Sunday, 31 March 2013

Thanks and welcome to new sponsors

Happy Easter everyone!

I'm just stopping in to say thanks and welcome to a few new small business sponsors who are supporting Fun and VJs through advertising. Hooray!

Please welcome:

The Click-Clack Lounge which is a Sandgate-based vintage store which has some cool online offerings. If you're looking for something a little bit quirky, a little bit vintage or a little bit retro...check it out! Read more...

The Click Clack Lounge stock Besame cherry red  lipstick

The Building Planners can help you with your renovation plans. They have put together an interactive course for those contemplating a major renovation or building project. From planning your project to choosing the right builder, there are industry tips you will learn to make your dream build more than just a dream....

Adorn by Sarah Bishop is a new business venture for artist Sarah who also writes the blog Molly's Maison. You definitely need to visit her store to view the most elegant art scarves you will ever see. Lovely for a gift for someone special or even for yourself. You'll love her unique art inspired aesthetic. Read more...

Paris Scene digitally printed cotton voile scarf

Here's hoping everyone has had a lovely few days spending it with the people they love. We've been having a great time at the Sow's Ear, pottering about and getting a few small jobs done...but more on that later...

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Lovely Queenslander home details and ideas

Today we visited some friends who own a lovely circa 1930s Queenslander home in Brisbane suburbia.  It is a very beautiful house which has been renovated substantially for modern-day living.  We love poking around other people's homes for ideas and inspiration.

This front gable has been extended forward to provide a more open and spacious entrance.
It makes it warm and welcoming as you ascend the stairs into the home and is like another room.
Although there were substantial changes to the home, the many quaint architectural elements characteristic of the typical Queenslander home had been retained. Nothing screams Queenslander more than the decoratively carved breezeways and archways dotted throughout the home.

I've not seen this style breezeway in real life. It is called the lotus breezeway pattern and is truly exquisite. These were found above each bedroom door.

This image is of the room division arch which is quite curvaceous in design

I just had to share some of the pretty features of this home as it is always helpful to see what works in homes of this era.

Back of the home.
Horizontal slats which provide cover to a set of  external stairs and allows private access to the underneath area of the house. 
This last image is of the back of the home which has covered external stairs which allows access to the lower level. Jason and I really like this way of gaining internal access without intruding too much into the original footprint of the home.

We are contemplating something similar to our side stairs (click here) but with vertical slats. That is a project for much later down the track if we decide to build living space under the Sow's Ear...maybe...

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Maundy Thursday

If this evening was going to be our last meal ever, then it would most certainly be a disappointment because it looks like we'll be having bacon and eggs. Yes, I'm resorting to making breakfast for dinner... Brinner.

So, while we tuck into brinner we'll gaze upon this wood carving of another Last Supper which I found in a garage sale last year. I love a good Last Supper image.  (These dudes aren't having bacon and eggs though, ha!)

It's no Da Vinci, but you have to admire the person that took the time to carve this version.

ornately carved Last Supper 

This Last Supper resides in our dining room. Apt really.

the Last Supper hanging in the dining room

Have a safe and Happy Easter. We'll still be around and about this weekend tackling a few jobs on our to-do list. Pop in if you have time.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Changing door plates and knobs

I never realised how much I took for granted my mobility until this week. Having a bad back has certainly been a painful and extremely frustrating experience. Fortunately, I am on the mend and am no longer looking like a shepherd's crook.

Anyway, my immobility has given me lots of time to ponder some of the smaller finishing off jobs that one never really gets around to when living and breathing in a home like the Sow's Ear.

One of those jobs is to replace the bathroom door knob, as it is completely different to any other door knob in the house. It has actually been quite useful as the shortest member of the family (#3 Son) has been able to reach it by jumping up and pulling the lever down. Very useful for emergency toilet excursions.

old chrome door set and handle
Needless to say the mechanism in the door set is damaged from such abuse. It's time to replace it with one that matches the door plates on the other doors.

bungalow door set with oval knob

In the sunroom and study all of our doors have the bungalow style door plate. I know that you can buy them new but I have searched for a salvaged one at our local architectural demolition place...Sadly, it was like looking for a needle in a haystack. It may just be easier to get it brand spanking new.

I've told Jason that we should add this job to our Easter weekend to-do list. Ha! The list is just going to get even longer if my back doesn't fix itself pronto. Poor Jason!  

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Plans for the Easter break

With the Easter break looming, there are four clear days for some renovating mayhem...

Jason and I were just discussing what our plans are for this long weekend...we like to make the most of the holidays especially when Jason has time off work.

Should we work on the weedy garden and repair some garden edging?  Should we paint the VJs under the house in the garage? Should Jason make a start on the valance around the back deck? Should we try to refit a new toilet cistern in the freshened up bathroom?

So many choices...I think we will be guided by budget for this long weekend and try to get some bang for our measly buck. The yard is definitely in need for some TLC, so we may end up devising a plan to get it in better shape. Pruning and weeding is cheap.

Also we have a bush turkey which has been visiting the back corner of our yard under the mango tree. If we are out and about in the yard this weekend it may deter it from getting too comfortable...Blasted thing!

This is the tree which was chopped down a couple of months ago.
You can see that the garden edging has fallen down and needs to be repaired.
There are quite of few spots like this which require attention. 

Have you got any big plans for your Easter break?

Monday, 25 March 2013

Poor person's art wall

Not that we are really that poor but there never seems to be enough in the coffers to buy the good stuff that you see in the galleries...

So the compromise for us in the meantime, until we are all grown up and sophisticated, is op-shop art. Yeah, I know. Sacrilege. But at least it makes a more interesting wall display than our white VJs.

You would be surprised at what you can find if you take more than a cursory glance at a pile of frames in a neglected corner of a charity shop. I only really buy what I love which is a really good rule of thumb if you are buying anything for your home.

two girls by Bernhard Rust

A few weeks ago, I found a lovely framed 1970s art print called "Two Girls" by Bernhard Rust which we have now hung in the dining room. I also discovered a quite competent acrylic painting of the Upper Coomera River by an unknown artist languishing with framed jigsaw puzzles in another needed to come home with me.

Vintage acrylic of the Upper Coomera

Our dining room wall has been crying out for something  for a long time. It makes for more interesting conversation when we are all seated at the dinner table.

For example...
Jason: 'WhereTF did you get those things from?'

'art' wall in the dining room 

Tell me what you have hanging on your walls. And where do you like buying your 'art'?

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Of dodgy backs and dodgy towel rails

For the past few days my perspective on all things has been mostly horizontal. I've injured my back with just a mere twist and a turn. And I have been lying prone on my bed bemoaning my misfortunes to all unfortunate to be in my presence. Sadly for my family, I'm not a stoic patient... but painkillers are my new best friends.

My cocktail of prescription medicine.
(If it were Jason, he'd have kept calm and carried on while renovating the Sow's Ear...unless he had man-flu)

With me being completely out of action this weekend (not that it really matters on the renovating front), Jason kindly finished the sanding of the first coat of tile paint in the bathroom and applied the final coat of white tile paint (and washed, cooked and performed the domestic minuets to keep the Sow's Ear running).

The bathroom looks so fantastic and has exceeded all our expectations. I won't show you the final photos now, because I still need to give the bathroom floors a good scrub-a-dub-dub and I'd like to get the final bits and bobs to pretty up the room.

Also while Jason was finishing off the sanding he accidentally bumped the new towel rails. You know the towel rails which we weren't entirely happy here.

Well, it seems we were right to be dubious of them because one broke away from the wall and the other towel rail twisted out of  its backing plate when Son #2 hung his towel on Friday. Dodgy! Flimsy as paper were those chrome towel rails. We didn't even get a month out of them - a waste of good time and good money.
Where the towel rails used to hang before it broke.
On a happier note, the tile painting looks fab!

Note well: do not compromise on your fixtures and fittings. Step away from the blister pack. You do get what you pay for with things like bathroom fittings, which really ought to withstand everyday use. We should've known better...

I'll be ordering some new sturdier towel rails this week. 

Sponsor shout out

I just wanted to give a quick shout out to a few new sponsors of Fun and VJs since announcing our private sidebar advertising.

Please welcome Cape Cod Designs which is a beautiful online store with exquisite lighting, furniture and homewares. It is a perfect place to browse  for when you're planning your home renovations or even if you're just thinking about remodeling a new room. Lots of great lighting options. Read more...
Cape Cod Designs' antique bronze wire barrel pendant light. 

Also I'm happy to welcome Flavours of Italy to the Fun and VJs fold. If you are planning a trip to Italy, please look at the cooking, painting and pilates holidays available through one of the UK's leading specialist tour operators. Imagine a painting holiday in Venice or a cooking holiday in Sicily! Heaven. Read more...

Cooking lesson image from Flavours of Italy 

The Spring Shop, a new Brisbane-based online shop, can help you with your food, craft and life styling needs. From baker's twine to sweet cotton fabric tape, you  are bound to find the perfect thing to style your next party or event. Read more...
Image from the Spring Shop

Thank you to our lovely sponsors. Please support the businesses which support us in continuing writing Fun and VJs!

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Power switches

And no, this is not about the latest Australian leadership spill as I type this blog post. I swear this country has had more leadership spills than is really necessary...

The power switch I'm referring to is the one that flicks the lights on. If you own an older home you are able to buy traditional or Bakelite style electrical light switches or power points  They look quite lovely and are a nice finishing touch for a house restoration or renovation.

Image from Here

I'm not too sure what type of switches would've existed in the Sow's Ear when the original lighting was installed. My parents have a house which is a similar era to ours (late 1920s) and they still have the original Bakelite fittings in their lounge room. I'm going to take some photographs of theirs and investigate whether I can obtain the same style.

image from here

I'd like it to be as authentic as possible if we go to the effort of changing them.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Bits and pieces for the bathroom

With the bathroom almost complete, it's time to think about getting some new towels and accessories to gussy up the space. Yay! Here's a few of the things I have my eye on.

new soap/lotion dispenser.
Looks kind of like posh hand wash, however I intend to fill it with home brand liquid soap. Lol! Or maybe I should just buy the posh hand wash and refill the bottle when it's finished...?

from here

Australian made towels from Australian cotton by Dri-glo. Awesome towels
from here

Bath tub caddy to hold everyday bath things
from here

Huge bath mat runner.
Love the size of this runner and it would be nice to use on cold winter mornings
from here

Can't wait to hit the shops - such a great treat to have something nice in the newly freshened-up bathroom.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Op-shop happy: iittala finds

You gotta love a good op-shop. It's amazing the things I have found quite randomly over the past few weeks at various suburban op-shops which have made me extremely happy. Yes, simple pleasures.

Textured retro Finnish glassware is what I look for whenever I am out and about. For some reason I am drawn to it like a magnet. It's quite hard to find which makes the search a fun challenge. (Swedish Kosta Boda dishes are another favourite to collect. I can't say no to Scandinavian crystal!)

 Fortunately, the search has been quite fruitful of late. Hooray! Here's a show and tell of the latest finds:

Set of iittala Aslak cordial glasses designed by Tapio Wirkkala

Set of iittala ultima thule shot glasses designed by Tapio Wirkkala (and in the foreground are a set of Grosvenor dessert forks)

iittala ashtray/dish which I think was designed by Tapio Wirkkala 

iittala paperweight Kuutamo tunturilla circa 1983 designed by Valto Kokko 

And don't worry if you think I'm becoming a hoarder... I've been swapping things out with every 'new' thing that comes into the Sow's my crystal habit doesn't get out of hand! Ha!

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Tile painting kind of weekend

Painting the bathroom tiles has been the big ticket job of the weekend.

I delegated the rest of the bathroom painting to Jason. He's not as slap dash as me and is fairly meticulous with his brush strokes. The entire bathroom has now been scrubbed; primed; holes and missing grout 'sikaflexed'; and the first coat of tile paint applied.

It looks bloody fantastic. If we had known that the tile painting was going to be this effective we would've done it a lot sooner. It is just unbelievable what a difference it has made so far and we still haven't done the second coat.

Here are some photos of the work in progress from our productive weekend.

The old tiles being painted with primer. Jason in designer painting shorts. The crappiness of the toilet  cistern is heightened by its white surrounds

The painted tiles have a glossy sheen

And all-white bathroom 

We are so glad we took the plunge to paint the tiles. Hopefully we can have it all finished by next weekend. 

Thursday, 14 March 2013

First coat of white tile paint...

Okay, the first coat of tile paint is on a section of the bathroom walls.

And it's not bad. The tile paint is oil based, so it is a stickier consistency than the water based primer. I stirred the paint really well and then proceeded to brush it on to the primed walls.

Sadly, my painting technique leaves a lot to be desired. I don't have Jason's quasi Master Painter skills which he has acquired over the past three years. Ha! Should've helped him more...

I was probably a bit heavy handed with the amount of paint used, as drips were developing thick and fast. Luckily I spotted most of the drips as I was moving along the wall - they were easily brushed out.

The finish is glossy and tacky to start off with. After about two hours the paint is touch dry and has a very glossy finish. It needs to dry for at least six hours before you can apply the second coat.

Newly painted bathroom tiles. It's not bad and I'm pleased with the results so far.

It also requires a light sand before the second coat goes on; that job will be on the cards tomorrow morning.

I think we are on a winner with this tile paint. We'll have to do the rest of the walls which will be tedious, but at least the results are looking very promising.

First coat of white tile paint. The border tile is goneski!

The bathroom appears to be seamless, with the standard white tile paint going nicely with the new vivid white walls. The magic of paint.

P.S Someone on my Instagram feed asked whether the paint could be used on floor tiles. The answer is no as the product information says it's not recommended for floor tiles or benchtops.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Priming the bathroom tiles

I started painting the bathroom tiles today while the weather was dry and sunny. The plan is just to do one corner of the bathroom wall just to see whether it looks okay.

The tile primer is cream, so the bathroom still looks a bit fugly. Son #1 was completely appalled when he saw my efforts this afternoon. There's always a critic around here (and for a change it's not me!).

Tile primer on old ceramic tiles in the bathroom
I made sure the old ceramic tiles were cleaned, using some sugar soap we already had and a soft green scourer to remove the bits of random mould and grease. You can buy special tile cleaner which is the same brand as the tile paint but I didn't. Let's hope that wasn't my first fatal mistake...

Once the wall was cleaned and dried, I brushed on one coat of primer which is quite matte. It covers well and you can barely see the tile border. It's touch dry in two hours and the top coat can be applied after four hours.

primer coverage - you can barely see the pattern of the feature tile.

So far, so good. The primer finish seems okay and if the weather is good tomorrow, I'll get started on the first of two top coats...or maybe I might be inspired and do it tonight after watching The Block....Ha!

Tuesday, 12 March 2013


Uh..hum...{clearing the throat}

We've decided to dabble in the area of static sidebar banner ads on Fun and if you have something to spruik and think that Fun and VJs is a good fit for your product or service, visit our new advertise page. You can find it on the top menu too.

Remember good fit is the key...although shirtless Jason could catch the sun's dark-tanning rays for a moderate fee. Tanfastic!

I know that there will be a flourish of activity and we will be inundated with enquiries...maybe...pretty please...

Monday, 11 March 2013

Walk among the homes

Elizabeth from Walk Among the Homes blog has just published a house tour of the Sow's Ear. Yay! You can read the feature article here.

The old pig is looking very silken purse through Elizabeth's camera lens. Jason and I were completely chuffed with the lovely words and amazing photographs. A lot of hard work (ie Jason) has gone into the Sow's Ear and it is so satisfying to see her shine so beautifully.

Thank-you Elizabeth for featuring the Sow's Ear and appreciating its special qualities.

Image courtesy of Elizabeth Santillan
Walk among the homes

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Rewind Mid-century

Well, we had a very quiet weekend where we barely  lifted a finger around the Sow's Ear. So, no bathroom tile painting as we had planned, which is completely fine. Jason's been extra tired...and the weather has been awfully wet and showery that we've just mooched around this old piggy...It's good to have a break.

This post is about a cool  mid-century furniture place in Brisbane. Last week in my travels I finally stopped in to see Collette from Rewind Mid-century in Yeronga. Collete is a purveyor of restored 50s, 60s, 70s furniture and has a fabulous shed/shop which would make most mid-century aficionados weep with joy.

I've known Collette for a number of years and we bought our Parker dining suite from her back in the day when she was based on the Gold Coast. She's also re-webbed our lounge chairs and they are still going strong many years later.

Anyway, Rewind is a must see if you like your furniture cool and mod. Collette told me that a lot of her stock never makes it to the floor as she has customers on waiting lists for things like sideboards, four seater sofas and bedside tables. How interesting is that.

Check out the fabulous wares she has in her store at the moment. The 'tealy' blue Parker is just glorious.

teal Parker

FLER Tessa and timber and metal shelves

Lots of mid-century goodness to be seen 

While at Rewind, I chose a Zepel fabric as a contender to cover our old vinyl lounge chairs. The vinyl has held up well but a number of seat cushions have begun to split unceremoniously. It's time for a revamp.

Zepel fabric samples. I'm looking at the green citrus colour which is actually darker than what it looks in this image.

The new fabric will match the existing colour and has a similar faux weave to the original vinyl covers. It'll be a hard-wearing fabric which will be ideal  for our house full of kids. I love having a nice decorator project to look forward to.

P.S If you are on Facebook you can check out Rewind's page here.  And if you are in Brisbane, the shop is located at 96 School Road, Yeronga (opp the school) if you wanted to have a squizz.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Painting tiles in the bathroom

The beige tiles are not working for us in the bathroom. Painting the walls crisp white just accentuates the 'beigeness' of the existing tiles. So, we are going to paint the wall tiles white to make it appear more seamless.
beige wall tiles and off-white floor tiles
This is a picture of our bathroom at floor level. See how the floor has been built up...we think there might be a couple of layers of tile under here...but we'll wait and see when we do a full bathroom reno later down the track.

I ducked into the local (sadly, not the pub) yesterday afternoon and picked up a couple of tins of tile primer and white tile paint. It wasn't a cheap purchase either, considering the tins are only one litre. Yikes. It's a fairly big bathroom, so double yikes!

Tile paint and primer

It should be an interesting experiment. I'm curious to see whether it will pass the test and look good or whether it just looks like sh*t....

As this is just a mini makeover to bide our time until we can afford to undertake the full-blown bathroom reno, it is a risk worth taking.

Has anyone out there painted tile? Any regrets?

We hope to get started on the weekend. One wall at a time. 

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Same mother, same father and The Australian article

The other week in my travels I found a sweet light fitting that would work in the Sow's Ear's bathroom. It was also remarkably similar to the vintage Murano chandelier that we have in the sunroom/dining room...hence the same mother, same father analogy...

It wasn't terribly expensive and was a  DIY light that would slip onto the existing bayonet fitting.  A full blown chandelier in there wouldn't have suited the space as the ceiling is not high enough. This compact chandy works well and is just a bit of fun bling.

DIY chandelier fitting means no electrician needed. Yay.

Bling in the bathroom

Also, thanks so much for the nice comments from my last post. That article in The Australian was published yesterday and thankfully I don't sound like a complete idiot! There is a link here but unfortunately only subscribers can access the full article...

Screen shot image. Link to article from here

Although when I searched for the article on Google, I could access the full article...and I'm too much of a cheap-arse to subscribe. Go figure. I typed in Fun and VJs and scrolled down to the second page where I found the article link called Before and after: a digital journey. You might be lucky too.

Happy Little Queenslander which was also featured in the article wrote a blog post which contains the article Here. Just click on her article images to read the article. It's very small type though.

Anyway, we're chuffed. It's really cool to be in The Australian. Who'd have thought?

Friday, 1 March 2013

Pimping out the blog

Today was fun. The Sow's Ear was photographed within an inch of its life by my newest best buddy Elizabeth.

Elizabeth who curates the very new blog called Walk among the homes visited me at home to photograph our dear little piggy. Her blog gives readers a voyeuristic peek inside some of Brisbane's more interesting homes - a virtual house tour, if you like. She's on a winning formula because I for one love reading about local homes.
Elizabeth's camera

I was thrilled and flattered when she asked us to use the Sow's Ear on her blog...Vogue Living have never been as forthcoming. Ha!

Photograph of the photographer photographing
It's funny when someone new comes to the Sow's Ear and sees it for the first time. What we take for granted, in terms of the heritage features or even day-to-day living, is viewed with a great deal of appreciation and enthusiasm. It makes you feel good, particularly when you're constantly renovating.

The Sunroom.
I found a new mustard tablecloth yesterday at the op-shop. And a new green art glass vase.
Elizabeth's shots looked great and you could barely see the layer of dust on all the furniture! I'm not sure when the blog post will be up but I will let you know as soon as I find out.

Another interesting thing which occurred recently was a journalist from The Australian newspaper interviewed me for a story about blogging our Queenslander house renovation progress - it's supposed to be published tomorrow. Yikes! I'm a bit nervous and I'm crossing my stubby fingers that my quotes come out sounding worldly and sage, as opposed to dumb and vacuous. What have I done??? If there is a link to the article, I'll post it for your amusement.

One final thing, I'm thinking of self-nominating for Best Australian Blog 2013... again. None of you slack asses have ever nominated me...Go on give me a break this year.
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