Monday, 31 October 2011

Massive giveaway! Win, win, win!

Well, I'm back with the giveaway portion after the Air Wick Aqua Mist product review. I hope you read it. It's here if you missed it. Go on.

Air Wick Aqua Mist refreshing musty retro fabric

As I mentioned yesterday, the Soup and Air Wick team have generously provided Bunnings and Coles/Myer gift vouchers, as well as samples of Aqua Mist, to give away to our readers. It is perfectly timed, with Christmas just around the corner.

Shop and spritz!
Subtle Aqua Mist product placement image

The first prize is a $250 Bunnings gift voucher. Second prize is a $100 Coles/Myer gift voucher. Both winners will also receive their very own bottles of Air Wick Aqua Mist in Wild Lavender & Mountain BreezeFresh Waters and Magnolia & Cherry Blossom to sample for themselves. It's a massive prize and I'm so happy you will have the chance to win it. Hooray!

So, to be in the draw to win, all you have to do is leave a comment answering this simple question:

What is your number one tip to freshen up your home?

As easy as pie.

You have until midnight (Brisvegas time) Monday 7 November to enter. If you're an anonymous commenter, please leave your email address with your comment, so I have some way to contact you. I will announce who won, next week.

Sadly, this competition is only valid for Australian readers... Boo!

Anyway, good luck! I can't wait to read all your tips!

Sunday, 30 October 2011

An odoriferous wake

I was contacted to do a product review by the nice people at Soup. I'd never done one before and they said they would provide me a terrific prize for Fun and VJs readers. Yay! They're brave though, because I have a tongue-firmly-in-cheek approach to such things...

So, the motherlode of samples arrived in a cardboard box on my doorstep last week. And what was in that box? Ha! An eternity's supply of Air Wick Aqua Mist - home fragrances.

Yes, I've hit the big time (or I stink, leaving an odoriferous wake). Just you watch out, I may be the next face of Aqua Mist (except that I'm anonymous and you're not allowed to see my face, damn!), if this review goes well.

Anyway I received the samples and the product description, which I read studiously just in case Soup and Air Wick did a pop quiz:

1. Contains fragrance which is inspired by water-based botanicals. Hence the name Aqua Mist. But check the ingredients and you will see ethyl alcohol is the first ingredient listed. They are right to say that they're inspired!

2. Safe to use on most fabrics including upholstered furniture and curtains. This is great if you collect vintage furniture from the roadside like me.

3. Comes in Wild Lavender & Mountain Breeze, Fresh Waters and Magnolia & Cherry Blossom fragrances.

4. Conveniently packaged in a recyclable plastic trigger bottle which fits perfectly on very narrow bathroom window ledges. A slim bottle is design genius in my book.

But proof is in the pudding. How does it smell? For the first few days I became trigger-happy, my eyes glazing over in a home fragrance stupor with the Sow's Ear smelling light and clean. Spritzing here and spritzing there - in the bathroom...

It fits the window ledge. Hooray!

...on the Marimekko wall art to make it actually smell like blossoms...

Omni-sensory Marimekko wall art. It will be the next "big" thing. the boys' shoes...

Not-so smelly sandals

I became crazed. It is highly addictive and I warn you, it is the home fragrance junkie's equivalent to the nasal spray. Seriously, Jason was worried I would start chroming the stuff. I went cold turkey before the situation became dire.

I gave the samples to all my mates. My cool hipster mates. They looked at me like I was crazy. "Wassup with the air freshener?" they'd ask. I told them to shaddup, start spraying and then report back immediately. And oh, it's home fragrance, thank you very much.

Fortunately, my friend Ruth, who is originally from Galway in Ireland (I imagine that she went to school with Mise @prettyfarwest),  is a nose queen. She is my go-to girl for all things smell-related.

If it smells bad, Ruth will tell you. You need honest friends like that in life. Although she is more of a smelly candle girl, she emailed me to give the big thumbs up to Magnolia & Cherry Blossom. Take that as gospel. Magnolia & Cherry Blossom is the pick.

To be honest, I actually like them all. Gosh, anything that doesn't smell like little boy or renovating-man pong is not going to get too many complaints from me!

Please stay tuned for more...there will be a massive giveaway, kindly sponsored by Soup and Air Wick which involves a little more than fragrant air.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Fibro under the house

I knew it was going to be one of those days, when I saw Jason tidying under the house area of the Sow's Ear. There was a bit of huffing and cursing as he was breaking up some old glass aluminium doors. I could tell he was generally annoyed at anything and everything.

A little while later I spied him measuring the fibro cladding that surrounds the bottom part of the Sow's Ear. I asked Jason what he was planning.

"I'm thinking of putting some weatherboards up, in this area," he replied, pointing to the cream-coloured walls.

"Oh? Do you have any weatherboards?"

"I'll have just enough for this section," he said.

"Okay then. But don't you have to get rid of the fibro first? It could be asbestos, you know?"

"I know that," said Jason as he proceeded to fetch his hammer from the shed, barefoot and shirtless of course.

"Are you going to do it right now? This minute?"

Under the Sow's Ear, the walls are clad in fibro.  We're not sure whether this section is asbestos fibro or not.
We are planning on removing them at some stage and replacing them with weatherboards

Jason stared at me like I was some annoying little parasite.

"Are you serious? There is no way you are going to be breaking up asbestos. What the? We've got little kids running around. What are you wearing? I can't believe it. Do you want to die an agonising death?" were some of the sentences which rolled in rapid succession from my nagging lips.

And that was it. Barefoot, shirtless Jason sighed, put his hammer back in the shed, abandoning his impromptu demolition plans and went to bed. And slept. For a couple of hours.

He's been ordered to have a break.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Following The Long Lap Around

I must harbour a secret desire to travel around Australia in a caravan because for the second year in a row I am reading a blog about a family doing just that.

Image from here

Last year, it was Let's go Moerkabout; this year it is The Long Lap Around.

Meg and her hubby Frank have piled their things up in a caravan, shoved the three kids in the back of the 4WD and are having the time of their life, soaking up the most amazing sights that Australia has to offer. I'm in awe of all the things they have seen and done. Meg's images are exquisite.

Image from here

They've been on the road for the past two months. Their journey started in Brisbane and they are now in Western Australia. If you would like to have a vicarious holiday without getting sand in your bedding and flies on your face, go pay a visit to Meg and her family HERE.

It's really inspirational.

Image from here

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

WWII field medical chest, amaryllis and agapanthus

Our friends Chris and Susan came bearing gifts quite unexpectedly on the weekend. They know that Jason is a keen military history buff and thought he'd appreciate an old war time medical pannier they had lying around their place. As one does.

It used to be their old coffee table long before they embraced modernism with much gusto.

I don't know what Jason will do with it but I think he may use it to store some of his precious military miniatures. At the moment it looks quite funky in our front entry.

WWII Field Medical Pannier

It is very cool piece of history.
It has leather trim, canvas covering and the body is a sturdy cane basket.

Inside the WWII field medical pannier.
It has the date and the list of what was contained in the kit.
We are given a lot of cool stuff. Thanks Chris and Susan!

Also, I took some photos for the lovely Katherine from theoldboathouse who so kindly acquired some agapanthus plants for my garden nearly two years ago. One of Katherine's friends generously passed on some excess aggies from her garden. I think I was given about 20 plants. Very kind people.

What a surprise when a couple of the agapanthus turned out to be rogue amaryllis. They look so similar when they're not in flower. I love them and they add a nice pop of colour to our front garden.

Red amaryllis flowers

Agapanthus ready to flower
I'm really looking forward to seeing the agapanthus bloom this year. Only one bloomed last year but I have my fingers crossed that we have more flowers this summer. Thanks Katherine and her generous friend!

Monday, 24 October 2011

Renovator's Rescue: Part two

Do you recall that old Queenslander house that I wrote about that's on my school rat-run when I drop off and fetch the boys?

Well, it eventually sold after being on the market for a while. And someone is actually renovating it. I took the shots below a couple of weeks ago and they've cleared the entire yard since then.

It looks like the house may be raised higher or an extension will be added to the back. But I don't know for sure. I thought it would be interesting to keep tabs on it and see what they do.

House voyeurism is my hobby!

Old  interwar Queenslander house
They have the exact same garage doors as ours, except theirs are in better condition! I should ask if they're keeping them...

You could barely see the house before because of all the trees and  overgrown vegetation.
 All the junk in the front yard is now cleared

They have a lot of work to do. It makes our house look like a walk in the park.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Dodgy Brothers Painting Inc.

By Jove, I think he's done it! Jason has finished painting the house façade.

Behold how she glows. A beacon of white (and poo brown).

White 1920s Queenslander
There's Son #3 sans culottes

And how precisely was this feat achieved?

Behold Australia's next Darwin Awards recipient.

Yes, that would be two aluminium planks on which the six-foot step ladder is precariously balancing.

For those who follow Fun and VJs on Facebook you would've already seen a teaser image. One of our readers, Mandy, said she was trying to work out how she would paint her roof gables and was waiting to see how Jason would tackle painting ours. After viewing the Facebook photo, she's decided to outsource the job!!

Jason tried to make a more solid platform, but it did not work out. So he improvised with just the planks.
He said there were plenty of things to bounce off if he were to tumble. I dashed to the filing cabinet and checked if the life insurance policy was up-to-date.

And one more shot to remind you how NOT to paint your roof gables. Yikes! Dodgy Brothers Painting Inc.
(You would roll your eyes if you knew what Jason did for a day job)
Finally, the very worst and most dangerous part of painting the Sow's Ear is officially over. I asked Jason how he felt on such a momentous occasion.

"I'm too exhausted to really appreciate it, to be honest..."

That's because there is still so much more to do, even with most of the Sow's Ear painted.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Dinner with the Guv

Jason and I were invited to a black-tie dinner. I was so very excited, until Jason told me it was to celebrate the 206th anniversary of the victory at the battle of Trafalgar.

I told him straight, "We never ever go out together. And the one night we do, you want to take me to celebrate some old fogey battle."

"Bob invited us. Some navy thing. Ray and Leanne are going too. Do you want to come or not?"

"A battle of Trafalgar dinner?Where will it be held?"

"I'm not sure. A services league club...somewhere in Spring Hill."

"What? You mean an RSL? Black tie for an RSL?'re not selling it to me, Jason."

Anyway, I reluctantly agreed. A night out is a night out after all. Who cares if it involves jaunty sea shanties? Jason had his heart set on wearing a spiffy dinner suit too.

United Services Club image courtesy of here
Last night we picked up Ray and Leanne and drove to the event. Ray had more information about the dinner and filled us in on the way.

It turns out the dinner was not at an RSL but rather the United Services Club Queensland in Wickham Terrace. The club is housed in two turn-of-the-20th century buildings Montpelier and The Greenhouse. They are both listed on the Heritage Register.  (There was not one pokie machine to be seen!)

Monogrammed dinner plates. I'm so easily impressed

Jason said I was very gauche to be taking photos.
You can see me in the silverware.

The dinner was an incredibly traditional affair hosted by the Naval Officers Club and the guest of honour at the dinner was Her Excellency Ms Penelope Wensley AC, Governor of Queensland. We were to shake her hand and call her, Her Excellency.

It is a very different world to the Sow's Ear.

Jason and I are certain we were the youngest people in the room apart from the waitresses.
There was a lot of table thumping before and after the speeches and toasts.
The toast to Lord Nelson got the biggest thump.

There's the Governor leaving for the evening. She gave an excellent well-researched speech about the Battle, but gave a French perspective, given her previous role as Australian Ambassador to France. She was sympathetic to French Vice Admiral Villneuve.

All in all, it was a terrific night far exceeding my original expectations - it was like being extras in a Hornblower episode. Cheers Lord Nelson!

Friday, 21 October 2011

Birth experience or changing bulbs in a Coral light

A couple of months ago I got an email from a reader asking me how we change the light bulb on our David Trubridge designed Coral light. It was a strange request. I didn't want to write back, ", der", so I sent a nice reply telling him how to do it. 

My reply was totally theoretical by the way, as the bulb in our light hadn't blown at that stage.

And then our light bulb blew and I appreciated fully what that reader was on about. The bulb that goes with the light is ginormous! Think childbirth thoughts. 

The light is constructed from about 60 pieces of very thin bamboo pieces which plug together to form a sphere - you need to unplug some of the connectors to make an opening wide enough to squeeze the old bulb out and the new bulb in. 

The thin bamboo pieces are liable to split if you are too heavy-handed when unplugging a section. If you don't have spare pieces, you could run into a spot of trouble. 

This is lighting obstetrics 101 and was to be handled very delicately. We photographed our lighting (reverse) birth to show you how it was done:

Fully dilated Coral Light
I unplugged the pieces in three places to make an opening large enough to squeeze the light bulb out.

Jason was the midwife (or husband?) in charge of the reverse birth of the light bulb.
There was a bit of manoeuvring to get the bulb in without damaging the pieces.

Nearly there. A few more deep breaths and a big push, Jason! You can do it!
The light bulb is an energy saving  Philips Ambiance Globe

It's's a...
working light! Aw...Congratulations! 
There you have it. If we can change a light bulb, anybody can. 

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Winner of the Dulux Colour Consultation and Eames chair

Thank you everyone who entered the Dulux giveaway which was sponsored by Nuffnang! Sadly, there could only be one winner with this promotion...Boo! (But don't worry, I have a couple of other exciting giveaways planned, if you're a giveaway junkie like me!)

So, a hearty congratulations to Nat Duncan. She was overjoyed when I emailed her the news. I think I detected tears of joy in her response...but I could be exaggerating somewhat...

Nat is a very busy woman. Not only does she scout locations for Qld Film Locations, she also has a website called Precinkt which explores places to visit around the world. It draws on local knowledge, word on the street and cool finds which help you plan your time in a particular place. Check it out and maybe suggest your precinct?

As you can tell, the images for this post are totally unrelated to all of the above. I was at the Woolloongabba Antique Centre yesterday and spied some great imported Eames chairs at one stall. I had to take photos. They were very cool. From memory, I think that vintage green rocker was priced at the $450 mark.

green Eames Rocker

Orange Eames chair 
Too cool.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Just a smidgen...

...left to paint on the Sow's Ear.

One last dab.

So close, yet still so high up.

Exterior of a Queenslander house being painted

And guess who's back?

Shirtless Jason painting the carport
Yes, Shirtless Jason.

There is a function on the statics which can tell me the key words which people use when they stumble on this blog. I had a quick look and noticed 'shirtless builder apartment' was appearing as an image search.

Intrigued, off I went to investigate. Look here.

I've never laughed so much. Jason makes page five! You have to scroll through some major beefcake to find him after you type in the key words. And then you are rewarded with the Fun and VJs' version of beefcake. Hilarious. It's sexploitation in the suburbs!

We anticipate the blog's statistics to sky-rocket over the summer months...according to Jason.

The carport facade is painted now. We still need to the paint underneath parts.
This shot was taken yesterday

Monday, 17 October 2011

Vintage desk light

I find some cool stuff in my Mum's back room. The room is like the tardis, deceivingly small until you open the door and enter into a hoarding time warp.

Every visit to that back room uncovers a different 'treasure'. I've said it before, but I consider it my mission to declutter that room. The stuff in there may as well get used somewhere because as it is, it's just collecting dust.

It truly is a bonus when I discover something I actually love, such as my eldest brother's old desk light which he used when he was studying architecture in the early 80s. 

I'm hoping he's completely forgotten about it and won't go looking for it. Silly him for leaving it behind, I say! Anyway, Mum said he had more than one (hoarding is genetic, you know), so there is bound to be another one lying around if he goes searching nostalgically.

Vintage Freedom Furniture desk light
My brother's old lamp is clamped to our desk, lighting the way for my tapping fingers as I type. We lacked a desk light in the study and have been relying on the overhead light which is just a bare naked Edison bulb at this stage (it's an unintentional industrial look until we find a suitable fitting).

The lamp, to my great surprise, is vintage Freedom Furniture but made in Denmark. What the? Freedom Furniture made in Denmark? Clearly that was a very long time ago because the last time I looked there were no Danish goods to be seen!

Vintage Freedom Furniture light label.

It's a cool light (from my perspective), regardless of where it is made, and is very useful too.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Australian Modern Magazine photo shoot

In real life, as opposed to blogtopian life, I write and edit publications. For the past few years, I've worked with my friend Chris to edit Brisbane Modern Magazine* which celebrates Brisbane's mid-century architecture and design. We've completed three mags together and it's been a lot of fun.

Well, things are heating up with Brisbane Modern and we will be putting out a new publication called Australian Modern Magazine in the new year. Yes, that's right, we are going national!

The magazine will feature contributions from architects, artists, academics and collectors about modernism in Australia. The articles are an interesting snapshot of Australian design life in that mid-century period.

Yesterday afternoon was the big shoot for the front cover. It was all a bit iffy as there had been a storm earlier in the morning but fortunately the weather gods smiled down upon us and the skies cleared for the afternoon.

There were pretty girls in vintage frocks, a sporty little Goggomobil Dart and a striking 1960s house as the backdrop. We were waiting for the precise time of day for the right shadows to appear on the house a la Julius Shulman.

Here are some shots from the day:
Some of the warm-up shots
Some of the real shadow shots

Goggomobil Dart loaned out for the day by a collector

The two stroke engine is found in the boot!

Australian Modern Magazine is an independent self-published venture which relies on advertising to cover the printing costs. There are only a couple of advertising spots left, so if anyone out there is keen to be involved, please contact:

T: 07 3395 4571

*This is the reason for my moniker - an abbreviation of the magazine's first email address which I still have and use. The mag now has its own website and email address which Chris manages. I never realised when I started this blog it would be widely read, so there was no deep thinking about my pen name. With hindsight, I probably should've used my real name!

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Mid-Century Brisbane bedroom

I popped over to my friends Chris and Susan's place today. (There was an amazing photo shoot at their home which I will share with you on another post very soon. Keep your eyes peeled!)

They have a 1960s house in the suburbs which is ultra cool and it has been featured in a number of newspaper articles. Usually it's just the photos of the exterior or the main living area which make the final cut in the publications. It is such a shame as they have other rooms which are worthy of the same attention.

While I was visiting I took it upon myself to snap some very impromptu photographs of their bedroom. The room is totally au naturel. It is just how it is in normal life, rather than Blogtopian life. (I wish I was this tidy!)

If you are a mid-century modern collector, into modernism or just love vintage, you might have to wipe the drool from the corner of your mouth. It is a delicious assortment of furniture, art and objects.

Anyway, here are the photos. Let me know what you think.

Art gallery wall in the master bedroom curated to great effect.
None of the art is particularly valuable, it is just art from friends and pieces which have been collected over time.

Everything in this room is original, from the Clement Meadmore cord chair to the Tomado wall shelves to the Louis Poulsen light

Just a closer view of the Tomado shelves and Meadmore chair

This is a shot of Susan's wardrobe on the other side of the wall.
Full of vintage goodness and flammable frocks! 

Friday, 14 October 2011

Old maps - the expedition

My expedition to retrieve some old National Geographic maps  from my parents' place proved to be an epic fail!

Most of the older magazines my parents collected have been packed away and stored under their house. It would be like searching for a needle in a haystack, there is that much crapola under there. I wasn't mentally prepared nor was I dressed appropriately to wade through all their hoarded stuff.

The only thing I could find in their bookshelves was a few more recent maps from the late 70s.

Here I was expecting to find pristine maps from the 20s and 30s ( I was particularly hoping to find a map of deepest, darkest Africa) and the best I could find was a map of Australia in 1979 and duplicate maps of British Columbia and The Grand Canyon.

1979 National Geographic Magazine map of Australia.
Look how they've treated Tasmania!
They did have a 1957 National Geographic world map but it was too tattered and well-used to be framed. You can buy them on eBay for a relatively small sum here. And for a laugh check out how much my map of Australia is worth here.

You should've seen how disappointed I snobbery at its finest.

Oh well, the Australian map is quite 'frameable' and Son #1 has expressed an interest in it, so it could be a great piece for his room. For a nine year old, 1979 seems positively ancient!

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Retro student desk

I was wheeling a shopping trolley full of groceries to my car, when I noticed from the corner of my beady little eyes a mound of domestic detritus overflowing from a near-by clothing bin. 

Someone must've decided to use the car park as a dumping ground for all their stuff, despite signs saying it was prohibited to leave bigger items like furniture near the bin. There was sh*t everywhere including a little forlorn student desk.

And that's when my interest was piqued. I went to have a closer look. Hmmm...atomic shape? Yes. Okay condition? Yes. Stable? Yes. Small enough to fit in the boot of the Subaru? That's when I pounced and carried it to the car. 

I considered it my public duty to whisk it away, as it posed a potential trip and fall hazard in the car park. That's my story anyway. 

The desk looks like it is a DIY home made number, but it is reasonably well-made with proper joins. It will still need some TLC. Nothing that a light sand and a lick of Danish oil can't fix.

It is perfect for a corner of our lounge room as it is quite compact. The younger boys will be able to use it when they do their homework or craft activities.

Retro student desk

Small retro student desk

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Advice for Tim and Julia - renovating The Lodge

The Prime Minister of Australia Julia Gillard and her partner Tim are moving out of The Lodge due to major repairs required on the ageing building. Read about it HERE.

The Lodge is the official residence of the PM in Canberra and was built in 1927 - so it's about the same age as our house, The Sow's Ear. Who knew Julia and I had so much in common?

Julia and Tim at The Lodge

But, Julia, Julia, Jooliah! How disappointed we are in you and Tim...

Didn't you watch The Block and see the Sisters renovate their dilapidated house in eight weeks? Guys, do you really need to move out?  Will it really take 18 months?

Listen up. D I Y. Three simple letters. It's the new black in these austere times.

I'd say the taxpayer would be happy paying for a couple of port-a-loos for out the back of The Lodge. We're a generous-hearted lot and sympathise with your renovating dilemmas. Anyway, aren't there showers in Parliament House? Surely you could do your bit for the country and shower at work.

The back view of The Lodge
Seriously, you guys need to suck it up, stay at The Lodge during the renos and save Australia some major dollars.

Now Tim, I know your background is not in the building game, but I reckon you could duck into Bunnings and get a nail bag and a few tools...You'd look great and the lads at the CFMEU would be so proud. You could get Julia a pink nailbag for when you re-slate the roof together.

Can you hear that? The PR people at those new Masters hardware stores are on to it. Matching his and her nail bags. You two could be the face of the new hardware chain. Think about being set-up for life after Julia leads the nation. You just never know when that could happen...just ask Kevin.

Sign at The Lodge
I heard Channel Nine are canning The Block and replacing it with a new renovating show called The Lodge. There will be eight couples doing renovation battles. How to use Julia's portrait as the 'Hero' of the room is one of the challenges being mooted. It could be a ratings winner.

And you know what? Mr Rooney, our favourite thinking builder, is in Canberra as I type this post. Drop me a line and I'll send you his details. He's done a top job on our house and he could probably give you a little bit of policy advice to pass on to Julia. (Please be aware, he uses sustainable plantation timber where possible because he has a soft spot for the orangutans in Borneo.)

Really, there is so much information about renovating houses out there, Julia and Tim. I know your place is heritage listed and all but there's lots of DIY you could tackle by yourself with a little help from the blogging community. There's Desire to Inspire, Remodelista and Design Sponge - you don't have to feel alone during your renos.

But really you should start by following Fun and VJs. Hope to see your face on my sidebar. Okay?
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