Saturday, August 1, 2009

Trash & treasure
Over the past four months I've done a lot of moving 'stuff' around. Then moving it back again. I've catalogued 'stuff', I've thrown some out. I've given some away.
Actually, I took a pair of pink fluffy slippers from the top of a pile of 'stuff' one day and handed them to my mother to have. Just before I handed them over I slipped my hand into one to check for spiders, but instead I pulled out crisp $50, $20 and $10 bills in the old colourful paper money. Protected inside the fluffy slipper for so many years, it looked like it was straight from the mint.
I've taken 'stuff' up to the Salvos on Glenrosa Road. However, I've stopped myself doing this lately. It seems I am unable to resist going inside the huge shop, and I come home with more things than I dropped off.
When I first started to sort through the house I planned to make methodical piles; rubbish, keepers, Ebay, Salvos, garage sale, giveaways. It seems the logical process, but it didn't work. I'm not sure why really, in the same way I could never work out why I was still in my pyjamas at 3pm when I had my first baby. Things just didn't turn out.
Firstly, the whole process was too overwhelming. Try to imagine holidaying at Ikea for seven days straight! Also, I found the appropriate pile for an item may change depending on my mood.
Some days I would start the sorting slowly, paying close attention to each item and trying to imagine who it belonged to, how it would have looked new, and so on. Three hours later I would be ruthlessly declaring everything junk, and tossing it all in the bin. Don't worry, I always stopped myself before too much damage was done.
About a month after we moved in I had a mountain of boxes under the house full of things I planned to sell in my garage sale. But every time I walked past the boxes, I'd have a peek inside and take something back upstairs.

One day I looked into a box and fished out a little china bulldog, which I didn't remember having seen upstairs. He was wearing a blue coat with Rob Porter Guinness written on the back.
He was really sweet, and I thought about keeping him, but visions of myself as an old lady surrounded by thousands of dust collectors like him persuaded me to use him for my maiden Ebay voyage instead.
I started him off, the kitsch little darling, at a princely 99c. When I checked the next day he was over $200. By auction's end 10 days later he had sold for $420 and was shipped off to Western Australia.

I had no idea people collected guinness/scotch/beer paraphenalia, but I knew I was onto something. Our house was full of it. The father of the family loved nothing more than a pipe or cigar and a scotch.

I went downstairs and fished out two more awful brown
pottery jugs, with Dewar's Whisky printed on them. On the bottom was a stamp. Royal Doulton.
I sold the pair for $350. Plus, when I fished around I had heaps more Scotch memorabilia. I found a Dewar's Royal Doulton Matchstrike (still not sure exactly what that is) and sold it for $150. I've sold some, and still have a bit more to go.
If you think I'm sounding a bit smug, you'll love this story.
Just recently my husband and I sat down and watched the video footage we've been recording. In it, at one stage, I am standing in the kitchen watching my sister pull things out of the cupboard on the day we moved in. She pulls out an enormous white Dewar's Whisky pottery jug, so large she has to hold it with two hands.
'What do you want to do with this?', she asks me.
I make a grimace face and declare with bravado. 'Throw it out!'
As Dr Phil, or Oprah, or someone like that says, 'know better, do better'.


  1. Hi, I saw you in paper today and I have really enjoyed reading through your blog this evening. My husband and I are also restoring a house in Redhill, we didn't have all the goodies left in our house but we are only the 3rd owners in almost a hundred years and we have enjoyed learning the history of the house and the area.
    My question to you is one about your kitchen. Do you plan on reusing your existing kitchen cupboards when you renovate the kitchen? If not, we would be interested in buying them from you - we would pull them out for you. We want to keep our existing kitchen and restore it but there just aren't enough cupboards in our kitchen and we need some more and i assume the cupboards in your kitchen would be similar to ours.
    I'd love to hear from you and look forward to following your blog

  2. Hi, I love this blog and I am so glad I checked it out after seeing your article in the paper yesterday! I must say mr and mrs baby made the right decision in selling the house to you as you seem to be cherishing your tasks at hand and will take care of the heritage of the house. I love sewing and I love all antique sewing notions so I was drooling at your recent post of the sewing room and if you are interested in selling the sewing room tins and threads please contact me via my blog as I would love to check it out. thanks and enjoy your next task :-) Tina

  3. "Mr Baby" is my grandfather, and the son you met is my dad. So I've been hearing this story from their perspective for a while, and know that my family is happy to see the house go to someone who appreciates it. None of us is in a position to do it justice. Its lovely to hear about the treasures you are unearthing and learn a little more about my family history.

  4. Your blog is wonderful, you are living my dream and I thank you for letting me come along for the ride (rollercoaster ride?lol).As a North Brisbane girl I have always wanted to buy and renovate in that area, but my time for that has come and gone, and the treasures you have in that house WOW.Is that a treadle sewing machine I see in the sewing room,I collect machines, no I have no room left for any more, but I might be able to date it for you. Looking forward to hearing more, you lucky girl,

  5. Thanks for posting your kind comments Emma. The whole time I was reading the article and the blogs, I was feeling worse and worse for Mr Baby and his family. So, it is great to see that you are being so supportive and kind.

    Kinka Palms Motel
    Yeppoon, Capricorn Coast, Central Queensland

  6. wow thankyou for sharing this with all of u
    us !!!Are'nt we so lucky.
    so looking forward to experincing the progress with you.

  7. Hello again,
    I did do a quick post over at my blog about yours :).
    Also I would love to know your ebay user name so I can check out the wonderful items you have available. I'm looking for some old ornate frames for an art project I'm currently undertaking or even some kitsch items suitable for still life paintings.

  8. I love your blog, I currently live in a highset brick home in Brisbane West but dream of living in your area in an old queenslander......maybe one day. I love hearing about all of the hidden trinkets you are finding as you restore the house. Great photos! I must say that your photos of the other house that you renovated are really inspiring. My husband and I are currently renovating our house and I am constantly referring back to your photos for inspiration.
    I love your sense of style and interior design...Thanks for the inspiration