Monday, February 27, 2012

Showing the kitchen some love

Okay... How often is it that your husband gets more excited about purchasing items for the kitchen than you? In the last few days, we have added to our collection of culinary tools by purchasing a "Ginger Dean Man" cookie cutter from Fred...

A giant cupcake mould from Chalet that makes a cupcake that stands approximately 20cm tall (!)

And two of these super-cute canister sets from Aldi...

I'm even considering a third set, because they're just so darn sweet and handy!

I also can't wait to add this beautiful and useful piece to our collection when it finally goes on sale tomorrow!

So, these purchases have inspired quite a bit of baking over the weekend, and even last night. Troy made a giant devil cake muffin (which he was very quick to hollow out and fill with ice cream), we had home-made pizza for dinner last night (I just love Jamie Oliver's recipe!), and I used my own recipe for Apple Bread last night (which I will post below) which I topped off by quickly whipping up some homemade lemonade syrup this morning.

Tonight I'm baking some Ginger Dead Men, and doing a quick run through of some mini cupcakes before I trot them out for a work morning tea in a few weeks time.

I have been trying without much success (or rather, I do have success for short periods of time) to ween Troy off sugar and calorie laden soft drinks. I've been trying for as long as we have been together! I just don't see the fascination nor the addiction to them, and I refuse to give in to his "but water is so boring on it's own!" argument. However, I've decided that I can cut down both our grocery bill and our arguing if I make our own lemonade. That way at least, we know exactly what we are consuming too! I haven't tried any yet, but my hot lemonade recipe has always been a big hit (a winter alternative), so I'll give you the review on this other recipe once I've tried it tonight :)

So, my apple bread recipe...

Laura's Apple Bread

This is a simple and delicious treat to whip up. It comes out beautifully moist, and if made with stewed apples - plenty of chunks of apple for a great flavour hit. It keeps the sugar cravings in check, ensures a healthy consumption of apples, and smells so amazing when you're baking it that it's a treat for the nose too!

  • 2 eggs (I use large, cage-free eggs)
  • 2 cups self-raising flour
  • 3/4 cup of milk or yoghurt
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • 1/2 cup oil (I use avocado or carotino oil, but use what you have at home)
  • 2 cups stewed apples (If you don't feel like stewing apples, you can fast-track by using three granny smith apples cut into chunks without the skin, and 1/2 a cup of raw sugar in your mix)
  • You'll also want a loaf tin or small baking tray, and baking liners if you have them. It makes your baking so much easier, cleaner, and you don't struggle to remove your baked goods from their tin! It also eliminates the need to grease your baking tin.

  • Preheat oven to 200 degrees, fan-forced
  • Beat the eggs and slowly stir in your milk/yoghurt, honey and oil.
  • Slowly sift and stir in your flour until mix has an even consistency.
  • Add your stewed apples/apples and sugar and combine until mixture has an even consistency. If you are using stewed apples, you don't want to break up the apples too much, as you want a few large pieces to bite into in the bread.
  • Pour your apple bread mix into the baking dish, and bake in pre-heated oven fro approximately 50 mins, or until a skewer comes out clean.
  • Allow to cool, slice, and enjoy!

I love toasting mine lightly and serving with a bit of melted butter, yum! It's also great to take to work as a healthy snack (without the butter of course), which is exactly what I'm munching on right now :)

You can also play around with other variations too, such as adding walnuts, raisins, oats... Or try other flavours such as pear, blueberry, apricot (I'm trying apricot next!) or mixing fruits. You're only limited by your imagination and your taste pallete!

Enjoy :)

Love love,

Saturday, February 25, 2012

A weekend of finishing

So it is official... I am halfway through my giant quilting project! 275 squares done, and 275 to go. It's already looking beautiful... And it's very cosy to boot.

I'm also pleased to announce, that one chair has finished its transition from black to white, one is almost finished, and two more are waiting to be painted. It's taking so long to spray each annoying side of each piece, I confess myself quickly losing interest in this undertaking. Then I look back at my already finished chair, which keeps moving between my bedside table and dining table, depending on whether I'm on the laptop or sewing (I am refusing to sit on anything else) and I realise it's worth the hassle. That being said, I'm still closely watching two identical chairs currently selling on eBay for $0.99 which someone has already painted white... If I can fast-track it, I will!

I'm also really excited about finding a place for one of mum's beautiful prints... These five ladies always hung above mum's bed, and that's exactly where they are now. At the moment, they're looking gorgeous next to our blue toile doona set, which is setting off a very romantic vibe in the bedroom. We're still working on a lot of stuff in there at the moment (coupled with the mountains of stuff we're still sorting), but it's the small things that are making me smile, and this is certainly one of them.

I'm still stuck on where to put this one. Although you can't see it from the photo, the frame is just gorgeous, as is the glass casing which is actually concave; very unusual! So for now it's just sitting next to the bed, and I'm smiling at it every day. Mum loved this one so much because it reminded her of her own mum... She said it was her mum's spitting image as she remembered her when she was younger, and that she had a beautifully large coloured bird not unlike the parrot in the image. Mum loved it, so naturally I do too.

The last little thing I've finished is this cute little knitted hedgehog that I made up from one of Ysolda's patterns... One of Bisou's colleagues has recently had a son, and the dad is a big West Tigers fan. He specifically asked me to trot out one of my usually cute little knitted toys, but with the afore mentioned team's colours. Thankfully, orange and black look cute on a hedgehog :)

Well, that was quite a weekend for me, so I'm going to take a much deserved rest! I'm sure I'll have more to share through the week :)

Love love,

PS. Thank you to my Bisou for photographing me on the bed with the quilt, looking so ridiculous... I love you.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Death by a thousand squares...

So I recently got it into my head that I'd like to make a quilt. You know, because I just don't have enough going on in my life at the moment and I needed a new project. However, despite the worried glances and comments I'm receiving from family and friends, I'm finding the whole things quite therapeutic. I think I'll even be sad when it's all finished... It's nice to be working towards something beautiful.

I gathered my inspiration from a beautiful vintage quilt that I saw on eBay, whilst trawling for more French-shabby-chic inspiration. It was a chequered pattern of white and rose fabric, with wee little hearts cut from the rose fabric and appliqu├ęd onto the white. After seeing so many over-the-top quilts, complicated designs, and ones that looked like they were just trying to use every colour that they could, I found this simple design a fresh of breath air. What's more - it had a beautifully romantic twist to it; it was love :)

So I set out to Lincraft and bought myself a 2.2m x 2.5m piece of batting (for a queen sized quilt), some white cotton poly-pop, and a beautiful cotton fabric with a pink floral print on soft beige. I also wanted the vintage appeal, so I purchased several metres of lace trim for the edging. Wanting to be practical in planning for my first quilt, I thought it out - 10cm x 10cm made sense, as everything should measure up evenly and it's not a complicated number to work with. So I started cutting...

Then I did the math.

I will be cutting and sewing 550 squares, and 275 little hearts.


A couple of days into the project however, and I'm not really minding so much. I'm a rather quick sewer, so I think I'll have it done by the end of the week. In the meantime, here's what it looked like after day one - bearing in mind that I also had to wash, dry, and iron the fabric before I could start measuring, cutting, ironing hearts, sewing hearts, assembling squares, ironing some more... Good Lord.

Oh - forgot to mention the best part :)

For once, I wasn't going to show Troy what I was doing... I wanted to see how long it would take him to get curious and take a peak, even though I was desperately curious to see if he liked it (he's always worried that I'll make the house too feminine). He saw it folded on the dining table; he loves it, and showered me with compliments.

I love him to pieces :)

54 down. 496 to go...

So... Nighty night all :)


Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Timber Mill

Troy (who may sometimes be referred to as my "Bisou") and I went up to IKEA on Sunday to buy a little laptop stand for his studies, as it was reduced to almost half price in IKEA's "As-Is" section. Upon arriving there however, we spotted something quite a bit more tempting, and as it turned out - much cheaper (and larger)...

This is what kick-started everything...
Not only did we both see this and get ridiculously excited - despite the fact that it didn't come with the trolley (honestly, do some people really need to be told this??), we spotted TWO trolleys full of panels. Yes, two. Only Troy and Laura would get to excited over huge qualtities of oddly sized pieces of timber. So we did the obvious and purchased them, and spent the next 1/2 hour trying to fit all 300 kilos of IKEA panels into our darling little Echo. Not only did we attract stares left, right and centre - but we got all the little blighters in there :)

So now, all of the pieces are sitting in our entry way, waiting to be used, whilst Troy and I plan what lovely furniture to start making with it. Top of my list is a new low-line TV unit with a French-shabby-chic twist, and a small coffee table that our living space is just crying out for. Troy wants to make a life-sized R2-D2 model. Go figure :)

I almost forgot to mention - as we were packing the car, we stumbled upon a hidden beauty in one of the trolleys... Two beautiful glass panelled doors! We wrapped these up in the spare blanket we always leave in the car and got them home safely...

It wasn't until we got home that we finally realised that we had 90% of the pieces required to make this stunning HEMNES cabinet from IKEA; and in a very French-shabby-chic colour too!

Our excitement has just tripled - all that's left now is a trip or two to Bunnings to buy some hinges, screws, and a lovely chic pair of handles for our beautiful new cabinet (which by the way, retails at a cool price of $599).

Much love,

A New Beginning...

This is very exciting, as I have wanted to create an online blog for the longest time. This blog will be about the many adventures that My husband and I embark on together (both dull and exciting).

My husband and I have recently been hit with a very tragic and traumatic time in our lives, and two and a half months on we are still reeling in the loss of my beautiful mother. Vivi (my Bobby) was the dearest person in my life for just short of 26 years, and in some ways was nearer and dearer to me than even my husband. Now do not take this as a suggestion that Troy and I are not close - as anyone who knows us well will tell you that we are one of the closest, loving and tender couples that they know. My mother and I simply shared an incredible bond brought about by much pain, struggle, terror and heartache. Sadly, even I could not save her from an early departure, but I take solace knowing that she is finally free of all the pain, hurt and madness that this world can sometimes inflict on the living.

I have always been a big believer that there is beauty in everything; the trick is to go looking for it even when you think it is not there. After inheriting many of my beautiful Bobby's treasures we have had to re-consider our interior decorating style to accommodate all of these beautiful vintage pieces of hers. Thus, begin our new set of "adventures" together, and this Blog :)

I hope you all enjoy reading on, and find adventure of your own when presented with life's many hurdles and storms.

With love,

PS. My husband and I have always held an appreciation for things vintage, retro, Victorian, and even items "Steam-punk". Thus, Clockwork Lavender was born.