Saturday, February 9, 2013

“It isn't so much what's on the table that matters, as what's on the chairs.”

Have I told you about my kauri pine kitchen table? Its a simple sort of thing, kauri top and turned blackwood legs, its story spread out across it's top in the form of marks and dents and grooves and stains.  It's had an interesting journey, my table. I'm not sure of its age, although it's had a meat mincer attached at some point, had its caster wheels removed and some smartie pants thought it would be a good idea to laquer the top and change the original mounts by screwing it to the frame instead. I've replaced the casters, but other than that it graces my dining room in its original form (I may sand the top back one day - kauri is the sort of timber that doesn't require protection, as it loves water and is traditionally kept raw).

Many cat bums have been sat on this table since I've owned it. Ahem. If you ever come to eat at my house, I do wipe it down. Regularly. Most of the time...

Anyway. It's about time my table had some company! Of course, you think! Some chairs! Easy. Simply walk into a shop and buy some country style chairs and, voila! You're done.

Ha. HAHA. HAHAHA! If you seriously think that, you don't know me very well. Because I've been on Pintrest. And I've been inspired by....

Mismatched chairs!!!

You can find these on my Home Inspiration board here: I know I can imbed these suckers here somehow but I'm not caring enough to learn at this point! :P

Anyway, aren't they pretty? I looooove it. So, minimal dollars in one hand, reluctant and ever suffering man gripped in the other.... off to the tip shop we went!!

Hobart has quite a variety of tip shops. A tip shop crawl (similar to a pub crawl, without the beer, but somewhat cheaper) sends you in all directions across the city, scouring amongst the bent banana lounges and unrecognisable wooden mishappen furniture, seeking out cheap and sturdy finds...

We had luck! And potentially only 3 disagreements! What can I say, it was a hot day :) my refusal to purchase anything bentwood style was met with much dramatic arm waving. But trust me, you might not know what bentwood is, but you know what I mean. There's one in that last picture, the red and yellow thing on the right. Unstable mofos that they are, all wobbly legs and top heavy. Every small child's nightmare, I reckon they would take out the award of most toppled over chair ever, if there was such an award. I haaaaaattttteee bentwood chairs. Haaaatttteee........ 

Anyway. Enough of the furniture hatred. Here are my chairs!

My favourite is at the front, and was actually bought over GumTree. It's an old oak number in need of some serious love!

Next, to pick what colours they shall be!! Of course, this is a very convenient fun project which means I get to ignore the things I really should be doing in my house.... *evil laugh*. What?! *innocent look* don't look at me like that...

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Flooring, glorious flooring

If you've been wondering where I've been, and why I haven't updated my blog, that's because I've been sitting on top of a large pile of floorboards, alternating between stroking them and whispering sweet nothings and throwing my head back in triumphant laughter.  What is that evil cackling in the background? Oh, Jess' final batch of floorboards must have arrived!!!

The dining room and the kitchen came together fairly well (although I was cheeky and skipped doing the boards going into the pantry "to a later date" (hoping those damned fairies might turn up, no sign of them next).

Next was up the hallway, fairly problem free. This is the point where I gasped, with my hand to my chest in a very feminine way (yep, I definitely didn't curse like a sailor and make large wavvy hand motions), and realised, holy fuck, I need to start in my BEDROOM and meet the hallway, because these damn boards dont really lay backwards. Heh. 

So starting in a completely different room, and then coming along the small part of the hallway to meet the rest of the hallway, was an utter act of faith that the walls were square and equal and the planets were aligned and the moon was in the right phase (Taurus, probably) so that things just worked. And guess what....?

They did!!! Amazing. I must have bargained with the right god that day. (Is there a god of renovating? If not, there should be).

Having flooring in my bedroom is amazing by the way. To be able to change the bedding and actually put the cover-less doona on the floor is a beautiful thing. To hop out of bed and place my feet on silky smooth, lovely boards, is a great way to start the day.  Just think on that, next time you get out of bed, and wiggle your toes into your carpet or whatever it is that covers your floors. There are people out there, like me, who have lived on nasty, dusty concrete. Or worse.  If you are not grateful for your floor coverings, well in my opinion you damned well should be. Hmph.

So the next part was heading into the bedrooms. The final phase. The last in the series. The grande finale. Unfortunatley this involved going through doorways, which are in the same direction of the boards. This means, spending a whole frigging hour on three boards, measuring, cutting, sqeezing, hammering.... arguing and having a barney about how to go about it.... me using the word "fine then" in a grumpy manner and meaning that it is not very fine at all.

It's amazing that Daniel has survived this far really. Credit to him, for sticking with the crazy flooring lady who stares red eyed at the clock and mumbles ""

I'm happy to announce that the spare room is done! This is the nasty room, the room of doom... its looking pretty darn good now. 

So just one room to go! Once the tricky strupid I-hate-you-so-much doorway bits are done, it should only be a night or three to get the rest down (or one solid weekend day. You know, those days on the weekends where you have nothing planned so you can focus on your renovation? No? Me neither). And then done! *cough*other than all the fiddly bits like cupboards, wardrobes and pantry that I've cleaverly avoided *cough*

Ah, the end of the road is so close I can almost see it. Unfortunately, it looks like a roller and involves paint... but we're not thinking about that right now.

Oh, and in other news, I have a washing machine now. Thanks mum *kiss kiss*

*sigh* the pictures doing the "to the side" thing again? Really? Get a new trick already!

Zed thinks that watching washing is pretty awesome cat entertainment. Goes to show how much of an awesome entertaining cat mum I am. I wonder if that's considered cruelty?

Did I tell you about the Great Clothesline Disaster? No?

Well it was a dark and stormy night.... no, it wasn't actually. We haven't had decent rain in months. It was a bright and washing-friendly day, and I was doing my thing, and talking to mum on the phone at the same time, when I pulled a sheet of the clothes line.  Apparently unpegging without full attention is clotheslinespeak for "kill and maim owner" because then the line, without warning decided to collapse my general direction. Much unlady like jumping and shrieking ensued. I didn't die, you'll be glad to know. The line is now significantly shorter (have you ever priced a new Hills hoist?! Oh lordy those things must be gold on the inside, or made with the skeletons of blonde haired babies. True story), and hopefully not prone to falling on my head again.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

When one is without fairies...

It's been a while since I've written about the house - mostly because the rennovations have been on vacation while I've been busy doing other things. Like avoiding rennovating. Unfortunatley, the rennovation fairies have not arrived in the night to complete my house (hmph) which means progress has been slower than a Kombi hauling 18 hippies, a dog and a box of apples up Mount Wellington... 

So last week meant a spur of activity else I fall into a bottomless pit of self loathing at my own laziness and unrennovated house.

The result? Other than a grumpy boyfriend who is probably wondering for the millionth time why he ended up with someone as irritatingly nutty as me, is:


Glorious, glorious doors. I wuv them. They are just the old doors, refreshed a little. A lot. Each door was sticky with gunk, so I scrubbed and sanded them, bogged the holes, then undercoated with The World's Stinkiest Paint. When mum handed over this paint, she said "you'll love working with this, it goes on great and you won't need to do a second undercoat. Careful as it dries quickly though!"

Have you ever watched the episode of Pimp My Ride where they paint a car chrome? No? Well basically its about 6 guys working at top speed on the same panel slapping this shiny paint all over the place so it coats evenly before it dries. Madness. You Tube it. That's how I felt working with this paint. Except I didn't end up with a chrome supercar. Just some doors which look good (10 feet away when the light doesn't shine on them). At least they aren't sticky anymore :) 

Oh, and you know what I've learnt since rennovating? Everyone always gives you the awesome can't-live-without advice of the Century... when it's all too late. Learn from my mistakes. Read this blog before rennovating. Or better yet, marry an old rich guy and have him build you houses so you never need to rennovate. Le sigh.

Soooo, apparently when you take a heap of stinky sticky doors off your house and stack them up in your garage, nasty moisture creeps up the unlacquered under parts and makes the doors swell. This leads to arguments between you and someone else that goes something like:

"Is this the right door for (blah room)?"
"Yep, sure is"
"How do you know? It's not written on the door".
 "I just know (because I've been slaving over these damned things for days now. DAYS!!!)"
"Well it doesn't fit so it can't be right"
"It is the RIGHT GODDAMNED DOOR!!!!1!!"

So yeah. Stack doors on the flat. Then you won't need to sand off all your pretty paint and redo it all again later on.

Ooo, I have cornice now too. Yet to be painted obviously, but it fixes the problem of "Cornice that went around Cupboard of Doom" in the laundry...

...and now I can have a shower without worrying about charlie fluff and spiders getting me in the nude.

Also, other exciting things that happened since forever ago, pantry shelves!

I love my pantry shelves. They hold all my foods in the one place and make me feel rich. Why? Because if you have food in your pantry, clothes on your back, a roof over your head and a place to sleep, you're richer than 75% of the world. Watch me gloat over my pasta like it's bricks of solid gold, okay?

Also, my lounge room now has flooring!

Yes, for some reason my cats prefer not to sit on comfy furniture.

And if you stand in the right spot, squinting, after a few beers, you can actually trick yourself into thinking the WHOLE HOUSE HAS FLOORING!! Not really. But it sounds good.

I love putting this stuff down. Really. It's something I can do myself, it's straightfoward, hard to bugger up, and I get to use the drop saw. Win! Plus, instant results. No painting the same thing over and over. And over again. Just roll out the underlay, clip the boards together, and voila! Can't wait to get the rest of it down. I've warned my lovely man that when the next batch arrives I'm going to turn into a woman possessed and not sleep, eat, or shower until it's all down. He's looking forward to that, fo sho.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Feather

At some time, somewhere, an unfortunate parrot had it's life extinguished by a sly and rather grumpy black and white cat.  The said cat promptly delivered a few chosen pieces of the prey to it's keeper (some would say a lovely gift, I think perhaps the cat thought its keeper was obviously incapable of feeding herself and required someone to make the effort).

A bowerbird of sorts, the keeper tucked the blue and black feather in a gap in her car's interior.

Years later, the rather grumpy black and white cat had his life extinguished by an unforgiving vehicle.

The feather remains, sometimes fluttering in the breeze of a wound down window on a hot summers day, a reminder of the rather grumpy, and much adored, black and white cat.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Discovering Quinoa

I'm not sure where I read it now, but a while back I came across an article online talking about quinoa.  Pronounced "keen-wah", the article claimed that the seed, often treated like a grain, was almost considered a super food, with better stuff in it than your average cereals. What also fascinated me in this particular article was the mention that quinoa was the sacred food of the Inca's - so much so that when the Christians arrived they banned the growing of the plant, forcing the Inca's to grow wheat instead.

Have you ever noticed how once you're thinking about something new, it starts to pop up everywhere? All of a sudden I was watching a cooking show on TV, to hear of a quinoa based patty being used in a tasty looking veggie burger. It seemed quinoa was cropping up everywhere! So I decided to hunt down some of my own and give it a try.

Now I know you can buy the stuff from major supermarkets, but you'll find that it's probably sourced from South America. I don't have a problem with eating imported foods (most of the time) but I prefer to eat local (or at least Australian) when I can, so a quick google found me the only Tasmanian producers of quinoa - Kindred Organics.  Kindred is a small area tucked up in the countryside of North West Tasmania, a blink-and-you'll-miss-it spot of rolling pasture, old farm houses, and roads that see more tractors than traffic. Stoked to find not only local quinoa, but organic as well, I scoped out where to buy it and put it on my 'to do list'.  Clearly thinking with intent brings about manifestation into this life, because only days later I'd head to the amazing Laneway Cafe in Devonport for a fab breakky, to find Kindred Organics quinoa sitting on the counter in bags for sale!

The recipe I chose to use is a pretty simple one - I wanted a plain recipe so I could experience the flavour of the quinoa without it being swamped by other flavours ("put the sweet chilli sauce away Jess..."). I also thought I'd do a step by step of my cooking so you know what you're in for if you'd like to give this Inca superfood a try for yourself!

Quinoa Salad

Olive Oil
Flat leaf parsley

Now I haven't put amounts on here becuase it really depends on your personal taste. Fresh is always best but bottled lemon juice and dried parsley would probably work the same, although if I didn't have fresh parsley I'd substitute with something like fresh mint before heading to the dried herb section.

Okay, so quinoa has a bitter coating on it, that keeps the seeds nice and safe when they're in the wild. First step is to give it a bit of a rinse to get this off. The stuff from the supermarket has probably had this step done already, but I'd do it again just to make sure.

I used a sieve and a pot of water, swirling the quinoa around in the sieve with my hand and through the water.  The water turns cloudy, like my poor iPhone pic will show you, and after about 4 rinses the water ends up pretty clear.

Next, time to cook! I cooked it just like rice - about 1cm of water above the quinoa in the pot, bring to the boil then turn down to half until "crab holes" appear and the seeds are soft. Kinda like this:

You can see that the seeds end up having two parts - a squishy, part, and a curly seed part. Someone who knows a lot more about plants than me (which isn't hard!) would be able to tell you what these bits are exactly, but all I know is that it's all edible.

Okay, so it can't be a salad with only one ingredient, so while my quinoa was cooking away I prepared the other parts! Chop stuff up to the size you prefer.

Then pile the quinoa into a bowl...

And mix through the rest, and voila!

"Now wait a minute" I hear you think. "The recipe says lemon yet I spy LIME in those pictures!" - ah-HAH! You would be correct, Beady-Eyed One. And you know what that was?

Stolen from here.
A big freaken mistake. TRUST ME. This salad needs the zing of the lemon, and not the zang of the lime. Woops. Thing was, the shop had limes but not lemons, and I was too lazy to go and steal a lemon from the neighbours...

Anyway, the overall taste is pretty good - you gotta approach it not expecting it to taste like rice or couscous or whatever. It has a nutty aftertaste, and I have to say I dig it. I reckon this recipe would be good with some lamb and minted natural yoghurt - or maybe something chickeny. The Kindred Organics website have some pretty good recipies too!

So, if you like your grainy type things, grab some quinoa sometime and give it a try! And let me know what you create! If you're already a quinoa fan, I'd love to hear about how you cook it.


Sunday, September 9, 2012

What did the cheese say when it looked in the mirror? Hallou-mi!

Did you know that I'm a fan of terrible puns and very bad jokes? Well.... you do now! I'm also a fan of cheese (who isn't?! weirdos, that's who) and it surprises me how many people have never heard or tried halloumi. Who are these people I keep spending my time with?! Honestly.

For those that don't know, halloumi is a cheese traditionally made from unpasteurised goat and/or sheep milk.  It's most unique quality is its very high melt point. It's a cheese that you can cook, fry, chuck on the BBQ, and use in a lot of ways that cheese usually isn't good for. It's also known as squeaky cheese, because its kind of noisy when you eat it. Half the fun if you ask me!

You can buy it from the shops in the same section you can find pre-packaged feta, but I prefer to purchase it from Farm Gate Market when Elgaar Farm are in town, because its local, organic, from a fantastic business, and as an added bonus it is given to you after being plucked from a very attractive ceramic vessel by a very friendly dude! 

Halloumi has been around for a long time, originating from Cypress, where it was kept in vats of its own juices with mint leaves as a preservative. The local stuff is mint free, but I'm sure the addition of mint makes it very tasty.

As my lovely man is a cheese lover, it would be wrong not to introduce him to halloumi... I'm sure it will be a favourite from now on!

Jar Potential

Pantry plastics are expensive. You might not realise this. Perhaps your pantry is full of various containers you've collected over the years, inherited, purchased, gifted, forced upon you at the last Tupperware party you couldn't avoid... or maybe you're the sort of person who worries little for containers, and you simply leave things in their original packets (and the lucky ones get a rubber band or peg to keep the contents in check). 

The more I begin to stock my pantry, and more I realise how I must have left my pantry containers behind... and how damn expensive they are when you need to buy a lot. And I'm not sure about you, but I just know that the dodgy ones at the cheapo shops just don't cut it!

When I started my new job, it was no surprise that everyone drinks a metric shittonne of coffee. But what surprised me was, the kitchen cupboards were full of old coffee jars! It didn't take long for me to find no-one was keeping them for a particular reason, and bowerbird-Jess didn't hesitate to whisk them home.

Never ending Jars....
Thankfully Moccona make great jars for storage - these ones fit about 2 litres of stuff, have strong, air tight seals, and being glass they are much nicer looking than plastic. Also, knowing I'm giving these guys a new life and keeping them out of landfill makes me happy :)

I know they don't look like much now, but I'm inspired by the beautiful pantries I see online, all neat and tidy with everything sweetly labelled and all matchy matchy... 

"It will be mine....." *for free!*