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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Top Projects of 2010

As 2010 draws to an end I'm joining in with Southern Hospitalities year of project review and sharing my Top Projects of 2010.

So .... To those nights we stayed in and cooked instead of dining out at some expensive resaurant ..... To those movies we watched on tv instead of at the cinema ..... To those weekends spent at Bunnings instead of Supre ..... To those nights we stayed in and made our own cocktails instead of paying the barman to make them ..... This is what we've managed to accomplished with some hard work, loud music, chilled beers and wine and the passion and enthusiasm of wanting to turn our first house into a home.
  

Top 5 Jarrah Jungle Projects for 2010

1. We finished the Master Bedroom - painting, installed wardrobe and decorating
2. Making my own art for the Master Bedroom
3. Finding the perfect pair of curtains for the Master bedroom - from then to now it took a lot longer than expected!
4. Finishing the Craft Room/Study - painting and hanging blinds
5. Decorating the Craft Room/Study - Styling my new bookcase, Making a wrapping station, Unleashing my bird obsession with a bit of creative flair and Finding the perfect rug

I only started my blog in May 2010 when the Master Bedroom was finished so I don't have many posts for those projects, but I do have a page for each room that we've completed so far so to see all the juicy BEFORE and AFTER photos you can click on the pages of rooms on the right hand side of my blog. I'd love to hear any comments or advice from you to know you stopped by :)

You can check out the other many projects carried out by fellow talented bloggers here. I can just imagine that the 2011 list is going to be even longer as we are all inspired and energised to get going on next years projects as soon as the clock strikes midnight!
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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Paella from Poh's Kitchen


I got this bright and bubbly cookbook for Christmas from my gorgeous man (along with some sparkly jewellery!). For those that don't know who Poh is, she was the runner up in last year's Masterchef and has her own cooking show. Poh cooks alongside other famous chefs and the book is full of her own and their recipes, her cute stories and humour and colourful illustrations and pictures. I just adore her mix match of tea sets and bowls too. Definitely a book for the girls in the kitchen!

I made the paella last night as I'm on a mission to find the perfect paella like the many we tasted on our Spanish holiday. This would be a great dish to make with friends coming over, just put the pan on the table and everyone dishes out their own, together with a glass of Spanish red wine you'll have yourself a merry lil evening.

Paella
(By Ian Parmenter, Poh's Kitchen Cookbook)

Serves 10-12

Large pinch of saffron strands
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
250g chorizo or other spicy sausage in bite-size pieces
500g skinless chicken thigh fillets cut into 2-3 cm pieces
1 large onion, chopped
2 capsicums (1 red, 1 green or yellow), cut into strips
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
2-3 tsp smoked paprika (or ordinary paprika powder)
1 bay leaf
3 cups medium grain rice
4 cups chicken stock
12 green prawns in shells
12 mussells
400g white fish cut into bite size pieces
1 cup frozen peas (optional)

Immerse the saffron in a couple of tablespoons of boiling water for five minutes.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat and partly cook the chirozo for a few minutes. Add the chicken and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until browned. It doesn't need to be cooked right through at this stage. Add the onion, capsicum, garlic, tomatoes, paprika and bay leaf and cook for 2-3 minutes.

Add the rice and stir for a couple of minutes. Pour in the stock and saffron liquid (discard the saffron strands) and add enough water to cover the rice by 1cm. Cover with foil, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the liquid is almost absorbed.

Meanwhile rinse and drain the prawns in cold water. Scrub and de-beard the mussels in cold water, and discard any that have opened or are cracked.

Dot the prawns, mussels and fish over the rice mixture. The frozen peas may be added at this time. Cook for a further 10 minutes, or until the seafood is just cooked. Discard any mussels that have not opened.


PS: You need to use a large flat based pan so it cooks evenly, a frying pan works fine.
PPS: Once you remove the foil, don't stir it again, as a good paella should develop a crust on the bottom.
PPPS: This recipe would be delicous without the seafood, the chirozo and chicken are filling enough as the dish should be all about the rice.
PPPPS: For more colour be as generous as you can afford with the saffron.

[Images from here and here]
 
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Monday, December 27, 2010

Keepin Cool


Phew there goes Christmas for another year! Hope everyone had a fantastic day with family, loved ones and mates.

I love this time of year when everyone begins to unwind and relax, you forget what day it is, party season kicks in, the alarm clock is off and the hardest questions of the day are .... Should we hit the sales? and What to do for New Years?

Its been sweltering hot here and its tipped to top 40 degress today so the best thing to do is relax in the air onditioning, play computer games, read magazines and sip on a refreshing bacardi and lemonade. Yes it's good to be on holidays!

Hope everyone is kicking back and enjoying the holiday season.

[Image from here]


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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Crafty Chrissy Cards

I made my own Christmas Cards again this year, it's a tradition now I've kept it up 2 years running so there's no going back now!

I went a bit crazy scouting out the $2 shop and Spotlight for stickers and  embellishments there are just so many to choose from. I bought some sets of cards and envelopes as well as some mix-matched ones just to funk it up a bit. I already have heaps of different papers and borders to use, and now they're all organised in my lil craft drawers it was so easy to make them. This year my creative girlfriends came over and made some too, lured by a dinner of beef and red wine casserole and the best creamy mash in the world!

This is my stash of festive cheer ... it did grow substantially since this photo but I was so excited to use it all I didn't manage to take another photo before I used it!

This is me crafting away and you can see the finished cards spread out along the top


I must say I noticed a lot less cards fall into my mail box this year. Is it just me or is there a rapid decline in sending out Christmas cards now? Could it be the higher postage fees or emails vs snail mail tirade.

Wonder why?
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Monday, December 20, 2010

Point and Shoot

When: Sunday, 19 December 2010 @ 5pm
Where: South Perth foreshore

Sunday was a family day to catch up with my nanna, uncle, aunty, cousins and their kids for Christmas as we don’t usually get to see them on Christmas Day. We all met up for a picnic down on the foreshore with views over the Swan River. Unfortunately the weather turned in the afternoon and it starting spitting with rain as we were sitting out on the grass. But after such a hot and sweltering Saturday we didn't mind getting a bit wet and cooling off. The only thing we did mind was our wine getting watered down and our picnic dinner getting soggy! I'm still blaming the weather for my point and shoot looking a little gloomy. I'd really love a new camera (hint hint Santa!) to take more professional shots.

Besides that I had quite a girly weekend spending Friday & Saturday night out with my girlfriends. Went to my first Carols by Candlelight and my girlfriends showed up with treats in their eskies like vodka and cheesecake to share and it was a perfect summer night under the stars. Saturday my gorgeous gals curled my hair and did my makeup and we went out in our lil party dresses and danced the night away. Isn't it amazing you always feel a trillion times better when someone else pampers you and glams you up!

Please head on over to Fat Mum Slim’s lovely blog to see more Point and Shoot.
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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Flowers - Would you keep them?

Has anyone else bought flowers for someone but because they're so bright and beautiful you want to keep them for yourself?

Maybe its just me .... I'm a bad bad person!


Don't worry I did give them away in the end. But not before I snapped some photos of the lovely blooms.

They are for my lifelong family friend for her Birthday. The look on her face was well worth it. 
 
 
Wishing everyone a blooming goood weekend!
 
[All images my own]
 
 
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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Worlds Cutest Measuring Cups

These M-Cups are one Chrissy gift I just couldn't wait for Santa to deliver. They were on my Christmas wishlist but when I saw them in a homewares shop on special I had to take them home with me.

Aren't they adorable?

They retail at $20 (I scored them for $16.99) and they'd make such a cute Chrissy present for any domestic godess (or yourself!).

Has anyone else bought themselves an early Chrissy gift?


[Picture from here]
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Monday, December 13, 2010

Point and Shoot

When: Friday, 10 December 2010 @ 10.02pm
Where: My kitchen (cocktail research lab!)

I kicked off my weekend with some cocktail research. My work is having a cocktail making competition as part of our Christmas Party and I've been given the best task ... tasting research! I tried a concoction of rasberries, sugar syrup, cranberry juice and gin. Then I tried one with scotch. Then I tried one with a bit more gin. I'm still to perfect the right flavour, I have the colour right but not happy with the taste yet (and I want us to win!) so need to do some more research this weekend. It's a hard job but someone's got to do it :)

It was a perfect start to a festive weekend which kicked off with sundowner drinks with girlfriends. Then Pete's work xmas party where we all camped out at the bosses house and made the most of the sparkling new pool and outdoor bar area, dj playing awesome dance music had us shakin a groove thang until the wee hours. It was a well earned break to have a weekend without renovating and just have some good ole fashioned fun instead.

For some more Point and Shoot head over to Fat Mum Slim's blog.
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Friday, December 10, 2010

Christmas Decorating when Renovating

During my bachelorette years a simple candelabra was my modern take on a Christmas Tree as I didn't see the point in having a Christmas Tree just for me and thought it was something special to get with someone special.  So you can imagine how excited I was about Christmas last year because it was the first year living with Pete. I dragged him out to buy our very first tree, it was big and green, and got covered in lots of beautiful ornaments individually picked by yours truly. Yea I went a bit tinsel crazy and even bought decorations full price, didn't even wait for the sales that's so not like me!

Last year's tree

Had my crazy gorgeous family over for a Christmas Eve BBQ and swapping presents
This year its a lot different as our makeshift living room is in the dining room so theres nowhere for the tree to go. I'm not sure where the presents will go either still to figure that out. So this is the extent of our Christmas decor this year, still a bit festive without going overboard ...

Yea I know you have to squint to see it, so here's some close ups. And yes that is a cake stand turned ornament holder :o)


If your renovating how are you decorating this year? Pin It Now!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Filling the gap

I worked out we have clocked up a total of 11 hours with 2 pairs of hands on the latest job. What on earth could take so long you ask? Filling in the gap between the floorboards thats what! Obsessed, yes maybe a little but whose going to have a perfectly smooth floor with no dust or dirt getting stuck down the cracks - we are!

We learnt from experience doing the last room that if you fill in the gap it keeps the dust out and makes sweeping easier as it’s a smooth surface. There’s nothing like experience. There’s also nothing like spending 11 hours in a small room filling holes. As you can imagine it’s a really fiddly job you need to push the filler in with your fingers and then let it set for about 10 minutes and then wipe it off. Thankfully the filler washes off easily with water otherwise we’d have poo colour stained hands. Well jarrah and walnut to be exact but either way not a good look!

With gap 

Filling bit by bit

Gap be gone


We had to throw a bit of entertainment into it and turned it into a race, we’d line up and see who could get the most done before we ran out of filler. I won each and every time. WOOHOO! Yes I've been gloating shamelessly about it all week that I can actually do something better than the master DIY-er  : )

Once the filling was done it was time to give the floorboards a light sand. Fitted out with knee pads, face mask and goggles Pete spent over 4 hours with a small handsander, going through a sanding pad about every 20 minutes until they were all smooth. The hallway had to get done as well as it joins on with the living room (including inside the hallway cupboards). Now its ready to be sealed with Tung Oil as the finishing touch, but that will be after the painting is done as we'll have to leave the floors to set for a few days without walking on them.

Its been dusty, fiddly, time consuming work for those precious floors I'm so glad we're done and now onto the next job ... drinking, shopping, PAINTING!
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Monday, December 6, 2010

Point and Shoot

When: Saturday, 4 December 2010 @ 11.15pm
Where: Mum and Dad's Farm, West Aussie

On Saturday we managed to squeeze in some back bending work around the house, a few games of lawn bowls with mates (and Pete came home with the winners trophy woohoo!) and a Birthday bash at my Mum and Dads place. This little fellow is a bandicoot and they're nocturnal which means when they come out at nighttime they are quite frequently the guest appearance at Mum and Dad's parties! They do a little scoot around the patio looking for leftover BBQ scraps, dodging the pool table and the squeals from people who've never seen one before. Then wait on the lawn for some bread to be thrown to them and go hide under the hanging pot plants to eat it. There are 2 of them that live around here, but ole mate was out solo tonight stuffing his face and enjoying a midnight feed.

Hope everyone had a great weekend, with or without uninvited guests!

Thanks Chantelle for hosting, head over to her inspiring blog Fat Mum Slim for some more Point and Shoot.
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Sunday, December 5, 2010

Recipe Swap Party


Wondering what to cook for dinner tonight? Check out the recipe link up party at Remodelaholic and be inspired by all the kitchen divas out there!

If your after a fresh fragrant seafood salad give my Prawns & Salad a go.
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Friday, December 3, 2010

Chargrilled Lemon Grass Prawns with Vietnamese Salad


I won this cookbook about 4 years ago and have flipped through it many a time drooling at all the glossy pages. I love to try new recipes which is probably my downfall because I try something once and if it doesn’t look like the picture or taste amazing I don’t try it again. What I should do is cook it twice and try to right my wrongs the second time around rather than giving up. So not to be tainted by my recent Death by Slow Cooker episode I got back in the kitchen and made this deliciously fresh and vibrant Chargrilled Lemon Grass Prawns with Vietnamese Salad.

Yes it involved using a mortar and pestle (if you haven’t tried it you’ll feel like an iron chef once you do!). Once the prawns were peeled and marinating in the fridge and the salad cut up ready, we had an hour to kick back and enjoy a wine and some spring rolls to whet the appetite. When ready cook the prawns, toss the dressing through the salad and serve with prawns on top and a wedge of lime. Save the rest of the lime (and some of that mint) for a Mojito as it would be a shame to have those two ingredients together and not make a cocktail afterwards like I did!

Chargrilled Lemon Grass Prawns with Vietnamese Salad
(Blue Ginger Cookbook by Les Huynh)

Serves 4 as Starter/2 as Main

Marinade
2 garlic cloves, peeled
3 lemon grass stems (white part only), finely chopped
4 tbs peanut oil
1 tbs oyster sauce
1 tsp fish sauce
12 large raw prawns, peeled and deveined

Dressing
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 long red chilli, deseeded and chopped
2 tbs caster sugar
3 tbs fish sauce
2 tbs lime juice
2 tbs rice vinegar

Salad
225 g (3 cups) shredded white cabbage
90g (1 cup) finely julienned carrots
1 lebanese (short) cucumber, thinly sliced into long ribbons
2 large handfuls Vietnamese mint leaves
2 large handfuls coriander leaves
80g (1/2 cup) finely sliced onion
4 tbs roughly chopped roasted peanuts
2 tbs fried shallots

To serve
Llime halves

To make the marinade, use a mortar and pestle to pound the garlic, lemon grass and a pinch of salt into a paste. Work in the rest of the ingredients and pinch of white pepper. Scoop the dressing into a non-metallic bowl with the prawns. Coat the prawns well, then marinade in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

Remove the prawns from the marinade. Heat a char-grill pan or bbq hotplate over medium-high heat, then cook the prawns for 3-4 minutes on each side, or until cooked.

To make the dressing, use a mortar and pestle to pound the garlic and chilli together. Work in the sugar, then stir in the fish sauce, lime juice, rice vinegar and 2 tablespoons water, pounding until the sugar dissolves.

To make the salad, gently toss all the ingredients together in a large bowl. Toss with enough of the dressing to moisten the salad.

To serve, divide the salad among plates, then sit half the prawns on top. Drizzle a little more of the dressing over the prawns. Add a lime half on the side.

PS: If you don’t have a m&p you can chop all of the ingredients into a paste using a small food processor
PPS: This is a really punchy salad dressing very limey so if you want it a bit softer use less lime juice. The fresh mint and coriander make a beautiful aroma and really lift the salad and make it something special
PPPS: It says to leave the prawn head and tail on but I didn’t do this, there’s nothing worse than getting shell in your mouth if you ask me!
PPPPS: If making this for a main I'd suggest 6-10 prawns per person is much more satisfying.

Enjoy!

Image via here
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