Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Cupboard and art

The two words in the subject heading are totally unrelated to each other, but I thought I'd share with you our next small project and my arty Sunday.

Arty Sunday life-drawing session

The crack in the cupboard

We have a built-in broom cupboard at one end of our sun room next to the bathroom. It has one top shelf which hosts the bath towels and below is space to put the vacuum cleaner, ironing board and broom.

The cupboard is starting to crack apart - the vjs are splitting quite visibly. The door clasp has long disappeared and it closes with a dodgy hook and eye contraption. It really is in a sad state and Jason is coming to its rescue...

It is only a small job - hopefully Jason can save it before it falls down completely. He will also attempt to put in an additional shelf or two, so we have extra linen storage (we currently have none).

And to change the subject completely, my life-drawing session on Sunday was great (the experience more so than the art I produced). Such a pleasant way to unwind for a few hours! Chris and Susan organised the session at their house with ten people sketching or painting the life-model. The bonus was the delicious lunch provided to the artists and model!
My attempt is in the fore-ground
I adored all our different interpretations of the same subject. It amazes me how individual we all are.

The collection of art from one sitting

Friday, 25 September 2009

What's the plan, Stan?

Vintage framed stations of the cross

The aftermath of the dust storm means a weekend of cleaning the house and cars.

The prolific bindi in the front lawn will also need attention. I dislike spraying but may have to resort to that if it is not too windy.

I plan to re-hang the artwork on the walls because it looks too haphazard. Jason hung a couple of our old art gallery prints from our overseas travels in the kitchen and they look good. Now we need to hang up the collection of canvases and framed work - thank God for VJ walls because they are very forgiving to the fickle hanger.

On Sunday I'm going to a life-drawing session so I need to look for my cartridge pad, graphite and charcoal sticks. It's been a while since I did some drawing, so it will be interesting to see how my perception has changed.

Jason is having a break from the painting - for now. Last week he experimented with casement window stays (brass ones - he won the brass vs chrome battle) and that turned out very well.

Anyway, here's to a productive weekend!

Thursday, 24 September 2009

La poussiere

I spent a few days at my Mum's place with the three boys. My Mum is French Polynesian and speaks French fluently. I speak French too but not so fluently - it gets me by, but I do not attempt to intellectualise (not that I do so in English).

After a few days with my Mum and her Franglais, I came back home this afternoon thinking more in French. And the first word that came to mind when I entered our home was la poussiere. The dust.

The poor Sow's Ear is shrouded in a coating of fine dust from yesterday's enormous dust storm. Oh dear. I'm looking at it as I write. Hoping it will blow back to where it came from...to no avail.

Gee, I hate mopping.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Super deluxe monster cooker

Almond butter biscuits and jam drops cooling

Roast beef cooking evenly on the rotisserie

I have never had a new oven before, let alone this super deluxe monster cooker which is gleaming ever so brightly in our renovated kitchen. With all sorts of knobs and buttons, I was a little daunted by it...
But that is all over, after spending Saturday morning at the free cooking course which explains how to use my Ilve oven. What a revelation! I did not realise how advanced cooking technology has become. This oven can turn itself on and off, clean itself, defrost as well as cook. Now, if I can just harness that energy into food preparation, menu planning and grocery shopping I will have it made...

It was well worth the effort to attend, and especially motivating after weeks without a kitchen. I am fairly confident with all the features and know that I am using the oven correctly. Since Saturday, I have made pizza, a rotisserie chicken (stuffed with lemon and garlic), rotisserie beef (with a rosemary and mustard glaze) and two batches of biscuits.

I'm in kitchen heaven.

Saturday, 19 September 2009


Most mornings at the Sow's Ear, we sit down to have our breakfast on the back deck. It is still a bit brisk at this time of the year, particularly at 6 am when the sun is just making its entrance.

Jason prepares our coffee while I prepare the food. Nothing too fancy, but the shot of caffeine is a great kick-start to the day.

The outlook we have, although mainly suburban, is very serene and we can see one forest reserve. If we are lucky, during the week we see the hot air balloons floating effortlessly across our vista.

The two small specks are the hot air balloons

A nice way to begin the day.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

The Lounge room

Photo of lounge room pre-sale - first inspection

Empty lounge room before the move - opening to sun room

Empty lounge room before the move - opening to kitchen

Here are some before shots of the lounge room. It's a fairly decent size but, with two sets of french doors (one set opening out onto the sun room, the other opening out to the front entry) plus a bedroom door opening, it is kind of awkward to place our furniture. It is also the room where the TV lives, not so discretely.

The basic plan is to re-paint the room white - freshening up the VJ walls and bringing much needed light to the core of the house. Jason also wants to straighten the picture rail which is crooked. I've got my eyes peeled for a cabinet on which to place the TV and DVD player, but it has to be high enough to be out of reach from little hands (we are also toying with the idea of wall-mounting the TV).

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

The bathroom

There are a lot of rooms in the Sow's Ear which have not been photographed yet. I'm going to try to post a few photos of the rooms before we renovate them. It will probably be a while before we get to do anything substantial to them but at least I will have a record of it.

We will have to wait until we have more money before we can do anything with the bathroom. At this stage it is fine and functions adequately. The previous owners left it in such a poor unclean state. Behind the bathtub looked like it had never met a mop before, so there was a thick layer of gooey scum to welcome me to our new home.

I oiled the cabinet and timber mirror frame to replenish the wood and to remove the globs of toothpaste ingrained into the wood. Jason removed the cheap timber rails and hooks - leaving behind the bare minimum for us to hang our towels. I changed the moldy cream floral shower curtain with just a cheap plain white curtain.

Funny how such small things like that improve a room. Oh and a reasonable clean helps too!

We will probably paint the bathroom walls and windows to freshen it up until we have some dollars to do a decent renovation. I'd like really like a new toilet!

Monday, 14 September 2009

Unexpected but not really

Subway tiles

Freshly painted french door

On Saturday morning we had a surprise visit from the tiler (actually he was expected but we were surprised he showed up). And wow! The tiling has completed the kitchen.

We were wondering how the white subway tiles were going to look on the old VJ walls. The VJs are in such bad condition - Jason tried to get them as smooth as possible but was hesitant to get the belt sander on to them, because of the layers of lead paint underneath.

There has been much agonising over the condition of the walls in the kitchen. However a good friend of ours said we should not go over the top with getting the walls perfect - the house is nearly 80 years old and that is part of the charm of an old home. If we wanted perfect walls, we should have bought a new house. A fair point.

Anyway, the tiler has done a cracker of a job, given the undulating nature of the walls. We think they look great.

Jason has almost finished painting the rest of the kitchen. One more coat on the walls and then two coats of gloss on the doors and frames.

Good-bye to the custard coloured windows and french doors. This Sow's Ear is indeed transforming....

Friday, 11 September 2009

A week in review

Child's Butterfly Chair in front entry

This is probably the first week where I haven't had a series of trade-people crawling in and out of the Sow's Ear...well, almost...

Monday morning I had a phone call from Raj who said that Prime Minister Rudd was willing to pay for my roof insulation in a bid to save the planet. There were no up-front payments and they could come the next day to do the job. Too good to be true, surely? Well I sussed it out further, consulting my friends. 'Yes, yes, as easy as that!' they assured me.

Tuesday morning, 10 minutes before the appointed time (too good to be true?), a good-looking bloke turns up (again, too good?) with his minions and within an hour the Sow's Ear was insulated with no money exchanging hands.

I'm not too sure whether this roof insulation will keep the house cooler in summer and warmer in winter. Perhaps it has a placebo affect? Perceived temperature control? At any rate, since we are lacking in the ceiling fan department, it would have to help during a hot and steamy Brissy summer.

The rest of the week has been spent blissfully devoid of fitting-in with trade-people. A little wrangling over the kitchen payments (a few small errors) and about why the tiler is phantom-like were some issues which cropped up. Apparently, the tiler is coming tomorrow, but I like to keep my expectations low, as you well know!

Jason is tackling the last kitchen wall for painting but the motivation is waning. Tiredness is overtaking him. Poor thing.

I inherited some cool art pieces from my good mates, Chris & Susan (their house was in last week's Q-weekend house feature in The Courier Mail ). The pieces are two antique Stations of the Cross salvaged from an old church - gorgeous carved timber frames. Just thinking were they will look best - Jason has banned them from the bedroom!

I am also waiting on four 1960's teak bar stools for the kitchen to be shipped up from Melbourne. A surprise find that was too good to let pass. Much cheaper than going to Great Dane but a hell of a lot more satisfying than going to Super A-mart! Cross fingers they won't get lost in transit.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

A study

The study in the Sow's Ear is the tiniest room. It sits right at the front corner of the sunroom and has another access point from the front entry. This is the room, aside from the kitchen, where I spend the majority of my time.

It houses the laptop, a small bookcase (abandoned by the previous owners), utilitarian black filing cabinet, a vintage hoop pine desk and two DQF office chairs. As I write this blog, the morning sun is streaming through the amber-coloured windows, giving the room a warm ethereal glow. It really is quite a lovely room, but the walls are badly in need of a paint and there is a noticeable bow in one of the ceiling architraves.

Not too sure when we will get to renovating this room...in the meantime here are some photos of how it looks currently.
Empty study before the move

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Oh wherefore art thou Tiler?

The tiler was due to perform his duties this morning, but never showed up...Mmmmm...no phone call, no nothin'. The poor white subway tiles are just sitting in their boxes waiting for their moment.

This kitchen is becoming a bit of an epic, but then I think the longer it takes to complete the longer the final payment can wait!

Here are a couple of snaps of the servery and new floating shelves:

Tuesday, 1 September 2009


With all the extra storage I have in the kitchen, I have emptied almost all my packing boxes. There are a couple of boxes which I will have to sort through which are full of photographs and albums. They will have to wait until the boys are on holidays from school and kindy when my day won't be disrupted with the dreaded school run.

It's been nice to be reunited with my vintage art glass - my old friends. I will have fun working out where to place them!
The kitchen is in the final stages with most of the work to be completed this weekend. Jason will be scraping and prepping the last kitchen wall for a lick of paint. And hopefully that is another room done with eight more to go...

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