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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Lovin the Rain

Rain and I mean down pouring storm warning rain is forecast for the rest of this week which means ...

The grass will get some water and hopefully my herbs come back to life

I get to wear my new wool jacket to keep me warm

A big bowl of soup at lunchtime

Going home to curl up on the couch with my new throw rugs

What do you love about the rain?

[Images via here, here, here and here]
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Sunday, June 26, 2011

Hostess With The Mostess Strikes Again - Indian Dinner Party

I threw a dinner party last night for my globe trotting friends (whom we went to Ibiza to see get married last year) and are finally back home in Perth. 

One is a vegetarian and loves curries so I thought Indian with its lentils and spices would be a good cuisine to cook.

Mr P and I took turns in the kitchen on Saturday starting at lunchtime and 5 hours later we'd cooked up 7 tasty dishes and were enjoying a glass of wine by the time our guests arrived ...

Ok so maybe I was running around trying to find the matches to light the candles, Mr P was still in his cooking clothes covered in flour and I was trying to wash dishes for the millionth time that day! But I still managed to open the door with a smile on my face ... they don't call me Hostess with the Mostess for nothing!

Now for the Indian inspired menu we made .....
  •  Spiced Coriander, Lentil and Barley Soup topped with yogurt and mango chutney
  • Garlic and Chili-Flavoured Potatoes with Cauliflower tinted golden with turmeric
  • Garden Peas and Paneer in Chili-Tomato Sauce
  • Kashmiri Chicken flavoured with spices, almonds, pistachios and slivered almonds
  • Garlic Naan baked on a pizza stone
  • Spiced Basmati Rice
  • Cucumber Raita
The spices used in these dishes are heated first and then ground up and they release the most incredible aroma and flavour. None of the dishes were too hot either, we made them all quite mild (scraping out the chili seeds) and put a bowl of chopped chilies on the table for those that like it hot.

The soup is from this Women's Weekly cookbook and all the other dishes are from Best Ever Indian cookbook which I bought from Borders $10 stand but I can't find anywhere that stocks it now to refer you to.

If you'd like a recipe let me know I'm happy to email it to you. 

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[Image via komalinunna blogspot]

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Friday, June 24, 2011

Book Club Book Review: Atonement by Ian McGowan

My Book Club's read for June was Atonement by Ian McEwan

I borrowed this book from the library and it had a $53 replacement fee if damaged, no idea why but I did rush it straight back to the library once I'd finished it! When I mentioned I was reading Atonement to friends they said it was a fantastic read, so that, with the replacement fee, had my mind set that this would be a tremendous book.

Atonement is about 13 year old Briony and her older sister Cecilia who falls for their gardener Robbie, and Briony's imagination which affects the lives of all those around her.

Unfortunately, I was a bit disappointed with the first half of the book and couldn't see the fascination about this story (other than the library sex scene!). But the latter half through WW11 and the chapters narrated by Robbie as a soldier and then Briony as a nurse I found interesting.

I kept anticipating Briony's atonement and hoping everything would come together and it would be a happily ever after ending. It doesn't quite end like that which is probably what makes this such a real novel, it's not about fairytale endings but about life and sometimes bad things happen to good people.

I would recommend this book to the romantics that believe in the power of love, but not for those that have rose coloured glasses and want a happily ever after romance novel.

I give it 3 out of 5 stars

Jarrah Jungle's Star Rating:
1 Bad - I'd rather eat brussel sprouts topped with anchovies than read this again
2 Not Good - I'd rather watch re-runs of Neighbours than read this again
3 Ok - I'm sitting on the fence - its not great but not terrible either
4 Good - I'd pass up a pack of tim tams for this read
5 Great - I'd pass up a date with Johnny Depp for this read

 photo F0F68C01A59FABD46732FC15E1D8816D_zpsc6047f2f.png 

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[Image via Dymocks]

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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Pantry Cleanup: If You Cant Be With The One You Love

If you can't be with the one you love ... Love the one you're with! 
The pantry I mean!!

Now that I know the kitchen won't be renovated until the end of the year I thought I might as well give it some love and make it a bit more user friendly instead of using the excuse of waiting for the renovation.

Also there was an incident with a tin of fruit from like 1999 that exploded all down the shelves and needed cleaning up so that was an incentive to clear everything out, clean it and put it all back in a much more organised way.

So here is our pantry BEFORE 

Every day items like oil were hard to get to and once a year items like chickpea flour at the front ... times they are a changing!

I removed everything from the cupboard and threw out anything that had expired.

I sorted it into groups of what was used the most and what was used the least.

Gave the shelves a good wipe down and then post-it noted each shelf so I knew which items to put on each shelf without them being jammed in.

The items used the least went up the top and the items used the most from that shelf downwards ...

From the bottom up went in the cereals, nuts and drinking chocolate etc. 

The little table and tray underneath holds the glad wrap and paper towel.

Then the spices, oils and sauces

Then the tins, noodles and pasta

I had a bread bin and placemats on this shelf but managed to fit them into another cupboard so this made way for the flour, sugar and breadcrumbs.

I made labels from post it notes, it's only temporary so I can peel them off and change them if I change the contents of the jars.

And AFTER this is what it looks like

Right along the top are my Mum's retro tins which hold baking items like food colouring and cake papers.

I'm learning to love what I have and make the most of it.

Its still not perfect but its a lot more user friendly and for 1.5 hrs and a few glasses of wine it was a pretty good organising job and best of all it didn't cost a cent!

How do you  keep your pantry organised?

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[All images my own]

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Monday, June 20, 2011

Window Displays

Have you seen the latest Peter Alexander window display? I'm in love with their new collection magical winter forest. Theres something about deer heads with pink eyelashes on the wall, vertical gardens and cute little animals that I'm completely drawn to. Oh and the pjs are pretty nice too!

Do you get inspiration from window displays?
What shops are your favourites?

[Images via Peter Alexander]
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Saturday, June 18, 2011

Feng Shui + Mirrors In The Home

I love mirrors in the home and there's so many gorgeous styles of mirrors to choose from.

For ages I've wanted a big mirror in the master bedroom and one near the front door, either opposite the front door or in the hallway.

I was interested in Feng Shui and looked it up to make sure where I wanted to place the mirrors was right, as I know mirrors and Feng Shui are linked because mirrors bring energy and so they can bring negativity too if put in the wrong spot.

For the Master Bedroom - I wanted a mirror on the wall opposite the bed and had in mind a big black octavia mirror like this one.

But Feng Shui states large mirrors opposite beds are not good as it depletes your energy as you sleep and it adds a third element to your relationship which of course isn't good in the bedroom (unless you're into threesomes but I'm not kinky like that!). So I'm not going for a big mirror for the bedroom now and will be looking for a piece of art instead.

I want a mirror in the hallway too - either on the wall you see when you first walk in the front door or where the hallway starts between the master bedroom and the craft room.

I love the facet mirrors and had in mind one like this pictured below.

But Feng Shui tells me tiled mirrors are not good as they break up energy and cause confusion. Also seeing a mirror as soon as you walk in is unwelcoming to visitors as it pushes them back out the door. So the wall between the master bedroom and craft room will be a better place for a mirror, I've just got to find a more streamline style instead of the tiles.

I'm not a stringent follower of Feng Shui but I do take note of some of the principals of it, especially when it comes to the energy of the home.

Have you made decisions in your home based on the principals of Feng Shui?

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[Images via - Octavia mirror Pollyvore, Facet mirror Graham & Green]
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Friday, June 17, 2011

Ssssssssssssshhh Surprise Party!

I'm going to a surprise party tonight for one of my bestest friends and I've been so excited anyone would think it's my party!

The Presents are wrapped, Birthday Cupcakes baked, Balloons up, Bubbles and wine chilled ...

But then

Some ningnong posted about it on Facebook ... and she saw it so now she knows about her surprise party

I'm pretty disappointed after all that sneaking around but what can you do. Guess I'd better pour myself some bubbly and get this party started!

Have you ever ruined a surprise?

 photo F0F68C01A59FABD46732FC15E1D8816D_zpsc6047f2f.png

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[Images via weheartit]

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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Kitchen On Hold

Did you know that you should spend 8% of the value of your home on your kitchen? So if your house is worth $500,000 then your kitchen should cost $40,000! This is what I was told at the kitchen seminar I attended the other week. That includes everything, the oven, electrical, tiling, but it is still a truck load of money!

After much thought about the time it will take us to finish the kitchen, we're looking at 4-6 weeks for us to rip out the old cabinets, paint the walls and ceiling, sand and seal the floorboards, have new cabinets installed, and the electrical points and oven and lights fitted. We may knock down our pantry wall to open up the space. We may also knock through the dining area windows and put in french doors. This is going to be a huge job.

Winter is not really the time of year I want to be having bbq dinners outside each night (what can I say I don't like my steak watered down!). I won't be coming home from work motivated to do a bit more painting and prep because its dark already and too freezing cold to paint. Excuses aside and realistically speaking, its going to be a lot easier to do the kitchen reno in Summer because it stays light until nearly 8pm which means we can do a bit of work and enjoy a bbq dinner under the patio without having lightning bolts and thunderstorms to contend with. So the kitchen is on hold until after September, maybe even as late as December, when it starts to warm up again and the sunlight is on our side.

Am I disappointed? Yes! You have no idea how much I hate those crumbling white chipboard cupboards and how much I yearn for a shiny new oven I don't have to break my back to get dinner out of. But thankfully I'm a practical Taurean and I know it will be worth the wait. So while I keep saving those pennies I'll keep dreaming of having my perfect kitchen ... one day ... hopefully this year!

[Images via house to home]
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Friday, June 10, 2011

Pea Zucchini and Bacon Soup

How cute are these retro soup bowls I picked up from the op shop, for a mere $3 my friend and I could fill an entire bag with homewares and I took these 2 bowls while my friend managed to fit almost a whole tea set into the bag ... now thats what I call a great op shopping expo!

I made this Pea, Zucchini and Bacon Soup last week and it was the most vibrant colour, really sweet tasting and doesn't have to cook for hours so perfect for a mid week meal (or Friday Night Footy!). You can find the original recipe here on Taste, my recipe shows how I changed it to add some celery, half the amount of stock so it was thicker and frozen not fresh peas (seriously who has time to shell 1.5kg of peas?!)

Pea Zucchini and Bacon Soup

Preparation Time:  20 Minutes
Cooking Time:  40 Minutes
Serves:  6

80ml (1/3 cup) extra virgin olive oil
1 brown onion, halved, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
250g smoked bacon, rind removed, finely chopped
3 (about 500g) green zucchini, ends trimmed, coarsely chopped
1 stick of celery, coarsely chopped
500g bag of frozen peas
1L (4 cups) vegetable stock
2 tbs finely chopped fresh mint
Salt & freshly ground black pepper

1. Heat 60ml (1/4 cup) of oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.
2. Add onion, garlic and half the bacon, and cook, stirring, for 10 minutes or until bacon is light brown.
3. Add zucchini and celery and cook, stirring, for 1 minute or until heated through.
4. Add stock and bring to the boil.
5. Heat the remaining oil in a frying pan over high heat. Add remaining bacon and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until crisp. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towel.
6. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes or until zucchini is tender.
7. Add peas and cook for 5 minutes.
8. Remove from heat. Stir in mint.
9. Use an electric hand whiz and blitz soup until smooth. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.
10. Ladle soup among bowls, sprinkle with crispy bacon and serve.

Chilly Friday nights are for staying at home, watching the footy and enjoying a delicious bowl of soup ... followed by a well deserved glass of wine!

Happy Friday everyone
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Thursday, June 9, 2011

I've been featured

Karen at Goodbye City Hello Suburbs has confessed to a love affair with my scrumptious homemade Prosciutto & Rocket Pizza and I've been featured!

If you want to join in with this weeks Workshop Wednesday party and share your latest diy, craft, reno, recipe, anything goes, head on over here.

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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Mid Week Musings

[Images via Lise Photography]
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Saturday, June 4, 2011

Man Cave is Done and Done

Back in April we cleared out the 4th bedroom ready to transform it into a Man Cave (if your not sure what a Man Cave is check out my scientific research over here). We finished the Man Cave a few weeks ago, it's all painted and the floorboards are restored, and while we're on the hunt for the perfect comfy couch and rugs, I'll show you how the room looks so far ...

This is what the room looked like BEFORE blue venetian blinds, wardrobe ripped out, carpet ripped up and boring beige walls

A few weekends spent sanding the walls, filling and sanding some more until they were nice and smooth. Then the painting, first an undercoat and 2 coats of my favourite wall colour Mountain Peak (tinted double strength for the bedrooms) which is a light grey colour. The ceiling got 2 coats of white and all the skirting boards, window frame and door frame got an undercoat and 2 coats of white.

There is no better feeling than peeling off the tape, taking the newspaper off the windows, pulling up the drop sheets and there you have it another room finito! This is AFTER with those freshly painted walls and new timber blinds. The old blue venetian blinds that were throughout the house have all been replaced now they are just a bad bad dream!

The last thing to do is the floor, we spent 4 hours filling the gap between each floorboard, they were then sanded back and sealed with tung oil. Just look at how those babies now shine they are smooth as a baby's bum!

So there you have it the Man Cave is done and done!
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