Monday, February 22, 2010

A whole new world
Our life is usually pretty calm. We have a routine that is so down pat that I often find myself saying the exact same words at exactly the same time each day; 'dinner's ready', 'time to put your jammies on', 'sleep tight kitty kats'.
To be honest, at the moment, we are in absolute chaos. We know the builder wants us out soon, but we're not exactly sure when, just 'soon'. I'm busy packing for an indeterminate deadline, while simultaneously ebaying countless items.
One of my children has just started school and I'm still trying to navigate that. Apparently lunch is no longer called 'lunch'. It's called 'first break' although technically it's the second break, but I'm told the first break isn't counted because it's eaten in class. Why it's not called morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea I'm yet to find out.
Meanwhile we have friends staying with us for the weekend, and this is what their room looks like at the moment...

.....that's a bed under there.
Added to this I'm flying to Melbourne for the weekend at the end of next week. When I booked, this was thought to be the best time, before things got too hectic. Everything that is happening now was expected to be happening closer to Easter.
My husband is about to start a new job. We're not too sure wheré we'll be moving to until Easter. After Easter I can have the use of my mother's house while she goes up north. Wherever we move to I'm sure we won't be able to take Teddy the kitten, so I'll have to find temporary accommodation for him too.
Our furniture keeps getting sold, so now we have many things we still use daily stored in open boxes. This is what we're dealing with.

I've heard that just after you've had a baby a natural drug rushes through your system and makes you forget all the pain you've just experienced. This is our fourth renovation, our second with children, and at this stage, I'm thinking there must be a similar drug that affects you post reno. Why have we done this to ourselves?
Self pity aside, I was clearing out a little timber medicine cabinet today. It had been lined with an old newspaper from 1975. This is by no means the oldest newspaper we've found, in fact it's the most recent by a long way, but it was of particular interest to me. I was three in 1975, and I clearly remember weekly shopping trips to Woolworths with my mother. I remember everything had a price stamped on it. There was a person who worked in the fruit and vegetable section who would weigh and price your produce. The checkout person would manually type in the prices from each product, and presumably my mother added up these prices in her head and prayed she had enough money in her purse so she wouldn't have to put anything back.
This parcticular piece of newspaper had an advertisement for Coles New World.

This will either be of tremendous interest to you, or I may cause you to nod off, but these are the grocery prices on December 10, 1975:
Frankfurts 88c/kg
Coca Cola 35c/litre
Jatz 38c packet
Rib Roast $1.08/kg
Side of Lamb 79c/kg
Lamb Chops $1.29/kg
Frozen Cheesecake 98c each
Wing Dings 27c
Roast Port $2.16/kg
Chicken $1.82/kg
375g Kingaroy Peanuts 60c
Shortbread 225g 99c

If you click on the photo of the newspaper you'll be able to see an enlarged version you can read.

Hmm, I must remember to get myself some new interests when this renovation is done.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Everybody out!
Well, the builder has confirmed with us he can start in two weeks. I've put a heap of things on Ebay. My id is 'watermelonstarlet' if you want to have a look. I'm getting quite ruthless. The idea of getting rid of stuff is more appealing than packing it, storing it, and unpacking it again.
Have just listed the likes of:
The next two weeks will be full on in order to vacate the premises. If you've seen anything on my blog you're interested in, please let me know.
In the meantime the sound of scrunching newspaper and packing tape will be echoing around Red Hill.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Retro Classics
One of my interests for a long time now has been in the food we eat, how it differs from our diet in previous decades, and why the majority of us are so porky now. I could name and shame some definite perpetrators in the modern diet (hear that hydrogenated fats, msg and aspartame), but I don't want to get started because I'll probably never stop. Safe to say, food is all around us now, it's everywhere we turn, ie a hotdog stand at the hardware store. Thanks to a diet that is so utterly refined that it never fills us up, a lot of people have craftily added in extra meal breaks during the day, like the one between morning tea and lunch, and between afternoon tea and dinner. The odds of us being able stay trim on a modern diet are not in our favour, but that's all for another blog.
For quite a few years now I have been collecting old cookbooks. I quite often refer to an old 1970s Women's Weekly cookbook that my mother used to use when I was little. I like to see the portion sizes and the simplicity of the ingredients. I love kitsch recipes, and have a great modern cookbook called Retro Classics. A prawn cocktail, followed by Beef Strog and finished with pavlova is still hard to beat.
As you'd expect, after 100 years Euphemia has accumulated her fair share of books, many of them of the cooking and housekeeping nature. One of the little gems uncovered recently is this 1967 Weight Watchers cookbook.

From what I can see Weight Watchers began in New York in 1961 or 1963 so this is a very early Australian Weight Watchers book, if not the first. It came free with Woman's Own magazine. The first paragraph reads:
"What is a Weight Watchers Club? Simply a group of friends who all want to slim - so arrange to follow a diet, meet regularly and compare progress. The idea has spread like wildfire in Canada and the United States.....It all started when half a dozen friends, all trying unsuccessfully to lose some weight, met at the home of another friend who had just slimmed successfully - and was delighted to tell them about it".
It then goes on to list ideal heights and weights for various builds. There's a list of 'What NOT to eat': biscuits, buns, cakes, bacon, fried food, ice cream, nuts, potato chips, puddings, pastry, chocolate and white bread rolls'. No surprises there.

There is another great book called Lady Hackett's Household Guide. It's Doris' book, her name is written on the inside cover. I found some separate pages folded inside the cover. They are recipes that she has kept especially. I got very excited until I had a read of them - Brain Rissoles, Baked Mutton Flap, Tongues in Jelly. Fright Night!!
There is also her handwritten recipe for Christmas Pudding including a pound of suet, which I must admit I'm not even sure what it is or where I could get it.  I have a typed page headed "Six Way Recipe" with a basic batter that can be added to to make Sunbeams, Date Cuddles, Jam Tarts, Kisses, Nut Fingers or Bachelor Buttons. Not familiar with any of them either. Another recipe is for Christmas Cake. It's so nice to read it in Doris' own handwriting. 
Further inside Lady Hackett's Doris has stashed magazine cutouts from 1952 and 1946. There's recipes, little crochet patterns and a clipping showing how to make the best use of your yard, and in those days that didn't mean subdivide, squeeze in some crumby new house, then take the money and run before your neighbours get a chance to tell you how pissed off they are.
Lady Hackett's herself was published in 1940 and includes all manner of handy hints like how to restore fading silks to oiling the perambulator to teaching a child to walk which goes like this:
"Get any old box about 18 inches high, a beer box is the best, pad well round the inside with straw or shavings and make a cushion for it with some soft material to go round the edge, about six inches from the top put a row of loops made from cloth that the child can pull himself up by; you will find it will delight him and teach him to walk".
There is a plethora of rabbit recipes and cake recipes, including pink cake, silver cake and heather cake.  I think I'll settle down with Lady Hackett later and go through some 'hints upon personal appearance', 'what young people should know' and find out what to serve at 'an engaged girl's tea'.

This is another Handy Home Guide, a souvenir of the 1948 RNA Show Brisbane. It includes recipes, beauty and cleaning tips and some advertisements. One ad is for DHA Nerve & Brain Tonic: "If you are depressed, jumpy, irritable - try DHA Nerve and Brain Tonic. It will calm you down, promote restful sleep and restore your appetite."
I have a feeling I could do with some DHA Nerve and Brain Tonic over the next few months!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Toot! Toot!
Next stop: Panic Station!!
Despite our best intentions of getting several builders quotes, shopping around and all that jazz, we found a builder we liked almost immediately. Our architect recommended him, and as luck would have it, he did our neighbours house late last year.
He quoted on our old plans, then came back again to talk to us when the new ones were done. We like him. We like his work. We like his price. Long story, short. He said he can start in three weeks. Done.
Hence me being on the fast train to panic station. I need to pack up our things, and get rid of anything that won't be going in Euphemia post restoration.
I've got several things on Ebay already. My id is 'watermelonstarlet', but I'll be uploading a whole heap more in the next week including quite a bit of furniture.
I then have to start the task of making some serious decisions with regards to tiles, wall colours, taps, ballustrades, etc.

I am fairly sure our floors will be something similar to these dark, wide boards above. I would love white, but I've heard they are a nightmare to keep clean. 
In the other photo, the one with Grace Kelly, you can see a cane chair. This is the best photo I could find, but you really need to see High Society to see these chairs. They are lime green cane, with gorgeous wide pink and white striped fabric cushions. I can see these on our front verandah, although I'm having trouble sourcing the fabric.
Enough pie in the sky. I've got boxes to pack and bits to Ebay.

Monday, February 8, 2010

1965 Alive
It would seem Doris, the family's eldest daughter, went to New Zealand in 1965. It would also seem while there she collected every bit of paper memorabilia she could get her hands on, and it definitely appears that she never threw any of it out.
Forty five years later, I have come across the old plastic Qantas bag she stashed it in. There are over 100 pieces of memorabilia including old unused luggage tags ( see below).
Doris kept several old hotel menus including one from the Te Anau Hotel. On Friday, September 17th, 1965 the hotel served Consomme Galloise for starters, along with Ragout of Fiordland Venison and herbed carrots for main course. Dessert was a choice of vanilla or pineapple ice cream, taledo crepes meringue or Charlotte russe. This was folled by a demi tasse, served in the lounge. All very civilised and elegant. I have a bit of a thing for old cookbooks and menus, so these were very interesting to me.

Also in the bag was Doris' TAA airline ticket. This is from a time when airline travel was a luxury and people dressed to catch a plane. You would never have heard the slap, slap, slap of double pluggers down the tarmac in 1965. The ticket states: "Complete meals as well as morning and afternoon refreshments are served aboard your airliner - free of charge. There is a comprehensive bar on every aircraft and spirits, ale, soft drinks, cigarettes and matches are available". 
The Qantas menu is written in French with the English translation underneath. It includes Cream of Vegetable Soup, Lamb Cutlets, and a sweet pastry for dessert, followed by cheese and biscuits. Not a stale $10 muffin in sight.
There are several postcards, including the fold out type, and beautiful retro travel brochures, like the "Drive Yourself around Rotorua" one.
Also in the bag is a fair amount of hotel stationery and a travel book with plant specimens pressed in it.
The thing that makes this collection so special is that it's a rare piece of every day miniature from 1965, things which are seldom kept for so long. It's from a time before we were spoilt by over consumption, when travel was a luxury, and luxuries were not something consumed every day.
The whole collection is on Ebay right now, if anyone is interested in it. It's number is 330402975087.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Persistence pays off
Late last year I was walking past one of my favourite shops on a mission to Woolies, when I was stopped in my tracks by a tres gorgeous chest of drawers. It had two large drawers and two smaller drawers, and the most intricate floral pattern on it with what I thought at the time was shell inlay.
I tried to ignore it, but it was futile. It beckoned me towards it, and against my will I pulled open one of the drawers and couldn't help but notice the smooth action and the craftsmanship. She wasn't just pretty, she was well built too.
It is very seldom, if ever, that I buy a brand new piece of furniture, but subconsciously I'd already placed and styled it in my own home. I glanced at the price tag, ready to justify it, and ....gasp, my eyes nearly fell from their sockets....$4,500!!!!! Completely out of the question.
I pushed the drawer back in suddenly and walked away at a pace, just stopping short of blocking my vision with my hand.  I had to get as far away from this Medusa as possible, and pretend I'd never seen her.
Oh, I tried to push her from my mind, but again and again I went back to admire her decorative surface, until one day, thank the heavens, she was gone. Gone to someone else's house, and thankfully, on someone else's Visa card.
Sold though she might have been, she was not forgotten. Did I happen to mention I do have a special talent, and that is one for research. I researched this bejewelling creature like there was no tomorrow, and at last my search met with a happy end.
This may be your happy end too, because I am selling one of these chest of drawers on Ebay at the moment. Her number is 330401990177. The inlay is not shell, but in fact camel bone. And my price is not $4,500, but $1950, less than half the retail price.

For those of you who missed my last post, I have started listing everything on Ebay and my id is watermelonstarlet.
As that koala used to say, 'where ever there's a will, there's a way'.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

And out it goes....
Our Ebay jumble sale has begun! My Ebay ID is 'watermelonstarlet'. I can't remember what I originally wanted my id to be, but 50 attempts later I finally stumbled upon something that wasn't taken. Even the most cryptic ids seemed to be in use, so 'watermelonstarlet' doesn't mean anything other than, 'can I please just get started'.
One of my listings, the Scrabble tiles, has the listing number 330401148280, in case you prefer to search by that. You can then just go to 'seller's other listings' for the rest. I've only just begun so please check back every few days for updates. I'm about to list everything above, plus a lot more, including some furniture. Some things are not from Euphemia, but you'll know the difference because I've mentioned this blog in the description.
As I say in my listings, happy browsing! 

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Gifted and talented!
Unfortunately, I am neither gifted, nor very talented, however, if I was....ooooh, the masterpieces I would make with my haul of vintage bric-a-brac. I have a hard drive and scrapbooks brimming with all of these wonderful ideas, but not the patience, time or hand skills to make them become a reality.
However, there are an incredible amount of talented people around. This brings me to my friend Lucy. Having read my blog, she emailed me this photo as an idea on how I could use my keys. I was very excited because I think I could actually do this!! I guess it would be good wrapping for a housewarming gift.
I also have a number of other bits and pieces I'm sure some clever people could turn into wonders.

I have no idea what could be done with the old timber dominos, but I've seen people making things from Scrabble pieces. These Scrabble letters are very old wooden ones.

I have a heap of old magazines. The Woman's Day is from 1962 and the New Ideas (over 30 of them) are from 1968-1972. Most are in excellent condition. If you like crocheting, particularly dresses, bikinis and hotpants, you'll love a read of an April,1971 New Idea.

These last four photos are of a set of 50+ children's encyclopedias I have from 1922. I had always intended to keep them, but the clutter and effort of packing the house up again for work to start has made me rethink how much I can keep. In reality these would probably get put into a cardboard box under the house and deteriorate until they were competely ruined. I'm hoping someone can use the full colour plates, sepia and black and white sketches to make something beautiful. I'm thinking they could be used to make something like this...

These were made by the girls at Mondo Cherry. They sell their work at the Portside Markets in Brisbane, which are on monthly (see ). You can also see more from them at or
I am just about to upload all of the above onto Ebay, and I hope by about Friday I'll have enough interesting things for sale and I'll give you my Ebay ID to have a look.

Monday, February 1, 2010

This is Euphemia's newest resident. Theodore 'Teddy' Buttons arrived on Saturday. He is a seven week old Ragdoll cat.
My husband and I are staunch dog people, however, our children bat for the other team. The blame firmly lays with an old cat that technically lived across the road from us, but spent more time at our house. I have to admit, he was an endearing cat who was vocal and affectionate. A couple of weeks ago his people moved to Tasmania, and so did he. This is him pictured below, on our front stairs of course.

Getting back to Teddy. I'd never heard of a Ragdoll cat, but I was taking in the sights and sounds of the Indooroopilly petshop on Friday when I saw three gorgeous cats...would you believe it. I assume petshops only stock kittens as fillers, when puppies aren't available.
The three kittens were cream with amazing blue eyes, and they were sitting politely in a row. I asked the assistant all about them. Ragdolls grow to be very big in cat terms, and they are content to laze around the house and keep you company. They're like the dog you get when you aren't actually getting a dog.
And how much for one of these kittens? $750!!!! I had no idea a cat could cost that much.
Nevertheless, unperturbed, I called my husband and began the sales spiel, telling him about this mysterious dog-like cat that everyone could love. I told him they were big, had blue eyes, loved company and cuddles.
'I'm all of those things. We don't need a cat.' He had a point, however, by Saturday morning I had him on side and we picked up Teddy from Redcliffe - for less than half the price!

He's only tiny but has loads of personality. How's this for a sleeping pose. The little weirdo.
I have mentioned to a close girlfriend of mine that if I start becoming a 'cat person' to please pull me aside and have a quiet word.
We lost him this morning. He disappeared into thin air at about 7.30am and I had to deliver a sobbing child to school with an assurance that I'd find the kitty. After spending from 9.30am til 11.30am on hold with the RSPCA with one hand, and turning the house upside with the other, I saw him standing at the living room door yawning and doing cat stretches. It seems he has a secret hidey hole under a huge sideboard.  See, a dog wouldn't do that.
Speaking of dogs, my dog, a tiny Jack Russell called Mary Agnes will be coming back to live with us in about August. She's been enjoying my sister's larger, fenced yard for the past year.
Mary Agnes weighs about 5kg and Teddy should grow to be over 6kg. That'll be interesting. I told my husband we could charge people to watch them fight. It'll top up the renovation coffers.