Monday, January 31, 2011


I've done a very silly thing. I sold this table on Sunday. The chairs swivel... and are so comfy.
I've had it for nearly 3 years but only started using it over the past 18months to furnish a unit. It's very durable and i've always loved it. In order to clear the place out, i just decided to sell it along with everything else down there so i didn't have to hall it back and  i figured i have no use for it right now so it can go.

Thing is, i've only ever looked for a makers mark on the chairs. Never under the table on the base. After selling it, i went down to dismantle the top yesterday. 'A' has always done it and would take no notice of anything under the table. Prior to dismantling i sat on the couch and looked at it wondering if i could reneg on the sale.

I then got on the ground and there it was 'Sebel'. I nearly vomited. Here's the clencher. I sold it for $137.50.

I'm serious when i say i felt like being sick. I was already on the verge. When i sold it i obviously didn't have 'Sebel' in the title. To add salt to the wound i had a look on the internet to see if there were any for sale in case i wanted to re buy one. Vampt Vintage Design has one in ok condition reduced for $650 and they have one they'd sold in excellent condition, but it doesn't say how much. They're so hard to find, I am such a fool! I never make these kind of mistakes. I'm a hoarder, this is so out of character?

On the up side, i didn't sell this lamp AND the lady who purchased was from NZ and so excited about it. She had had the exact same Sebel table setting over there prior to her moving out here 4 years ago. I was relieved it went to someone who loved it even more than i did.

Funny the things you do. I kind of think it was fate. It was the first time she had ever been on ebay and purchased anything. It belongs with her.

I hope everyone has had a fabulous Monday! The nights at the moment are so beautiful in Brisbane. I had a lovely walk with my neighbour after dinner. Most pleasant indeed, highly recommend a nightly stroll before it becomes cold. Hard to imagine cold weather right now.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Book of Household Management - circa 1891

Anyone who knows me knows full well that i am a hoarder ... My father used to blame it on his mother and as the years go on it becomes increasingly clear that it is fact directly from the man himself. These days, we tend to talk more about what little items of gold we've come across in our own houses. The big fella has some fairly cool stuff - if only i could pry it from his fingers.  I recently borrowed a book from him that was his great grandfathers, this is it below.

'The book of Household Management' by Mrs Isabella Beeton. Published 1891 ... and i'll have you know that it's the 'entirely new edition, revised and greatly enlarged'! I near on need a microscope to read the writing. Teeny tiny.

As you can see it is quite comprehensive for those that work in the household. It has delectable sounding recipes (several hundreds) like Stewed Ox Cheek and Fried Ox feet or Cow Heel. It summarises different breeds of animal so you know what your eating which i found ... different. This is not an area of the book for the vegetarian. Quite adorably my father has popped a couple of post it's on the pages of food he plans to make. I dare say this'll be when mum's away and he's home alone with only the dog having to witness it.
Venison anyone?

What i find the most interesting is the etiquette area. This fold out at the front of the book pictures how to set the table. The book commences with the most indepth outline of how the Mistress must run the household. It talks about all manner of things including when visiting is permittable and how 'one' should behave... "there is much danger and impropiety in expressing opinions of those persons and characters with whom, perhaps, there is but a slight acquaintance." "during these visits the manners should be easy and cheerful"

There is extensive outline of how the mistress conducts herself when hosting a dinner party, i've been enthralled reading it. Completely another world. This is the paragraph under 'Leaving the dinner table' at a dinner party . If only i could share it all, but this one's a stand out ...

When fruit has been taken, and a glass or two of wine passed round, the time will have arrived when the hostess will rise, and thus give the signal to the ladies to leave the gentleman, and retire to the drawing-room. The gentleman of the party will rise at the same time, and he who is nearest the door will open it for the ladies, all remaining courteously standing until the last lady has withdrawn. Dr Johnson has a curious paragraph on the effects of dinner on men. "Before dinner" he says "men meet with great inequality of understanding; and those who are conscious of their inferiority have the modesty not to talk. When they have drunk wine, every man feels himself happy, and loses that modesty, and grows impudent and vociferous: but he is not improved, he is only not sensible of his defects" This is rather severe, but there may be truth in it.

Severe? You think!

Everything was so unbelieveably structured complete with the order of the day written on a board for the family and servents to adhere to.

I find it so intriguing - it was respectful but disrespectful, elegant and refined but high maintenance and extraordinarily judgemental. The mistress provided the most extravagant dinner's (or project managed the servants)with the finest touch, and would in turn be secretly condemned if the meal were a flop or her hosting duties not up to standard. Most stressful sounding indeed.

The book goes into SO much detail. It also summarises different forms of cooking from around the globe and 'Sanitary, Medical and Legal Memoranda'. Medicines and first aid and how to write a will etc. Here's an example of  the 'Method of restoring the apparently drowned'

This book is huge, so i've not read it all. Just the interesting Mistress parts. There's little poems throughout to express certain points. Dad's been asking for it back this week. Maybe he needs to learn how to 'dress a sheep's head'. Mmm delish.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

the piper of dreams

This print by Estella Canziani was an unexpected find ... at the Salvos in Ipswich. I saw it on the wall amongst so many other prints and there was just something about it.

The more i looked at it after purchase the more smitten i became. It's so whimsical without being too fairylike. Fairies ain't my thang. I then did a little research and discovered that it was a well known and famous fairy print of the early 1900's.

See the little robin sitting on his shoe?

Estella Canziani was born in London in 1887 and was an artist, interior decorator, travel writer and folklorist. This was her most famous watercolour which made its first appearance in 1915, a year into the Great War.

In the first year this print sold more than 250,000 reproductions and is believed to have been so popular because it offered an escape from the goings-on in Europe during that time - many were sent from loved one's to their men in the trenches during the war. 

It's framing is aged and the cardboard border is showing that rusty kind of age mark paper gets, but it still has a good feeling about it.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Vicente Wolf = Brilliant!

When conducting research on painted white floors mid last year, i came across the most a-maz-ing loft in New York which belongs to an extremely talented self taught Interior Designer and Photographer called Vicente Wolf.  Having been in the business for over 30 years he holds the most refined and eclectic taste in design - in my opinion. I love, love, love, love this loft ...

Love the mix of period pieces with cutting edge design

 Love the floor and all the natural light streaming through. White is so versatile and this loft is exactly how i want the floors to look downstairs. I have a 3-fold mirrored room divider screen to go downstairs when it's done, it's trimmed in gold. Goodness, i want these floors now so i can see what it will look like! 
I think he uses his loft as an office as well ... his photography displayed on the different chairs looks fab. All the framing around the loft looks amazing. Warms up the white. Our office is floor to ceiling with vintage and new framed and canvassed pictures and looks nothing like this. Ugh! It's the floors fault.

And the man himself. Vicente Wolf.
That table in the background reminds me of an ebay purchase i forgot to bid on. It happens too often, it really is heartbreaking.

So while thinking further about white concrete floors i decided to think further on Vicente and stumbled across his blog. I haven't had a massive look through as yet, i just found it today but i'm sure it will be chock full of no less than stunning interiors and photography.


This was a refreshing break from the trauma of the last few weeks. It's been a hard reality. I do hope everyone is beginning to recover. It's still just the beginning really for so many people. I had to work in the CBD yesterday and it was business as usual. Aside from some large mounds of rubbish and shopfronts closed, central CBD was as it was 3 weeks ago. Bizarre that there's been a  natural disaster in between.

The write up in today's QWeekend by Matthew Condon on the flooding across the state, is so well written and the emotion well depicted. Qld readers - grab a coffee and have a read. I've stashed it in my keepsake pile. Cross fingers we won't see something like this again for a very, very long time.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

salvaging memories

It's been a big week and the topic of conversation on every Queenslander's lips is 'the floods'. I just have one little story that I wanted to document.

Yesterday, after pushing slush out of homes and discarding people's belongings (so many antiques...) onto huge piles in the middle of the road I came across some ladies who were salvaging an elderly woman's photographs. I was so happy to assist.

I chatted to this lovely, lovely woman as she cleaned off cd's in her kitchen sink. She'd lived in the property for 30 years and talked of her son whom she'd travelled the world over with, hence the bundles of photographs. She was so humble as she sympathised at the devastation of others and repeatedly said it was too nice of us to help and not to worry ourselves with the photos. 

Photos are the history of a person, their family and their life. We persevered. Below is the backyard of her home in Milton. The water had reached waist deep to the top floor. So much lost.

We separated the photos one by one, dried them with a chux and either placed them on a dry area or pegged them to the 'hills hoist' as you can see.

As she was leaving she spoke to one of the other volunteers and emotionally revealed that her son had passed away in recent years. The same son whom she'd travelled with and was pictured in many of the photo's. She insisted that we write our name's down so that she could send us a thank you note, she was so appreciative. This woman was so lovely that she didn't want to bother us with something that was in fact very special to her. We were so pleased we'd salvaged what we could.
And ... a change of tempo ... as it turned out, my fabulous sidekick for the afternoon has a blog called Have a look, it has the most beautiful images. She comes from an Arts background and you can tell. She's pretty handy with a shovel too.

On another brief note. I had to go to the coast today and decided to bring this plant home with me. I left it down there 5 months ago and it was not nearly as impressive as this. It seems that on one hand, tenants will steal your remote control for the DVD player(and replace it with a curb side pick up remote that's broken) and on the other - water your plant.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

brisbane's east begins to feel it

This is kind of old news now as it's more than probable become worse, but here are some shots of beautiful Bulimba at about 4pm today - the drain pipes were backing up and pushing water up into the lower areas.

 That's Hawthorne Road ahead (above pic)
 This is part of the new development on the waters edge at Bulimba
 There are a number of 3 storey homes on the water that face over to Hamilton. The bottom levels being basement which are garages and whatever else. Bags are stacked high to prevent water flooding down below
 Trucks find higher ground out on Lytton Road away from the low lying areas around Hemmant

Towing boats pull reckless pontoons out of the river and  look to be storing them down Wynnum Creek to prevent more debris being released into the bay
The blue skies and sun shine over the bay which is a colour i hope i never ever see again. In the distance you can just make out where the river water meets the ocean in this pic, it's so defined in real life though, like when you pour balsamic vinegar into olive oil . This was after lunch. It's brown as far as they eye can see and fairly angry out there now. Those poor fish.

I bought today's paper which as you can see is covered in plastic. I dread what tomorrow's front page will look like. I see the city skyline in the distance and find it hard to believe the images on tv are what is occuring below. The birds are chirping out here on the bayside like everything's ok.

Grantham is a town no longer. A Current Affair is on right now and it's heart breaking - this is such a deeply saddening tragedy. It makes me feel sick like i'm sure everyone else.I was in Ipswich a couple of months ago scrounging for antiques. I cannot believe my eyes. The water levels are astronomical.

Thankfully our water is still clean in Brisbane and useable and if anything, the drought taught us how to conserve it. We'll need alot of clean water to wash away this mess.

water's rising

I've just woken up to a sunny Brisbane day and considered briefly that maybe it's been a dream. The television says otherwise with Ipswich completely under water and areas of Brisbane already replicate those of 1974.
Port Office Hotel in the CBD 1974
Disturbingly, there's been looting in Ipswich, what is wrong with some people?

Last eve i googled 'volunteer help brisbane floods' and joined hundreds of others across Brissie filling sandbags. The closest BCC depot to me was Balmoral. There was such an array of people there. Some of the young guys i spoke to had driven from the Gold Coast specifically to lend a hand.

I'm not on Facebook and have never used twitter but those i spoke to last night had heard about volunteering through those mediums. When i 'googled' it brought up the BCC Council facebook page where it gave me the locations etc. If anyone is interested in ways to help or are looking for updates on some things this is the link It's incredibly touching to read the offers of housing and help from people across the state. It really does make you feel very proud to be an Australian. We sure know how to band together.

I read parts of the Flood Report from 1974 yesterday and although it is completely disastrous i find it fascinating that it can occur and how easily mother nature can weild her destructive wand. This fascination has translated today into a grim realisation that the 1974 floods are no longer an incomprehensible piece of history that our parents recall as a horrible time. We have on our doorstep floods of larger magnitude which affect us now - 2011 - in a time where people and business's are already trying to recover from an economic downturn and record droughts.

It's hard to believe that this is happening now, this is another shot from 1974
The electricity is off in the CBD and by the looks Warwick are underway with their clean up. There are still 90 people missing. 90!  Thank goodness for the sunshine and let's hope that it guides the SES to these missing people and finds them safe.

The aftermath of this is going to be hard for everyone to see let alone for those who will experience it first hand. I cannot believe this is actually happening.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

baby showers and bad weather

My friend S is 'expecting' and we celebrated with a baby shower which i hosted for her yesterday.

The initial plan was New Farm Park.
I'd pictured the 32 of us gathering under and around a white marquee with a long table covered in a floaty white cloth with yellow flowers and a scatter of white chairs and picnic blankets... the sun would be shining blah blah etc etc ....................and it would be the perfect January Sunday

This wasn't to be and on Friday, after nearly being swallowed up by my own soggy lawn, we made the call to relocate the festivities around the corner to her place in New Farm. It turned out beautifully!

 This table is gorgeous and made a stunning setting
S and her husband live in a 2-storey unit in New Farm. The living area and balcony is a good size so could house everyone comfortably.
 Food, food and more food ...
Champagne, Lemonade and Soda Water with Lime and Lemon. Refreshing in the humidity.

Hanging above the outside table, i used 6 glass baubles for a bit of theming
They were hung on fishing wire at different levels with little stuffed toys in some and fresh flowers in the others. I also added pink felt circles to the fishing line in some spots to pretty is up. After all, we have no idea what she's having ...
The cute toys i picked up from Ikea. I tried to get a full length photo of this hanging decoration but with the glare and rain in the background it didn't turn out
The nursery is coming together. S's husband painted the walls a deep navy blue and had a half wall of vj's installed which are white. She has a few ideas on curtains but will wait to see what she has before making a final decision.

We prettied the room up for the 'shower'... i really do think it's a girl
On a fine day the river and city looks so lovely, the rain made it seem like a distant memory yesterday

Meanwhile, another friend was at home, fresh out of hospital with her second child. A beautiful baby girl ... Elise. She is the most delicate little thing. I'm delivering this to her tomorrow ...
I hear about how people buy the front page of newspapers from the day friends or family are born to celebrate a milestone birthday. I thought i'd nip it in the bud now and just frame the whole paper. Once Elise is old enough we can read the paper together, and hopefully she will do the same with her children and grandchildren in the years to come.

On a little plaque at the bottom is her full name time of birth and weight.

This little two piece number's adorable. I made the brooch this arv out of some vintage fabric i've had kicking around. I'm on the hunt for a little white beanie for winter. The brooch will look so cute pinned to the side. I need more work on my templatei think - could be a nicer shape.

This flash flooding in Toowoomba is terrible. I'm watching the late news as i type. My brother and his family live on a property outside of Grantham, their dwelling is on a high spot thankfully. Up until yesterday, he'd been able to get out for work etc and was towing people out of deep water at every corner.

It is heart warming to see how our communities support one another in times like this. I just feel so helpless watching people lose everything they have and it just looks to be getting worse and worse. I suppose all we can do is give what we can to help people re build their lives when this is finally all over.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

floor stenciling

On the topic of stenciling, i just thought about my 'stage 2 reno idea archive' and thought i'd quickly throw up some images of stenciled floors.

Downstairs will either be raw concrete or white painted concrete.  Either way, I'd like to stencil something. Initially i was pondering a hall runner but tend to slip on them.

Here are some images of patterns i found.
This above i just love. Looks incredible on the aged floorboards.

 This was from a house in Hamptons from memory. Very Hamptonish indeed

I like how elegant this is and looks great on the white.

And this above is my favourite ... easy to do freehand i think. I'm thinking you could use potato's cut in half to apply the circles? I'm sure we used them in primary school for something i wonder if that would work?..... 

We'll have a small courtyard off one of the bedrooms which will be totally enclosed by decorative wrought iron. I like the idea of doing a matt size stencil similar to the above at the entry to the french doors, easy to remove if/when i make a mistake.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

calico transforms

The thing I find about renovating is that you hit a point where you just can't be bothered finishing all the 'bits n pieces'. All of sudden it's 4 years on and you still have no internal doors other than your bathroom!

This came to a head for us this week with the a/c in our bedroom escaping. I had a few metres of calico left over from my dining room chair revamp so tacked it into the top of the door surround and voila.

By day it's neatly tied back with a black leather tie and by night it's a wrinkled calico door. 

Not very ingenius but aside from the fact that it needs an iron, i'm actually warming to the idea of fabric longer term.  I'll sit on it for a couple of weeks and see if the shoe really fits, a semi sheer white would be perfect for our house. For now though, sleeping is so much better with all the confined cool air swarming around us.
Calico Part II
Fabric for the dining room setting has been on my mind for ages and i just couldn't find what i visualised. So i thought i'd make it.

A crystal chandelier hangs from above the suite and the room is all open plan leading into the kitchen. Fresh and neutral was the ticket - but nothing pretty. The chandelier's pretty enough. This is the fabric they were covered in. 
 I bought calico, a stencil set, white paint and tacks from Spotlight and these are the chairs now.

The stencil came with 4 designs, 3 of which i used. I'm not overly fussed on the one second from the bottom but laziness prevents me from doing anything about it, it's ok for now.

I'd pulled out two of the original suite chairs and replaced them with bentwoods to break up the bulk of the dark timber but they were a bit uncomfortable. So when i happened across a few of these chairs below in Paddington prior to christmas, i'd found their replacement ...
 And this is the suite as it currently stands
Our home isn't all one era nor do things 'match' per se, (as this suite bears witness). I go through stages as i'm sure everyone does and like to change things around. The calico has exceeded my expectations with the stenciling and there will be no regrets when i decide to pull it off and replace it with something else.

Two birds - One stone. Brings me down to, ummm 15 more to-do's...