Monday, August 27, 2012

Ways with Words......

During the last few weeks the weather has not been conducive for much outside my roving eye has been scanning the house, ever searching for a way to personalise our space-always on the tighest of budgets!

One of the easiest ways to add some interest to your home is by "tarting" with art-of course, art is in the eye of the beholder!

Now, as much as I would love a Van Gogh in the entry.... the pockets are not likely to be deep enough in this I like personal touches.

Ergo-enter my trusty Toshiba laptop and home printer.

I printed out a piece of prose I wrote last week, whacked it in a cheap frame and put it up in our entry. I'm contemplating pasting the printout onto an old piece of timber and distressing it.. or getting a better frame.
The beauty is that because it is so cheap it matters not if I make a right royal cockup of it! I can just print out another one!
This little print joins a couple of other pieces around the house.....
Above our bed is a fragment of His Lordship's favourite song...

And in our living room I have hung this:

Our family is at the point where this particular piece is very pertinent!
What other cheap decorating ideas have you got?

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Sunday slow...........

For the first time in many weeks His Lordship and I had the whole weekend at home-which saw us spend yesterday pottering around the house and yard, tidying and rearranging.

Then the afternoon I spent baking as we had arranged for the MIL and GrandMIL ( she is 94) to visit today for afternoon tea. I relished the chance to spend time in the kitchen cooking a coffee cake, triple choc muffins, blondies and some tomato, feta & pine nut tartlets.

Below: Used a muffin tray for the shortcase pastry tartlet shells
Below: Mr Oliver's beans helping with the blind baking
Below: Filling ingredients being prepared whilst tartlet shells bake
Below: Filling ingredients artistically arranged
Below: Egg mix carefully poured in
Below: Beautifully baked. ( Humble aren't I? )
Below: Tarlets as presented-greenery on plate and finely chopped sundried tomato & feta sprinkled on top.
Below: Another angle because I think they looked good! ;)
 Below: Blondies...mmmmmm.
Below: His Lordship's favourite Coffee Cake.
 Below: Triple Choc muffins
Below: Not much in the way of floral material here at the moment! A branch snipped from a couple of the natives shoved in a jar with the sole rose available, then a length of ribbon wrapped around the jar and Voila! centrepiece!
 Below: Setting the table

 Below: Cutlery shoved in another old jar
 Below: Nom,nom,nom!
I enjoyed the chance to bake and set the table. We had a lovely relaxed afternoon and thoroughly cherished the tales that GrandMIL shares with us.
How was your Sunday?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Thursday Thrift....

Water, H2O, aqua, wasser, agua,maji or dwr-regardless of the language we can't live without water! On our little acre of paradise we rely solely on rainwater-so when we built the house we installed 4 large tanks. All up, we store just under 100,000litres of pure, FREE rainwater!

His Lordship has been spotted on the odd occasion gazing at the tanks with something akin to adoration on his face, he then happily wanders off muttering something about never having another water bill......sometimes it is so easy to keep a Banker with a mix of Scottish and Welsh blood happy!

Ok,Ok...I MAY be exaggerating-but not by much! Did I mention that he is a BANKER? With Scottish and Welsh ancestry? I'm not saying that he is tight-but a fish's sphincter muscle comes to mind..... I should point out at this point that he doesn't read my blog-technophobe bigtime is my darling!

Back to the topic at hand-Water.
Not only is water an integral part of our very existence ( just ask anyone on the African continent suffering through drought!), but it is also one of the easiest and cheap ways to save a dollar-or two these days!
Glass half full or half empty?
Here in the Casa, we keep 3 bottles of water chilled in the fridge at all times ( yes, one of these bottles is a recycled wine bottle-nice drop it was too!)

Pretty blue bottle.
We also have a collection of refillable drink bottles ( usually obtained at little or no cost at conferences etc-did I mention His Lordship's ancestry? Or that he is a banker?) which live in a plastic crate at the bottom of the pantry-filled up from the chilled fridge water and taken whenever we leave the house there is no need to spend money on water when out and about.
Yesterday I saw a shop selling bottled water for $4-for a 400ml bottle! Geez-that means that our 100,000litres in the backyard is worth a small fortune-yay, we are rich! Woohoo-wait until I tell His Lordship...... * cue theme music from the Beverley Hillbillies here.....
So, with a little forethought ( and a decent wine drinking session-you NEED those empties for water storage......), you need never buy bottled water again....well, rarely anyhow!
Just because I like the photo....

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Thursday thrift....

Do you bake? CAN you bake? If not-why not? Baking from scratch is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to save yourself some of your $$$$. I know some people are intimidated about getting in the kitchen ( it comes with the house for a reason people..... ;) ) and creating culinary concocotions-but I truly don't understand it.

Baking is a form of chemistry-and unlike high school chemistry where you had to memorise elemental tables ( elemental? More like just plain old mental if you ask me!) etc, with Kitchen Chemistry all you have to do is precisely follow a recipe ( if you are a beginner- I tend to tweak these days...)and voila! Food!

I had a craving for a deeply decadent chocolate mud cake this week- but didn't have any chocolate in the house ( I didn't have any because if I buy it it gets eaten and then when I need some there is none, so I buy it and it gets eaten and then when I need it.....get the picture? ) so I used the Frugal Chocolate Cake recipe which is a great standby. I noticed that Sandra at also uses this recipe- tasty isn't it Sandra?

 My lovely Kitchen Aid Mixer- AKA as the Porn Star after someone called it Kitchen Porn-isn't she beautiful? Oh, and that is the cocoa/water mix & eggs waiting to go in.
 Creaming butter and sugar
 Mmmm.....delicious and decadent....these days I get to lick the beater because the fledglings have flown and I tend to cook when no-one else is at home-just so that I can lick the beater!
My secret tweak- a couple of spoonfuls of a locally distilled Green Walnut Liquer. I also topped the cake with a White Chocolate ganache-to juxtapose with the deep chocolate colour of the cake itself.

Sorry-no after pics because the cake was soooooo good that there isn't any left! His Lordship scoffed it- I promise....leaving me to but taste the crumbs ( Ok,ok maybe a slice or two!)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Two way Tuesday.........

The weather is ordinary, I have to be at home to deal with stonemasons fixing our benchtop and I'm very a little on the grumpy side..........

To cheer myself up I thought I'd drop in a quick post-about chicken Two ways!

When we did the grocery shopping on Sunday chicken thigh fillets were a really good price-so I grabbed just over a kilo.

Rather than dividing the fillets up and freezing some I decided to organise the meals I was using them for and cook them both on the same day whilst I had time in the kitchen-that way I don't have to stress about getting home from work and cooking a whole meal! I like less stress.....

I decided to an old favourite- Apricot Chicken ( with peas) and a Chicken, Port and Tomato sauce to be served with pasta.

I marinated both concoctions for a few hours before cooking the Apricot Chicken in the pressure cooker and panfrying the Chicken, Port & Tomato Sauce. Mmmmmm........

Served with rice the Apricot Chicken fed us last night, provided lunch for His Lordship today and there's enough for another meal for us both later in the week.

Now- if only the sun would start shining on a more regular basis I could get out into the mudpit vegetable garden!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Monday's musings....

After a weekend where we ending up accomplishing more than I thought we would, I am comfortably perched on our couch watching the closing ceremony of the London Olympics-and thoroughly enjoying it!

I love the British ability to poke fun at themselves and add a touch of whimsy to supposedly serious events. I mean-Mr Bean in the opening ceremony and Monty Python in the closing! Gold!

Around the abode we have had a busy weekend-commenced with picking up the 5 & 4 year old grandsons Saturday morning after swimming lessons for a sleepover. We then made a day of it with them-visiting their great-great grandmother, having a picnic lunch down at Lake Pertobe and generally allowing them to run....and run....and run! Got to tire the blighters out somehow! ;)

We took them back to their parents Sunday morning-after a 3 am visit from the 4 yr old, a 6 am wakeup from the 5 yr old and me giving in at 6-30 and getting up with them! Yep 4 hours sleep works for me... *rolls eyes.

Grocery shop on the way back here, then His Lordship dragged out the whipper snipper whilst I stayed inside and made a sourdough pizza for lunch, dog food in the pressure cooker and then got the urge to do some rearranging......

Lamps have been swapped, vignettes created and areas generally tweaked-all in all a good days work!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Thursday thrift.....

Recently our 4th ( in April) and 5th (in July) grandchildren were born-we are loving being grandparents in our mid means that we have enough energy to keep up with the kidlets!

Anyway, being quite the doting grandmother; I wanted to make something for each of the grandies that would be unique-but also affordable!  I ended up deciding to create a framed "artwork" of their names. I chose scrapbooking paper, printed out their names in a font from the computer and then placed that over the top sheet of paper. Cutting around the printed letters with a sharp craft knife created the names in the top sheet-with a contrasting coour underneath the names then "popped".

Note to young players.....lightly tape the computer print out to the top sheet of scrapbooking paper ( on the non-visible side!) to ensure it stays put. Makes it MUCH easier to cut around the curves....don't ask how I know, I just do! ;)
A frame each from one of the bargain shops and voila!- cheap and cheerful gifts!

I can't find the photos of the 3 for the eldest boys, so I'll just show the two youngest's. :)

Any other cheap and cheerful gift ideas out there?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Why white?

What is a girl to do when she wants to update her dated, but very solid bedroom suite and there is no room in the budget for such a purchase? If she is of a self sufficient mind set she reaches for the paint pot.......

Our bedroom suite was purchased around 14 years ago-and has stood us in good stead. It has scratch marks from dog claws, tooth marks from teething grandsons and has been a place of love and comfort. Many lifechnaging discussions have taken place in that bed-so needless to say that emotionally I am quite attached to it.

Unfortunately, I felt a tad blerghhhh when I looked at it! It was just lacking "something"!

A couple of coats of an all purpose stain blocking undercoat, followed by 2 coats of Dulux Natural White later and we have a faux French Farmhouse vibe goin' on! It feels fresher-even His Lordship is liking it... :) I was going to paint the bed itself-but at this point in time I've decided to just paint the other bedside table and live with it for a while.

I've now got my eye on our halltable-it may also get a white out!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Greetings and gratitude....

Thankyou for all the thoughts whilst I was unwell. I'm back in the land of the living-it's taken a double bactch of antibiotics though!

I still have a hacking cough-although I am no longer scaring small children with it!

The next few days will be spent catching up on household chores and layering more manure and straw into the garden beds to prepare for Spring plantings.
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