Saturday, 23 April 2016

Autumn Days - Tinkering

It's my turn to get up early with the kids and whilst on one hand it would be nice to be in my warm bed, if I was, I'd miss this glorious dewey Launceston break of dawn. Sigh. It's the simple things. I have to say life is pretty good at the mo.

Life has calmed down considerably this year for us and I'm LOVING it. No huge renos, just little tinkering kinda jobs and spending lots of time hanging out. I'm able to do more of the little things that "make a house a home". Yesterday's project was to pot a cutting of Mothers In Law Tongue plant that I stole/acquired from my Nan's big plant and put it into a lovely pot that she gifted me.

I had an old black plastic pot in the garden shed which I've used as the inner pot because the clay one doesn't have any drainage holes in it and I didn't want to risk breaking it by drilling some in.

Neck-minute, I have another indoor plant to add to my ever growing collection. A cutting like this will take off, thicken and become huge in no time. That's a savings of $20 for the plant and who knows what for the hand made pot.

Anyhoo, have a good weekend everyone. I'm off to make breakfast for the hungry hoards.

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

A New Staircase Fit For a Queen

Over Easter, instead of camping or chilling out, Roge and I went nuts "getting things done". One of those things was to finish painting our hallway screen which was still raw timber, as well as finishing the painting on the walls which hadn't been cut in and still only had one coat of white paint over the old pink (which was "pre Alex and Roge".)

Additionally, when we renovated our downstairs area last year, we chose to instal brand new stairs as the existing were very steep and uneven. When we were doing this, I decided to put some storage to one side of the stairs to hold part of Roge's vinyl record collection which was in dozens of crates and getting in the way.

Of course, there was still more vinyl than space on the shelf! Overflow now lives in a old sideboard (no more crates, yippee).

Such an improvement from the narrow and dark (and pink) old stairwell we had before. Giving up our Easter was well worth it. My feng shui levels are peaking!

Sunday, 3 April 2016

New Garden and Newfound Muscles

Wow, the feng shui is at the top of the dial for me at the mo. I've been a bit quiet on the blog of late because I've been having a few weeks of "getting it done". Some serious finishing of lots of jobs have been happening around here. New gardens created, lots and lots of painting, waterproofing and cleaning/tidying.

A few weeks back when my hubby went to a weekend conference, I was playing out the front with the kids when I decided impromptu to dig up the lawn and create a new flower garden (as you do!)

The front of our house, behind the big wooden fence is one of the last areas that hasn't had a makeover. It's been a bit of a dumping ground, has needed new fences and was the route for all the diggers etc that we've needed to access the all the renos around the back so it never made sense to do much until all that was over. So, now that all the renos are finished around the back, I figured it was as good a time as any to make the front a little more pretty.

I have a small strip of established green at the side of the driveway that needed a bit of sorting and plants divided so once I'd prepared digging the lawn, I took cuttings from my existing garden to put in my new garden. Why not, it's free to do it this way and I love continuity so it made sense to extend the existing garden using similar/the same types of plants.

It took a bit of hard yakka but over a weekend doing an hour here and there, I managed to put it all together. Because I used cuttings from my existing garden, I only had to buy mulch and a piece of pine to make the garden edge. 

The front yard is where the boys have their outside toys set up so it is a lot tidier and safer for them to play now. I'm super happy with how it's turned out. Yes, a bit bare at the moment but once those cuttings establish, it will look lovely.

Apart from the odd little job, most sites of my house are now basically "done" (I use that word loosely cos I'll always find a new project to do). But let just say, if I had to pack up and leave tomorrow, I could feel satisfied that it doesn't look like a building site any more. Hurrah!

Saturday, 19 March 2016

Roasted Zucchini Hummus

A few weekends ago I had a picnic in the Launceston City Park with friends to enjoy the delights of the Tasmania Symphony Orchestra's free annual concert. One of my lovely comrades brought along a roasted zucchini hummus that blew my mind. So much so that I nagged her for the recipe till she handed it over and it's pretty much my favourite new food discovery ever!

I believe it's a recipe from the Good Food Revolution book. I've never heard of it before but I might have to visit the library and borrow a copy to see what other gems they might have cos this one is pure gold.

I've made the recipe as it's written and with beetroot. So, so good.

This is all the survived out of the zucchini batch before I got a chance to take a pic for the blog!

I have a glut of zucchini from the garden at the mo so it's always good to find a new idea for ways to use it. Have it with biscuits, on steak, in a sanga or with a carrot stick, it's delicious and oh so tasty.

Thank you Sarah. X

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Vinyl Addict

My husband has loved vinyl records for as long as I can remember. He started DJing when he was 18 and a few decades later, he still hasn't lost the love for it.

The main thing that has changed is instead of modern music (electronic, hip-hop etc), he has started collecting "old music". The classics, all the stuff you remember from your childhood and teenage years. I must admit, his enthusiasm has rubbed off on me and if you read my blog regularly you'll know that I already have a penchant for second hand stores. Well, this addiction has given me yet another reason to "go hunting" for some second hand gold.

I can pin point EXACTLY when Roge decided we should start collecting the classics. It was when we wandered into this store in Sheffield, Tasmania on a day out for his Mum's 60th birthday. Seeing someone else's passion for music can be really inspiring and the bloke that owns this store was more than an music/vinyl addict.

As part of our recent downstairs reno, we've done up our rumpus room/second living area. However instead of a TV, we've set up a record player. I love the tactile nature of putting a record on the player, so much more "an event" than turning on the iPod. Roge an I spend hours downstairs with the big doors flung open, listening to classic records whilst pottering in the garden or playing with the kids.

I love picking up a record and not thinking that I know anything about the artist/s, only to hear the songs and get that "oh yeah, I know this one" feeling. Funny how much I am familiar with without knowing it.

This Summer since setting up the record player, I've found myself dancing more, taking more time out to sit and "just be" with a tune on in the background. Spending less time in front of the TV, more time with family etc. How funny that something as simple as setting up an old record player can change someone's life so much as it has mine of late. Sounds silly I know but it's been a really positive thing for me.

The only downside...I'm spending lots of my hard earned pennies on music that I "have to have". Safe to say I'm well on my way to becoming a vinyl addict!

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Home Made Dukkah

I looooove dukkah, the Egyptian spice blend. I've tried several different recipes but none have come close to as nice as this recipe that I found on the Healthy Chef website.

Have it with a little olive oil and sourdough bread, on eggs, on salmon (as a crust), on roasted veggies. You name it, it's versatile.


150g Macadamia nuts
100g Almonds
50g Sesame seeds
10g Chia seeds
2tsp Turmeric powder
1tsp Cumin powder
1tsp Black pepper (ground)
1/2tsp Sea Salt (ground)
1/2tsp Cinnamon power
1/4tsp Ginger power
Optional extra: 1g saffron (I've never used it but the original recipe says to use it)

1 - Chop the nuts to your desired size. I like mine to still be a bit chunky.
2 - Mix all of the ingredients together really well so everything is well combined.
3 - Store in a air tight jar in the fridge and enjoy!

Funny story. I made a batch which I divided up and gave some to a friend. She forgot it was another  buddy of hers birthday so she quickly whipped up a card and split the jar I gave her and told her friend that she had made her something. He friend called her up that night going on about how good the dukkah is and she must share the recipe cos it's da bomb etc. My poor friend then had to fess up that she hadn't made it herself. Hilarious! Anyhoo, I guess my point is, it's a great recipe and I'm yet to have someone not rave about it who's tried it.

I myself have made this as gifts for friends before and even for my sister at Christmas. It keeps well if you store it in the fridge and doesn't take long to make. It's a winner!

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Decorating Doesn't Have To Cost The Earth

Recently, after I received a sweet comment from a reader of the blog that said "you have a lovely home" I was thinking about that afterwards and felt a little bit self conscious amongst the pride (funnily enough). I thought that it might be a great time to remind everyone that you don't need to spend loads of cash to have nice things.

So much of my house is home made, up cycled, second hand or a hand me down and I wanted to give some examples of that.

Firstly a bit of the history given that not everyone will know my story. My house was an old retro dwelling that had never been renovated. It had shag-pile carpet, gaudy wallpaper and hideous retro features everywhere. The 60's were certainly not subtle in many ways, let alone the house styles! That said, the era also has many endearing features and I think the key is to keep the good bits that keep the house's soul but introduce the modern too (because lets face it, a house needs to be practical).

My style is defiantly to "strip" a house back to the basics. I love white walls, floorboards, neutral colours and lots of texture. It doesn't date as quickly that way and it means your decoration style can be the feature of the house.

In my lounge room I have kept the original fireplace but have put in a modern wood heater. I got rid of the heavy drapes and shag pile in exchange for polished floors and blinds which gives the space a much roomier, simple feel. Once the major stuff was done, it was down to the decorating. Given that I have small kids, having "stuff" only means they break it or it gets thrown around so I don't put a lot out on display. I use lots of house plants (most of which I've grown from a cutting or were left behind by the previous owner.)

I love my entrance to my house yet it's quite simple. I kept the original front door (again, keeping the odd retro feature) but teamed it with new dark tiles, a cheap kmart front door mat and a plant that my mother in law gifted to me.

Where are all the shoes you ask? They're in the cupboard in the hallway. I'm a big believer in cupboards, they hide all the crap away!

Most of my decoration stuff actually comes from the op shop or the tip shop. For example, most of the pots that I have my indoor plants in are from the oppie, as are the dishes and plates that I sit them on. This old swan vase (Betty) was again a second hand score and fits in my retro house like it lived there all along!

I don't have the money to buy expensive art so I often buy second hand art from the op shop which I take out of it's crappy frames and modernise by putting it in simple black frames. This Christine Ellis original art work was found at the Vinnie's store in Invermay and I love it. Cost me a few dollars, the frame about $10 and when I looked online, it turns out it would be worth a few hundred dollars. Score! I've framed tea towels, friends drawings, photos and none of it costs the earth.

I love amber coloured glass which is good because I often find old retro glassware, plates, light fittings etc at the tip shop. Each item only costs a few dollars at the most.

All my chopping boards are home made by my hubby out of scraps of timber. It doesn't take long to cut them into a sharp and sand them. The marble tile I found at the tip shop for a whole $2! It really is a case of luck of the draw on the day. I must admit I'm a bit addicted to that feeling of finding something really cool that I can give a new life.

Lots of my furniture like the sideboards and drawers are all from the tip shop or Gumtree. I give them a bit of a sand and an oil and they're like new. I think the key is to not go too overboard and have EVERYTHING old/retro. Mixed with a bit of modern stuff, they look quite good.

I think I've mentioned this one before but I often buy more expensive designer pillowcases and team them up with a cheaper doona cover or blanket that I might already have. Saves spending hundreds of dollars on a whole new "set" and satisfies my desire to have the latest linen that I'm seeing in the homewares magazines.

Throw a bit of Kmart new stuff in the mix and go through your cupboards to rotate what you already might have and neck-minute, your house looks pretty and you haven't spent your life savings achieving it.

I hope everyone is having a great week so far.