Let's hope someone will bring it back to its former glory.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Fence repair

As I said last week, it certainly sucks when you have to repair something that was damaged accidentally...

Thank goodness Jason is handy because it would've been a pain (as well as embarrassing) to have someone else repair my dreadful mistake.

As it turned out the damage was not so bad. The post was still rock solid in the ground (Mr D builds them to last) but reversing into the gate while it was closed caused the post to split. Lucky it was something that could be repaired.

With some glue, some nails and Sikaflex, Jason was able to put it all back together again. He's done a terrific job. Mr D was kind enough to drop by to see if he could help when he heard what I had done...(the grapevine is alive and well in our neighbourhood) and was very impressed with Jason's repair job. Mr D may hire him as an apprentice if Jason ever decides to chuck in his day job...

With a bit of paint on the post, no one will ever know...unless you read the blog!

Friday, 17 May 2013

Show us a retro corner of your home

The retrolicious girls from Lucy Violet Vintage and Hung up on Retro are hosting a link up where you show off a retro or vintage corner of your home. How could I not participate? Retro is my middle name. Ms Bris Retro Mod.

I have lots of retro corners in the Sow's Ear but they generally get cluttered with the children's things. Yes, in real life we have toys galore scattered around the house. So today I flung it all out of view (just to the left) and snapped this small, but favourite corner of mine. I'd have done more but there was only so much flinging I was up for today...

The shot above is in our lounge room. It consist of a small 1950s homemade desk which I found in a carpark, the boys old Stokke tripp trapp chair, a large 1975 screen print by the late Gold Coast artist Veda Arrowsmith and a numbered Inaluxe giclee print (this is now sold through ikea).

In this next photo is a close up of some random objects which we've accumulated over time. The orange Bitossi style lamp I bought from Katherine at Theoldboathouse, the teeny West German bud vase was a gift from a friend, the vintage red art glass vase is an eBay buy (I think it's 1960s Japanese) and the tiki was bought in the Papeete marche when we were visiting family in Tahiti in 2009.

And there you have it - a retro corner among many retro corners in the Sow's Ear.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

We made the front cover!

That made you look!

I know it's not the cover of Inside Out or Vogue Living however one has to start somewhere..The cover of the kids' school recipe book seems like a respectable start. 

(It also helps that I am the only serial vignette snapper available and an enthusiastic one at that)

The kids saw the photo and asked at whose place was it taken. When I said it was taken at the Sow's Ear they seemed genuinely surprised. "Oh really? It doesn't look like our place."  

They thought the photo was at someone else's place because of the old rotary hand whisk, which I had borrowed from a friend. Funny how one thing can throw them...

Aren't those vintage whisks awesome? I want one now. I was almost going to steal it but my friend had already stolen it from her parents-in-law. You should really only steal things once...

So, anyone make the cover of something recently? 
rough mock-up of school recipe book cover could still end up on the cutting room floor so maybe this post was premature! 

p.s And thanks for all your sympathetic comments about my little run-in the other day. I feel better after reading your similar stories. xx 

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Why you should open both gates...

You know that opening scene from Four Weddings and a Funeral where the first words uttered were different intonations of the F word? Well that kind of describes my weekend.

Saturday morning was going to be a busy chock-a-block day. I had lots of jobs to do, places to go and people to see. I walked down the driveway to the front fence and opened  the right-hand side gate. I checked to see if there was anything in the mail box and was momentarily distracted by the frangipani tree, which was still in flower...I smiled and picked a small bud for my hair...because it was so pretty...

Then I walked back to the car, started the ignition, put the car in reverse and 


I slammed straight into the gate that I had forgotten to open. Yep, the left-hand side gate was still closed when I was reversing.  I was on complete autopilot and didn't check my mirrors. If I had, I would have seen the gate in the rear view mirror.


Jason checking the busted fence post
So, the damage: a split fence post, crumpled bumper bar and loss of face with the boys. The actual gate itself is still intact, although the gate bolt did fall off. The fact it is a relatively brand new fence just breaks my heart.

The boys are giving me heaps of flack over the flower picking...the most expensive flower I have ever picked I would hazard a  guess. My brunette hair colour is even being questioned! Nooooo!

damage to the back bumper bar

It's not like we don't have enough to do around here already...but when I'm responsible for creating more work for poor old Jason to fix can really suck.

He was really good about it and set about fixing the fence post straight away. I don't feel so much like a loser, now that I can't see the damage to the fence. And I've booked the car to be repaired as soon as possible.

All I can say is, thank goodness it wasn't the French car. Phew!

Monday, 13 May 2013

Four years at the Sow's Ear

Fours years ago we became the fourth owners of the Sow's Ear, since it was built in 1928. In some ways it only seems like yesterday when we first moved in, and in other ways it seems like we've been here forever.

Most readers don't know that I was reluctant going through with the purchase of the Sow's Ear. It was Jason who loved the Sow's Ear from the at first-sight kind of thing...not sure how the romance is going now, but he's persevering with it like a true Romeo.

I thought it would be fun to look back at some old photos of the Sow's remind us how far we've come. It's like our fourth child.

The Sow's Ear real estate photo

The Sow's Ear a few months after moving in

Back view of the Sow's Ear - real estate photo

Old capiz shell kitchen light. 

The sunroom when we first moved in

The living room breezeway
The new kitchen being installed a few months after moving in

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Welcome to a new sponsor Thea & Sami

Happy Mother's Day to all the Mums out there!

I just wanted to give a shout-out to our brand new sponsor Thea & Sami who design and hand screen-print fabrics and linen locally in Brisbane. We are so proud to be associated with such a fine innovative business with an environmental conscience.

Using only water-based and non-toxic inks, Thea & Sami's creations are 100 per cent eco-friendly - their ethos is all about surrounding oneself with natural style. When you purchase Thea & Sami products, you can be confident that it is hand-made and not mass-produced.

Thea & Sami also make limited edition natural linen homewares such as ottomans, cushions and napery which you can purchase through their online ecostore or, if you live locally, you can pop into the Thea & Sami studio shop on Fridays (unit 1/6 Jones Road, Capalaba).

Custom made lampshades in the Fretwork pattern which is inspired by the Queenslander gable.  

If you want to find out more about Thea & Sami and the beautiful linens they produce, visit the website here.

Please help us to support the small businesses who so generously support us. 

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Another M.A.D June weekend for your diaries

Well it's nearly that time of the year again when all design addicts can soak up a whole weekend of great architecture and culture in the middle of Brisbane suburbia. That's right Modernist Architecture and Design (M.A.D) is on again!

The people behind Australian Modern are putting on a weekend of events culminating with the ever popular Sunday self-drive interiors house tour of Brisbane.

Keep the weekend of Friday 28 June to Sunday 30 June free, if you want a design fix! And make sure you book early, as spaces are strictly limited.

Jacobi House
Here is a taste of what the program entails...


7:00 PM:  MEET & GREET







5:30 PM:  START

6:30 PM:  DINNER







1:00 PM:    FINISH

Contact Chris and Susan to get more information including the price for each event and remember bookings are essential for all events. Chris+Susan (07) 3395 4571  E:

I'm liking the sound of the Cool Caravans and Cocktails night. Apparently a fleet (?) of vintage caravans from around Australia will make an appearance on the night...which makes me curious...

Hope you guys will be able to make it and see you then. 

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Little window

There is a dodgy little window in our bathroom that we are going to replace.

The said dodgy window is just thin bits of mismatched glass slotted into a frame and held in place with wood nailed around the frame; similar to louvered windows...However, you can't open or close the window; it's permanently semi-open.

Small bathroom window

Small window. It's so filthy. But I'm not about to clean it either with its days numbered...
Domestic goddess I am not!

Jason's given me the measurements and has delegated the task to me to get this thing made, as it's not a standard size. He told me to get a single pane with arctic glass casement.

I wish Jason would just go out an order it himself...

So where do I go to get this thing made?  What should it be made of, if that's even an option? And I want to get coloured glass too, but choosing the colour is the big question? Amber, green, rose, or just clear arctic?

All these questions! Can anyone help?

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Amateur food stylist

Ambitions of a career in food styling and photography are probably not high on my list...Although I did answer the call for assistance when the boys' school asked for some retro 'food of the decades' photographs to include in a commemorative recipe book.

I enlisted the help of my hard-core modernist mates (because they own all the cool stuff) to help me style a couple of the decades. It was such a fun afternoon pretending to be Donna Hay...she doesn't have to worry about her empire...or maybe she should...!!

Here are a few shots to symbolise the 40s, 50s and 60s, Queensland style.

This is a 1950s cocktails by the pool photo.
The drinks are just food colouring and we  had to use oregano because we didn't have mint. Shh! Don't tell anyone...

This is a 1960s fondue shot. We used real fondue made by the lovely Yvette, who had all the fondue accoutrements at the ready.

This is the recipe for the master fondue. It was delicious.
I'm going to raid my parent's house to get their fondue set!

1940s style mixing  cake batter.
We were mixing up Kentish cake, which is Nana comfort food
Photographing all that food has renewed my interest in cooking...Anyone hungry?

Monday, 6 May 2013

Chalk paint makeover of a milking stool

The good people from Annie Sloan sent me paint and wax* to sample as part of their launch of chalk paint into the Australian market. I had heard about the new paint...however I had only ever seen it used in that distressed antique-style finish...

And as regular readers would know, that's not the sort of finish I normally favour. I wanted to use the paint in a clean, mod-style and had the perfect piece of furniture to rejuvenate.

In 1993, as a young unemployed graduate, I committed crimes against furniture when I decoupaged a perfectly innocent milking stool. Yes, the horror!

DIY decoupaged stool.
Believe it or not, I was so proud of my efforts...clearly as I 've kept it intact since 1993!

But it was the 90s and I had a perm...Decoupaging seemed like a good DIY hobby while trekking between dead-end job interviews and the dole office...

This poor old milking stool is so handy - it's used as a ladder, spare chair, side table and play surface. I set about rectifying the sins of the past and sanded the stool back to its vintage goodness. It deserved another chance at life.

Think belt sander with a very coarse grit to remove the Victorian-era inspired decoupage and then hand-sanding the hard to reach areas around the legs.

The milking stool sanded right back 

I painted the milking stool in graphite chalk paint. I didn't want to paint it entirely in one colour and decided to try my hand at that paint-dipped look which is so fashionable.

J Crew ad with fluoro (neon) paint dipped stools 

All you need is good painter's tape and a ruler to get everything level and at the right height. I didn't primer the stool and just painted straight onto the wood. This particular stool needed three coats of chalk paint.

Going for that paint-dipped look with chalk paint

The Annie Sloan chalk paint dries to a matte finish, which you can then lightly sand with fine sandpaper.  After it is dusted clean, apply a couple of coats of clear wax to make the finish more durable - it has a lovely satin sheen. I applied the wax onto the unpainted legs too.

Chalk paint dipped stool.
It almost has that minimalist designer look 

black dipped stool

It turned out much better than I had expected...but I think anything was going to be an improvement. Ha!

I just hope I won't be recoiling in horror in 20 years time, wondering what possessed me to paint dip the milking stool...Anyway, I like it now, so that just will have to do.

*disclaimer I was given a tin of graphite paint and wax to sample by Annie Sloan
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