Saturday, 31 August 2013

Weekend at Sow's Ear

Heaven help us! Jason's got man-flu.

Looks like the plan for painting this weekend is on hold. There were grand ideas about Jason painting shirtless for everyone's viewing pleasure but that shall have to wait until he's recovered sufficiently to move again. Because man-flu is clearly one step away from death it would seem...

I'm still on a mission with poisoning all the bindii this weekend. There were a few areas I missed. Don't you just hate that!

Anyway, I hope everyone has a happy day...last day of winter and all.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Retro Flea 2013

Every year our mates Chris and Susan, who are the publishers of Australian Modern, organise a community garage sale as part of their Neighbourhood Watch activities. And they know how to host an event!

This year it will be held on election day. If you want a bit of retro to go with your all-important vote, drop in from 8am Saturday 7 September on the corner of Cotswald and Burchell Streets, Carina.  It will be all over by midday, so make sure you get in quick.

Hot dogs will also be sold on the day to help raise funds for the Neighbourhood Watch.

It promises to be a huge morning out if you love to fossick for old wares and retro treasures. Seriously, it was such a massive event last year with 1960s sofas, kitchen dressers and large plan drawers for sale.

This year, the word on the street is that some of the older residents are decluttering for their move to the retirement homes...Think unused wedding gifts and vintage linens! There will also be lots and lots of books.

Last year at the retro flea. This was just one corner...
Last year I went with Son #1 and we had a great day selling superfluous homewares and old Star Wars toys. The Star Wars toys sold like hot cakes!

Son #1 scored a PNG fishing spear which is proudly displayed in his room and he also bought a you do as a 10 year old! Not bad for a $2 investment.

Keep the date free!

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Triple Gable Queenslander

Remember that Triple Gable Queenslander that was up for sale and which I blogged about in May? If you missed it, you can read about it here and see some internal shots when I went to the inspection.

It was eventually sold and it seems that the house will be kept as a family home which is such fantastic news. I just wanted to share that information since it received a lot of complimentary remarks in the comments section of that blog post.

The home was being marketed as a splitter block with the house to be moved to the front with the prospect of new apartments at the back of the block. Quel horreur!

Anyway,the old home is undergoing major renovations as you can see in the picture below. It is very cool to see an old home get a new lease of life.

Triple Gable Queenslander

I obviously had a soft spot for this home, as I have a photograph of it from earlier this year, a few months before it even went on the market. It's just lovely.

Triple Gable Queenslander 

Monday, 26 August 2013

Spraying bindii and emus

Spring is on its way. I know because I have a strong compulsion to wander around the Sow's Ear's gardens...not that they are really worthy of being classified as gardens with the amount of weeds entwined through the plants!

On the weekend Jason spent most of Saturday morning attending to his valance - it needed to be sanded back slightly, the ends primed and then gap filled. He will be able to paint it next weekend if the weather is good.

I spent the weekend spraying all the bindii with herbicide - the bindii seems quite prolific as always. This year I just used a pump spray rather than the spray which hooks up to the water hose - I couldn't be bothered hand weeding either after I injured my back earlier this year. I have my fingers crossed that I got to the weeds in time before they develop their prickly spurs. Nothing worse than tiptoeing in bare feet through the minefield that is a bindii-infested lawn!

herbicide spray

I also replanted some new herbs in the laundry tub planter and sowed seeds for rocket, carrots and coriander in the other laundry tub that we have in the yard. You see we are a two laundry tub planter family. Don't be jealous.

Last of the parsley in a Midwinter pitcher. 

I'll show you the planters when they are flush with new growth  - at the moment they look so tiny. We have lots of jobs around the yard over the next month.

And to go completely off-tangent, yesterday we took the kids to the zoo to see the koalas and feed the kangaroos. We had the best day communing with the marsupials and other Australian fauna.

I will leave you with this photo of an emu...just because I can.

I have a morbid fear of emus... I did snatch a photo of one as I scurried past.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Israeli ceramics

There's a line of thought in the hoarding world that you need to own three objects (of the same genre/maker/artist) before you can call it a 'collection'.

I own two pieces of Israeli ceramics, which I've found quite recently, so my little pots are one off from being classified a bona fide 'collection'. And they are two of the smallest pieces that one could find.

The first piece is a candle holder (like I needed another one in my life) which was made by Lapid Pottery Works in Israel.

The author of Retro Pottery Net has written a bit about this type of pottery, which you can read here. It seems there is not much information documented about Lapid, although it is quite collectable among pottery geeks and mid-century enthusiasts.

It has a very distinct Modernist style which I like very much. You can usually find Lapid on eBay, etsy and, if you're lucky enough, at the op-shops.

The next piece of Israeli pottery is a small bud vase with blue and turquoise stripes (vase at very front of the image below). It is made by Beit Hayotser pottery cooperative. Again you can read Retro Pottery Net's information on the pottery works from Southern Israel here.

It is only the simplest of vases with minimal ornamentation, but it is a lovely piece to start off the 'collection'. The small vessel works in well with the Lapid candle holder and some of my West and East German pots (there is also a rogue Australian (I think) and a cheeky Italian vase in among the mix).

So have you kick-started a collection yet? Tell me what you collect and what you have your eyes peeled for...

Monday, 19 August 2013

Zoila's grave

With the advent of technology, it has become a lot easier to find information online, from the comfort of home. For those who have been following our home renovation story, a small part of the saga relates to the original owners of the Sow's Ear - the Stables family. You can read the back log of the Sow's Ear's history here if you are interested in such things.

Tonight I thought I'd run a Google search on Zoila Stables, the eldest and most intriguing of the three siblings who first owned the Sow's Ear in 1928. I search every few months to see if any new records are updated onto the web.

And tonight I finally found the location of Zoila's grave and the date of her death - one of the main things I wanted to know. It was almost like a blow to the heart to see her name on the screen. Even though I knew she was no longer alive, the finality of finding her resting place made me shed a sentimental tear. I've become quite enmeshed in her life/history since we moved here four years ago; it seems so strange to have an attachment to this woman.

Her memorial plaque is located on the other side of Brisbane in Albany Creek, so very far away from Mt Thompson Crematorium in Mount Gravatt where the rest of the Stables family are located. She died on 9 November 1987.

Zoila Stables memorial plaque
image from here

One thing that needs to be noted, is Zoila was born on 26 August 1898, so she was actually 89 years old when she died.

I still have so many questions about this family and hopefully one day I will have them answered...

Sunday, 18 August 2013

We're going to call the valance Holly!

You can tell we have too much time on our hands when we've dubbed the new valance around the deck Holly. Get it? Holly Valance? (Australian TV actress from the early noughties for those not in the know)

So, Holly has come along quite well under Jason and Mr D's capable hands. They finished off the construction phase this morning and now all that is left is some gap filling and a few coats of exterior paint. Jason had primed most of the timber on the public holiday last Wednesday. Next weekend with be set aside for painting.

Arched timber valance or timber battens around the deck

The construction of the arched 'Holly' valance was quite straightforward, but as Jason likes to remind me, "You still need to have your wits about you."

For example, spacing out the palings needed to be planned out beforehand, as leaving a standard space did not always work. Mr D made up a story-rod from a plank of wood, which was effectively used as a template for measuring the distance between each span. The boys had to adjust the measurements accordingly to ensure every batten was evenly spaced.

pencil marks to obtain the curve

To achieve the arched curve, Jason drew it freehand, using the centre board as his starting point. He then measured each corresponding board to ensure they were even, adjusting his markings accordingly before cutting the final shape with a jigsaw.

The timber palings are a mix of hardwood decking boards, iron bark and spotted gum timber, which should weather well over time. They also have a nice smooth finish and will be easier to paint unlike the fencing-grade pine that is usually used for such a job. As it is a decorative element, it should ideally look good. Bling!

Jason is proud of the big nail gun between his legs. As he should be. Apparently, this is quite safe...Still not sure that having such an apparatus in a private and sensitive area is a great idea. As many of my instagram mates noted, lucky we've finished breeding! (Seriously, it's the endless opportunities for innuendo which keeps me blogging)
the valance or timber battens under construction
Anyway, Jason and I are very happy with how it's looking. The deck always appeared too spindly for our liking and the 'Holly' valance gives it more body.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

1977: the year of knotty pine

I visited a very retro house for sale the other day which I just have to share with you. It's located on Brisbane's southside and was almost a perfect time capsule of the late 1970s. Think Saturday Night Fever and Charlie's Angels era and you get the picture. Yeah, baby!

The house was architect-designed (not sure who, as the agent didn't know) in 1977 and is essentially a tribute to split-level design and knotty pine walls. Although I love a panelled wall, the amount of pine cladding challenged even my sympathetic leanings...But you have to admire the owners for keeping the home intact for so long and were never tempted by that Tuscan decor period that Brisbane flirted with during the 90s!

The four-bedroom house is in very good maintained condition in a nice area and if you live and breathe retro, it would be the house for you. I know our furniture would be right at home here.

knotty pine panelled walls in dining/living room
The galley kitchen was also very interesting as it had a massive walk-in pantry (with bat wing saloon doors) for all kitchen storage needs (it's out of shot in the image below). There was absolutely no cabinetry or drawers in the actual kitchen - very streamlined indeed. I kept on trying to open the non-existent drawers. I think I would want at least one drawer for the wooden spoons.

knotty pine kitchen
Image from here
There was a lot to like about this retro house and here is the floor plan to give you more of an idea of what living in 1977 looked like in Brisbane.
Image from here

So, do you think you could live in a house like this? And if you owned this retro house would you paint those knotty pine walls or celebrate all that knotty pine goodness?

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Once Upon a Time - Reinterpreting the Fairy Tale in West End

Kissing frogs, pumpkin coaches and hot men in tights are my first thoughts when I think of the fairy tales I read as a child... Ha! Imagine what the fanciful minds of Brisbane's artistic community will come up with in the latest art exhibition to hit town.

For those wanting to immerse themselves into the world of the creative and the whimsical, Once Upon a Time - Reinterpreting the Fairy Tale opens this Friday night, 16 August from 6pm. 

It will be held at one of Brisbane's coolest arts hubs Art & Design Precinct at 10 Bailey Street in West End. 

The 10 day exhibition features established and emerging artists returning to the essence of folk histories - exploring oral tales, myths and beliefs behind ancient fairy tales. 

It promises to be an exciting exhibition drawing together actors and artists creating works in media such as painting, illustration, sculpture, mixed media, photography, ceramics, jewellery and fibre art. There are also some amazing children's workshops scheduled, which explore the fairy tale genre.

Everyone is welcome to attend the opening night festivities - I'll be donning a pair of my favourite glass slippers to wear on the night!

All opening night bar, raffle and silent auction proceeds will be donated to Make-a-Wish Foundation. There will also be performances, music and a fairy fortune teller to predict your future...

Click here for all the events  

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Five tricks for stress-free entertaining

 Sponsored by Reckitts and Benckiser

My plan over the next few months is to host a few more long lunches to enjoy the gorgeous sunny weather we’ve been experiencing.

The Sow’s Ear is a great place to entertain, ever since we renovated our kitchen and deck.  It’s been a lot easier and stress-free to host gatherings, particularly now we have a dishwasher – no more hand washing the night away when all you want to do is sleep off the meal!

lunch on the deck
Hand washing wine glasses and dishes after a big party is a thing of the past, especially with the new ergonomic dishwashers that are available to suit small spaces like the Fisher & Paykel DishDrawer series – pull out a small drawer and wash as you go! It’s one less hassle to have to worry about, even in compact apartments or small kitchens.

Anyway, here are a couple of my top tips and tricks for stress-free entertaining:

Tip 1 - Beverages and responsible drinking

Make sure you have great drinks and cocktails at the ready and lots of them. As the host, consuming a few before the event is also a must. Instant rancho-relaxo!

The worry about whether your filet mignon is cooked to perfection will be but a trifling matter to you and your tipsy friends.  Jason generally picks up our guests before lunch, so that they don’t have to drive and leave their car behind. Have a taxi telephone number pre-dialled into your phone to make sure your guests get home safely.

Jason's enjoying a martini on the only need one to feel relaxed!

Tip 2 - Simple menu planning

Planning and picking meals that are simple to prepare, yet still have the wow factor is what I strive for when entertaining. I personally don’t like cooking a whole meal, from go to whoa, in front of people.  I purposely choose meals that just require serving after it has been cooking in the oven. Think slow cooked osso bucco, delicious roasts, and baked hams - meals which basically cook themselves when all the prior preparation has been done.

Love a roast when entertaining - turkey, lamb and pork are my holy trinity of meats

Tip 3 - Preparation

Prior preparation is the key to stress-free. If you can do most of the hard work the day or night before, then do it. The day before is when I make sure the house is clean and fit for guests, all the shopping is done and dessert, like homemade ice-cream or crème brulee,  is made and refrigerated.

On the morning of the party, I generally like to have all the dirty dishes done and have an empty dishwasher ready to load as we progress through the meal.  Easy and quick, is the name of the game. It’s a good feeling when you know the dishes are being done as the last guest stumbles home.

Ha! Pretend that's me wistfully loading a DishDrawer dishwasher in my compact yet adorable kitchen!
Aren't I cute? image from here

Tip 4 - Delegate and outsource

The children and Jason are employed as unskilled labour during the lead up to a party. The kids are used as wait staff and can do jobs like clearing the table and filling the dishwasher between courses. They’re also a good resource for finishing off the left-overs.  Jason’s role is to top up drinks and he’s very good at it!

I am also of the belief that there is no shame in buying dessert or asking your guests to bring a salad or side dish to have with the meal. If you’re going to feed a crowd, sometimes it’s just easier to get your mates to lend a hand or to buy something pre-prepared.

A Greek orzo salad is a meal in itself and is one of my favourite salads for bringing along to events

Tip 5 - Cool tunes

And last but not least is to have music playing in the background. Music goes hand in hand with a great meal and it gets everyone in a good mood.  Good food, good company and good music are the perfect combination.

Have I left anything out? What do you do when you entertain? I would love to hear your tips too.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Valance construction mode

The work on the valance has begun. Bright and early on Saturday morning, it was a hive of activity at the Sow's Ear.

Mr D, our builder, is also back. Jason was so happy to get the extra assistance, company and use of  better quality tools. It's never much fun doing this kind of work by yourself with the bare minimum of tools...

Together, the two of them accomplished quite a bit in the morning. All the frame work is up and ready for the palings to be nailed on to it.

If all this nice weather holds up, the valance should be finished by next week. Here are a few photographs from the weekend...

sanding and dressing the timber

The brackets 

Jason painting the primer onto the woodwork.

All the framework is done. We'll get some primer painted on the timber this Wednesday when it is the public holiday

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Operation valance

After 15 years of marriage, it has finally dawned on me that Jason is not one to enjoy idleness. The man needs a reno project. Thank goodness we own the Sow's Ear.

For the last few months Jason hasn't sunk his teeth into any major project, and he's not been a happy person. He really is a wannabe tradie and is truly at his happiest when in full-on construction (and destruction) mode.

It was with glee that he ordered the timber to start the frames for the valance or timber battens for under our back deck. It was a project which he started last year, but for one reason or another he lost his motivation to finish it. But with the warmer weather nearing, Jason's got his mojo back. (I can hear his fans cheering and doing the Mexican wave for shirtless Jason...)

This weekend Jason's going to make a start on the valance. It should be a fairly straight forward job and it will make a huge difference to the look of the back end of the Sow's Ear.

The deck really looks like it is perched on a pair of sticks and the valance will give it more body and substance...if you know what I mean. It will also keep poor ol' Jason busy.

shot of the deck from the back yard

You can see the valance that Jason did late last year. The valance under the deck will just be a lengthier version

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Sealing and gapping weatherboards on a Queenslander house

Sponsored by Sika Australia

One of the unhappy delights of owning a Queenslander house is the almost continual maintenance that these timber and tin beauties require.

Last year, we removed the asbestos cladding from underneath the Sow’s Ear and replaced it with hardwood weatherboards. It looks so much better than before, with the added benefit of not being asbestos!

Unfortunately, after sealing and painting the weatherboards, the new timber has shrunk over time leaving some ugly gaps between the weatherboards. It’s just one of those things when working with natural materials – timber shrinks and swells depending on how old it is and with the weather. 

Gaps between the timber weatherboards

The unmistakable dark lines of the opened-up gaps look unsightly particularly on our all-white Sow’s Ear exterior!

So it was very fortuitous that the makers of Jason’s favourite sealant, Sika Australia, contacted us about testing their products. I had to laugh as we’ve been using Sika sealant and extolling its virtues for a number of years, ever since our first builder Mr Rooney put us on to it. You can read all about it here and here. Jason’s a convert and there’s nothing more zealot than one of those!

The nice people of Sika kindly sent us a number of Sika Acrylic tubes to helps us seal our gaps. They also sent Jason a new Sika caulking skeleton gun because Jason has never invested in a good quality one after four years of painting and sealing.

Sika Skeleton Sealant Gun

The number of times he’s had to stop what he’s doing mid-gapping stream because of caulking gun malfunction is too many to count… We’ll let you know how long this one lasts, but so far so good.

In the past, we’ve used Sikaflex Pro for filling exterior gaps but apparently the Sika Acrylic is a better and cheaper alternative because it will absorb a little of the paint you use on the outside of the house, giving a more seamless finish and a more consistent colour.

Jason in Sika motion. He even shifted the tube to show off the branding. Classic! I told him to think about sealing the gaps properly and leave the spruiking to me!

Sika Acrylic is easy to caulk and still provides the same level of sealability and is just as waterproof when it is painted, and  suitable for all types of paints including oil based enamels which can be problematic when painting over polyurethanes. The clean-up is also much easier as it is water-based.

No more dark lines

You can use it for sealing low movement joints around brick, concrete, plasterboard, windows, doors, ceramic tiles and filling of cracks prior to painting. It also adheres to most building materials and can be sanded back once it has fully cured.

For Queenslander home owners, it is a great gap filler for VJ (vertical join) walls which are notorious for splitting open during dry weather conditions.  Sika products are available from Bunnings nationally.

Anyway, we can now tick the gapping and sealing the weatherboards job off the list as we prepare the Sow’s Ear for spring. 

Have you been doing any maintenance on your house for the change of season?

p.s Sika has also recently launched a new spray adhesive called Sikabond Sprayfix which I’m dying to try out. I’m currently working out how I can use it for making a new lamp shade and a couple of small art projects that I have planned. So stay tuned. colour. 

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Rearranging the op-shop art

We like a good faff on the weekend at the Sow's Ear, where we just potter about without too many pressures. We spent some of our time rearranging the art work.

Earlier in the week I made the annual pilgrimage to Ipswich to visit Jo from Desire to Inspire with my mates Katherine and Carmel. It's our chance to catch up with the guru of online interiors, to check out Jo's spectacular home and to assist in emptying some of her full cupboards.

Jo's been my number one supplier (enabler) of vintage goods for the past three years - God bless her generous hoarding soul! I was the lucky recipient of a few art glass pieces and other goodies which I will show you another time. Thanks a million Jo!

Here's a shot of Jo's amazing home office

This is Jo's master bedroom which is simply, darkly exquisite.
Sorry for the poor iphone quality
This year, Jo passed on a couple of thrifted art pieces which she bought mostly for the frames (she's also an artist and uses reclaimed frames for her art works). I thought they were great as is and have hung them in the dining room. (And Susan do not roll your eyes at my 'art'! Ha!)

The new piece is on the right- a landscape in some psychedelic colours. I like an eclectic mix on the wall - vintage 1970s art print, last supper carving and an acrylic landscape...

The still life below is the other new acquisition. We can't figure out what the green thing is...the kids reckon it's a lettuce...I think it might be a cabbage. What do you reckon?

We also hung the op-shop Sibley lithograph in the lounge room (read about it here). This room is looking so much nicer with the restored Wegner daybed and the DQF viking chairs. There are a few things which need tweaking new lamp shade, coffee table etc...but there's no rush for now...

the Sibley is the framed piece on the right

 p.s Thanks so much for all your lovely comments about our 4th blogging anniversary. xx 

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Four year blog anniversary

I can't believe that this blog has been kicking around for the past four years. It only seems like yesterday when I asked Jason to think of a cool name for the blog while he was in the midst of painting the VJs (vertical join walls) ...Needless to say his response was a profanity.

And that's when Fun and VJs was born.

This was the blog's first header. I thought I was pretty clever ...oi!

Little did I realise when I hit the publish button for that first blog post that anyone but me would be reading the chronicles of renovating the Sow's Ear. So, with  730 posts, over a million page views and over 10,000 comments later, it seems quite surreal to be sitting here.

It's been a lot of fun which was always the intention of this whole blogging caper. I've met some cool people, learnt some new tricks and have a body of work which I would never have imagined creating back in August 2009.

Thank you for reading. I really mean that.

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