Wednesday, 30 January 2013


I'm not the maudlin type. However, I can't help it when I think about this little guy, who went from this ...

Son #3 crawling  in the sunroom when we took possession of the Sow's Ear

Son #3. one year old,  on the deck at the Sow's Ear 
Watch and learn, Son.
This was taken our first year in the Sow's Ear when Jason put up VJ in the master bedroom

to this...when he started school today.

First day at school
Pixelated to protect the innocent.
In the top left hand corner I had to pixelate this kid who was going for broke scratching his crotch!
While we've been busy trying hard to transform the Sow's Ear over the past three years, he transformed into this little school boy.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Big mop up

So much for our Australia Day long weekend clean-up. As I type this Brisbane is being inundated by the left-overs of a tropical cyclone - it has rained non-stop for nearly three days and today we are being hit with some strong winds. It's not pretty.

Fortunately, so far so good for us. We are high and reasonably dry. But others aren't so lucky. We have our fingers crossed that the damage will be minimal and the mop up is quick.

Cadiz shell lights will hopefully find a new home...
Yesterday we made a start on our under the house declutter despite the wet weather. We had a hard rubbish pile, a donate pile and a sell pile. The rubbish pile has been put out on the kerb, with the best of our detritus being picked over by urban treasure hunters. Bless them and their enthusiasm to get out there in this squally weather!

The donate pile is mostly toys and old kitchen stuff which can be reused and loved again. I plan to do an op-shop run later this week - to donate. No buying allowed.

Our sell pile is quite large. I've listed the majority of it on Gumtree and we've sold a couple of things already - an old mirror and a bookcase. Jason is eager for the rest to sell quickly, as it's not a real declutter until it is all gone! I'm giving it a week or so, and then I'll call a salvage or demo yard to collect it all.

windows and cupboard doors for sale

We have so many cupboard doors that were left behind by the previous owners
All in all our weekend has been quite productive and there is another day left of the long weekend. I suspect it will involve a big mop up after all this wet weather. Fingers crossed we will see some sun tomorrow.
Wet, wet, wet from our back deck
Overflowing rainwater tank which was bone dry just a few days ago.  And the grass and plants are green again... it has been unusually dry this January.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Big clean up

We've accumulated a lot of stuff over the past few years - furniture, building materials, op-shop crap that I've bought, kids' toys and rubbish that won't fit in the wheelie bin.

This long Australia Day weekend we are going to do a major clean-up to take advantage of the Council's hard rubbish collection which happens in our area next week. It's a great opportunity for us to declutter and to get things in order, especially under the house which looks like a hoarder's paradise.

Jason can't wait...can't wait to throw my hoarding ways back in my face more like it.  He is generally very cranky when we declutter, so I have to make sure there is plenty of wine and red meat to soothe the savage beast.

We are also going to list a few things for sale either online or on the Weekend Shopper. We have a couple of hopscotch windows we no longer require and a few single pane casement windows that can go to a new home. If you are renovating and are in the market for some windows, just shoot me an email.

hardwood timber gates
We've got about five of theses windows left...I think
Our old kitchen...but the hopscotch windows in this shot will be up for sale. 
The other day I sold some timber gates which Jason was going to scrap. It seems a waste to throw perfectly good gates out, so I put them online to sell and they sold within a few days. We priced them just to get rid of them as they were of no value to us sitting in our yard.

See, just because you think it's trash doesn't mean that it is...the best form of recycling n my book.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Family break in Tasmania: part 2

Here is the continuation of our holiday in Tasmania.

After staying in Hobart for a few days we hopped into the hire car and meandered our way up to Launceston via a small historical village called Richmond.

Congregational Church 1873 Richmond
As we weren't able to go to Port Arthur because of the bushfires, we decided to stop at Richmond Gaol for our convict history hit. You can't go to Tassie and not visit at least one defunct penal institution.

Life behind bars in the Richmond Gaol

We loved Richmond Gaol. It is Australia's oldest and best preserved jail, built in 1825 and has displays and exhibits of what it was like to be a convict. Such a great history lesson for the children to absorb.

Entry to the cook house

The boys outside of Richmond Gaol entrance

While in Richmond we visited another attraction called Old Hobart Town Model Village. It's the city of Hobart circa 1820 replicated in miniature. The research and the work involved to create the models makes it worth a visit, if you appreciate such things of course. The kids liked it and we could pick out a lot of the Hobart landmarks which we had recently seen.

Old Hobart Town. We love our models. Jason's favourite place on the trip. Ha!
There was also an arts and craft market in Richmond that particular day, so we wandered around to have a look. We rounded the corner of one of the halls and lo and behold I saw a fellow blogger.

It was Jane from Life on Planet Baby who was selling her crafty wares. She got the shock of her life when I introduced myself. I had no idea she was going to be in Richmond that day. Nor did she know I was in Tassie. I very naughtily did not tell my Tassie blogger connection that we were visiting Tasmania...

I bought one of Jane's Liberty covered creations. Lovely souvenir!  Blurry shot naturally in the car!

Don't think you can sneak into a new state without seeing another blogger. Ha! I really didn't want to impose on my blogging mates, especially with the family in tow...but how wonderful to have seen Jane!! That's serendipity.

Anyway, back to the trip.
public art on our walk to Launceston Seaport
I was so surprised at how much we loved Launceston. What an easy and pretty place to visit with a meld of old architecture with some great examples of Brutalist's also such a great stepping stone to some of Tassie's wine regions. We stayed in an apartment at the Sebel in Launceston which felt like complete luxury. It's located between Launceston Seaport and the centre of town.

Foyer of the Sebel with Son #3

On our first full day in Launceston we visited Cataract Gorge and First Basin which is a beautiful natural attraction just 15 minutes walk from the CBD. Unbelievable to have something so beautiful and pristine in a built up area.

Cataract Gorge - taken at one of the lookouts on the zig zag track.
We didn't realise the extent of the walk to the gorge when we first set out. We walked the Zig Zag Track to the gorge which is a mostly steep ascent through a one kilometre windy path. Make sure to wear something other than sandals/wedges to do this walk. And bring water and a hat too. Ha! You are rewarded for your efforts though with the magnificent views.

The outlook. Thank goodness for these...I  really needed to catch my breath.

Once you reach the first basin, there is an oasis of a free swimming pool and lovely park lands to greet you. Jason took one of the boys on the chairlift which is one of the biggest in the Southern Hemisphere. I chickened out and took photos instead.

The boys on the Chairlift to the other side - they bought a return ticket.
We walked across the suspension bridge and explored the tracks on the other side. It was a bit wobbly.

Suspension Bridge

This is taken above at the outlook on the other side.

The view on our walk back into town.
After our walk the boys were quite exhausted so we took it easy for the rest of the day and made plans for an early dinner at Seaport where the food was great.

We ate well during our stay in Launceston. Fresh Tasmanian salmon couldn't be overlooked. It was just a casual dinner at Fish 'n Chips at Seaport.  

On our last day, we decided to do a drive through the Tamar Valley to visit some wineries and visit Beaconsfield before taking our late afternoon flight back to Brisbane.

It is such a gorgeous drive through the Tamar Valley, with orchards and vineyards dotting the landscape. We stopped at Ninth Island or the Kreglinger Wine Estates to taste test their sparkling and pinot range. They were very friendly and helpful and suggested a couple of other wineries we could visit on our way. Needless to say we bought a few wines which are being shipped back to us.

Ninth Island Wine Centre
We then drove up to Beaconsfield. We had no expectation about what we would be able to see on our limited time schedule, but were hugely surprised at how interesting the Beaconsfield Mine and Heritage Centre was.

Ruins in the foreground with the closed Beaconsfield Mine in the background.
It is sent in amongst the ruins of an old engine house once owned by the Beaconsfield Gold Mine and now donated to the people of Tamar. It is a very hands-on museum and you are encouraged to touch and play with some of the industrial displays, which is fantastic for the children. We spent a lot longer in the Museum than we had anticipated. It is definitely worth a visit to see the ruins and to learn more about the history of the Tamar.

Our last stop on our Tasmanian Trip was to Tamar Ridge Wineries which is owned by Brown Brothers. We stopped in to have a cheese platter and taste some of their offerings. It was a lovely but quick visit as the children had a limited attention span for the finer things of life, despite demolishing the Tasmanian brie. Again we bought some more wine, which includes a great sticky botrytis to have this winter with pudding. Lovely!

After this winery visit, we were pressed for time and drove down to Launceston airport taking a different route to see a little more of Tasmania for one last time. I asked Jason to drive through a lavender farm with the windows wound down to smell that heady fragrance. Just beautiful.

And so that concludes our Tasmanian trip. It was fabulous, but way too short a visit. We liked it so much that we are thinking of visiting again next year...

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Family break in Tasmania: part 1

We've had a lovely little holiday in Tasmania.

The tools were put away, Jason hung up his work boots and the paint brushes were left to dry out. It was our first big (that word is relative) holiday in a very long time since we moved to the Sow's Ear.

Although the devastating bushfires have affected some parts of the state, we were very much unaffected as tourists. Our trip was so much fun and we are absolutely smitten by what Tasmania has to offer. The food, the wine, the scenery, the cooler climate and the absolute ease of getting about was more than we could ever have asked for.

view from hotel looking towards North Hobart

Our holiday started when we flew into Hobart where we had a few days of general site-seeing. We based ourselves in a hotel in the CBD - it was fairly basic accommodation but its location was a winner, especially with the children in tow. The hotel was in walking distance to so many of the historical buildings and attractions we wanted to see up close and personal.

Port of Hobart

Franklin Square

We took the boys to the Maritime Museum of Tasmania which was boy's nirvana in terms of ship and submarine models. There was even a pair of percussion duelling pistols from the 1830s which also tickled their fancy. Boys!

Maritime Museum

For our Tasmania sojourn, we rented a car as recommended by everyone who has travelled to Tassie. We planned on visiting Port Arthur however it was closed due to the bushfires, which had cut off access to the historical site. It's re-opened it will be a destination for next time.

We loved visiting the Cadbury Factory in Claremont. It was on my bucket list, believe it or not. Who doesn't like a chocolate factory? You can no longer do a walk-through tour of the actual factory floor because of stricter OH&S standards, but there is a mini presentation about Cadbury and the chocolate making process. The kids loved it all and we were able to stock up on important bribing chocolate for our car trips.

Vintage Cadbury tins and other chocolate paraphernalia

MONA (Museum of Old and New Art) is a must-see in Tasmania. We drove there after visiting the Cadbury Factory as it was in close proximity. Even if you're not really into art, you must go see MONA.

Car park at MONA with the car crash art installation

chill out area with bright pink bean bags

Walked past a few arty huts on the way to the entrance

It is a world class museum nestled beautifully on the Berriedale Peninsula. The Museum challenges all your senses and you are confronted by what is classified as art and how new art and old can co-exist together under the same roof. Some of the exhibits are not suitable for children, so parental guidance is needed to negotiate those rooms. The boys enjoyed MONA and were completely fascinated by what they saw.
Outlook from MONA

poo machine

We all stood silently in front of the infamous 'Poo machine', then Son #1 said: "That's disgusting!"

"No, darling. THAT's Art," I seemed to be the most appropriate response to the more controversial exhibits.

It happened that our stay in Hobart also fell on a Saturday which meant we could experience the Salamanca Markets - gorgeous markets full of fresh produce and great craft. We ate ourselves silly and the highlight was definitely buying fresh pastries from Jakob's Pantry which has the best cherry danishes, apple turnovers and Banbury cakes. 10/10

walking towards the Salamanca Markets
After the markets we visited the nearby St David's Park and let the kids run around the graves of the first settlers...So much history everywhere!

Race you to the next grave at St David's park!
We also squeezed in a quick visit to the Huon Valley which is south-west of Hobart. It was such an easy and scenic drive. We stopped to test a couple of pinots and cuvees at a boutique winery called Home Hill. They were just about to close the doors to cater for a function, but we managed to taste some wine and bought a couple of bottles we liked to have back in the hotel room. It's all about priorities.

Vineyard at Home Hill
On the trip home we stopped in at the Apple Museum in the old apple shed because we thought the kids might like it and it's good to support these interesting little places. And no, it was not a tribute to Steve Jobs.

It's a cute little museum which has a bit of a social history tribute to apple growers and early settlers in the Huon Valley. Tasmania is not called the apple isle for nothing after seeing the apple paraphernalia in this space. The staff were also very nice and friendly, so we ended up buying some apple souvenirs at the gift you do.

The Apple Museum in the old apple shed

We ate extremely well during the Hobart leg of our trip. We stuck to the family friendly places near the Harbour and City, but Pizzarazzi was by far our favourite eating place. Don't let the 'Beautiful pizza for beautiful people' tag line put you off - we got in okay!

Lovely service and delicious crowd-pleasing pizzas. Son #2 is normally not a fan of pizza but he hoovered down the chicken and pesto pizza like it was his last meal. There were lots of great non-traditional topping selections as well as the standard traditional pizza fare. And the dessert calzones with ice cream are awesome and can feed hungry growing children.

We also ate a bit at Banjo's Bakery Cafe. It's a Tasmanian franchise of freshly baked goods and quite decent coffee. It suited us perfectly for a quick breakfast before embarking on a big day out. The breakfast pitas are good and it was an affordable option for the family.

Our only disappointment in Hobart was that we did not have enough days to enjoy more of its sites.

I just wanted to write up our Tassie holiday as it makes a good record for us to keep. My next post will be about the Launceston leg of our trip.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Kerb house numbers

We ended up with some fluoro orange kerb numbers just before Christmas. It symbolises my complete lack of backbone when it comes to hawkers.

I was at home one afternoon with the boys when we answered the door to a guy who was hawking his kerb painting services.

Painting services equals spray painting a stencil of your house number on the kerb in reflective make it is easy to identify your house at night.

The kerb number guy rattled off his well-rehearsed spiel about how kerb numbers saved his son's life when the kid had a life-threatening illness and emergency services nearly missed their home. It was a rather melodramatic tale where he promised himself that no child should ever be in his son's situation.

And then we got the 'down-on-my-luck' story about how hard it was to make a living in these hard financial times...needless to say the sob stories were coming thick and fast...and he wasn't going to take no for an answer. He was determined to make a sale.

My standard excuse of not having cash on me didn't work either (and it was actually true in this situation). He told me that I could go to the nearest ATM to get the money out, as he was prepared to wait. I really wanted to tell him to bugger off at this stage because he was so freakin' Pushy. With a capital P.

He needed to go to Charm School...cute and charming is always a winner.

In the end it was just easier to scrounge $30 change from our coin jar to get rid of him...hence the lack of backbone.

Moral of the story: if you knock on my door with a sob story, I'll probably give you coins from my small change jar!

At least the numbers are in my favourite fluoro colour...

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Birthday booty

I just wanted to thank everyone for all their Birthday wishes. I've had the most fabulous Birthday week and have had great fun.

This turning 40 business is also a lucrative gig. To say I have been spoilt is a complete understatement. If I knew that the blow of aging was cushioned by the coolest gifts, I would've turned 40 a long time ago!

There were plenty of bottles of champagne, lots of vouchers for pedicures and beauty treatments, art supplies for sketching and also a voucher for the Paddington Antiques Centre. Yay!

As requested by some of my readers, here are some of the more house/design related gifts which were so gratefully received:

I received the most delicious hard cover design books from some lovely friends. They are just brilliant and there will be many hours of pleasure derived from them.

Design books

The California Design Book will be a great way to whet my appetite for the upcoming exhibition scheduled for GOMA in November 2013.

The Iconic Interior book is pure room porn. Gorgeous in every respect.

The Florence Broadhurst book has been on my wish list for a few years, so I was delighted to get a copy. Dear old Florence was a complete character, but her textile and wallpaper designs are truly exquisite. Love this book.

Florence Broadhurst for Kate Spade plates. The design is Japanese Floral and is one of the most popular of her designs. Again, just exquisite.

Add caption
And dear old Jason...Not only is he an ace renovator, he is also the selector of great Birthday gifts.

He gave me just the most divine Georg Jensen cutlery set. Designed by one of Sweden's best silversmiths Vivianna Torun Bulow-Hube in 1990, this Vivianna design is my all time favourite. I cannot wait to use them for our next dinner  party.

I also got some new art glass, but I'll save that to show you in another post. Very spoilt by everyone.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Barbie Dream Home search with

Sponsored by Nuffnang and

Most people know I am a frustrated Modernist living in a 1928 Queenslander house.  So it will come to no surprise that my eyes are always peeled for a mid-century Barbie Dream Home. Always.

Poor Jason. He loves the Sow’s Ear and has worked so hard on it and here I am trying to sell it mid-renovation. Fear not, it’s not going to happen in a big hurry as we still have things to do on the Sow’s Ear and also the thought of another move is a major put-off.

But it doesn’t stop me from looking. We will move for the Barbie Dream Home if we ever find it and can afford it. The Sow’s Ear is just a lovely little adventure for us in the meantime.

I have’s free mobile app on my smart phone and I check it regularly. This mobile app is excellent and I would say that regardless of this post being sponsored or not.

I’ve been using the app for a few months and there is nothing better than having full real estate listings at your finger tips when you hear about a new property. It is an essential app for any house voyeur.

The app allows you to see details of every home to buy and to rent. And if you are seriously looking for a home, you can save open for inspection and auction times straight to your phone's calendar.
Let me share with you some of the Barbie Dream Homes I found recently via the app:

Modernist home found via app

Yeah Baby! This first house we seriously considered buying to the extent that Jason went along to the auction. Apart from the fact we did not have the $1.92 million (let alone the $0.92 million the bidding started at) it went up to; I seriously thought we had a chance. Ha!  Anyhow, it did not sell at auction, so until it is sold I am still stalking my dream home via the app.

The mobile app also allows you to refine your search by price, property types, features and surrounding suburbs like in the full web version. Knowing that a lot of mid-century homes are located in the western and southern suburbs, I can just tap in the postcode to get up a listing of homes in those areas.

List of my favourite search suburbs

Look at this sumptuous mid-century beauty in Toowong. The words “I want” escape my lips. If we had the cash I’d snap this one up in a jiffy.

Interior of Toowong mid-century home via app

Toowong real estate listing on the mobile app

I found another 60s Barbie Dream Home near the Brisbane River in Yeronga. It’s been fully renovated but it wouldn’t take much to get back the mid-century character it once had with the right furnishings and décor.

Yeronga 60s house

So that’s how I dream and scheme. More dreaming considering the prices of these properties…ha!

If you want to dream and scheme with me, why not download the app for your phone or tablet? It gets 9 out of 10 for being very easy to download and use. It is the perfect app for house and interiors addicts.
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