Sunday, 31 July 2011

Paradigm shift - fixing the deck roof

The plan today was to put a final coat of paint on the back roof gable and to get that job out of the way. That was the plan.

Jason was just touching up some of the paint work when the deck roof he was standing on cracked to pieces.

He was standing on a very long plank placed strategically over a portion of polycarbonate roof sheeting. The rest of the roof is tin but there is a small section which has the laserlite stuff to shed more light onto the deck.

This type of old sheeting becomes quite brittle over time so you really shouldn't walk on it. The plank was the solution to allow Jason to access the areas he needed to paint.

The plank must've moved slightly and when Jason shifted his weight, the plank cracked the width of four sheets of the brittle roofing.

Cracked polycarbonate (laserlite) roof sheet

The hoo-hah that emanated from the deck roof was not good.

Off to the hardware Jason went. Apparently, the new sheets didn't fit into our my car very well and consequently there are some deep gouges on the car ceiling left by the sharp edges of the tin. say that Jason had a woeful day would really be an understatement. His demeanour was what I would describe as frightening. The kids and I were alert and alarmed!

Not even the 'pineappley' Sunday brunch ( a post on that later) I had prepared Jason could lift him from the depth of his despair.

Jason positioning the tin roofing. A minute after I took this photo, Jason stood up and noticed the sheet was out of position and promptly started to kick the sh*t out of it. I scurried back down the ladder to hide.

It took him most of the day but we now have a new section of deck roof. It might not have been the job planned for today but it was always a project that needed to be done.

Anyway, aren't we glad to see the end of that weekend!

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Back roof gable

There's little reward for painting parts of the house that no one could possibly see from ground level. Like the back roof gable on the Sow's Ear.

(I lied. You can see it, the very peak of it, if you stand near the mango tree in the very far corner of our backyard.)

Jason painting the back roof gable. He's standing on the deck roof.

Jason looking buff in this photo. Just a gratuitous shot for his fans. You can thank me later Mr Rooney.
The job still needs to be done despite it not delivering much bang for our buck. Really, I don't know how much satisfaction Jason gets from doing these sorts of jobs? That's the bittersweet reality of renovating an old house I suppose.

It will be good when we finally tackle the façade though. And that's not too far away at the rate we are progressing!

Friday, 29 July 2011

Renovator's Rescue

You'd have to worry when a house for sale is advertised as a Renovation Rescue.

Neglected Queenslander - the outside creeping in

We drive past this house when we take the rat run to school each week day morning. It is an example of what happens to a Queenslander home when it is neglected. Actually, any home that is neglected.

This house looks to be in mostly original condition, give or take a few changes over its 75 or so years. I'm fascinated by houses which have been unaltered structurally...even when they are so dilapidated.

Interwar Queenslander kitchen

Original bathroom with terrazzo floor
Seeing these images reminds me that the Sow's Ear would've been very similar when it was first built. The facilities were really quite basic all those years ago.

Someone handy (with spare dollars) could really transform this old place. I'll be keeping my eye on this place to see whether it is renovated or detonated. I have my fingers crossed for renovated.

*images from here

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

House History - Zoila's written work

The Examiner by Zoila Stables, Galmahra,  May 1925 P.66
I'd like to have this framed for the house.

Late last week I received an email from the Fryer Library at the University of Queensland saying they had successfully obtained a copy of Zoila's book Tare Harvest. It was published under her pseudonym Eleanor Peters in 1936.

The book will be available in the reading room once it has been catalogued. The Fryer holds copies of the published work of past students at the University.

If you are new to my blog, Zoila was one of the original owners of the Sow's Ear. She owned it with her siblings, Florence and Stanley. The research I am doing on the family is part of my house history research about our home which was built in 1928. The home was in the family until Stanley's death in 1988.

The Fryer doesn't loan out books housed in the reading room, so I will have to sneak away on a quiet weekend to devour it. The book is a fictional novel set in South America - Zoila and her family lived there in the 1890s to 1900s.

Zoila's academic record stated she won a poetry prize - the Ford Memorial Medal - in 1925 and her work was to be published in Galmahra, the UQ student magazine at the time. I mentioned it to the librarian I've been corresponding with and she kindly scanned two poems that were in a 1925 issue.

She found a poem by Colin Bingham, identified as the Ford Memorial Prize Poem and in that same issue of Galmahra, a poem The Examiner by Z.C.M.S (which could only be Zoila Ceferina Mabel Stables!). Interestingly, her poem was not identified as prize winning.

It is very strange that she was not acknowledged for the prize, if she did indeed win the prize. Perhaps it was an error in her academic record? Or maybe it was because she was a woman they didn't acknowledge it? Or maybe it was published in another issue?

Who knows? But it is something I will have to investigate further.

Click Here if you'd like to read more about our house history.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Unreality of TV renovating shows

There is a plethora of renovating TV shows bombarding our screens in Australia at the moment. And unfortunately I am a sucker for it all. The Block, Top Design and now The Renovators.

It's hilarious that I would even be watching it since we are going through a long-term renovation here at the Sow's Ear. Jason doesn't get why I would be keen to follow these programs.

He says, "Why would you watch that when you can watch me?"

Too true. But it's all in the editing, Jason! The action-packed drama is condensed into one hour...rather than the many hours, days, weeks or months it takes for a project to be totally completed here! Not that I'm complaining.

Painting of the roof gable on this side of the house is finished.

So much more to do!

It is the unreality of reality TV that appeals to me! Where else but TV can you renovate an entire bathroom and bedroom within one week??

I've been getting a lot of emails (well, one) from readers, urging Jason and Mr Rooney, our travelling builder, to apply for one of these renovating shows. What do you think?

The tradie and the office worker...and their old fogey tunes. They'd put The Doug Anthony All Stars on the charts. Can you imagine? What a team!

p.s the lip sync is out on this video!

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Pineapple Series - Hawaiian Toast

It's becoming a sort of Sunday tradition for me to prepare Jason a wholesome pineapple meal. It's lucky he's not too discerning with his food....

Today we tried Hawaiian Toast from the Golden Circle Tropical Recipe Book circa 1965.

This Hawaiian toast is as Hawaiian as a Hawaiian pizza. Not very!

Retro Hawaiian toast
Here is the recipe for those who like to experiment with their food:

15oz can sliced pineapple
5 slices bread
4 oz softened cream cheese
1 dessert spoon  vegetable extract (like Promite, but I used Vegemite)
5 thin rashers bacon

Toast the bread (I toasted lightly). Mix cream cheese with vegetable extract and spread on toast. Drain pineapple slices and place one on each piece of toast. Trim and cut rashers into halves, placing criss-cross over each pineapple slice. Place under medium hot grill to crisp bacon and brown the pineapple. Serve immediately.

The verdict? You know, it wasn't half bad. It is certainly a variation on the toast theme for breakfast. And it was quick and easy to prepare.

The cream cheese and Vegemite concoction on the toast frightened me a little, but tasted quite fine. Jason said it added a certain 'zing' to the meal. His words, not mine.

I have a feeling Mr Rooney would've approved of this meal after his lukewarm response to Trinidad Eggs a few weeks ago. The pieces of bacon really made the dish.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Saturday morning house painting

I do believe Jason was born to that is.

He's out there every weekend painting up a white storm. This morning he's alternating between two sides of the Sow's Ear. 

The picture below is Jason painting the roof gable on the sunroom side of the Sow's Ear. He's already painted the  weatherboards below the flat roof he is lying on.

Painting the roof gable

Also in alarming news, the readership of this blog has dropped dramatically during the winter months. I told Jason this sorry fact and he's attributed it to the lack of shirtless photographs of him on the blog!! (He's such a narcissist.)

He's assured me that the shirt will be off once again in the warmer months, for his true dedicated fans. That's only a few weeks away. Bring it on!

DIY house painting!

Thursday, 21 July 2011

House history - more about the Stables family

The digitisation of newspapers is a treasure trove of fabulous information if you are researching the history of your home.

I periodically check back on the National Library of Australia's Trove website when doing research for some of my writing projects.

The site is progressively updated. I hadn't done a search on the Stables Family, the original owners of the Sow's Ear, for a few months and was pleasantly surprised to find more information about them from recently digitised regional newspapers and later editions of the Australian Women's Weekly. If you are new to the blog, you can read about my house history research HERE, if you are interested.

Anyway, the snippet below is Zoila commenting about Halley's Comet. I wonder if she ever made it to 1986 when the comet made its last appearance? (More importantly, I wonder if I'll make it to 2061 to see the comet again?)

Australian Women's Weekly Letter Box April 25 1973
It's interesting reading her words about her childhood in South America.

I still haven't found out Zoila's date of only next-of-kin can obtain a death certificate if the death occurred within 30 years. I've done some cemetery searches but they've come to nil.

This other snippet is about the death of the matriarch of the Stables family. It sheds light about the family's early life in Queensland before they built the Sow's Ear in Brisbane in 1927.

Morning Bulletin Rockhampton 18 Nov 1943
My most favourite piece of information about Zoila Stables is about her education at the University of Queensland. She won a poetry prize in 1925 and had it published in Galmahra which was the student news publication of the day.

I'm hoping to track down the poem. I'd love to read her work.

Morning Bulletin 6 February 1926

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Painting, planning battens and valances

The painting of the weatherboards on this side of the Sow's Ear is finito!

Jason was able to squeeze in a couple of hours of painting on Sunday while the rain held off. He usually plays Russian roulette with the weather while he's painting. Fortunately it stayed dry for most of the day.

Shadowy sunroom shot. Mr Rooney, our Scarlet Pimpernel builder, will be replacing our stairs in the spring time.

The fibro beneath the weatherboards will be removed at some stage. We are thinking of replacing it with vertical timber battens. It will be similar to the image below - note the dark battens towards the back of the house.

image from here
Jason also wants to make a decorative valance for around the bottom of the back deck floors. Similar (but not exactly) to the image below.

Anyway, it is one small step at a time. We still have to finish painting the exterior first.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Ice cream making and French macaroons

I don't know what possessed me last week but I have a suspicion it was Martha Stewart...because we are the proud new owners of an ice cream maker. 

Clearly, I feel the need to make ice cream.

Ice cream is the confection of choice for the younger members of the Sow's Ear and I believe we go through at least a litre of the stuff per week. And we always, always run out.

Homemade vanilla ice cream

It's a Kitchenaid ice cream attachment (bowl and churning paddle) which can be used with the Kitchenaid mixer. I didn't want to buy another electrical appliance, so this seemed ideal for us considering we already had the mixer.

Edit Image from here
I was too lazy to take a picture of my mixer!!
It is a liquid filled bowl which you then freeze or keep stored in the freezer. You just attach it to the mixer and pour in chilled ice cream batter and churn it for about 30 minutes to get 1.9 litres of ice-cream. It really is that simple but everything has to be super-chilled for it all to happen.

Kitchenaid ice cream maker attachment
It wasn't the cheapest kitchen purchase, but I'm fairly confident that it was money well-spent. I use my mixer regularly and have had it for close to a decade - this new attachment will just broaden our horizons somewhat.

I've already made one tub of ice-cream this week. In the coming weeks, I'm hoping to make frozen yoghurt and sorbets.

And a wonderful by-product of the ice-cream making business is an excess of egg whites.

French macaroon anyone?

Homemade French macaroons
I took them to a soiree on the weekend
p.s I had to take a break from the pineapple cookery. Don't worry, I have a fabulous dish planned to tantalise your taste-buds.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Cracks in the VJs

It's been a dry winter in Brisbane which is not a bad thing considering the major floods earlier this year.

The dry weather means the timber tongue and groove/vertical join (VJ) walls are opening up. Even the freshly painted VJs from the sunroom are splitting ever so slightly.

Cracks in the VJ walls
A lot of renovators fill the gaps between each VJ before painting them. We are probably in the minority as we don't, unless it is a very substantial gap. For that we use a flexible filler.

It is such an overwhelming job to gap each vertical join in the wall, from floor the ceiling. We took the view that the walls are going to shrink and swell over time, and life is too short to worry about the occasional crack between joins in the wall. A few days of rain often fixes it.

The cracks remind us that we live in an old house with real timber walls; authenticity doesn't have to be perfect.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Tinned Pineapple Series - Trinidad Eggs

Here is another breakfast dish from the Golden Circle Tropical Recipe Book circa 1965.

I made Trinidad Eggs because of its rather catchy title. Sadly, there were no food styling images accompanying this particular recipe. 

Why this dish is called Trinidad Eggs is any one's guess?

I Googled it and I only found information about wholesale eggs in Trinidad. Funny that.

Perhaps the addition of the tinned pineapple gives it a calypso feel. Jason and Mr Rooney, our Rastafarian builder, were treated to this fare on Sunday morning. Yum, yum.

Mr Rooney suggested that smoking ganja was a possible requirement to eat the meal...Jason bemoaned the fact he could never have a dreadlock holiday...West Indian Cricketer jokes were being told with wild abandon.

Trinidad Eggs
 Trinidad Eggs Recipe:
15 oz can Pineapple pieces in syrup
6 eggs
2 tbsp butter
1 chopped onion
500 g sliced tomato skinned ( I used tinned)
1/2 cup green capsicum chopped
1 tbsp chopped parsley
salt and pepper to taste

Drain pineapple pieces. Melt butter in frypan, fry onion for 5 minutes. Add sliced tomatoes, green capsicum. Cook covered about 5 minutes. Add pineapple pieces, stir to blend. Break eggs into frypan, one at a time, making a nest for each with back of spoon. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and parsley. Cover and cook until eggs are set about 5 minutes. Serve hot with buttered toast.

Jason's plate. He was tucking in and even wanted seconds.
How was it?

The verdict was mixed. Jason gave it a thumbs up and could have eaten more! Mr Rooney was less enthusiastic saying a nice piece of crispy bacon was needed to counter-balance the sweetness of the dish.

At any rate, the meal was quite substantial and sustained them until the afternoon, so it served its purpose. And on that note, I'll leave with this little ditty as you ponder whether to Trinidad Eggs or not to Trinidad Eggs....

Monday, 11 July 2011

Window hoods finished

A job which has been hanging over our heads for a number of months is now complete.

Window hood view from the backyard

Jason and Mr Rooney, our music-loving builder, worked like Trojans this weekend to get one side of the Sow's Ear ready for the window hoods. They had made two window hoods back in late January but could not install them until we hired some mobile scaffold; our borrowed painter's trestles were not nearly high enough.

Mobile scaffold is definitely a two-person job to pick up, assemble and disassemble.

Jason painting the side gable above our bedroom. The newly installed window hood is visible from the front of the house.

A zoomed-in view of the side gable from the street. It is in the new white and brown colour scheme we have chosen for the house.

The entire weekend was set aside to hire the scaffold which meant two jobs could be accomplished at the same time - painting the hard-to-reach areas of the Sow's Ear and then install the window hoods. Fortunately, the weather was perfect and they could get so much done.

Mr Rooney and Jason installing the 2nd window hood. This photo was taken from our back deck. The workers were listening to old fogey tunes on Mr Rooney's iPhone. It was good.
This shot is taken from the front yard. Jason and Mr Rooney are painting and gapping the wall in preparation for the window hood.

Son #1 helped paint the side wall. He's just goofing off in this shot, but he was shown how to always have three points of contact when scaling ladders and scaffold. Such a great learning experience for him.

The weekend has been a big boost in hurrying along the exterior painting. All the very high areas of this one side of the house are completely painted. It means the lower parts can be painted at our leisure with normal painter's trestles.

Painting the front facade will be left until very last. We will have to hire scaffold again for that, but in the meantime we still have plenty to do. Plenty to do!

All in all, it was a very successful weekend!

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Bris Cannery & Brismod

Shove over Julie & Julia, there's a new kid on the block. Yes, that's right, this is my year of cooking dangerously tropical with a tin of pineapple.

I'm inspired to prepare every recipe in the Golden Circle Tropical recipe book circa 1965, after our pineapple dinner party a few weeks ago. 

The recipe book is one which defines Queensland. There are about 140 recipes to master - from Rainbow Salad to Saucy Seafood Casseroles. 

My goal is to chronicle this life-changing journey in my blog...the trials, the get the picture.

I can see the movie and book deal now (there's always a movie and book deal with my hair brain schemes)!

With a tin of pineapple in the pantry, one never need eat pedestrian food again.

Today, I made Sunny Sausages for brunch. Never let it be said that I don't know how to treat my man. It was like a real worker's breakfast - the perfect meal to start the day of renovating ahead. 

Mr Rooney, our culinary builder, joined Jason for this uniquely Queensland feast.

Sunny Sausages
This was the food styling as suggested by the recipe book. Classic!
(Subliminal sexual innuendo runs rife in the book  and would make the most hardened home economist blush!)
 Sunny Sausages Recipe:
15 oz can sliced pineapple (in syrup)
required number of sausages
required number of eggs
tomato (I left this out because I didn't have any)
parsley (for garnish)

Prick sausages, then lightly dust with flour. Place in greased pan and cook until richly browned. Place egg rings in pan and fry eggs. Place sausages and eggs on warmed serving plates. Pan fry the drained pineapple slices until golden on both sides. Serve with sausages and eggs. Garnish with tomato and parsley (I served with buttered toast instead).

Mr Rooney gives the meal the thumbs up
 The meal sustained them throughout the day using the mobile scaffold to finally install our window hoods. More on that in the next blog post.

mobile scaffold
So, I suggest to you the meal was a success.  And well done the Reds!

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Bulb pendant lighting

Single bulb pendant lights look great in my humble opinion.

I like the colourful versions produced by N.U.D Collection in Sweden; such a simple, yet groovy way to shed light.

The pendant cord is three metres long, which means you can suspend the light off to one side if your light fixture is located in the centre of the ceiling.

image from here

Muuto a Scandinavian group also produce a series of bulb pendants in just single colours. They are called E27 pendant lights.

And Australian design firm Lightly do a very funky version of the single bulb pendant. These are woven 14mm  rope lights which lend themselves to macrame like creations. It gets the thumbs up for being Australian made and owned.

image from here
Or there is the budget variety from Andrews Light Up which is only one metre long and comes in plain white, black or chrome. They have the advantage of clipping to a standard batten fitting, so you don't need an electrician to fit them.

Image from here

Having done my research, I think single bulb pendant lighting will feature at the Sow's Ear in the near future. What do you think? (That question is directed mostly to Anonymous Louise who often laments my lighting choices)

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Retro Matador Painting

I went to visit my parents and found an old Matador painting in their back room that was no longer wanted. 

I knew it was unwanted because it was lying on its side on a dusty bookshelf. My Mum was more than delighted to off-load it.

Retro 3D Matador painting

Isn't it a hoot? The 3D image of the Matador and bull is made from a hard plastic resin which has been painted "antiquey"gold. It is set on a red velvet covered board with an "antiquey" gold frame.

I've seen the same piece floating around on ebay and in vintage shops but they've been mostly painted in vibrant colours set on a linen background. We might just have the velvety moody version!

Another version of the same 3D art
It's deliciously 50s/60s. But you know, I just don't get why the whole bullfighting theme was so popular then? What would've prompted it?

It's probably akin to the Aztec phase that people went through in the 80s/90s? Yeah, the memory of Aztec fabric covered sofas is burnt into my visual memory for life.

Anyway, the new "art" has found a home in our study.

And on a completely different note, the exterior painting is progressing well. If the weather is kind to us on the weekend, we should be finished painting the weatherboards on this side of the house.

Sunroom side of the house is nearly finished. Awaiting a final coat of paint to the left of the orange door.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Study bookshelves finished

The bookshelf in the study is complete. Hooray!

And we are going to be quite boring and put only books and some DVDs in them for now.

Floor to ceiling bookshelves for the study in our Queenslander
We are very pleased with them as it is good use of previously dead space. Storage in a Queenslander house is always scarce.

Some of our books- the military fiction and non-fiction  (with the rogue Star Wars book) are Jason's
We have another bookshelf in the study which we plan on re-painting to store the rest of our books and files. That will be for another day though.

Speaking of books, I just bought a series of Shakespeare for young readers for Son #1. Last semester, his teacher had been reading them aloud in class during free time. The books have really captured #1's imagination and he was very keen to get some for home.

It is always a struggle to find books which appeal, so at least I knew I would be on a winner with these books.

Shakespeare for children books
Son#1's favourite was Henry V

The plays have been retold in more accessible language and are a great introduction to Shakespeare. I ordered them online from Shakespeare's Globe in the UK and they arrived within a week of ordering them - just in time for the school holidays!
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