Monday, August 27, 2012

Chaos Notes from the End of Winter

Monkey Boy turned 5 years old. Waaaahhh, my babeh! It will be school next year, and I will be a mess. Then I will do a fist pump and enjoy the serenity.  One thing I love about the kid's birthday's is that they really know how to enjoy every minute of their special day. Monkey Boy seems to have a system all sorted..
1 - Open the largest presents first for maximum excitement. Pose triumphantly with all presents.

2 - Delegate reading instructions to someone who can read, move on contentedly to the next. Open the card first because you are a gentleman.

3 - Once present business is finished, dig into specially requested birthday breakfast of pancakes, strawberries, bacon, syrup, and whipped cream out of a can, because that shit is awesome.
4 - (no photo of this part of the system) Go to daycare with 2 dozen cupcakes that have chocolate marshmallows stuck in the icing omg, have lots of people wish me happy birthday, take my photo and sing to me before eating the cupcakes. Enjoy being the special birthday sweetheart all day.
5 - After the carefully requested birthday dinner of sauteed prawns and bacon with pasta and green beans, blow out the candles on my surprise chocolate kit kat smartie cake. Which tastes delicious even though it looks like Stonehenge.

After the awesome festival of bacon day, we had a birthday outing to the zoo, but that is a post for another day...

I took this photo in the city one day. Brisbane has some distinct styles of architecture that I find really interesting, and I love the juxtaposition of buildings from different eras. The building on the extreme right is a baptist church, and thee older building behind it with the fret work verandas is currently a hotel - they are both opposite apartment and office buildings from the 90's. It was a great day for the city, the weather has been so clear, big blue skies and no rain. It's been a cold winter but I have loved being able to wear jeans and blazers.

Hanging out at a mall with Teenage Daughter. This girl has a tea problem!

Book week in this household means one thing - last minute panic. The Gentleman is dressed as a Hobbit, if you couldn't guess. See his ring on a string? See his lovely cloak? See his giant hobbit feet? Well, shut up, that's what they are!!

As punishment for such a lame attempt at hobbit feet, my glasses broke. Seriously, they cost me at least $25 two years ago, where is the value these days??

Went out for a civilised ladies lunch and ate this delicious kumera chickpea burger like an absolute savage. Very messy. but sooooooo good. Washed down with a chilled glass of NZ Sav Blanc if you please. Perfect.

Tick another project off the list! The last time I posted about this fish bowl it looked like a micro swamp. Now it has some mini water lilies and pink arum lilies, and even some fish hiding under those rocks. I'm hoping that as the water lilies become more lush and actually cover the water a bit, I won't be so bothered that there is algae growing in there. It needs to become it's own eco system quickly, because I won't be cleaning it.

We are still in winter but I have a few flowers to help me feel all springy. These are snap dragons, with some day lily corms in there.

Check out all the blooms on the blueberry bush! Behind that is the wheelbarrow that spells failure for potatoes but seems to be pretty good for radishes, fingers crossed. I've been planning what to grow in the veggie garden and can't wait to get going! I'm hoping for lots of corn and tomatoes, but first I need to add a few layers of straw, compost and manure to our no dig garden beds. Which is no problem, because we've got a shit load of manure, composting away.

Yes, I am the proud owner of approximately one tonne of horse crap!
What garden plans to do you have for spring?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

A lovely pair

It's that time of day again. That moment before the dinner rush/hell hour. That too - quick 15 minutes of feeling the day is done, but then realising that just because the sun is going down doesn't mean it's time to relax because for you there are still a few hours to get through..

That's right, it's WINE O'CLOCK.

To celebrate this moment I thought I would share with you my two favourite reds, that have stood by me all winter.


This is my favourite. Very smooth, very rich, very clean on the palate. People will be surprised at just how nice it is, especially when you tell them the price.

Currently on sale at First Choice for $10, but if you buy one you will get one for free. Yes - $5 per bottle!

It features a screw top so it is easy to transport to the park and back, eliminating that must drink the whole bottle mentality, which is so ruinous at the random breath test. And is also not very classy with your kids in the car.

It comes in a handy 6 pack so you will never need to be wine free unless you want to.

This wine was my favourite, until I was introduced to Trails End, above.

It is not as smooth as Trails End, but is not too bad at all - great for quaffing now and certainly excellent for cooking. Your face will only have a cat's bum moment for the first sip, after that it will be very acceptable indeed.

This one features the same screw top considerations, and the price is even more remarkable - $4 a bottle, with a further reduction if you buy by the dozen! I know, so affordable.

I guess this wine is only a step up from a goon, and a word of caution - do not drink the white. Nasty.

Now that spring is only a few short days away it is almost time to put my winter uniform away and start drinking a white. What would you recommend?



Monday, August 20, 2012

Lamp Love

Bottle Lamp + Map Lampshade = lamp Love.

And more importantly, TWO items on the projects list done and dusted.

OK, it's a bit wonky charmingly handmade but I love it.

I've had this bottle kicking around for ages. Originally it was wrapped in wicker, and contained a delightfully smooth (cough cough) Retsina. Eventually it was emptied, de-wickered and cleaned, to become the base of a lamp. I was just going to buy a Lamp Adaptor kit, jam it in the top, and find a shade!

After a looooong time of searching for a 'Lamp Adapter Kit', I discovered that they are not sold in Australia, because we must use Licenced Electricians for everything electrical. Damn you American blogs with your tantalising craft projects! After many discussions with hardware store assistants (including one man at Bunnings who seemed eager to have me arrested, simply for suggesting such a thing) I decided that it would be easier to buy a cheap lamp and sacrifice it to my goal of Lamp Nirvana.

This is the cheapest I could find, at $6. Pretty nasty, eh? Off with it's shade, and on we go.


Using a kitchen knife, I carefully sawed around the top of the base. I left a bit because I wasn't sure how much space I would need at the top of the bottle.

Kitchen shears took care of the rest.

And then I jammed it in the top. It was a little wonky, and I spent some time thinking about how to remedy this. Blue tack or play dough? They would melt in Summer. Some felt circles? This was an undisputed fail. in the end I just put an elastic band around it. This was good for holding the cable down in a more pleasing position as well. Problem solved! Next!

I had planned to turn this shade into a map shade, but was informed I had to leave the lamp alone. So I did, and then I found another manky lampshade downstairs that was ready for a makeover. I removed it's fabric, and the adhesive trimming holding it all together.

Using the old lamp fabric as a template. I taped the edges down lightly to stop them curling up, and cut around it, leaving a few centimetres for edging to turn over. I don't think anyone is going to miss this map, there has been so many roadworks going on over the last 5 years I'm pretty sure it is out of date.

Marking the corners to make it easier to place back on the framework was a great idea, after I tried delicately wrestling it onto the wiring, that was now in two pieces.

I started at the smaller end, using my small pieces of my old friend sticky tape to hold it in place. Do you love sticky tape? When I was 6 I tried to hem a nightie with sticky tape. Frankly, I still don't see a problem.

Then I turned it over and did the same to the larger end!

Both ends are now stuck down, but it is still flimsy and not at all finished..

I've been saving this vintage thread for years, and only use it for really special things. I know it sounds crazy to be so attached to cotton, but it is just so lovely, like the strongest, finest string. I wish I had more of it.

I stitched a blanket stitch around the edges, to keep it attached to the frame and firm the whole thing up. I wish I had used a basic rolling stitch because the blanket stitch used so much thread! This picture is of the join I made when I ran out of thread. I trimmed the loose threads and stuck them down inside the shade, which was a good fix.

I think it was worth it though. Besides adding structure, I love the way the stitching adds something to the way the lamp looks while being hardly visible. I am also in love with the pale green vibe the whole thing brings to the lounge room, like a nice welcome for Spring.


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Projects in Progress

Projects! I has them. A lot of them. A lot of unfinished projects that hang around like neglected children with their little orphan faces pleading for attention.

It's sad. Shamefully so.

I've blogged whinged about it before, but here is the deal - there are only so many hours in the day, and I cannot neglect the other real children that need attention, and I must pay attention to their laundry, too. Apparently. Yes, excuses, but true. So, what I have done is written a (partial!) list of unfinished projects and given them their very own page. Maybe now they will feel a bit special? If I ever finish a project, I will blog about it and link to it in the Project List. So now you can see my progress and I will be more likely to actually make some! It's a win win situation!

In the meantime, let me introduce you some projects that are patiently waiting.

This is Mrs P's Reading Chair. Mrs P was the much loved mother of a friend, who sadly passed away many years ago. She loved to sit in this chair in her sun room, and read. We where lucky enough to be given this stylish chair, and every time I look at it I think of Mrs P. It is still super comfortable, and I can only imagine how lovely it will look when I eventually reupholster it. It's very sturdy. So far I have replaced the seat cushion.

These are some small shelves I made using the router on some pine off cuts. Mr BC has shaped some corbels to go underneath, and they have been painted in gloss white. For some reason they are yet to make it to the walls. At the back are some coat racks that need to be painted, have their hooks attached and then be attached to the walls. You wouldn't think this would take much time would you?

Ahh. the ugly sofa. I hated this sofa when my parents bought it new, I hated it when it came to live with me, and I hate it even now. Why do we keep it? Because it is a sofa bed, which we need. I am halfway into up cycling it into a sofa ottoman, and just need to upholster it and attach some wheels -it weighs a tonne! It gave me particular satisfaction to rip off those hideous green stripes. Very cathartic.

I love this lampshade, but man, it is old and worn out. It is so old that this pattern has now come back into fashion. I would be happy to live with it but the lining inside is cracked and falling apart, and the circle part that sits on top of it has disappeared. I'm thinking of using the frame and recovering it in a map, but this seems so trendy I might be sick of it next week. I hate stuff that is on-trend, don't you?

We call this the Captains Chair, I have no idea why. We seem to give all our chairs names, but not sofas or cars, they are only known by their colour. Strange....anyway! This chair belonged to Mr BC's Nana. it was white with floral upholstery, but I stripped off the white, gave it a mild honey coloured stain and a good rub with beeswax, and then I ...kinda got sidetracked halfway through the re upholstery. The springs are still good but need re tying. I'm leaning towards faux leopard for the seat, but not sure about the wood. It has a fair bit of carving and was such a bitch to strip, I would feel bad about painting it. Stay tuned.

This, my friends, is The Dolly Express. Santa bought it for Teenage Daughter when she was 3. She loved that Dolly Express so; it had a white seat, white ribbons off the white handlebars, white pedals, it had a big pink tray at the back and a lovely 'Dolly Express' sign at the front. She would put on her fairy wings and tutu and pedal her little heart out up to the bakery, fill the tray with bread and pedal home. Ahh, memories.. age may have wearied The Dolly Express but we all still love her. Every child that comes here has a ride, even in her current state! So far I have removed the pedals, and replaced the front wheel with a wheel from an old pram. Still to come; a silver paint job and a polished wooden seat. She'll be stylin'.

So, am I an upcycler genius, or a hoarder? Don't answer that!


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Inappropriate Spam

*swearing alert*

I am astonished at how little spam I get. Blogger does a pretty good job of deleting it before it even shows up in the comments.  However, because I have email notification turned on I get the spam in my inbox before this happens. (email notification is how I am able to respond to each comment individually, lucky you. Unless you have no reply blogger as your default, in which case you miss out. Sad trombone!)

Normally I would just delete and forget, but sometimes the Spam is so inappropriate it rubs me totally up the wrong way and I want to jump through the screen and stab the spammer in the face.


Have you read my post titled Pulmonary Embolism? It is about the time a few months ago when my husband almost died on our kitchen floor. It was fucking scary, super intense, and a really horrible thing for all parties to go through. The post is a bit raw, and explicit in details. Thank heavens my husband didn't die, but we all know how lucky he was and hopefully he (and us) will never have to go through that again.

So the other day when this cheery bit of bullshit turned up in the comments to that post, and it made me very angry. Which is a polite way of saying FUCK OFF you dumb arse shit for brains dick headed mother fucker! FUCK OFF AND DIE IN A HOLE!!!!!

"Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Pulmonary Embolism":

You really make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find
this topic to be really something which I think I would never understand.
It seems too complex and very broad for me. I am looking forward for your next post, I'll try to get the hang of it!
Also visit my web blog ::
link "

Thanks for that, maybe you will get the hang of it. Let's hope so.


Monday, August 13, 2012

3 Things to do with Frozen Puff Pastry

Sometimes, I find myself with a packet of puff pastry in the freezer without a solid plan. Once it is defrosted it kinda has to be used up within a reasonable time frame, and so you have to think of puff pastry options fast. Just the perfect sort of kitchen fiddling on a cold afternoon.

Option One - Apple Pastry
  1. Cut some sheets of pastry into 4 squares (or whatever shape you fancy, squares eliminate wastage.)
  2. Sprinkle each square with sugar.
  3. Arrange super thin slices of apple on each square, and sprinkle again with sugar. I found one apple was the perfect amount for one sheet of pastry.
  4. Brush with milk or beaten egg.
  5. Bake in a hot oven for about 10 minutes, until the pastry is cooked.
Yum! This is nice hot with some vanilla ice cream or at room temperature, with a cup of coffee.

Apple Pastry? Don't mind if I do!

Option Two - Sausage Rolls
This awesome recipe comes from a friend named Karri. Thanks Karri!
  1. Cut each sheet of pastry into two halves, so you have two rectangles.
  2. Place some raw sausages along the middle of each rectangle. I take the sausage out of it's casing because I'm posh like that, heh.
  3. Paint the long edge with milk or beaten egg, roll up and press down to seal. I had some pastry malfunction issues so I used a fork to ensure the edges where sealed.
  4. Brush with milk or beaten egg, cut into about 6 smaller rolls, and bake in a med oven for about 20-30 minutes until cooked.

Sometimes, the weather demands a sausage roll or 2. Shown much bigger than actual size.

Option Three - Get creative with the filling
And let's not call them sausage rolls anymore, even though they are made the same way, mkay?
  1. Filling one - some leftover wonton mixture I found in the freezer (Pork mince, ginger, shallot, an egg, sesame oil.) I sprinkled these with sesame seeds.
  2. Filling two - thawed and drained frozen spinach, grated cheese, white pepper and an egg.
  3. Filling three - mashed pumpkin with shallots and feta.
These where all eaten before I got a photo, or even got to eat any myself! (OK, I had 2 spinach ones).

Add caption
What is your favourite thing to do with puff pastry? Do you buy it frozen or make it yourself?


Sunday, August 12, 2012

10 Happy Things

1 This rocket was all grown from seed!  I just threw the seeds in, and have been eating rocket (almost) ever since. This makes me feel like a Gardener, and a healthy one at that!

2 Living near the ocean. I love that I can walk along the shore every day, and tell the Pacific Ocean my troubles while it sighs and waves. I always feel much better when I get home.

3 Watching the boys try new things. Squash! Who would have thought?

4 - I love that before they had finished consuming all this sugar, I was able to kiss them goodbye and leave them with Mr BC while I went to a friends house..which brings me to the next point.

5 Friends who can bake!

6 Discovering new services in my local community. What a charming mobile salon this is.

7 Meeting colourful locals at the farmers markets.

8 Cooking for my family always makes me very happy. Oven roasted tomatoes, eggplant and red capsicum with home made hummus, tabbouleh pasta salad, (plain pasta for those that like that) fresh bread, and the star of the show was a large (Mr BC caught) fresh bream, baked in middle eastern spices and served with some coriander to sprinkle over the top.

9 New Shoes! New shoes always make me super happy but these extra comfortable espadrilles where only $5, so I am loving that.

10   I love seeing my family happy, and these boys love a spirited game of 'Let's wrestle Dad and the dog on the beanbag". Shenanigans! I also love that Kora really thinks it's fun as well.

What is making you happy today?

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