Friday, 30 September 2011

The weekend ahead

My weekend ahead will include:

Reading about the lovely Julie from Olive & Joy whose stylish Gold Coast home was featured in October's Real Living Magazine. She kindly sent me a copy after I commented on her blog. Thanks a million Julie!

front cover of Real Living
 It appears that Julie has at least one Featherston chair in every room. Such great taste.

This must be where Julie blogs. Cool house!

Jason's weekend ahead will include:

Testing out his new 6.4 metre extension ladder - an early birthday present from his parents. It was delivered today and was the highlight of the morning (we have to get out more!).

I envisage a tin of paint and a paint brush will be the sum of his weekend.

Extension ladder
Oh and Mr Rooney, our intrepid builder, popped around this afternoon and critiqued my garage door painting. It was not positive. Hmpf!

I told him that I couldn't make wine out of water...actually I didn't...I just blamed Jason for the poor paint job because he did the final coat on those doors.

For those curious about our new candles, here is what they look like all lit up in the Danish candle holder.

Danish candle holder.
That's Jason there in the background. You won't recognise him because his clothes aren't splattered in paint and he looks like he's taking it easy.
And I hope all you Brisbane folk are going to Brisbane Open House tomorrow. I'm in South Brisbane in the morning, so I might check out what's on offer in that precinct. You can find all the details HERE.

Have a great weekend! 

Danish candlesticks and slim taper candles

I'll tell you what, you know your days as a groover are kaput when you drive into Paddington and bypass all the cool shops in Latrobe Terrace and head straight for Herbert Street.

Yeah, that's where Christian Supplies is located. I've become my grandmother!

I've been tracking down slim taper candles to go into a Danish candle holder. You have to go to a religious supply shop as they tend to have the monopoly on the not-so-stock-standard candles.

From my experience, the teenager in the trendy candle store just stares at you blankly if you walk in asking for a slim taper. Que?

Danish candle holder with slim taper candles

Non drip slim taper candle

I bought a supply of non drip taper candles and three inch candles for some other Danish teak candlesticks. (thanks Jo, they look even better with candles in them). Fantastic!

Danish teak candle holders with three inch candles.

And because I don't get out much, I took the opportunity to browse the shelves. The boys were with me and they nagged me to buy them a crucifix.

Colourful El Salvadorean crosses

How could I say no? It's hilarious. As if I could say, "Put the friggin' cross down." Like I normally would if they had picked up a Star Wars toy.

Anyway, they chose an Indigenous cross. It's kinda cool.

Living Waters Cross by artist Narelle Urquhart

Monday, 26 September 2011

Replica: nicer word for fake?

Well, it seems like the debate regarding replica furniture is about to rear its ugly designer head again in Australia.

According to today's Sydney Morning Herald, American firm Herman Miller is taking Australian replica furniture supplier Matt Blatt to court over the use of the Eames name.

You can read the article in full here.

For me the assertion that Matt Blatt owner, Adam Drexler, sees himself as the Robin Hood of designer furniture makes me cringe. He believes good design should be made more accessible and not for those with high incomes. His words are very honourable however, he can say this while reportedly hooning around in his real Porsche 911.

You'd think he'd at least walk the talk and get his Chinese manufacturers to build him a replica, wouldn't you?

I've touched on this subject before in my posts about Design Vigilantism here and here. It really is a topic that divides people, especially when the price differential between original and replica is quite substantial.

Finn Juhl Model 137 image from here

For the record, I don't own any current replica furniture. Just a 30 year old vintage knock-off - a Brisbane made DQF Viking chair which looks alarmingly similar to a Danish chair designed by Finn Juhl Model 137 (1953).

Does it still count as a fake if it's vintage? Does it even matter 30 years down the track?

DQF Viking chair (photo from 2009)

What do you think about the issue? Do you think Herman Miller is being unreasonably heavy-handed? Surely, everyone knows an Eames chair from Matt Blatt is a replica?

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Two gables to go...

...but how on earth will Jason do it? His super-human abilities can only go so far...

Jason's still weighing up the options and hasn't indicated which one he will choose. He's toying with us...

Jason painting the front window hoods

The Sow's Ear after another weekend of work on her

Here are the options:

1. Use an extension ladder. He'll  have to feed the ladder through the carport in order to reach the large back gable. A portion of the carport roof will have to be unscrewed and removed to do this option.  This is a more economical option because we can either borrow an extension ladder or buy one for keeps.

2. Hire a cherry picker for the day. Our good friend, Captain Boyter, has offered to help us as he has "cherry picker experience" and Jason is a "cherry picker" virgin. This is the most expensive option but probably the safest. Captain Boyter says he gets a trade discount too.

3. Dangle from the roof with fall arrest harness and a superman cape. (Look! Up in the sky. It's a bird. It's a plane. No, it's just Jason.) This option is economical as Mr Rooney, our absentee builder, has offered to lend his harness to Jason. It also has the added benefit of being great entertainment value for all of us.

And as one of my readers, Nick, mentioned - there are so few opportunities in life to abseil down your roof. Why not seize it? Why not indeed!

What option would you choose?

Friday, 23 September 2011

Kathy's Queenslander cottage

Last night we were invited to Kathy's house. She lives in a little Queenslander cottage in a very narrow lane way on Brisbane's south side. It's a lovely, polished home filled with exquisite pieces.

Kathy's home reminds me very much of the Sow's Ear - similar period and decorative features. It also has the same colour scheme as what used to be here before we changed it - yellowy cream walls with dark yellowy cream trim. However, in Kathy's house it is very well-painted; this makes a huge difference.

The colour scheme actually complements Kathy's objects and furniture pieces. Her decorating style is more traditional and she has some beautiful timber antique furniture.

The same colour scheme did not work so well at the Sow's Ear and definitely did not look good with our mid century style of furniture. It's funny how in one home it looks great and in another home it can appear drab and dreary.

Anyway, we had a nice little visit, with great food and wine on the pretence of discussing our book club book Past the Shallows by Australian author Favel Parrett. Thanks Kathy!

Here are some dodgy iPhone shots of our night:

The piano room with two lovely cane chairs in the corner

Intricate fretwork breeze way above the second bedroom door

Blue and white china vignette on an antique crystal cabinet

Planter stand with vintage jardiniere

Wine and book
Our friend Leanne made some white chocolate Rocky Road. 

Susan made a delicious pasta salad which were served in  Kathy's collection of black bowls

Martin Boyd Pottery bowl
I flipped the bowl over after I finished my pasta (so refined, aren't I?) and was most impressed with Kathy for using the Boyd ware. 

Wednesday, 21 September 2011


It's been cruisey around here during the holidays. It's great!

I sent Son #1 to a cooking class organised by Ilve. Our oven is an Ilve and we are sent emails periodically about cooking sessions using their products. The sessions are excellent and very well-run.

Anyway they had a teenage cooking course for 10 to 16 year olds. I sent along the nine year old hoping they wouldn't check for ID ( he's 10 soon though).

He loved it. We've got a fridge full of cookie dough ready to be baked. He also made pikelets and piroshki. Others in the class made marinade for chicken, quesadillas and apple shortcake. Yum!

It was a really good experience without me having to clean up after it all!

And I'm testing out mobile blogging, so hopefully this post will turn out ok...

Monday, 19 September 2011

Old garage doors

It's the first day of the spring school holidays which means time at home with the children.

It also means I have an extra two pairs of eyes, in the form of Sons #1 & #2, to watch Son #3 when I am working around the house. They really are a great help when I am in the middle of doing something like painting.

While Son #3 had his lunch time nap, I quickly took the opportunity to slap some paint onto our shabby chic garage doors. They used to be dark heritage green.

I literally did slap on the paint because the doors will eventually be replaced. There is no point labouring meticulously over them as some of the timber boards are rotted and are in serious disrepair - it has been patched up with an odd assortment of  timber and tin to keep the structure sturdy and functioning.

I just wanted to paint them so the Sow's Ear looked more finished off from the street.

Old garage doors patched up with picture rail and floor board. (Not of our doing).
Yikes!  Looks better from the street! 

First coat of paint on the timber garage doors

For now, we'll keep the doors until we decide what we are going to do underneath the house. To build-in underneath or not to build-in underneath?  It's a good question and one which we can ponder about for a little while.

I've also been making slow but steady progress on the outdoor gates. I'm on a mission to un-heritage green the Sow's Ear.

Painting timber gates and fences white 

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Orange switchboard box

What happened to Spring? It was frickin' hot today! Apparently it was 33 degrees Celsius.

This morning we had an early start to get some painting in before it got too hot. Jason was up on the carport roof  painting the weatherboards while I was down below getting the first coat of paint onto the fences. I swear I have snow blindness after painting all that white.

To break up the monotony of the white I thought I'd give the electrical switchboard/meter box a dab of colour. Bright Delight to be precise.

Orange Switchboard box

It looks really cute and is just the right amount of colour for the Sow's Ear. And if we tire of it, there's no drama in re-painting it down the track.

Oh and the Tuscan peach is now finito!

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Olive oil tin can planter

I really ought to be painting the fences... instead I've been pottering around the yard - a bit of weeding, pruning, fertilising, watering and planting.

In Blogtopia, I have noticed large olive oil tins used as planter pots. They've always appealed to me for some reason. Perhaps I'm a Greenie deep down inside.

I always throw out our olive oil tins with the recycling but I kept the last one aside to make it into a herb pot. It seemed like a good thing to do.

There are instruction on how to whip one up at Apartment Therapy blog. It is really a no-brainer but here is the link to the instructions anyway.

This is what was created today. It literally took 10 minutes to make. I planted some basil in the tin as I have had absolutely no luck growing it in my laundry tub planter. Apparently, basil grows best in its own pot.

Olive oil tin can planter with basil

We'll see. I'm hoping Basil likes its new olive oil tin. And I have a feeling that my olive oil buying in the future will be based on the attractiveness of the packaging.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Retro curtain fabric, vintage cardigans and bubbles

My Mum is having a decluttering session at her place and is barely making a dent. Most of what she is decluttering is coming over here. Bless her hoarding heart and for passing on that hoarding gene.

There was some vintage curtain fabric which she had under the house. I said that I'd take it. It was too retro to leave behind tucked away unloved.

It is in OK condition, but I will probably pass it on to my mate Melissa if she wants it. Melissa makes groovy sun hats and cushions from reclaimed vintage fabric which she then sells at those handmade indie markets.

It looks like some one had a psychedelic barf

And then Mum gave me her vintage cardigans which she no longer wears. They date from the late 60s/early 70s. And I've been wearing them like there is no tomorrow...sporting the collared cardi look at school drop-off. They are my most favourite thing to wear at the moment.

Vintage cardigans - the new granny chic

You'll also be happy to know that I picked up the bulb holder for the Globemaster Soda Syphon. We have bubbles!

Soda Syphon bulb holder attachment

Bring on the summer parties and I'll top your drink with soda water. Shame it will be too hot to wear my cardis.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011


old Fiskars weeder

It's Spring and I've been battling the scourge of the broad-leaf weed that has infiltrated our poor excuse for a lawn. I'm being eco and have pulled the weeds out with our trusty Fiskars weeding thingamajig. (Man, I can't believe this is the sum of my life at the moment!)

Anyway, the weeder thing is fantastic for uprooting weeds without having to bend your back.It's like a claw on a stick.

It was a gift for Jason many moons ago but it seems I am the one who uses it the most. The "claw' comes out at the beginning of every spring to make sure the weeds don't overtake the lawn when it gets warmer.

And apparently there is a newer, sexier model of  the claw which has lethal stainless steel prongs. Thoughts of upgrading went through my mind and then I realised I needed to get a life.

Bindi weed is starting to peek through our lawn too. I've been hand weeding that but I think I may have to resort to chemical weaponry, especially on our nature strip because there are just too many to pull out.

And this is the time of year to do it before they develop their prickles. So, is anyone else madly weeding?

Monday, 12 September 2011

How to paint the top of the house? Part Two

You're a terrific lot. So many encouraging comments to help Jason's paint brush reach the highest gables. Most of your comments were very funny.

Poor Jason's still wondering how best to paint those gables. It seems he's literally painted himself into a corner in terms of outsourcing this final part. We can't imagine anyone wanting to take on such a small job like this, so that will probably be ruled out at this stage.

Mr Rooney, our travelling builder, offered us some detailed advice via email, which involved fixing a handhold onto the roof studs (something for Jason to hold on to while he paints) and a fall arrest harness. Jason would have to lower himself down from the roof onto a makeshift trestle and plank arrangement on the front window hood.

According to Mr Rooney, Jason would be able to have his three points of contact and then he could paint with his free hand.

I'm not so sure about it though, but Jason's considering it.

I said to Jason:"No way! You're not Batman, y'know...It's not like using a batarang."

And ever since I can't get the theme song nor the climbing up the wall scenes from the camp Batman TV show out of my head.

Na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, Batman! Na, na, na, na, na, na...

Holy house-painting, Batman!

Sunday, 11 September 2011

How to paint the top of the house?

No prizes for guessing what we did this weekend. Yep, more painting. Pick the people with no lives. We eat, live and breathe house painting around here.

Do you know, we never actually intended to paint the Sow's Ear by ourselves? It was always a job that we intended to outsource to the professionals...I really don't know how this came about...

Jason just started painting the back deck walls last September on his weekends and pretty much kept going. Very Forest Gump-like.

Go, Jason, go!

We've gone through so many litres of paint...I don't think we even kept count.

So here we are nearly a year later and we are finally painting the front fa├žade of the house. And the funniest thing about it is Jason doesn't know how to reach the front gables to paint them. The gables are too high and our carport and front stairs are in the way to get mobile scaffold in.

Note how the gables are unpainted. Jason could only reach so far on tippy-toes. And I don't really know what poor Jason is doing in this photograph. He looks like he's collapsed from over-painting.

We briefly looked at hiring a cherry picker for a whole weekend but then we thought we could get away with using an extra long extension ladder (we need to buy one as it is something we'll always need). Or maybe we should just get someone in to do the final hard-to-reach part? What do you think?

Where's Mr Rooney when you need him?

Newly painted lattice and arches. There used to be casement windows here a very long time ago. I wonder when it was opened up...
I've been relegated to fence painting. No heights for me.

Friday, 9 September 2011

Neutra and 3d house numbers

With the front of the Sow's Ear being painted at the moment, my mind has turned to the very important issue of house numbers. Three dimensional house numbers to be precise.

I'd like to have cool house numbers on the house. (Yeah, there's not a lot of deep thinking happening here at the moment...but this blog was never intended for intellectual pursuits!)

I've always liked the Neutra house numbers which are available in America. The font was originally designed by modernist architect Richard Neutra in the 1930s.
Image from Here

I like how they sit off the wall

And there is an Etsy seller who sells an acrylic version in funky opaque and translucent colours. These numbers are a fun take on the modernist font.

Image from here
I've looked for a modernist-style equivalent here in Australia and the closest thing I could find was a set of numbers made by a company called Platino. They're not bad looking and apparently they are stocked in the major hardware stores.

Image from here

What to get? What to get?

Once the very important decision of house numbers is decided, then we will seriously consider what to name the Sow's Ear. I'm leaning towards a historical name connected to the original family who owned the house - the Stables family... 

Enjoy your weekend!

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Soda Syphon

There are few things which remind me of childhood as vividly as the Sparklets soda syphon.

My family were huge soda water drinkers in the 60s and 70s when it was hugely popular and in the 80s when it was no longer fashionable.

I went to visit my Mum today and she was having a clean-out of her cupboards. Bless her hoarding heart. Not only did she pass on some questionable 80s fashion to Son #1 (which originally belonged to one of my brothers), but she  let me have a Sparklets Globemaster and a box of syphon bulbs.

I had a choice of the red Globemaster, the blue Globemaster or a red Hostmaster. On a whim, I chose blue.

Blue anodised Sparklets Globemaster soda syphon

The whole syphon thing is highly amusing, especially after googling syphons and finding this description of the Globemaster on this site.  It seems Jason and I can have some cool parties and sufficient soda water...But most importantly the site has step-by-step instructions on using syphons.

When I returned home with my Globemaster, I realised I didn't get the bulb-holder to see if the the syphon still worked. I'll have to visit Mum again later this week to get it.

And here's Son#1 modelling his 80s nylon jacket. Now all we need are some Reebok pumps and we're set.

1980s nylon jacket

Sunday, 4 September 2011

The insight of a child

Days like Father's Day offer an insight into what children really think of their parents. Jason and I love nothing more than seeing what gift our children choose or what sentiment they write on the cards they work so hard to make.

This morning Jason was awakened excitedly by the fruits of his loins for the Father's Day gift-giving exercise. Son #2 who is six years old made a booklet about his father. You know those little fill-in-the-blanks pro forma sheets asking vital statistics and details.

My Dad is ____ years old. He weighs____ and is ____cm tall.

You get the picture. (For the record Jason is a skinny giant according to Son #2)

It was very cute until the following page.

My dad likes to relax by sleeping.
He loves to wear painting clothes.
The picture depicts Jason sleeping on a bed.
The next page went on to say:

It makes my dad happy when he gets ebay stuf (sic).

I told Jason he'd been described as the Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons.

"That's your child's estimation of you. He's just described you as a slob - a painting-clothes wearing ebayer who sleeps all the time!"

comic book guy

Too funny. Especially since Jason is a James Bond (the Daniel Craig version) wannabe.

Needless to say, Jason did not paint this fine Father's Day, nor was he caught napping or ebaying.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Exterior painting progress

There's only a smidgen of the Tuscan peach colour left on the Sow's Ear. Can you see it?

all the brick has been re-painted

Yep, it's on the power box hidden near the garage doors.

Power box on the side of the house

We're going to paint it bright orange, like our back door. It will give the power box a certain sense of gravitas being bright orange rather than peach, don't you think? Tuscan peach is not a colour to be taken seriously in sub-tropical Brisbane.

And we still have half a tin of Dulux Bright Delight orange paint to use up. There will be no waste at the Sow's Ear.

orange back door

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