Monday, March 22, 2010

White out
Despite all my big talk about a more imaginative kitchen, we've briefed Ken the kitchen man about the most classical white kitchen that has ever existed.
Originally, I had in mind a warmer kitchen, inspired by the old public bars of the 1940s with a mosaic tile island bench, stainless steel footrest and a raised surround like a typical bar. I pictured open shelving behind and a general retro fitout.
As it got closer and closer to the time to pin down our ideas I felt a tad incapable of nailing the (quite honestly) vague design I had in my head. If it didn't work, it was going to be a very expensive mistake and one I would have to live with for a very, very, very long time....on a daily basis.
Instead, we've gone for something like this.
Our floors will be very dark like these, and we've also gone for a similar range and island bench, with open shelves along the wall.
I think the recipe to a good room a lot of the time is to resist fashionable temptation. It also helps if you know exactly what you want before you go shopping so you don't get too side tracked and confused.
I consider our choice more of a white out than a cop out, and I am positive it will look fantastic and sit perfectly with the rest of the house!

Also, while packing over the weekend I found two more items of note. Firstly, this is the original receipt for the purchase of our land. As you can see, it's not in good condition, but we've lightly glued it onto some paper and will get it into a frame for safe keeping.  It's dated August 1886, 18-19 years before the house was built. It has been paid off bit by bit in cash to the total of 36 pounds.
It says the land has been purchased by James Richmond, who would most likely be Mr Baby's maternal grandfather.
I know that Mr Baby's maternal grandparents lived next door, so perhaps they originally purchase three or four blocks of land and gave two of them to Mr Baby's parents?
I found a lot of copies of this photo (below) when I was clearing out the house last year. I gave all of them back to Mr Baby, save this one because I love the photo so much and it has Gwennie in it. I can only assume they are all dressed as characters in a play - quite possibly a Nativity?
Gwennie is in the front row on the left hand side. She is a young woman.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The last supper
To call our kitchen decrepit and manky is to glamorise it somewhat, and to call our stove/oven rancid and vile is to flatter it beyond belief.
However, as luck would have it, the builders are currently working on making the wraparound verandah which wraps around the exterior of the house where the kitchen currently is. The stove recess, which makes a bump on the exterior of the house is getting in their way.
They were planning on just working around it until they could demolish it when we move out. This afternoon though, I had a brilliant idea and told the builder he could demolish the alcove, stove and all, so they could carry on without being slowed down. He was hesitant at first, leaving us without a stove and all, but I finally persuaded him this was the way to go.
Tomorrow, I will leap out of bed, uplifted by the knowledge that today, my arch nemesis, the 'Conway New World' will be ripped from Euphemia and thrown onto the junk pile, never to be seen or heard from again.
Tonight will be the last time I have to cook in our stinking hot kitchen with the western sun beating down on me. Tonight we will sit down to our last dinner to be cooked on the beast, an aptly ordinary  no-name chicken, pumpkin and pasta concoction.
The next meal I will cook in Euphemia will be a fantastical, gastronomic delight - TBA - on my new Smeg 900mm stainless steel wonder machine.

For the next three weeks we will be reliant on our microwave, barbecue, takeaways, dinners out and invitations from family and friends to feed ourselves - always a good, solid test for the most avid of renovators.
Back to the box of tricks I was sorting through in my last post. This is a well preserved copy of The Church Times from London, Friday, July 12, 1935.
Something has been torn from page three, but this leftover section is just filled with church news and advertisments for strange drugs like Andrews Liver Salt.
This is a little stationery box that is now filled with old photos, some great ones of the house, postcards and greeting cards from the 1920s. There's also lots of photos of Noosa, way back, before it was loved to death. I will have to give some of this back to Mr Baby when I see him next. However, I'll keep a few photos of the house which clearly show what the original stairs looked like.
This is a catalogue from a shop called the Gala Furniture Show (seemingly also called The Coupon Furniture Co Pty Ltd) which was at the 5 Ways, Woolloongabba in Brisbane.  By the furniture styles I'd say it's from the 1950s if not earlier. From what I can tell it was the Super A-Mart of it's time with a massive showroom displaying everything from bedroom chairs and complete kitchens to Hills Hoists and floor coverings. A five piece dining setting, with laminate top and chrome trim was fifty pounds.
All in all the renovation is travelling well and so are we. The builders are still in the process of straightening the old girl out. She's bending and twising back into shape, and quite often that's happening at an alarming rate. Last week I went to the bathroom, and the door wouldn't open when I was trying to get out. My husband had to kick it open like a fireman.  I've noticed gaps in the hallway floorboards that aren't there anymore a few minutes later. Sometimes our front door shuts, sometimes it doesn't and ditto for the back door.
Aaah, it's all a process. It's a disaster zone at the moment, but she's going to be so pretty in a few months time. Note to self: must keep eye on light at end of tunnel.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Show & tell
The builders are downstairs still and hard at work. Some skeletal parts are now going up for the wraparound verandah. It's all very exciting for us, but not so much for everyone else.
Inspired by my child's show and tell projects at school, I thought I'd show you some bits and pieces I found in a box today.
Firstly, what could be more interesting than a bag of old golf balls. Gwennie was a keen golfer and played at the Ashgrove Golf Club. These are her golf balls, stashed in a plastic bag about forty years ago. Also in the bag was her Fixture Book 1969.  Inside the Fixture Book is her handicap certificate, a little card for her scores.  Her handicap was 27, which my husband tells me is not too bad for a woman of her age. She would have been about 57 at the time.

This is the 1934 Lux Book of Knitting and Crochet. It's a thin paperback including: "Smart sportswear, novel accessories and babies' woollies'.  In 1934 you could crochet a sleeveless pullover for your fella, a sunsuit for the baby and if time allowed, a cape and beret for yourself.

Í cannot believe these didn't take off. Brand new and still in the original packet are these three inflatable plastic hangers, complete with retro flower power pattern.

This is a paper packet of Roberts Borotalcum. From my research it was first created in 1878. It's, and I quote, "Refreshing Absorbent Antiseptic Prepared from the finest soothing ingredients this delightful powder possesses all the requisites of a perfect toilet powder. Soft as silk, light as a veil and deliciously perfumed it is the best final touch after bathing for adults and children." Made in Florence, Italy. 
Another example of the old domestic debris Euphemia has thrown us, which would have been tossed in most other houses. I don't want this but if anyone else does I'm happy to post it to you. Just leave a comment.
Someone, and I would assume it was either Gwennie or Doris, had quite the fascination for the perfect three square meals a day. I've found so much literature on this topic.
This booklet called Square Meals for the Family was published by the Mothercraft Association in 1939, right on the cusp of World War II.
The introduction reads:
The compilation of this little book was first undertaken during the recent severe economic depression. It was published by the Social Service League in 1933 in the hope that it might be a guide to mothers who were faced with the difficult task of catering for their families in that period of much reduced incomes.
My children would be chuffed to see an advertisement on page seven for Pauls Extra Cream Ice Cream. It is headed: Every mother should know! and goes on to talk about the calcium and phosphorus in ice cream as though it were on par with mung bean sprouts for goodness.
The recipes remind me of that cookbook that was recently published called Four Ingredients (or something like that). Square Meals is a cooking guide for mothers who were working with an extremely limited number of ingredients.
The Sydney Hospital Diet Manual, while a small booklet, is a complicated concoction of diets for people who are diabetic, or diabetic and taking zinc protamine insulin, or diabetic children, and so on.

I love this. It's vintage kitsch at it's finest. I can't remember what you call these things, but they are pictures which change when you turn them. It's still in it's original packaging and is called a plastic dual image royal photograph, made in England. Queen Elizabeth is featured and at the merest tilt, charming Prince Philip appears.
This is just too good to stay in a drawer. To celebrate the opening of my new kitchen I'll turn this into a fridge magnet! Gold.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The quagmire
All the rain we've had hasn't delayed work starting after all. The builders have just finished day five of excavation. For the past two days the rock breaker has been hard at work. Breaking rocks is very noisy work would you believe.
Poor Euphemia looks as though she's having major surgery rather than a facelift.
My husband is keeping a sharp eye on work and has already diverted a couple of minor mishaps.
I have spent the weekend in Melbourne with a friend. I was keeping a sharp eye on all things decorative. I encountered one store, not sure of the name, but it had loads of sweeties, all old, iron and French. If it had been possible I would have loved to fold up an old iron bench and slip it in my bag.
I was in Melbourne for the hail storm on Saturday afternoon. In fact, the inclement weather actually made my plane flight home so turbulent that at one point, the plane seemed to go into free fall, and everyone screamed - disaster movie style! I'll take a little time to get over that one.
Now safely back on the ground I have to get back to business. This afternoon the builders were hinting that they may be coming upstairs earlier than expected to start work.
I'm dreaming of taps and tiles, and loving it!

Monday, March 1, 2010

The reprieve
Our builder came to see us last Tuesday. He said although he would start this week, we can stay in the house while he does the excavation, concrete and steel downstairs, which will take about three weeks. 
With the probable delay this week due to rain, by the time we need to move out it will be very close to April 7, when we can move directly into my mother's.
The pressure's eased for now.
Meanwhile, our furniture has sold on Ebay and most of it was collected on the weekend. It all went to lovely homes.  Apologies to the Russian lady and man with the children's encyclopedias, who (I realised later) I really should have given a tour.
I've been tossing out what is essentially rubbish (broken toys, old clothing) that has been taking up space in cupboards. I've taken Ishi bishi Outlander loads of bric-a-brac to the Salvos depot in Red Hill.
I had a whole box of old organ sheet music. A lot of it had beautiful coloured covers, some it from 1911 and 1912. Although lovely, it was totally useless to me so this morning I packed it up and took it over to my friend Fi, who is fortunate enough to be both 'arty' and 'crafty'. I don't know what she'll do with it, but it'll be something fab. Here's some below.

We've been visiting tile and bath shops, demolition yards and more tile shops and some rooms are coming together....we're about to get down to the exciting bit......but there's still a few boxes to pack first.