Saturday, 31 March 2012

New exterior project

There's action aplenty at the Sow's Ear central!

Mr D finished the gates for the fence during the week (I'll show you the photos when we finish painting). We've been really happy with Mr D, particularly as he had big shoes to fill after Mr Rooney, our original builder, moved to to Canberra. 

Jason was so pleased with everything, he's asked Mr D to stay on with us to do more work. This will involve weatherboarding the whole downstairs area of the Sow's Ear. It used to be clad in fibro (some bad ass asbestos fibro and some new good stuff). We organised its removal a few days ago, so it is now all safe and clear for re-cladding next week.

I forgot to take some photos of the area to be be re-clad but will make sure I do that tomorrow to show you what it looks like.

You can see the glimpse of the new gates. We plan to finish painting the fence over the Easter weekend. And we were getting all our timber weatherboards delivered this particular day.

This weekend, we (and this is not the royal 'we' for a change...where have I gone wrong?) have been priming the rough sawn hardwood weatherboards, so that they are ready to be installed next week. There's over 100 of the bloody things and no way in the world can Jason paint them all in time by himself. Never fear, Brismod to the rescue...but there will never be any photographic evidence. You'll just have to take my word for it....

Paint Jason, paint! Paint harder.

Friday, 30 March 2012

The one sports car family

Ever since I mocked Jason and his beloved Peugeot sports car on the blog, I've been cursed by narrow escapes and car accidents. Karma, with a French accent, is out to get me.

Seriously, I think I've been jinxed given the amount of bad luck I've had.

Two weeks ago, I  narrowly escaped a head-on collision with another car. The other had car veered onto the wrong side of the road as it was hurtling down a hill. The car swerved to miss me, flattened a traffic sign and and crashed onto a nearby roundabout.  The driver was unharmed but very dazed. He'd just finished work (it was 6.30am) and didn't know what had happened until I told him my version. I think he may have fallen asleep at the wheel and woke up at the last minute. It was a lucky escape.

Unfortunately last week I wasn't so lucky...I gave way to a bus which was moving back into traffic when I was hit from behind. 

Bam, crash, and boo hoo!

Image from here
Such a sickening feeling. The car that hit me crumpled and was another write-off.  My car was mangled from behind but was still operable. Everyone was okay and everything was amicable, it really was a minor ding (although it didn't feel like it at the time) which has left a lot of damage to both cars...Both cars had to be taken to the mechanics to be repaired.

But how freaking inconvenient. Particularly as our second car is the family un-friendly Peugeot sports car. The last week or so has been interesting in terms of trying to get around. Let's just say there has been a lot of walking involved and a lot of filthy looks in Jason's direction (and not the sexy-time looks he normally receives, if you know what I'm saying...) as he's cruised past me in his car. 

They say bad luck comes in threes. So, what's next? Should I be worried? I feel a bit spooked. Who wants to go on an Easter road trip with me?

Tuesday, 27 March 2012


When we decided on the fence style for the Sow's Ear, we forgot about including a letterbox into the whole  scheme of things. Because of the style of fence we will be opting for a post mount letterbox which sits slightly higher than the top fence rail..

Anyway, holy letterbox choices! When I went looking on the Internet and at the letterbox shops I was hit with a plethora of choices...But not all letterboxes suit our requirements.

We don't want a letterbox which needs a key to remain shut as we like to be unimpeded when we check the mail. It needs to be large enough to accept large envelopes and small parcels (because Jason is an eBay junkie) that the Postie can leave easily. 

We also want to have a slightly rounded letterbox because our fence is on a slope and was constructed following the lie of the land. We think a round letterbox would suit it best.

Anyway, here are our favourites:

Mrs Kelly by Robert Plumb 
Cadrona Letterbox

Classic post mount copper mailbox
I don't know whether this mailbox can be shipped to Australia. Boo! 

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Fence painting

Jason doesn't like to waste a minute when it comes to painting bare timber. He was on to the fence painting gig as soon as possible.

He spent most of Saturday undercoating the new fence so lovingly. While he was out the front he said that someone stopped to ask for the details of our fence builder, Mr D.  That was the third enquiry we've had about Mr D's availability. The Sow's Ear is getting a lot of admiring glances from passers-by, now the fence is so close to completion.

By Sunday morning all of the undercoating was done. The man is a machine. I need to invent a way to bottle all that motivation Jason's got...I'd be rich!

I also went on a reconnaissance for a new mailbox...but the only ones I like are too expensive and I can't get my head around paying that much for a letterbox. At least not at the moment. I have to be feeling reckless and carefree.

We are just going to recycle the old one for now as it is perfectly adequate. Jason's given it a coat of white paint. It's just a little timber box shaped like a house. You can just see a glimpse of it on the left of the image above.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Fence progress

The fence is looking fab. Mr D is doing a great job despite the rain playing havoc with his schedule. He's working on the gates now that the main fence is done.

The big thick posts we used for the gate posts look impressively substantial, don't they?

Hopefully all will be finished next week if the weather holds up. And then I need to think about a new mail box. Any suggestions?

Queenslander fence

Another thing to be painted!

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Alfred Shaheen frock

My friend Susan is enamoured with all things Alfred Shaheen. It's her must-have vintage dress label of the moment.

Alfred Shaheen was a Hawaiian textile designer who pioneered the Aloha shirt. His fabrics are a meld of tropical chic and mid-century style. I've been looking on ebay and I must say there are some very cool dresses out there sporting the Shaheen label. Love them.

Susan was most proud of her new vintage frock when she wore it on the weekend. She was hosting a movie night - a viewing of The Party - and I asked her to pose for some photos.

mod style Alfred Shaheen dress

Shaheen signature
And for those who haven't seen The Party before, check out the old trailer here:

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Fence posts are in

More progress has been made on the fence despite the wet weather we've had the past few days.

Late last week, Jason was slapping on the oil based primer on the hardwood fence posts. They had to be primed before going into the ground. Jason put his hand up for that you do...The primer protects the wood and gives it a fighting chance against rot.

That's Jason painting the posts before work one morning.
Mr D was here early on Saturday morning to concrete the posts into the ground. Jason wanted to make himself useful and hung around Mr D for most of the morning.

Jason has a blatant disregard for safety given his predilection for bare feet while helping Mr D. Mr D is thankfully not so cavalier.

Mr D who studied Forestry confirmed my suspicions about the Kwila timber for our fence and said we may as well paint the fence posts red as they are not orangutan-friendly. We've never really been aware about the sustainability aspect of purchasing timber, mistakenly assuming that the timbers which enter Australian shores would be sourced from well-managed forests...but it's not always.

You can read about buying imported timber from Timber Queensland if you want to be informed and feel confident about your purchasing choices.

The posts waiting for concrete
This morning we weeded out the front garden beds which were looking quite sad. It's a bit tidier now, ready for Mr D to construct the rest of the fence.

Showery weather has been predicted this week, so we have our fingers crossed that it won't hold up the fence progress.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Exquisite Monte Lupo art sculpture and Jason has a new look

Brisbane has some of the best kept secrets such as the Monte Lupo art store in 269 Padstow Road in Eight Mile Plains. It is where the most exquisite Outsider Art is produced. I believe many of the ceramic works are created and fired on site. It is seriously a visual feast for a ceramic lover's eyes.

I went to the store this morning after a brief visit in the back rooms and art studio with a friend of mine (she used to be a teacher for one of their arts programs). The work that I saw in production was truly amazing - the intricacy and the detailing of the art work is of an exceptional quality. What astounds me is that it is all produced in sleepy old Brisbane. Aren't we lucky to have this on our doorstep? You can read more about Monte Lupo here.

I know that I will be visiting again to purchase something. It is really that good.

This is a Garden Dweller. She is the most exquisite garden sculpture I have ever seen. I want one.

This is another garden sculpture which is left over from a recent art exhibition. The detail of this piece is unbelievable.

The studio also produces the most delightful blue and white pottery which is so timeless

A small whimsical sculpture
If you love colour and art, you should visit the store.

And to change the subject completely...

Jason has a new look. He offered his head at work for the Shave for a Cure to raise money for the Leukaemia Foundation, but was flatly rejected...because he is already bald. He was however asked to show support through 'reverse baldness' for the entire day. So, in his very best Scarlett Johansson leaked phone images pose, I give you the new Jason.

It would've been far more effective if he was shirtless, however he would've been up for sexual  harassment in the workplace!!

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Fence timber

We had the timber for the fence delivered today. Mr D went all out and ordered us some fine hardwood timber. He is going for a quality dressed finish for this particular fence. It will make a big impact in terms of giving the Sow's Ear a more polished look.

I asked Mr D if the Kwila timber posts were from renewable plantation forests, as we like to have green credentials. He couldn't say, so I fear the drops of orangutan blood will be on our fence...God forgive us!

Timber delivery on a wet miserable day

The thick timber posts will form the gate posts

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Not fenced in

For the next little while we will be fence-less. Yes that's right. We are in fence construction mode at the Sow's Ear. 

And it will be the first non-DIY renovating for quite a few months. Hallelujah!

It almost feels decadent watching all the action from the sidelines (from Jason's perspective of course, since I am a sideline dweller anyway). 

It's been suggested to the fence builder, Mr D, to go shirtless to entertain the masses who read Fun and VJs. Mr D was told there is a certain standard to be maintained when contracted to work on the Sow's Ear.  He laughed it off not realising I was serious.

I didn't go so far as to ask for shirtless portrait shots when he quoted for the job, but I think that will be a prerequisite for future building contractors. For the sake of the blog of course.

Here are some shots of the first day's work:
You can see the old fence has been removed.
The skip is being delivered. It was due to arrive first thing this arrived at midday.
The skip company must operate in the Dubai time zone ie  six hours behind Brisbane time!!

Thick old timber posts which have seen better days

Hmm...I need to weed! 

The old fence is gone.  I can't wait for the new one to be constructed. 

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Painting under the deck again

Our home improvement endeavours are not particularly exciting at the moment. The past couple of weekends have been spent under the deck painting the joists. It really is a dull task.

Jason spent most of yesterday getting as much done as physically possible ( I took the kids out for a swim in the afternoon so he was undisturbed because we're a noisy lot). Luckily he did because it looks like it may rain today.

With the weather looking glum, today will be spent filling the gaps with "No More Gaps". Fun, fun. Next weekend, if the weather is on our side, we will do the second coat of white. That dark heritage green is hard to cover.

Such a big area to cover but by the end of the day the first coat was close to being finished
And a glimpse of the shirtless one for those having withdrawal symptoms

It will need another coat as it is still quite patchy
And in more exciting news, we've hired someone to build our new front fence. Work will commence shortly. Hooray!

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Zoila's book

From out of the blue I received the most intriguing email. And no, it wasn't from the Nigerian Lottery Board, nor was it from Oksana the lonely Russian lass who wanted to be my extra special friend...(dodgy spam filter!)

It was from a lady named Sherri in the United States who had a copy of Zoila Stables' book Tare Harvest. She did a Google search of the title and stumbled upon some old blog posts of mine which talked about how the book was connected to our house.

For those of you who are new to the blog, Zoila was one of the original owners of the house and I've been compiling a house history file which has information about the family who built the Sow's Ear. I discovered that Zoila was an author who had published a book in 1936 under her pseudonym Eleanor Peters. If you want to know more, you can read all the house history stuff here.

Sherri emailed me to see if I would be interested in acquiring the book. You can guess what the answer was...After a couple of email exchanges, the book will hopefully be mine.

As you can imagine, I'm thrilled to be getting a copy as I'd like to read it, and maybe gain an understanding of who Zoila was. I also think this book should stay with the Sow's Ear. Call me sentimental.

Tare Harvest book cover

Tare Harvest inside flap cover

Monday, 5 March 2012

Nice finishing touch...

...except that we haven't really started renovating the bathroom. So maybe this is a nice starting touch instead. We'll eventually get to the bathroom, but in the meantime small token cosmetic changes will have to do. 

Like new shower curtain rings. It is possibly life changing this move from plastic to iron. We've had the new antique finished shower curtain rings for a few weeks and they are doing the trick. And they look just dandy with our 'opulent luxe' shower curtain.

Very luxe until you spot the mouldy spots on the ceiling. I must scrub that ceiling again after all this wet humid weather we've been having. Boo!

antique finish shower curtain rings

They are a nice touch with our nice shower curtain which is faring quite well. 

* I purchased the shower curtain rings online from Gallop Lifestyle here

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Spring Hill

We were out and about in Spring Hill today.

I haven't been there for a long time and I had forgotten how quaint some of the old colonial Queenslander homes are...especially when juxtaposed with the backdrop of the CBD highrises.

When I think of Spring Hill I think of Jason's poor old Nana who died last year (she lived in Torrington Street for 60 years), the old rickety boarding houses that our old Italian friends owned and Cecilia McNally's Spring Hill Fair. It's a suburb rich in character and history.

Here are some photos of a few old house near Water Street.

Colonial style workers cottage with pyramid roof.  No front stairs to be seen.

Timber and tin cottage

Pyramid roof workers cottage with modern extension on the back

These interwar Queenslander homes were in the next block to the colonial homes.
Twins separated at birth. The house on the left is completely neglected and run down, while its twin has been raised and renovated to within an inch of its life.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

What's been happening?

Not a lot of renovating has been happening at the Sow's Ear. Jason's taking a break, which is a very good thing...but not so good when the blog is based on renovating! But he's starting to get restless, so I imagine he will get back into it this weekend.

New garage door handle

In big news our garage door has a new handle. Try to contain's all I've got reno-wise this week.

Arabia jam pots and Figgjo salt and pepper shakers

I've been satisfying some of my thrifty and not so thrifty Scandinavian ceramic urges. A new Arabia apple jam pot has been added to my collection and I also scored a set of Figgjo Market salt and pepper shakers. I use the jam pots to store spices and tea bags. Such simple things bring great joy.

German wine roemer goblets. They've got a great retro shape

I also picked up two German wine goblets at my local op shop. A friend of mine is collecting them so they will go directly to her.

Don't you love what other people collect?

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