Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Jewel purpose
As you can imagine, there was quite a bit of jewellery which accumulated at Euphemia over the last 105 years.
The majority (possibly all) of it is just costume jewellery, but for someone who has had a long standing fascination with vintage jewellery, it's interesting to me all the same.

When we were clearing out the house we came across a lot of earrings and bangles, beads and brooches, hairclips and bracelets. Being in a bit of a rush to just clear the debris, we stashed all found jewellery items into the one big hatbox, and by the end of the first day we could barely get the lid shut.
Thought you may be interested in having a sticky at some of the pieces.
The above clear crystal beads and matching earrings are beautiful, and I believe they're from about the 1920s or 1930s.

The pearl bracelet above is beautiful and dainty.
It was in a Mikimoto box, however I have been
told by an estate jewellery specialist that they aren't genuine pearls, although I didn't clarify with her exactly what they were.
The opal earrings above are also apparently just costume jewellery.
The gold compact with London scenes on the front is lovely.
The feathers were kept with some of the jewellery, and I'd say they would have been used to decorate hats or as hair pieces.

The green and black beaded necklace above is long and in great condition and is also appararently 1920s or 1930s.

I wear this silver and green brooch as a pendant, as it has a loop on the back of it which enables it to be used as either. It actually looks quite modern, and I'm partial to a bit of green especially in Summer.

The silver and pearl set of brooch and earrings is very beautiful, although not really fashionable at the moment. It's very well made and heavy. Gorgeous.

I believe these are amber beads although I'm not certain. They are definitely some sort of naturally occuring gem or stone as they are heavy and have imperfections. I wear them a lot although they badly need restringing.

I wear these two silver ladies often and together, with jeans or at night. Both are very old I believe, and I love them.

I've got a few different pieces of these classic white diamantes. Pictured here are two stretchy bracelets and a double strand necklace. I also have a single strand one too in exactly the same style.
I'm like a bowerbird, I just love shiny things!

This is a dinky little set of coloured diamantes which includes a bracelet, earrings and a brooch.
Stay tuned! I've got more to show you very soon........

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Miss F. H. O'Reilly reveals

When we first moved into the house back in April my husband found a metal trunk full of papers; old receipts, documents, cards, etc. It was inside this trunk that we found the original watercolour plans of Euphemia, dated 1904, the house was built the following year. (please note, due to my poor blogging skills, the paragraphs next to the photos in this post are not necessarily related!).

We've since framed the plans and hung them on the wall. Our architect was most impressed. He said in the 40+ years of practising architecture, he's only come across such plans a few times.

It's only been in the last few days that I've found the trunk again and had a proper look inside. It has a name on the outside, Miss F.H. O'Reilly, although I don't know who that was.

The first thing I pulled out was a receipt from the Church of England Grammar School at East Brisbane. It's dated 13th May, 1921 and is for 17 shillings and nine pence, being for term II, 1921 - yes, I think the fees have significantly increased since then. One of the boys in the family attended Churchie, while all the others had the good sense to go to Brisbane Grammar.

There were also lots of insurance papers from various years, all listing the piano separately to the rest of the contents. The piano requires some further investigation me thinks.

There was also a lot of postcards from Blackburn, which is either in England or Scotland, and a Remembrance Card from Christmas 1930.

One interesting brochure was the 'Program for Reception to H.R.H. The Duchess of York at Exhibition Hall, Brisbane, 8th April, 1927.' It listed the entire program including speakers and performers.

An old Mother's Day card had been cheekily signed, 'The Chicks'. I'm not sure if that meant the card was just from the two daughters, or if 'chicks' referred to all six children, as in baby chickens. My guess is it would be the latter.

Another Christmas Card looked very, very old indeed. It was more or less a slip of paper with the message printed on it, and a tiny photo at the bottom of the sender (?). Other cards had beautiful embossing or handiwork.

There were more papers referring to the house itself including what seems like hand written instructions on how to build it, and a receipt for some of the furniture including a lovely old rocker (downstairs ready for restoration) and the pink lamp.

We packed the trunk into the car along with another basket of bits and pieces and some photos and returned it all to Mr and Mrs Baby yesterday.

Earlier in my blog I queried why so many wooden cotton spools had been kept. Mrs Baby told me that during or after World War II people were encouraged to collect them, and they were strung together and painted to make toys for children. So there you go. Now we know.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A tiny tidy downstairs

Yesterday we did a tiny tidy under the house. That's right, not only did we have major clutter to contend with upstairs, but downstairs was in a dire mess also.

There were family photos in frames, so old and deteriorated we couldn't make out facial features, drums of mystery substances (all very toxic no doubt), rusted sickles and rakes, and bits of the house that had fallen off (above).

I also came across an old cane basket, painted pale blue (below). It has a little sign saying 'Billie', who as it turns out, was the family cat. I've seen a photo of the cat, he's white and fluffy, and looks as though he could have had an attitude. We have a cat who regularly visits us. His name is Pan, and he's black and white and fluffy, and has that same feline aloofness.

When we first moved in I was having a quick poke around under the house when I saw a large metal cage. I briefly pondered what it had been used for, then of course was immediately distracted by something else, and forgot about it.

At a later stage I was looking through some old photos upstairs when I saw a picture of Doris, the elder daughter. She was sitting in the backyard, about 20 years of age (80+ years ago). Beside her was the cage and in it was a beautiful big cockatoo.

It was yet another lesson for me in the passing of time. During the 1920s and 30s the cage no doubt was an everyday feature for the family, later to be discarded downstairs once Cocky bit the dust. Then I come along in the year 2009 (the future!) and find it sitting downstairs in the dust.

It made me think about what treasured possessions of mine some stranger might ogle over in a hundred years time and wonder about it's previous life. While you can't take anything with you, our possessions can outlast us. More reason to surround ourselves with beautiful things!!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Feeling the heat

A hot Summer's day in Brisbane can be just as limiting as a cold, rainy day elsewhere. Sometimes that sun is just beating down way too hard to even think about going outside.

We recently pinched some pink frangipanis off our tree and made some necklaces with them, while we waited for the afternoon to cool off.

The frangipani is just about our last remaining tree, after we had to remove an ancient grapefruit tree to put in our pool...more on this in a minute.

We managed to selvage an old bird's nest from the grapefruit tree and now have it hanging on our front verandah. I think it's been many years since a bird lived in it.

We have been at Euphemia for exactly eight months (tomorrow). While I've been interested in antiques since I was a child, I can honestly say I'm sick of the sight of 'old stuff' at this point in time.

The task of clearing out the house has been enormous, and I'm still not done.

I have set aside certain bits and pieces which will suit the finished aesthetics of the house including; linen, glassware, china and furniture.

The renovation cannot begin and be completed fast enough for me. I long for freshly painted surfaces, cleanliness, floors that look clean when you clean them. I need storage, order and decluttered rooms.

We have ring binders and computer files full to the brim of our ideas.
Fortunately, we began the plans for the house only about a month after moving in, and they are now approved and in their final stages. Next we can start talking to builders, and hopefully in early 2010 work can begin. Let chaos reign if it means getting the work done. Renovation is hellish, but as I like to say (irritatingly);

'you can't make an omelette without breaking some eggs'.

Since the plans have taken so much longer than I would have thought, I've found myself overcompensating in other areas, simply to get a decorating 'fix'.
I painted the children's cubby house, including external pink stripes in two shades, homemade bunting (about the only thing I can sew), and even installed a chandelier!!

Also while playing the waiting game, my husband drew up a minature cardboard floor plan of the finished house, and I set about making little paper templates of our furniture (in the same ratio).
We were then able to test how furniture could be arranged in the finished rooms, and see what pieces we could keep, and which bits of furniture would not fit post reno.
It proved to be a very worthwhile exercise actually.
Keen to get the renovation ball rolling, we also decided to get a pool.
Originally we planned to do this last if the budget allowed, but we've pressed on anyway. This has also proven to be worthwhile, since it would be too difficult to put the pool in once the building work is done.
It's very close to completion and once finished, I'll post a photo of it. The pool construction has taken longer than we thought, there's been the odd tiny hiccup, but it's on budget and has been a great warmer for the bigger job to come.....

Monday, December 7, 2009

Sew you think you want to renovate....
We have found the most incredible amount of craft things in the house including needles and thread, old scissors, thimbles, two sewing machines, transfers, pieces of needlework half completed (needle & thread still attached). The house actually included a designated 'sewing room', a tiny room off to the side of the sleepout.
I've come across hundreds of buttons, many of which have been stored in intricately carved old cigar boxes - gorgeous!
I had so many buttons a friend of mine divided them into colours and another friend has taken them off to turn them into other things, although I've since found I still have hundreds left.
I found details of an embroidery competition - entries due some time in 1931 (won't bother sending mine in).
I have come across metres of old fabric, most of it ghastly, but some is fantastic, including some red and white print cotton in a Marimekko style.
I've also come across beads, beads and beads. Many beads are from broken necklaces, kept for some spare time when they can be repaired.
The beads are mostly glass, crystal, shell or bakelite.
I always think of myself as a bit of a Martha Stewart, and oddly so do some other people, but in actual fact I'm hopeless at making things.
The ideas are in my head, and they look fabulous, but obviously the instructions aren't getting through to my hands.
I'm happy to keep looking at the beads though, imagining what I'd do with them if I had the capabilities.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Peek-a-boo! We see you!

This is the funny little possum which lives under our house. He seems to be awake all day, so I'm not sure what he does at night. Can possums be insomniacs?
He sleeps on the top of the knock-up toilet and shower under the house.
He was sound asleep this afternoon, in our full view so I took a photo. Now, despite the fact that our kitchen is overhead from where he sleeps, and he hears us running around, talking and dropping things, the little camera 'click' woke him.

Not sure how or where we'll relocate him once the reno starts. He has no name and he's quite pissed with us for ruining his peace and quiet way back in April. We know this from the daggers he throws us. He's definitely an 'old man possum'.
Yes, I'm back!