Thursday, 20 November 2014

Learning new skills

Not happy enough with my current list of crafty creative skills I've signed up for both an Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop online course.  I did actually mean to just sign up for the Illustrator one but accidentally enrolled for the Photoshop one by not reading the title properly so then I had to sign up for the Illustrator one as well.  They are only 6 weeks each and I've set the Illustrator one for a start of about half way through the Photoshop one so I don't get too overwhelmed with lessons.

I'm enjoying it so far, I've learnt some basic skills and how to use the brushes on an image to make it look more like a painting.

And, not happy with those two things, I also asked my family for the gift of a painting workshop for my birthday back in August.  It was on last weekend, for six hours on Sunday.  The idea, and title, of the workshop was to paint a large scale painting in a day.  My canvas is a metre squared and whilst this was a bit daunting to begin with for someone with no formal knowledge of painting it was a lot of fun once I got started.

Unfortunately I didn't quite finish so hopefully I'll get it done soon and then perhaps it can make its way to my bedroom in the country house, providing MR approves and I still like it as much as I do now.

 I love learning new things but it really isn't very helpful for getting projects I've already started finished!  I'm also working on a Christmas present and a crochet cushion cover for myself, although with Christmas sneaking up so fast I might have to leave off on the cushion cover and focus on the present if I want to get it finished in time in between doing my photoshop course!

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Water intake

Since having a liver transplant almost three years ago, I've started to have some problems with my kidneys.  My anti-rejection medication is known to give kidneys a hard time and mine seem to be easily annoyed, along with the rest of my organs, by medication.  There's not a lot that can be done about it, just monitor them and keep my medication levels as low as possible.

One thing I do have to do is drink plenty of water.  Luckily, I already was a water girl and I don't drink tea or coffee and rarely drink soft drinks or juice.  I always have a water bottle with me, wherever I go.  If I forget it I always feel overwhelmed by thoughts of thirstiness until I get somewhere I can get a drink or buy a bottle of water from.  Other days, I just really feel sick of water.  On those days I might have a glass of juice or put a bit of cordial or lemon juice in my water. 

Even still though, sometimes I struggle to drink my two litre target.  I get busy at school or sleep in late or just completely forget to have a drink.  I'm not one to knock back half a bottle in one sitting, I'm more of a small mouthful and often girl.  So if I get busy or forget to have my regular small mouthful some days I only drink about 1400 - 1600mL.  It's a bad day if I drink less than two 750mL bottles.  And I can tell when I haven't had enough to drink.

One thing I'm loving about my fitbit is there is a function on the app that you can track your water intake.  I try to remember how much I've drunk during the day to add that in each evening and then I can graph my results, very interesting to look at (and doesn't that sound nerdy).

I know that people should aim for eight glasses or two litres of water per day but what I'm interested in is how much water do you actually drink?  Do you regularly drink two litres or do you drink much less?  What do you think your average water intake would be?  

Monday, 15 September 2014

Here's one I prepared earlier. Much earlier.

When I was going through all my old posts looking for creative pictures to add to my tour through blogland post I realised there was a very cool project I made at the end of last year the year before (!!) as a Christmas present for my sister.  I think it was for Christmas.  Maybe it was her birthday.  It was that long ago I don't even remember.

I made this little button heart for myself at the beginning of 2012 and my sister commented on it and asked me to make her one in pink.  It was the height of ombre love so I thought, how cool would it be to make it in shades of pale pink through to a dark red.  So off I went.  As mentioned in my last post, on the floor.  I thought this one through a bit more because I wasn't 100% happy with how my version turned out, the buttons weren't quite close enough.  There was actually planning and testing in this version.

First on paper...

and then slowly and carefully transferring it to fabric. 
I moved to the table for this, no accidental bumping allowed!

And finished.

I was so pleased with how this turned out and being a bit of a puzzle lover, I really enjoyed moving the buttons around and getting them all into that just perfect place.  I really should remake mine with the buttons closer together.  And maybe a bit bigger, the pink one is more than twice as large as mine.


Sunday, 14 September 2014

Tour Through Blogland

I've been invited on a Tour through Blogland by Michelle from Jarrah Jungle.

I have been following Michelle's blog right back from the beginning, she was one of the first Western Australian bloggers I found and I have been enjoying reading about her home renovations ever since.  Her posts have lots of details and tips about renovating so if you are thinking of doing anything to your house I'd definitely recommend checking it out, as her and her partner have almost finished renovating their entire house and the improvements are amazing!

There are some questions I need to answer for my stop in the tour...

What am I working on?

Currently I am focusing on developing my knitting skills.  My mum tells a story of when I was about three and a half I asked her if I could learn to knit (Mum did a lot of knitting and spinning her own wool when I was young).  Mum told me I could learn when I was four, more as a putting me off tactic I think.  So on my fourth birthday apparently one of the first things I asked was if I could now learn to knit.  I believe I was successful in learning to knit a square.  I probably knitted scarves for my barbie dolls.  But then I forgot.  So I relearned to knit about ten years ago.  And then forgot again.  And then I got into crochet and picked that up so easily.  Knitting is so much trickier for me.  I'm finally on track with it, I have learnt to use circular needles and now I'm learning about using double point needles (dpns).  It's all a bit exciting, I really enjoy learning new things.

At the moment, I'm sticking with beanies.  Yes, it is the beginning of Spring.  A terrible time for beanie knitting.  But it's two weeks until we fly out to Europe so these beanies are going to come in handy for the predicted 15-20 degree maximum forecast weather we'll be experiencing.  

The one above is for me.  My first attempt at dpns and at moss stitch as well.  The one below is for MR, knit up with the possum/merino blend I bought on our holiday to New Zealand last year.

And after finishing the above one last night, I've already cast on the next. A slouchy one this time.  And I'm having a go at casting on with dpns, another new thing for me.

How does my work differ from others?

To be honest, I don't think my work differs greatly from others.  I'm not cutting edge, I'm only trying things that are new to me, not new to anyone else.  

Sashiko on the left, embroidered fabric print on the right which I later turned into a clock

I'll try anything once.  As I mentioned, I love learning new things.  There's been candle making and mosaics, clock creating, drawing with pastels, painting, embroidery, sashiko, amigurumi crochet, occasional sewing, crochet blankets, button creations.  Seriously, the list goes on.  If I'm creating, I'm happy.

Mosaic trivet

My blog is a bit of a mish mash of everything.  The only thing different on my blog to most crafty/lifestyle blogs you'll find out there is that I've had a liver transplant and occasionally you'll come across posts about that and gory scar photos!  Something different but I'm trying to move away from my health ruling my life and my health has been pretty good of late.

Koala amigurumi

How does my writing/creating process work?

I'm a couch creator.  I blog on the couch, I knit on the couch, I embroider and crochet on the couch.  I love my couch.  It is such a comfortable space.  I find typing at a desk leaves me hunched up and slouched and lop-shouldered.  If I'm doing something that I can't do on the couch, like painting, I'll often do it on the floor rather than at the table.  My day job is an early childhood teacher so I'm often on the floor and I'm naturally most comfortable sitting with my legs crossed.

The Pink Blanket

Apart from where you can find me, everything else is up in the air.  I'm a huge fly by the seat of your pants / wing it sort of girl.  Whether it is creating or writing this comes into play.  There are a lot of last minute decisions, spontaneous crafting with not quite the right tools or materials, late night posting or two posts in a day and then none for two weeks.  That's me in a nutshell.  I'd love to say I was organised and had plans and those sorts of things but I've never managed that in my life so far and I think I'm still a while away from getting there!  One day.  We always need goals right?

So I'm a bit different from most of the other high organised bloggers out there on this blog tour.  Not to worry!  Thanks so much for inviting me on the tour Michelle, I've had fun looking back through my creative photos to decide which photos to post.

My two nominees are....

Sally from Virtù

Sally and I met online, soon after we both started blogging.  We learnt to crochet together, by which I mean we emailed back and forth about all the difficulties we were having and we both attempted the same pattern so that we could help each other through reading the confusing terminology!  Nowadays, Sally and I usually see each other once a month at our Brown Owls craft meetup.  She's a pretty awesome lady and my mama inspiration (when I eventually become a mum).

Hiya! I'm Sally from virtù. I began my blog on a whim one night  back when I first started to learn about sewing. It was a way of recording my achievements and a means of connecting with other people. I still remember the absolute elation I experienced when someone commented on my blog for the very first time.  At the time I had two small children and was still getting the hang of being "isolated" at home. 


Nicole from dabbling all day 

I initially got to know Nicole through instagram after following her because she was a friend of someone else I followed.  Eventually, I stopped being lazy and clicked on the link to her blog in her instagram profile and low and behold, here was someone a bit like me.  A one fur baby family, a crafter, a much more successful gardener and someone who loves spending time in the kitchen just as much as I do.  She's much more productive and organised than I am though!

I'm Nicole and I blog at dabbling all day. I'm from Melbourne, Australia and live with my partner, BB, and our kitty, Sampson.   I write about all the things I'm dabbling in at any one time, whether it be gardening, crafting, photography, cooking or baking! I'm always up to something.

 I look forward to reading your posts next Monday ladies.  

Thank you everyone for coming to visit my little corner of blogland, I hope you come back soon. x


Monday, 8 September 2014

Frollick through the flowers

A few weeks ago I went on a picnic with my mum, sister and MR's mum to Araluen Botanical Garden which is about a 50 minute drive from where I live in Perth.  I hadn't been in about ten years and really wanted to go again before I moved back to the country because then it will be even further away and trips to Perth will already be cram packed with other things that need to be done.  It was a beautiful Winter's day.  Sun mostly shining, breeze not too strong.  We all brought something to share and some blankets to sit on before we left our food bags sitting under a tree and went for a wander around the quite large park. 

The reason I was so keen to go is because of the flowers.  Each Spring (late Winter really) is tulip season at the park.  There are thousands of Spring bulbs planted each year and it is just so beautiful to go and have a walk through the gardens and see all the beautiful displays.

I really love Spring bulbs, they are my favourite flowers.  Tulips, snowdrops, daffodils, bluebells.  I could fill my garden with them.  I do try but unfortunately I only have intermittent success.  This year, out of all of my bulbs, only my bluebells flowered.  And next year, in the country where it not really the climate for bulbs I will probably only get some jonquils which are already established around the fruit trees up there.  So I enjoyed them all the more in the gardens when I went to visit. 


Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Room Reveal

A while back I told you that we were in the process of beginning the changes to our country home.  It's only a small change at this point, certainly not the finished room reveal that the post title touts (but it got you here, didn't it?)  I do promise to do more down the track but at the moment all spare money is being saved towards our trip to Europe which is coming up in 3 weeks and 5 days.  And, argh! that is creating it's own stresses writing that here because that is really NOT LONG AT ALL.  More on that another time though.

So we've painted the main living area of the country house.  It's a big backwards L shape and we've painted the long sides.  The short sides are the kitchen and we still need to get to that.  We have the paint (it's going to be the same white that the wall on the left side of the finished photo is) but the main thing we're lacking there is the time.  MR is currently busy promoting the family business at the country field days around WA and I'm only there about once a month for two nights and relaxing, spending time together and socialising seem to take up all of that time!  We'll get there.

The house is the one MR spent most of his childhood in.  His parents were still in it until last year when they retired to the coast.  Their colours are a lot different to ours, as you can see from the pictures below...

The room's original colours

We sanded all of the walls, I actually did about half of it *proud moment*

First undercoat of white on.  We ended up with two undercoats and two topcoats.  I did most of the cutting in and MR did the rolling.

We were so amazed by how different it looks.  Even looking at it now in the photos, I'm astounded by how much of a different vibe I get from the room.  The turquoise was quite hard to photograph, it's more of the greeny colour down near the chairs than the blue up near the sun shining in through the skylights.  The colour is Tempted Turquoise from British Paints if you want to see the real deal. (6th across from the bottom right of the colour panel).  The white is from Dulux and is called Peplum Quarter.

This was our first experience of painting walls ourselves (other than helping out others) so it's certainly not perfect.  The paint tape didn't stick down very well (even though we bought the good blue scotch stuff) so unfortunately a bit of turquoise paint has seeped under it onto the lino floor.  Any tips on how to get the tape to stick properly would be greatly appreciated experienced painters!

As you can see, this house has amazing, wonderful, glorious amounts of natural light.  Up above that wooden paneling is a raked ceiling with windows running the entire length of the dining and kitchen area which lets the light into the south facing side of the main living areas.  MR's parents designed and built this house so they were definitely well ahead of the typical type of house built twenty odd years ago.  I'm really looking forward to moving in to it, which is going to be at the end of this year! I've told my principal and put in my transfer with the Education Department last week, so it is fairly official!  

I think having such a beautiful home to move into is really helping my excitement levels about being back in the country away from the clothes shops and the shops with large varieties of food and the cafes and pilates.  That and it will be the first time in our seven year (almost eight by the time I move) relationship that MR and I will be living together, properly.  That is the part I am looking forward to the most.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

The End

My bookcase is a little cram packed...

Way back at Christmas last year I received that white spined book up there.  Book 14 of the Wheel of Time series.  I don't remember how many year ago it was I started reading this series, maybe 6 or 7?  By the time I started, I think the series up to book 8 or 9 was already out so I had a good long slog of reading and getting to know the characters.

It's been a while in between reads so I decided to reread the series again before reading the last book.  Got to do the series justice after all.  So I started in January.  And I finished all fifteen books (there's one prequel as well) on the very last day of the school holidays.  Six and a half months of reading one series.  I read somewhere that there is somewhere around 14 000 pages in the series and about 4.4 million words. 

Needless to say, apart from painting a room of the country house, I didn't get a lot done during my school holidays apart from page turning.

So now I'm a bit lost.  How dare it finish there?! I've followed these characters in detail for two years of their lives.  Pivotal moments!! 

Can you recommend a good series for me?  After this, singular books just seem pitiful in story length.


Saturday, 26 July 2014

The One Thing

I saw this post over at A Life Less Frantic through Maxabella's Weekend Rewind.  It's a quiet weekend in these parts, sans MR, so I went on a bit of a journey through blogosphere to catch up and peruse.  I don't often get a chance to join or read the Weekend Rewind so thought I'd randomly click on a handful of new ones.

I've been feeling a bit lacking in the blogging mojo lately, like my content/life is a bit boring and you're all drifting away.  I'm not huge on blogging about current affairs or popular culture as I don't really follow either.  I just float along in my own little world, head in the clouds. 

So seeing these prompts on Kelly's blog inspired me a bit.  Something to write about.  A topic.

The one thing I should do less often is: stay up until midnight and then feel exhausted the next day and achieve a whole heap of not much. 

The one thing I should do more often is: be organised, particularly when it comes to having a tidy house without piles of crap in every corner.

The one thing that always makes me smile is: my cat. 

The one thing that does my head in is: people driving in front of me that tailgate other drivers and then have to press their brake every five seconds so their brake light flashes in my face and I don't know whether I need to slow down or whether they are just being an all out irritating fuck (and that would be me not paying attention to the 'one thing' two down)

The one thing I should eat more of is: vegetables.  If it was 5 fruit and 2 vegetables, I would be sweet.

The one thing I should do to make the world a better place is: be less judgmental of others and remember this -

The one thing I need to remind myself is: stand up straight.  I'm trying to improve my posture before I end up looking like Humpy McHump and it is really hard to remember to stand tall.

The one thing I should do for myself right now is: cook a healthy dinner with lots of veggies

The one thing I should say 'no' more often to is: pastries. 

The one thing I should say 'yes' more often to is: exercise. While I do pilates once a week, do you know, since doing the Run for a Reason in May, I have only been for one walk.  Le slack.


Thursday, 24 July 2014

Sportmanship is alive and well

Last night I got sucked in to watching The Voice Kids for the first time.  I don't really watch reality TV (apart from The Block) but it was after the first day back at school and I felt the need to be a bit of a zombie brain and the options were slim.

For those who don't watch it either, they were starting to cut down the contestants after the inital choosing. The kids get put in a group of three, sing a song together and then one person gets selected to go through to the next level.

It was one of the most heart warming things I've ever seen.  Those kids, as young as 8 or 9, were so gracious in defeat, so supportive of each other, people they had only spent time with for a week or so.  The looks on the faces of the kids who didn't get through to the next round as the name of the person who was going through was amazing.  Excitement, hands on faces as they jumped for joy, cheering for their mate.  Seriously.  I spent half of the show with tears running down my face out of sheer amazement of how beautiful it was. 

It is such a change from the usual reality TV we see.  Shows where the contestants are bitchy, conniving, false friends, whinging.  Shows that families watch together.  Shows that kids see.  What kind of example are we setting for the next generation when this is the behaviour they see from real people on TV?

Sure, there are exceptions.  The Block has been one of them for me.  The series that I have watched (only two of them) have been filled with laughter, support and minimal bitchiness.  But I'm a bit nervous about where things are going to go this series with the contestants judging each other.  That just has potential for disaster, as proven by other shows such as My Kitchen Rules.  Some people may think this is good watching and obviously with all the ratings these shows get, this is a lot of people, but really, is this the kind behaviour we want to promote?

These kids on The Voice are putting us adults to shame.  And good on them.


Monday, 21 July 2014

Small touches

MR and I have been making a few changes to our country house, now that his parents have retired and moved and we are getting ready to move in.  We haven't yet bought it from them but have been given free reign at changing whatever we like.  

Originally, the first thing we discussed changing were the curtains in the master bedroom.  They are a lovely pink floral number.  Followed by painting the bedroom, which is white but has a wallpaper strip running around it about three quarters of the way up the wall.  A bedroom is such a personal thing and we thought that by changing that it would feel more like our place.

Instead, we've ended up painting the living area.  It's finished but that post is going to have to wait because MR rolled the walls after I have left, so although I have seen a photo he took, I haven't seen the entire finished job.  It'll be a bit of a surprise when I head up there in a couple of weeks.

So for now, I thought I'd share a small touch I made.  

Seeing as we are currently running two households, half of the furniture at the country house is MR's parents; stuff they didn't want or can't fit in to their temporary place while they consider what they are going to build.  This makes it so difficult because it means the place doesn't really feel like ours.  But we can't go buying new furniture for it because 1) we have a houseful of furniture here to fit in first and 2) we can't afford it. 

So little things it is.  But only little things we don't already have in the city house.  The country house has a little powder room, which had a horridly stained pink towel and a soap dispenser that has been decoupaged with a decorated serviette.  Need I say more?  

I went to Myer and they had 30% off bathroom stuff so I bought a nice new soap dispenser and two lovely dark navy hand towels that will not show up dirty hand prints when MR comes home from work with diesel and dirt all over him.  All for less than $40.  And doesn't it look so much better already?  The basin colour is more of the cream in the left photo than the pink in the right (those photos were taken about a minute apart, goodness knows why the colours are so different).  I'd love to be able to paint and get a new tiles, basin and bench in here as well, but those small touches make it more acceptable until we can get to that part.


Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Giddy up

Remember stirrup trackie pants?  I had them as a youngen.  We used to wear them to primary school, I think I was about 8 or 9.  Scrunchy socks scrunched down over the tops of them and a pleated skirt over the top of our thick fleecy track pants because that was cool, right?

Well, I've decided I need to sew myself some stirrup pyjamas pants.  I'm such a restless sleeper, rolling around all over the place and within 5 minutes of getting into bed my pyjamas pants are up above my knees which is just really not useful for icy cold nights or comfortable, ever.

They really are the only solution I can come up with, apart from footed onesies which would need to have a bum flap which would just be a bit awkward. 

What 90's fashion invention do you wish was still around?

Monday, 30 June 2014

Weekend reflection

I had the weekend just past to myself as MR decided not to come to Perth.  My usual emotion on hearing this is one of neglectedness.  I want to see my boy and I don't get my way so I drift off into a funk of woe.  I'm such a child sometimes. 

Now don't get me wrong, I love alone time.  There is nothing better that a few hours of perfect peace and quiet to curl up and read a book.  I look forward to days where I don't have to leave the house or see anyone, days in which the only sound I hear is my cat (and myself conversing with her).  But I don't love it when those days last the entire weekend.

This time I was determined to be more adult about it.  (And perhaps the fact that next week is school holidays and I'm going to go and spend lots of time with him helped.)  When MR cautiously mentioned on the phone that he might stay home and go out riding on his quad bike with his friends I didn't chuck a tantrum.  I said okay.  And then I made a list of stuff for me to do.

Things to be productive like making a new batch of chicken stock to put in the freezer seeing as I had run out.  And making some chicken and sweet corn soup with my stock.

Things to relax like sitting in my pyjamas in the sunshine and reading for a few hours (thank you weather gods for playing along)

Creative things like doing a bit more of my blanket which is now so so close to being finished that it just seems to be taking forever to get there.  I've got about 15 rows to go. Please excuse my empty pasta bowl photo bombing my rug.

And I've been having these crazy urges to do painting for a few weeks now.  So I added that to the list and got out my watercolours for a bit of playing and then to make a card for my friend.

A friend who I organised to catch up with on Monday for morning tea at my place.  Three days of solitude is Way Too Much. So I made some custard and berry danishes.  And even better, I walked to the shop to get the berries instead of driving. 

There was also general household jobs on the list, like washing and collecting all the frangipani leaves that have fallen in the front yard (both of which I've done) and a few twenty-minute-tidies on my list.  Six of them.  I've managed three so far... 

All in all though, I'm pretty pleased with my weekend efforts.  Nice even amounts of productivity, fun and slackness.  And the house and garden looks much tidier for it as well.

Although the ironing is still sitting in its pile.


Monday, 23 June 2014


You've probably seen this around on facebook or instagram - I've been doing it on instagram @threadsofhappiness.  I initially started this as a way to remind myself to notice the small things.  Back when I began this blog I gave it the name silver threads of happiness because sometimes it feels like the happiness is just little threads through your life, nice sparkling silver ones, but still small moments or threads.  I've always been one to notice the small things and get pleasure from them and so I thought this would be a good title and theme for my blog.  I actually got it from a poem I wrote as a teenager.  Back when things were really dark and twisty.  But anyhow, soon after starting my blog I was diagnosed with leukaemia and finding those little moments, little threads became even more important to me in not freaking out or letting illness consume my life. 

I used to join along with Maxabella's weekly gratefulness posts but when they went over to kidspot I sort of petered off on it, not having kids myself.  But they were perfect.  A reminder to reflect on the good parts of the week.  And I've sort of missed that.  Not that I haven't noticed the nice and happy things in my life, or that I've been overly sad - just that little reminder to make note of it.

So here are my first 18 happy days.  I'm already up to day 47, I know, a bit slack at getting them up here but there you have it.  For real time go find me on instagram!

 a new haircut :: morning tea on Wednesdays :: cuddles with my meow girl
leftovers means no cooking :: tulips - my favourite :: a free chocolate with my hot choc
cannoli :: taking some pieces on a hunt for frames  :: finding one right sized frame & potted tulips

massage :: bees pollinating my loquats :: nursemaid meow while I was feeling crap
(three day hiatus while in hospital)
coming home to my own bed :: the sense of achievement at lighting a fire :: drove 3hrs for cuddles with MR
new skincare :: my hair is getting longer (slowly) :: HBF Run For A Reason - raised $2135 for Donor Mate and walked 4kms with my sister

It's not too late to go join in either, you just start whenever you like.  I'm not finding it difficult, some days there are many things I could put up as my happy moment.  I'm much more active in looking around me and being observant as well and I'm finding it easier to be positive even on shitty days.  I took a few days off while I was in hospital but in retrospect, I didn't need to, there were still happy moments even while stuck in there feeling awful.


Monday, 16 June 2014

Bread and Milk

Today I went to the shop for bread and milk.  I told myself I was just going to walk out with bread and milk.  Nothing extra.  Not a thing.

But then the bakery had run out of multigrain bread and I don't like supermarket bread so I grabbed crumpets.  And then as I walked to the milk I passed the fruit and saw a guava so grabbed that too.  On the way to the checkout I passed maltesers on sale and my chocolate stash has diminished a bit lately so I grabbed a pack of them as well.  

I walked out of the shop cursing myself for lack of will power.  Seriously, I do this every time I go shopping.  I know I am terrible at this so when I do a normal sized shop I tell myself, just one thing extra and 99% of the time I fail.  

Of course, as I write this post, I have just finished my guava and am enjoying a little bag of maltesers so they haven't gone to waste so that's good.  On the other hand, MR has won a trip to Europe for us because his business has well and truly met and surpassed their sales targets and reached the level needed to qualify for the trip.  It's all expenses paid (apart from shopping) from what I understand although I haven't really got any information yet so it all seems a bit surreal and unlikely.  But if MR is correct and we are going to Europe (health and doctors permitting in my case) then I need to save some spending money!! The trip is ten days and it falls during the school holidays which is perfect.  I will probably also try to get another week of leave without pay or something, providing we can add on to the trip and visit an adjacent country (so no extra flights) or stay in Germany or The Netherlands (the planned countries for the trip) and do more exploring, all of which will require extra money for accommodation, food and sight seeing (and more shopping!).

My budget is a little bit strapped for spontaneous European holidays however as we've just bought a car and it is using way more petrol than my previous one, something I didn't factor into the planning stage of car buying budget analysis.  But, I do have an extremely big shopping budget, $250 a fortnight for two people, one of which isn't there much.  I've been told this is a bit extravagant but I really like my fruit and pastries.  And I am a bit of a food waster as well.  So the challenge is on.  Stick to the shopping list (with one extra treat), use what I've got in the fridge and start using up stuff out of my overflowing pantry filled with things I might maybe one day need.  I'm going to put my $250 in a separate coin purse and whatever is left at the end of each fortnight goes to the holiday fund. 

Wish me luck! And please, send me any tips you have for cutting your food bill and any things-you have-in-the-pantry recipes.    I started it off last night with my favourite pumpkin soup recipe made with two small $1 roadside veggie stand butternut pumpkins plus a punnet of slightly squishy cherry tomatoes, half a red capsicum which I roasted first and three sticks of celery all thrown in so as not to waste them.  Yum! 6 serves for $2 for the pumpkins, another $2something for sour cream (which I also used in fajitas on Friday) homemade chicken stock which cost nothing and old veggies from the fridge.

Walking past those pastries at the bakery is going to be tough though...


Sunday, 15 June 2014

Home regrets

Back when we were looking for a house to buy for the very first time, I did a bit of research about what to keep in mind while looking. You know, check faucets, mould, reticulation etc. We already knew we wanted a quiet street or cul de sac, a garage and a shed, space for a veggie garden and at least 3 bedrooms. 

What we didn't know to look for, and I didn't come across anything about this in my research, was north facing houses. 

Our house is west facing, and obviously, you can't always have north facing but the house could be designed to fit the block. In our house the master bedroom is on the south west corner so gets a bit of afternoon sun. The main living area and kitchen are on the east side, and the east and south sides of the house have a big verandah running around them so they get absolutely no sunlight and are always quite dark, even though there are a lot of windows. The main bathroom, one spare room and the laundry are on the north side and get beautiful natural light and warm sunshine. Totally useless! 

It really is my biggest regret about buying this place. It's like we live in a igloo all Winter. 

Thankfully, MR pruned the big bush outside our bedroom window yesterday so the afternoon sun can get in and warm it up and I'm lying on my bed typing this at 4pm without the need to be in pyjamas, uggies and a dressing gown, my usual household attire. 

Luckily, at the end of the year I'll (hopefully) be moving to a house that is filled with beautiful natural light and warmth and is a big long north facing rectangle. Thank goodness!

What's your biggest regret about your home purchase? 

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Homegrown soup

Back in February, I posted about a surprise vegetable sprouting in my garden after burying some veggie scraps in an effort to improve my sandy soil.

It grew happily without much attention from me and it turned out that it was a pumpkin vine.  Unfortunately I only got one pumpkin off it, and only a small one but I turned it into the most delicious soup!

Just a baby pumpkin

Which strangely didn't have any seeds!

I used this recipe from taste.  Surprisingly, I actually followed the recipe too.  Fairly rare for me.  The only thing I changed was  just a smidgen less cumin than suggested so it wasn't too strong and using sour cream to stir through instead of natural yoghurt.  I also used my own homemade chicken stock.  I get such pleasure out of making and using my own stock.  It makes everything taste awesome and I feel so organised by have it in the freezer all ready to go.

I hadn't used this recipe before but to be honest, it's the best pumpkin soup recipe I've ever tried and I've already used it again since.  That's a pretty good referral from a not-really-a-soup-person. 

What's your favourite soup?  I'd love a recipe recommendation to try out.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Garden growth

While I was having lunch with Mum last week, she mentioned that the weekend was the best time (according the the planting moon calendar) to plant Spring bulbs.  Mum is quite a good gardener and she does all of her planting according to this calendar so I thought I would give it a try.  I am a middling gardener at best.  About half the things I plant either die or never seem to grow.  Plus, it was the day before Term 2 started and gardening seemed like some good productive procrastination.

Autumn has finally arrived in my part of the country with the weekend also bringing our first really good proper rain for the year.  The mornings are crisp and cool, the days are mostly sunny - the type of sun that is best for basking in - and the nights are best spent with slippers, jumpers and rugs.  I haven't turned on the heater yet but I've been a bit tempted.

I spent an hour outside, clearing a few weeds, removing old agapanthus leaves and flower spikes, planting the bulbs - some tulips, snowdrops and bluebells - pulling up the dead part of the pumpkin vine and burying it over in the right hand corner to compost.  There's still a few bits of it growing, it seems to have taken root again?  I'll just leave it to do its thing.  We only ended up getting one pumpkin off it (so far?) and that's reminded me to post about it next time.

After I had finished, I stood back and thought about how much our garden has grown in the three years it has been since we bought the place.  Certainly not all of it, but this part of the garden looks so good with the frangipani trees really taking off in height now, shading the plants below in Summer and letting the sun in when the leaves drop closer towards Winter.  I've planted the bulbs in under the frangipani trees.  I'm hoping the leaves will create some shade for the flowers in our very short Spring and help them to flower better and last longer.

The photo below was taken when we moved in.  It's a bit of a different angle but look at the change.  

So many differences.  I'm reasonably happy with this part of the garden at the moment.  I wish I could say the same for the rest of it.  Since working out we would not be in this place for much longer, the urge to plant new things has decreased a bit.  I'll be sad to say goodbye to my fruit trees though, and before I've even gotten an apricot from our apricot tree.  I'll have to keep my fingers crossed for an early crop this year.  Last years crop was a grand total of one single apricot which somehow disappeared entirely while still green.  I think a bird must have flown off with it.

How is your garden going?  Autumn is such a lovely time of the year to spend outside isn't it?  And do you plant new plants via the moon planting calendar?