Saturday, 31 December 2011

Good riddance 2011

I was going to write something prosaic about 2011 and about the progress we've made on the renovations to the Sow's Ear...but I won't.

2011 sucked for quite a lot of people we know. We were fortunately spared from the floods, fires, sickness and relationship breakdowns which have been occurring around us.

However, the death of Jason's lovely Nana earlier this year had a profound effect on us and has tainted 2011 as a sad one...despite all the "fun and vjing" I natter on about in this space. You can't help but miss the people you know you will never see again.

Anyway, we've survived another year intact as a relatively happy and healthy family with a roof over our heads. And we will be toasting that good fortune tonight and wishing everyone a happy and prosperous 2012.

Happy New Year!

P.S Umm...I wanted to post about the deck project but Jason decided he wanted to oil the decking boards, so it is still in disarray. I went back through my photo archives and found this shot that I had completely forgotten about. It is a deck image from when the Sow's Ear was on the market in 2009.

It doesn't even look like it is the same deck now! I'll show the photos to you soon. 
Deck  March 2009

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Deck ceiling progress

We're still here, working away at the Sow's Ear.

Action Jason
Even when it looks like rain, Jason will push the envelope and paint in defiance of the stormy weather.

The other day we were at the bottle-o replenishing our alcohol supplies when I took this snap of the approaching storm cell.

I haven't taken any photos of it but the deck ceiling is now finished. It looks so good.

A close friend came over today and she paid us the ultimate renovating compliment: "It doesn't look like you've done anything out here. It looks like it was always meant to look like that."

Seamlessness is always the goal in our renovations to this old house.

partially painted deck ceiling
Anyway, I'll show the finished result in the next post. 

Monday, 26 December 2011

Christmas and Boxing Day 2011 project

Christmas was good. It always is. There is nothing I like better than spending it with my most favourite people.

the boys unwrapping their gifts bright and early

Duck with orange sauce
Now that the boys are older we have our main celebration on Christmas eve. 

The shirtless Santa was very thoughtful with his gifts

We have a very simple Christmas lunch. This year I made a whole fish. It was a last minute decision when I was lining up to be served at the fish shop. This particular fellow was so fresh and less than half the price of filleted fish.  I also bought some fresh oysters. It was all delicious.
Boxing day is traditionally a day that Jason starts a new project on the Sow's Ear. Last year it was painting our bedroom; this year it is painting the deck ceiling. It has been literally hanging over our heads for many, many months since Jason and Mr Rooney, our travelling builder, retro-fitted an insulated ceiling to our existing deck.

It is a big job as Jason needs to undercoat/primer the ceiling, fill the gaps with bog and No More Gaps, and sand all the rough patches. After that is done, he'll start on the final two coats of paint.

Here are the progress shots from today:

Early start for Jason as he undercoats the deck ceiling

Jason undertakes the task in manageable chunks. He'll completely paint one half of the ceiling before commencing the other half. Go Jason!

Saturday, 24 December 2011

What Christmas Break?

Everyone seems to be winding down for Christmas. It's really great to see. However, Christmas time around here means Jason has time off until the New Year. And you know what that means? Lots of reno jobs to be completed with the luxury of time.

Not one to disappoint, Jason arrived home half way through the day yesterday to commence his holidays. So what does he do? He proceeds to strip to the waist and whips out his trusty belt sander. Yeah!

You have to love a man with such commitment to his home renovations!

Shirtless Jason sanding the back stairs. 
The stair treads are being sanded down and readied for a coat of decking oil. They get quite grey as they get the direct sun.

Shortly after the above photos were taken, it started to rain. Thwarted for the afternoon!

Jason in repose. I know. It is not often that we see him like this. I captured this image on the quiet.
Today, Jason finished oiling the stairs. He also made the obligatory trip to the hardware store to purchase drop sheets and other painting paraphernalia in readiness for painting the deck ceiling.

All the jobs to be done this holiday are smallish but they have big impact in terms of polishing off the Sow's Ear. So, if you are still around I'll still be here tracking all the progress.

Thanks so much for reading our story about our renovations this year. The fabulous comments and lovely emails that we receive are always greatly appreciated. It makes writing Fun and VJs so worthwhile. The renovation process is much more palatable and less lonely somehow...

We wish you a safe and happy Christmas. Cheers to you all!

Jason with a mullet and me as a blonde.
Goofy photos from a booth at a recent function.
Sadly, if we were to die tomorrow this would be the most current photo of Jason and I together since 2009!!
Merry Christmas!

Thursday, 22 December 2011

A Sneak Peek of Australian Modern

A few days ago I was sent the art work for the front cover of the inaugural Australian Modern publication. It's looking good! Very good! Lots of great articles and some amazing images; over 60 pages of all things Australian Modern.

A release date of late January 2012 is the plan, but I'll keep you posted on when they are definitely out and where you will be able to pick up your very own copy (if mid-century modern is your thing). I know definitely there will  be distribution points in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. If you want to get in touch with the publisher, contact Chris Osborne HERE.

It's very exciting!

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Books 2011 and mid-century sofa

We had our final book club for the year. We have been meeting almost every month for the past seven years. I know this because Son # 2 was only three months old when it began and he's just turned seven. The club is not terribly serious as most book clubs go - it is just a good excuse for a group of us to have a regular social get-together and to read out of our usual comfort zone.

Turkey and cranberry savoury pikelets
Our members are from all walks of life - there is an architect, an art shop manager and an office manager, a public relations manager, a university tutor, a speech pathologist, an international fruit trader (but now she lives in America) ...and me (the closet blogger). You couldn't get a more diverse group of woman. 

Christmas White Chocolate Crackles
 We used to have a token male, who happened to be a builder, in the group. He hooked up with one of the other book club girls. Once they were an item he turned his back on books and then whisked his new girl friend away! I think it was the month that he chose Lady Chatterley's Lover... No joke!

Some decent quaffing Australian sparkling wine
Here are some of the books which we have read in 2012:

One Day by David Nicholls. (I was almost booted out of the club for choosing such a melodramatic soap opera to start off 2011! It wasn't horrible but great for the beach if you want nothing challenging.)
Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones.
Jazz by Toni Morrison
Roseanna by Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo
Room: A Novel by Emma Donoghue
Past the Shallows by Favel Parrett
The City and The City by China Mieville
Look at the Birdie by Kurt Vonnegut
The Surgeon of Crowthorne by Simon Winchester
The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ by Phillip Pullman
Dream When You're Feeling Blue by Elizabeth Berg

Our meeting was held at Yvette's house. She's a mid-century furniture collector. She recently had her 'curvyliscious' sofa reupholstered. It used to be covered in a brown tartan arrangement; it's now a very mod 'chartreusey' colour in Bute wool fabric. It looks stunning but please excuse the very average iPhone photos.

Curvy mid-century sofa

Monday, 19 December 2011

Vellum light and gingerbread house

We had a little pre-Christmas celebration with our very good friends on the weekend. Over to their place we went to have a delicious baked ham with roasted vegetables which were cooked to perfection. Yum!

Check out N's new light fitting. She plans to suspend it in their stairwell but it is temporarily parked in the dining area. I thought it was made from feathers when I first saw it from afar but it is actually made from vellum. 

Yes, tracing paper! N and her youngest daughter made it themselves. Clever. 

Vellum pendant light
 It reminds me of the Jeremy Cole Aloe light which is just fabulous. The one above is a creative alternative.

N's daughters also made a gingerbread (it was chocolate rather than ginger) house. They are such clever girls. It tasted as good as it looked.

Homemade is always so much better.

In direct contrast, the boys and I assembled a BigW kit-home gingerbread house a few weeks ago. It looked like a ghetto house rather than a gingerbread house. It tasted as meh! as it looked. No photos were taken; some things are best forgotten.

Look at these cute homemade vanilla-bread people. Just adorable.

That Christmassy feeling is definitely creeping up on us.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Random things at the Sow's Ear

This is going to be a very random post about what's been happening at the Sow's Ear.

The back stairs are finally painted. The deck posts and underneath the deck still need to be done. This painting gig just never seems to end... Jason is also going to sand the treads (to remove a few paint drips) and oil the wood over the Christmas break among other things he has planned. I told him to have a day off on Christmas Day!

Three little candle holders which look like ice-cubes for my kitchen shelf. A gift from a lovely friend.

 A minuscule carrot from the garden. It almost seemed cruel to pluck it out of the dirt.

The Christmas tree. This is the third Christmas we are celebrating at the Sow's Ear and every year the tree moves to a different location. This spot doesn't work for me but I'm not game to move it...

New blue Italian pottery, possibly Bitossi, which I just adore. A very generous offering from a friend.

Some gorgeous handmade lavender soap; it smells divine and is made from all natural ingredients. Another gift from another lovely friend. I'm very lucky to know some great people!

I hope you all had a great weekend!

Friday, 16 December 2011

Renovator's Rescue: Part three

Regular readers may recall that terribly run down Renovator's Delight I've been tracking for the past few months. You can see earlier posts Here and Here.

Well, there is movement at the station, so to speak. The house is being re-stumped. At first I thought it was going to be removed from the block, but I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw that it was definitely a raising and re-stumping affair.

Interwar Queenslander being raised and re-stumped
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Queenslander house style, this is a very typical renovation. Because the home is mostly of timber construction and was originally built on wooden stilts (which was originally to avoid flooding and allow air ventilation in our sub-tropical climate), it lends itself to being raised slightly to legal height to provide extra living area under the home. It's a big undertaking but it will almost double the living space of an existing home.

A renovation such as this will include a new concrete slab and new posts/stumps to support the home. If it is done well, the bottom half of the house will be set back about a metre from the front plane of the upper level to reduce the mass of the building; it will then be clad in weatherboards or material which is consistent with the construction of the house.  A decorative valance may be used to lessen the impact of the new addition to the home as in the image below. New stairs in a style consistent with the era of the house will then be reinstated at the front.

Image from HERE
I wish the Sow's Ear's lower level had been set back from the front plane when it was re-stumped many, many moons ago. I also wish the front steps were not 'modernised'. Reinstating stairs consistent to the era of the Sow's Ear is on our long term agenda...Did you hear that Mr Rooney?

Anyway, I'm very much looking forward to seeing more progress on the old house. It's great that it was saved as too many character homes disappear from our streets. I'll keep you posted on further developments.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Danlamp: my dirty secret

It's kind of ironic that I'm writing about an incandescent light bulb I've just purchased because for the past few months I've been working for an organisation which encourages energy efficient lighting upgrades. 

Ssh! Don't tell.

I really am eco...truly. But there is something about the forbidden fruit of an incandescent which makes this light bulb so attractive to me. Clearly, I thought to hell with increased carbon emissions when I ordered it online.

Danlamp light bulb
It is purely a decorative light bulb which emits a nice warm glow - lovely ambient lighting which you just can't achieve with compact fluorescent or halogen energy saver bulbs. It is definitely not a bulb for task lighting if you need to read or sew.

Anyway, I will have to hide it when the Carbon Police raid the house.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Indecisive cushion

My Mum made a cushion for our bedroom.

It's from some fabric which I've had for ages. I won it in a blog giveaway from Melbomba's etsy shop. I'm not a seamstress so it was quite idiotic of me to enter it in the first place. Call me a giveaway junkie.

hand printed green bellbird design on linen by Melbomba

hand printed lily design on linen by Melbomba

This is where the indecisiveness from the title comes in...
I couldn't decide what backing I should use for this fabric for cushions. So I decided that they shall back each other. I effectively have two cushions in one now. If I tire of green bellbirds one week, I can switch it to blue lilies with absolutely no effort.

Fabric designed by Mel Bombardiere can be found HERE. She has other colours and designs in her store, so be sure to check it out if you like her Scandinavian inspired designs.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Weddings and other things

I love seeing a young couple in love...declaring their love so publicly. It makes me feel less...less cynical.

We were invited to a fabulous wedding on the weekend. The bride and groom made a gorgeous couple.

Jason went to a lot of effort with his outfit. He ironed his pocket kerchief to perfection.

Dapper Jason with friend.
He has high hopes of making it on Queensland's 50 Most Stylish next year.
He may try a new tact and embezzle $16 million from his employer to fund his fashionisto ways. Read HERE
He buffed his cuff links so they gleamed. This pair is from MoMA.

Jason loves a pinstripe

Also, I've noticed there is a lolly buffet trend happening in Brisbane. Our kids love it when we go out now. The expectation of Chinese take-out boxes filled with sweets seems like their entitlement. Almost every function we attend has one of these things.

Wedding lolly buffet
Christmas party lolly buffet
I'm becoming a connoisseur. Chico Babies are my favourite lolly. What's yours?

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Real Living giving

Sponsored by Nuffnang
My eyes are peeled, darting around for design ideas while we renovate the Sow’s Ear.

I greedily read blogs, flick through newspapers and magazines, browse Pinterest and consume TV design shows; they all add to the grand master plans for our little piggy. Mwa ha ha ha!

But, you know, I don’t buy magazines as regularly as I would like. It’s mostly because I don’t think to buy them when they’re first released. Mags are usually relegated for my holiday reading as some sort of guilty indulgent pleasure.

It really is a thrill to devour a brand new magazine of your own choosing… as opposed to the dog-eared, out-of-date mags you get at the doctor’s surgery. A 2003 home mag at Dr Stan’s practice is not going to cut it, if you know what I mean? He makes a bomb too; you’d think he’d fork out for a subscription!

So, buying an issue of Real Living was probably the highlight of my week.  I know…I know… I need a life! Ha!

It often profiles the homes of other design bloggers in their Real Homes section.  The stylish Julie from Olive & Joy was recently featured and, I have to say, I loved seeing more of her home in the pages of a magazine.

This latest issue’s selection of renovated homes is a mixed and varied bunch, from quirky vintage to white and serene…a bit of everything to satisfy most décor tastes. I particularly like reading what’s in the mood board that accompanies each home profile. It highlights details like paint colours, hardware finishes and suggests furniture options.

Real living magazine is not snobby as it has different cost points to suit people of all budgets; from IKEA to Space Furniture, there is usually something for everyone.

With Christmas just around the corner the quandary of gift-giving can suck, especially as my friends and family seem to already have everything they need or want.

We’re big on giving others consumables (plonk and food gifts) or experience gifts (theatre subscriptions or movie tickets) and I’m thinking that this year could be The Year of the Magazine Subscription!

It’s not something that you’d automatically buy for yourself (speaking for myself, that is) and magazines don’t take up a lot of space. (I often pass on my copies to friends once I’ve finished with them.)

The best thing about giving a magazine subscription is that you can organise it online!

Maybe a House magazine subscription for the design and house junkies in my life is the way to go this year?

What do you think?  Is it something you’d appreciate getting this year for Christmas or would you rather grog?

P.S Are you looking for the perfect Christmas present? Give your loved ones a magazine subscription this year and you can win a tropical escape to Hawaii   with Magshop’s Christmas competition. Treat your family and friends to a magazine subscription today - it’s the gift that keeps on giving all year round.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Crystal decorations

Waste not want not is my motto this Christmas.

Murano Dragon's Tears

And that includes re-purposing some broken Murano dragon's tears chandelier drops into decorations for the tree. When the chandelier fell from the ceiling a few months ago, it left about nine or so broken crystals which could no longer be used for the light fitting. They are only good for sun catching now.

With the aid of some heavy duty glue and some thin picture hanging wire, I've made a number of handsome drops to use as decoration.

A bit of glue, wire and drying time was all it took

I'm glad that they can be reused in this way.

Aren't they pretty?

The boys decorated the tree again this year. Hand-made decorations feature heavily. 
And here is our Christmas centrepiece for the dining table which we do almost every year. Some twigs from the lychee tree  in a lovely iittala vase with some Georg Jensen angels swinging from the branches. I've also put out the Festivo candle holders.

Our dining room is looking so lovely but it is seriously in need of some art for the blank walls.

Christmas time for our dining table

Monday, 5 December 2011

Back stairs

The back stairs are finally getting a lick of paint. Jason put off this task as he knew it would be the most painful job of them all. Painting stairs is not fun. It is also very time consuming.

Here are some in progress shots from the weekend. It looks like a hot mess at the moment but it's guaranteed to look excellent when it's finished!

Half painted stair case. The treads will have white trim instead of green.

Painting the back landing of the deck. 
Jason finished the back landing.

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