Thursday, 30 June 2011

Orange door

We've finally chosen a shade of orange to paint our back door.

Orange door
It's Dulux Bright Delight. I picked up a sample pot the other day and I'm confident that this is the colour.

Dulux Bright Delight orange

The door will need a couple of coats of this colour in an exterior gloss.

Orange is either a "love it or leave it" colour. We clearly love it  - a cheeky burst of colour on the mainly white exterior.

But we are just keeping it to the one door at this stage.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Fun painting vs dull painting

I get all the fun painting jobs in the Sow's Ear.

Like spray painting the boys' letters which hang in their room. Quick, easy and fun.

R is for Son #3 who likes blue
 We were also given two old clip-on bedside lamps from a friend whose children have outgrown them. Love the primary colours. The lamps will look better against the walls when we repaint the room white.
F is for Son #2 who likes "gween"
 And poor Jason gets all the dull painting jobs.

Like painting the newly constructed bookshelves in the study this evening.

And the rest!

Jason has a new painting t-shirt - aka the tent.

Monday, 27 June 2011

The back of the linen cupboard

The things you find when you are cleaning up the linen cupboard...

I had an organising bug and de-cluttered the linen cupboard and some of our wardrobes.

Linen cupboard

And I found this old embroidered lace bedspread I bought on sale from David Jones about 16 years ago. I know. It's so girly and fussy - not something that would be normally associated with this blog!

white on white embroidered bedspread

I've used it about twice in the time that I've owned it and had quite forgotten about it. Yesterday it had an outing.

I left the drab Italian military blanket on the bed and placed the white on white embroidered bedspread on top, tucking in the sides. I really like the look of it in our room. (I didn't ask what Jason thought).

Maybe I'm turning shabby chic?

Maybe the reason the bedspread is never used is because I should iron it...ha!

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Weekend warrior injuries

No need to worry. Jason hasn't had an accident or anything this weekend.

The title is inspired by an article in today's Sunday Mail about "hapless do-it-yourself buffs ending up in hospital" while doing repairs or renovating.

Research indicates that the majority of DIY hospital admissions is from ladder falls. That's a whopping 48 per cent of DIYers toppling down every weekend.

This is quite topical for us as Jason is up a ladder every weekend painting the exterior of the Sow's Ear. He hasn't fallen yet...touch wood.

You can read the article here if you are interested.

We have had our share of injuries while working on the Sow's Ear. The worst of it was a visit to emergency with Mr Rooney, our unlucky builder, who sustained an injury to his eye earlier this year. You can read about it here.

Jason's only suffered a few minor bumps and bruises - often self-inflicted.

When he was working on the bookshelf a few weekends ago, he drilled through his hand with his brand spanking new cordless drill. Fortunately, he didn't dig in too deeply and it has healed very well.

It's the hammering the finger routine which Jason has finely tuned. The blackened finger nail testament to his fubars - OPI must do a nail polish colour for those after that Builder's Chic.

Jason's black finger nail
The article was a reminder that we can be too casual about our safety while working around the house. Healthy precautions aren't ever wasted .

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Retro pineapple food

Our friends Chris and Susan invited us to a pineapple dinner party a little while ago. We were asked to prepare a dish, however it had to be a recipe from a vintage Golden Circle Tropical Recipe Book. (The Golden Circle Cannery is like an institution in sub-tropical Brisbane)

We were all given our own personal copy of the book prior to the dinner party.

Vintage Golden Circle Tropical Recipe Book

The 'pineappley' menu for the evening was an interesting assortment of retrolicious food. And yes, every dish we consumed contained pineapple.

Pineapple dinner party menu

I had the honour of preparing the sweet potato casserole. It was layer upon layer of boiled (but I roasted instead) sweet potato and pineapple topped with fatty pork chops. It was actually kind of good in a heart attack inducing way.

As everyone said on the night, all the food was wholesome - the type of meal your elderly aunty from Queensland would make if you were invited over for tea. The key to success was to use the pineapple in syrup to get that extra sweet taste that some savoury food had back in the old days. my fillings quiver in anticipation...

Pineapple in syrup
My favourite meal of the evening was the Pineapple and Lamb Curry that another guest made. She steamed some rice rather than serve it with the suggested egg noodle. I've made a chicken version of it which worked quite well too.

Pineapple and lamb curry recipe

Here is the Pineapple and Lamb Curry recipe:

15oz can of Pineapple Pieces (in syrup)
2oz butter
2 medium onions sliced
1/2 red capsicum
1/2 green capsicum
1lb lamb, cubed
1 desert spoon curry powder
1 tbsp sultanas
1desert spoon rice flour/corn flour
1 tbsp chutney
1 tbsp coconut
1/2 cup syrup reserved from can
1/2 cup stock or water
salt and pepper
juice of 1/2 lemon

Melt butter,add onions and capsicums (cut in small wedges) and half cup pineapple pieces and cook 2 to 3 minutes. Remove and set aside. Brown meat in butter, add curry powder, sultanas, rice flour, coconut and chutney. Gradually add pineapple syrup and stock. Season to taste. Return vegetables and pineapple, cover pan and cook slowly for 1 to 2 hours, until meat is tender. Add lemon juice just before serving. Serve with fluffy boiled rice or noodles.

I warn you, this food is not's vintage comfort food at its tropical best.

As an aside, I had the pineapple cook book lying on the kitchen bench while Mr Rooney, our cordon bleu builder, was over having a coffee. He was taking a keen interest, flicking through the book for inspiration.

He emailed me recently to get the recipe for the savoury pineapple sauce for roast pork. Mr Rooney was having guests for dinner and he was cooking. He's a classic.

Also, if you'd like the recipe for the chocolate coconut slice from my previous post, just click here. It is a winner. Thanks again Natasha!

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Small world: part two

It pays never to double cross anyone in Brisbane because this town is way too small. Everybody knows everyone in this place.

This blogging gig throws up lots of random connections which you don't realise until much later on. Remember here when I found out that Mr Rooney, our excellent builder, and Katherine from theoldboathouse were very close childhood friends and related through marriage?

Another connection that we've recently discovered is with Natasha from 5 minutes just  for me. It seems that Jason knows Natasha's husband quite well and he was in fact one of Jason's tutors at University! That just amazes me.

I've been an online friend with Natasha since she began blogging about 18 months ago and we just realised that we had this association.

A few weeks ago, I was invited to Natasha's home for morning tea. It was very cool to meet her after so long. She has a beautiful home which has been tweaked by interior designer Anna Spiro. It's just exquisite. The cushioning was just perfection.

Natasha lavished me with home baked morning tea treats. This creation is a chocolate coconut slice which is made with weet-bix.  I've made it since and it is really delicious.

Natasha's classy - we had leaf tea and check out the beautiful tea set and linen napkin. 
Thanks Natasha for a lovely morning out!

Another small coincidence, which kind of freaked me out, was when we were organising Nana's funeral a few weeks ago. The funeral director came to our place and then said she knew our house -  one of her colleagues at the funeral home used to live here.

It was the previous owner of the Sow's Ear who happened to be a funeral director!!

Apparently, he was going to look after Nana's funeral arrangements but it clashed with other commitments. That is such a small, small world.

I'm relieved he didn't look after the funeral arrangements, because I said some unkind things about his cleaning abilities on the blog when we first moved here...

I've definitely learnt my lesson. Don't sledge anyone on your blog, because one day they could potentially be arranging your funeral!

Sunday, 19 June 2011

School fete and more painting

The monotony of exterior house painting was broken up with the annual school fete today.

I baked and preserved in preparation.

Orange and almond syrup cake with homemade lemon butter in the background.
My speciality is lemon butter and passionfruit butter for the cake and sweets stall. I made extra for us - to go in our Arabia jam pots (thanks again, Jo!). It tastes even better when it is contained in a retro container in my opinion.

The cake is one I bought at the fete. It is an orange and almond syrup cake which is literally out of this world. Yum!

The children climbed a knobbly phallic structure while at the fete. As you do.

That's Son #1 almost at the top. He never quite made it to the peak.
And after the day's events, Jason decided to squeeze an hour of gapping and filling while it was still light.

Jason working on the house

The man is a machine.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Bright sunshine and bookshelves

Yesterday, while I was dying from a gastro bug, Jason was very productive in the bright sunshine. Heaven knows what the children were doing while I had my head in the porcelain...

This morning I surveyed his work. He finished painting the weather boards on the last remaining section of the back of the house. The stumps and the backstairs still need to be done but that will be a job for later. Jason is trying to paint the hard-to-reach areas first while we have the trestles.

exterior painting of weather boards
And while I was sleeping, Jason finished the much maligned bookshelves in the study. It looks fantastic and will be incredibly useful when they it is sanded and painted. It will put this wasted corner into good use.

built-in bookshelves

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Study bookshelves

Jason spent today constructing shelves for the study. It was too wet and miserable to work outside, so rather than taking a day off he decided to construct some shelves for the study. Jason is super-motivated.

The new shelves are in a previously wasted corner of the study.

Before shot taken in 2009:
The new shelves will be tucked in behind where the chair sits.

Sadly, it was harder work than he anticipated. A few planks of pine, a couple of VJs and a few rogue screws got the better of him.

Built-in book shelf progress
The language which came from his mouth would make the most hardened prison warden blush. And it always gets worst at dusk, in that rapidly fading light. Rather than stop and walk away from a frustrating task, Jason ploughs on to the bitter, cussing end.

I will spare you the tirade he directed at the shelves. Let's just say the shelves were personified into something evil. It was painful to watch...especially when there were no shirtless shots to take.

Jason's new drill. He bought it with vouchers he received as a farewell gift, when he changed jobs earlier this month.
image from here

Anyway, Jason used his new toy to construct the shelves. It is a cordless drill - a compact impact driver. Yeah!

He's still learning how to use it effectively, but I swear it is a vast improvement to his archaic drill he has used for the past 13 years. Now that he's got it, we wonder how he ever managed to get things done without it. An invaluable tool which comes highly recommended from a DIY home renovator.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Another ad...


Nat Duncan from Qld Film Locations called today and said she'd be putting forward our bedroom for a TV commercial. The ad is for a weight loss company.

How apt. I need to lose a few kilos. Perhaps it's a sign I should cut back on the doughnuts?

Nat said the producers need a master bedroom. She's putting forward about 40 different bedroom options, so our actual chances are slim (pardon the pun!).

Master bedroom shot taken earlier this year

Master bedroom built-in cupboards

Apparently, hipster homes are what it is all about for this particular weight loss ad. Ha! Hipster? We'll wait and see if we make the grade.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

The haunted lamp

Eerily, I disturbed someone or something with my post last night about the new funky lamp and its spooky connection.

One of the tall glass shades smashed into pieces earlier this morning.

Broken lamp shade: it had already had a past repair on it so it was never going to survive another accident.
Yesterday, I had been tinkering with the lamp socket because it was a bit wobbly. I tried to tighten the screw securing it in place but I think I inadvertently made it looser. When I put the glass shade back into the holder it seemed as secure as it ever was.

I was lulled into a false sense of security because this morning the entire lamp socket fell to one side and the shade slipped out of its holder. I was in the next room when it happened.


How cross I am with myself! The thing is completely worthless, now it has a missing shade! It seems I have a vintage lighting curse on me after the chandelier fiasco.

shadeless standard lamp.
I was able to fix the holder which is now very secure on the stem. Too little, too late.

Then Katherine's comment on my last post about ghosts attaching themselves to the lamp and what Zoila thought of the lamp came back to haunt me.

Perhaps I should not mock or write tongue-in-cheek-posts about things I don't the super-natural.


Tuesday, 7 June 2011

1950s Tulip standard lamp...spooky Brisbane!

The things you find when you are not really this 1950s standard lamp that was hanging around in someone's creepy old shed.

This is not mine. Mine is dirtier and missing a couple of bits and pieces.
image from here

A couple of weeks ago I made an ebay purchase - two bar stools for the deck. The seller was called Jack Sim. I thought, "Hang on, that name is really, really familiar."

When I called Jack to arrange a time to pick up my items, I asked if he was the Jack Sim who conducts Brisbane Ghost Tours and author of many true Brisbane crime titles such as Bloody Brisbane.

He said yes.

I exclaimed,"Oh, you're famous!"

He replied ever so creepily, "Yes; dead famous."

Jack Sim
image from here

I giggled nervously because Jack is indeed dead famous. He wears funereal black wherever he goes and delves into the history of Brisbane's most heinous crimes.  It was with great trepidation I agreed to meet up with him at his secluded shed to pick up my ebay items...

When I arrived at my destination, Jack gave me a tour of his dark and creepy shed. He showed me his collection of Australian poison bottles with original labels. Having the word "kill" or "dead" on the label tickled his fancy.

My favourite bottles were the empty bottles of DDT to control head lice on children and a lady's purse pack of DDT to ward of mosquitoes. It is just crazy to imagine that a generation or so ago people used to use  this stuff without question!

Jack also showed me an ornate coffin which he plans to use for his burial. He said someone was already occupying it and lifted the lid quickly.

I screamed.

"That's not a real person, is it?"

But Jack brushed over my question and didn't respond.

Just as I was taking my leave, Jack asked if I was interested in buying the tulip standard lamp which was hiding in a dark corner of the shed. He told me he was moving away from his mid-century phase and returning to his Art Deco roots. He's currently restoring a 1930s Hearse for personalised ghost tours and is embracing vintage funeral suits.

Anyway, these types of standard lamps don't crop up too often around suburban Brisbane, so I snapped it up. It's a fun piece which I can restore over time or pass on to my mid century friends if I tire of its atomic shape.

Tulip standard lamp at home. Sorry for the dodgy photo taken earlier this evening. It looks better  in person.
I don't know too much of the history of these lamps. They come in black as well, because I have friends who have the same lamp. It has an iconic 50s style. My lamp is gold and chrome. It needs a good clean to make it shine again though.

I think it is just hilarious that my new lamp came from Brisbane's leading ghost expert. He's such an interesting person who knows a lot about Brisbane's dark and bloody past. His theories debunking the Mayne Inheritance murders were also insightful.

You know the best thing about it all was that Jack said he had heard of Zoila Stables, the original owner of the Sow's Ear.


Monday, 6 June 2011

Deck ceiling and Brismod-a-go-go

This weekend while some people were hard at work...

Son #1 puttying the nail holes in the deck ceiling

Son #2 cutting sand paper to size for the sander

Jason and Mr Rooney busily working to complete the ceiling battens

...others played...

Brismod  (front) shaking her ass in her debut go-go concert

I'm happy to report that the ceiling is now finished (just needs to be painted) and I can shimmy and shake with no shame. Go-Go!

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Outdoor cushions

Things never happen in a hurry around here, but they do eventually happen. Like these outdoor cushions re-purposed from retro curtain fabric I salvaged from my Mum's junk room .

Remember when I talked about the fabric here?

Well, they are now a reality. My friend Melissa, who is part of Seamstress and the Daughters and sells her wares at various craft markets around Brisbane, kindly whipped up theses fantastic cushions, custom-made for our bench seats. They are brilliant and not only in colour!

The cushions have ties sewn into the side seams which then secure the cushions onto the seats. They are also the perfect cushioning - not too flat, not too puffy. We have used them for a couple of events which we have hosted on the deck.

The cushions are not weatherproof as they are made from normal fabric, although I will scotch guard them for spills and stains. I'm happy enough to store them indoors when they are not in use. Anyway, they are made from old curtains so I don't have to be particularly precious with them - it's good they have been given a second life.

Melissa can be contacted on 044 751 492 if you like and appreciate her work. As well as making cushions from reclaimed fabric, she also makes and sells fabulous sun hats. 
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