Jun 30, 2013

Quilts 1700-1945 - Queensland Art Gallery

Mum and I had a special girl's day out yesterday for her birthday and we took in the Quilts exhibit at the QueenslandArt Gallery. Mum had actually seen most of the exhibit 3 years ago at the V&A in London while visiting my brother. I think even if you aren't a quilter or a quilt fan there was still plenty to appreciate.

My favourite quilts were the hexagon ones -especially the one done by soldiers. (Images from the official program)

We followed the exhibition with an early lunch in the Gallery Cafe which was excellent value. We had this great platter with a glass of champers - all very yummy.

There was of course a spot of shopping in the pop up shop as well.

Jun 26, 2013

raspberry ripple pikelets

The kiddies and I love a good batch of pikelets. I think I've spoken before of our fondness for the banana pikelets from Veggie Mama. I discovered over time and by amalgamating several different pikelet and pancake recipes a simple base recipe which can be adjusted to suit your taste or pantry.

Today I decided to add some raspberries to the mix. Don't get me wrong I'm not so flushed with cash that I can squander a whole punnet of ripe raspberries. We always keep a couple of boxes of the frozen ones for smoothies or baking. The result was a lovely jammy taste within the pikelet without being too sugary.

The base pancake recipe is:
1 cup of self raising flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 egg
1 cup of milk
A dash of vanilla

To convert to pikelets add 1-2 tablespoons of sugar (to taste).

Today to make the raspberry ripple I combined a handful of frozen raspberries with a teaspoon of sugar and a splash of water. I put this into the microwave for 20 seconds just to defrost. I then added this to the pikelet mix (I only used a smallish amount of sugar in the actual pikelet batter).

We ate them hot out of the pan with butter and honey. I tend not to add to much sugar to the pikelet mix because lets face it we all slather them in honey or jam!!

Jun 23, 2013

kitchen chair makeover finished -Annie Sloan Chalk Paint

I have now all but finished making over our kitchen chairs. All 7 of them. I do have 2 or 3 more under the house butsome are broken or have nails sticking out in bad places. I've had a lot of fun with this project. I quite like painting but hate the rigmarole of washing brushes etc. As the paint can be washed out in water I can just quickly run the brush under my laundry tap and it's done.

I did get better at the waxing part and managed to get the last few chairs shinier. I will go back and rewax the earlier ones.

You can see here one chair pre wax

And post wax.

I have painted 7 chairs with 2 coats of paint and 2 coats of wax each and have used about half of each tin.

I thought this chair would be my favorite. I thought the yellow would look great under the grey. And it does. But the unevenness of the underlying paint does make it look a bit messy. After my first coat of paint I did scrape off quite a bit of the new and old paint to try and tidy it up a bit which helped a little but didn't totally fix it. This one will be my sewing room chair. I can enjoy the yellow without it sticking out like a sore thumb.

There have been some concerns raised this week regarding the toxins present in the wax. While the paint is said to be low VOC and eco friendly nothing has really been said about the wax. I think in future I will use a more eco friendly and family friendly waax

Jun 18, 2013

a very crisp weekend

Last weekend saw our first real burst of cold weather. After a week of rainy weather it was a nice change.

Saturday was Husband Guy's birthday so we started the day with presents and some very yummy pancakes. We were lucky enough to have a night out sans children so we chose dinner at a local recently re-opened French restaurant. Yummy wine, good company.

The next day we went for a quick walk with the kids and fur kids. We are lucky to live opposite a gorgeous tract of bushland, which you can walk through to access the local mega shopping centre. The best of both worlds. On a crisp but sunny Sunday it was very picturesque.

Once home from our walk we did a little vege gardening, planting some peas, strawberries and baby spinach. We even found/harvested some very small but cute potatoes in one of the beds.

Jun 17, 2013

budget meals - leftover chicken and vege rice

As part of my budget meals series I've been asking some of my friends for their best recipes so I can share them here with you.

Today's recipe comes from my good friend Sarah who blogs at Travelling with Ana as well as her food blog the Leaping Zucchini. Sarah is an expat New Zealander now living in Portland, Oregan. She is a mum to two littlies and worked for many years in the fruit and vege industry. Currently Sarah is studying a PhD in Collaborative Innovation in Agribusiness.

This is one of our favourite ways to use up left over chicken and veges. It's a one-pan, quick cook meal that's a hit with both the kids and my husband so I always roast more chicken than we can eat in one night to make sure I have enough leftover for this.

To make it: pan fry and onion and a clove or two of garlic until transparent then cover with a litre of chicken stock. Add about a cup to a cup and a half of rice and bring to the boil. When the rice is about half to three quarters cooked add frozen veges (Iused carrots, corn peas and beans), then fresh veges (Iused red and orange capsicum and celery) then lastly, just as the rice is almost done, add the leftover cooked chicken so it's reheated in the mix. If the chicken is well seasoned then there may be no need to add anything else, otherwise salt, pepper, oregano and thyme are favourites to flavour it up. Enjoy!

Thanks Sarah! I can't wait to try it. I would think if you really wanted to make it a quick meal you could use a cooked chicken from the supermarket. Or roast up some chicken thighs or drumsticks and use them instead.

Jun 15, 2013

Lena's chair makeover - Annie Sloan Chalk Paint

It's chalk paint a-go-go around here at the moment.
My friend Lena at Happy Little Queenslander was working on a very cute little piano stool which she was also going to reupholster in Thea and Sami fabric.

I've done a little upholstery in the past so I offered to help Lena with that part. Fair to say we were both pretty stoked with the result. Here is the finished product (minus a little braiding to cover the staples on the cushion). Lena will be posting a full wrap up of the chair makeover on her blog soon so make sure you check it out :)

Jun 13, 2013

kitchen chair makeover - Annie Sloan Chalk Paint

**This is not a sponsored post. I purchased the paint and this is my honest opinion**

I've been hearing a lot across all forms of social media recently about Annie Sloan's Chalk Paint. I had banned myself from investigating it as I had a lot on the go - but when I finished those two crochet blankets the other week I took a little look. The basic gist is that this paint goes on ANYTHING.

I've been refurbishing our kitchen chairs for nearly as long as we've owned them. At least 10 years. We had sucessfully done the table years before but never quite got the chairs right. We initially wanted to sand them back all the way and clear varnish them like the table. Then a couple of years ago I conceded that there were just too many layers of paint and too much time would be involved in sanding to wood so I decided they would be painted. Then a few months ago again I decided that I would paint them each a different colour. I go so far as to buy 4 different coloured paints and ask for a sander for Christmas.

Cut a long story short I got so far as to paint one chair grey. When I heard that the Chalk Paint would go on ANYTHING without any prep I decided to give it a whirl. I headed over to my local stockist and purchased the Paris Grey paint and the Soft Wax.

I decided to really test this paint out so I set it some fairly tough challenges. Dirty chairs with many layers of glossy paint, some chairs half sanded, big chips of paint missing.

After the first chair it become clear to me that I wasn't going to get the really sharp, glossy finish I had originally had in mind. Instead the paint is flat matte and then you add a soft sheen (and waterproofing) with the wax. I embraced my inner Karate Kid and 'wax on, wax off' I buffed the chair to a lovely sheen.

In the end I have embraced the product. To purchase the paint and wax is not cheap. But it does go a long way. And the savings you will make on time (prepping, sanding, drying) more than make up for it. You don't have to have super big muscles to buff the wax either, just a decent cloth. I even embraced a bit of the "Shabby Chic" look by giving the chairs a light sand to reveal some of the old paint colours and wood below. I actually like this as it reminds me of my Grandparents (the previous owners) and the original lives of the chairs.

Hopefully in the next couple of months you will see me tackle a MUCH bigger project with this paint.... stay tuned....

Jun 9, 2013

budget meals - homemade muesli bars

I can't take credit for this recipe, a Mum at school relayed it to me (hi Belinda) and I've adapted it from there. These muesli bars are yummy and can be adapted to your individual taste or needs. Our school is nut free so we can't send store bought muesli bars for morning tea. By making my own though I can control what goes into them and cater them to the Little Guy's tastes.

You will need
3 cups of rolled oats
1 tin of condensed milk
2-3 cups of other stuff such as pepitas, sunflower seeds, dried fruits, quinoa, chia, cocnut, nuts etc. The list is endless.

Mix your ingredients together ensuring everything is incorporated. Press into a baking paper lined brownie tin and bake at about 160 degrees C for about 30 - 40 mins. I like it when they go quite and dark around the edges and crispy whereas little Guy prefers the softer ones from the middle of the pan.

I've started making two batches, one for the little Guy for school with no nuts and one for Husband Guy to take to work which includes nuts.

So far I have tried Apricot and Coconut, Cranberry, Fig and Almond. I usually include sunflower seeds and pepitas to every one.

There you go, quite cheap to make and fairly healthy little crunchy and sweet snack. Suitable for school lunch boxes and to have with morning coffee.

Jun 8, 2013

two crochet blankets finished!

I love a good finish. Last week I was a determined lady and I finshed two blankets which had both been hanging around for a while - 3 and 6 months. One was a Christmas present for my in-laws who had been very patiently waiting. The other was a new born baby gift for friends.

The baby blanket was my first attempt at a ripple and I did really enjoy it but it was quite time consuming and yarn heavy. Looks gorgeous though.

The other was a giant granny square in 4 colours. I do like giant granny squares but at you get to the final massive rows it does get a bit tiresome. I finished it in a row of treble crochets and it gave it a nice edge.

I think the next blanket I try will be a cross between the two. A granny stripe or granny ripple. Less heavy on the yarn but done in short rows to keep it interesting! As a treat to myself I crocheted a mandala, something I had wanted to try but couldn't start until I had a couple of finishes under my belt.

Jun 4, 2013

a few little changes

You have probably noticed a few little housekeeping changes around here lately. I've had a little bit of advertising and will hopefully be having a bit more.

Most significantly though I joined the Simply Crochet affiliate program. What this means for you is you can subscribe to Simply Crochet or any of the other My Favourite Magazine titles (such as Mollie Makes) just by clicking on the link in the side bar here on the blog. They will also be sending me special offers and discount codes exclusively for my readers! And as a bonus for me I do receive a little payment each time one of you lovely readers subscribes to a magazine via my blog.

I hope you don't mind the addition of this advertising to my blog. Maybe I can get a little pocket money from it and I will endeavour to bring you more content and relevant advertising only. :)

Jun 3, 2013

budget meals - cleansing vege soup

Now this soup isn't for everyone, but as with most things in life it can be tweaked to suit. I'm using this soup as a bit of a cleanse after a week of eating a lot of junk. As a stay at home mum my lunch varies from left over rice cracker with vegemite to a scone and a coffee at the local shops. Very rarely is it yummy or healthy. I had been doing quite well with my walking too but due to bad weather last week it was put on hold.

So this morning straight after school drop off Amelie and I took the pram out for a walk to the local shops to buy our week's supply of fruit and veges. I took the long way round for maximum distance and to include a bit of a hill in an otherwise flat walk. I've been using the RunKeeper app on my phone which tracks your route via GPS and keeps a record of your walks. I'm finding this quite handy and a bit of a motivational tool. It also posts results to your Facebook page if you let it.... another super motivator!

So here is my cleansing vege soup. You can adjust this to be a family meal by adding bacon, pasta, barley, beans or more starchy veges like potato.

Finely slice 1 leek, 1 clove of garlic and one large onion and sweat them off in a large stock pot.

Once they have worked up a bit of a sweat add your other sliced veges - I used half a bunch of celery, 2 carrots, 1/4 of a cabbage, half a small cauliflower, 2 handfuls of baby spinach and 6 or so small mushrooms. I cooked them all for a minute or two before adding a litre of chicken stock and a litre of water.

Cook it all on a med- high heat for an hour or so. I then blended it all up using my stick mixer. I like this sort of 'plain' vege soup to be blended with just a hint of texture. Now have a taste and add some salt and pepper. I also added lashings of cumin and some cayenne pepper. The hit of flavour from these spices is awesome for this soup.

I've just had a bowl of this and it is pretty tasty, especially with the kick from the cumin and cayenne. The rest is going in my fridge to be reheated for my lunch throughout the week. Yay! It's cheap, healthy and hopefully will keep my eating on track this week.

Jun 2, 2013

budget meals - bottom of the fridge fritata

Bottom of the fridge fritata is probably a really unattractive name for a dish but I find that the night before I'm due to do our fruit and vege shop that this is a great meal to have. You can use up the ends of just about any vege and just use a couple of eggs and maybe some cheese to tie it all together. It's also lovely cold the next day for lunch. I usually serve this fritata just as is but you could also team it with a green salad. I kind of figure though that I'll just cram all the veges into the dish and be done with it!

I like to toast of a few pine nuts to start with in a frying pan - put them into a large mixing bowl once toasty.

Into the same pan I will then fry off bacon or ham or chorizo slices, if I'm going that fancy/have it kicking around in the fridge/husband is complaining of lack of meat.

The basis for my fritata is usually baby spinach - so I wilt this down with a tiny bit of butter in thefrying pan next. Ditto for sliced mushrooms or any other vege that benefits from cooking. Frozen peas are also good, I just give them a little microwave in some water to thaw them out first.

Add all the ingredients into your mixing bowl with a couple of good handfuls of grated cheese or crumbled feta. Then add some eggs. I generally go for 4 - 6 eggs depending on how much veges I've used and how many eggs I actually have. Give it a mix to break up the eggs and incorporate all the ingredients.

I have one of those nifty fry pans that can go into the oven so I put a layer of baking paper in the bottom and then pour the eggy/vege/cheesy mixture in and place the whole thing in the oven at about 180degrees for about 10 - 15 mins or until it is set and browning on top. You could do it in a quiche pan or even a baking dish. The baking paper just stops it sticking to my pan and saves me washing up 2 dishes.

This dish is cheap and healthy and quite economical in that you use up all your odds and ends. Easily under the $10 mark. My children are pretty good eaters but if yours are fussy you could always make sure the veges are cut up small.

Jun 1, 2013

budget meals - felafel kebabs with flat bread

This meal is a good vegetarian option which can be converted to a meat meal. It is also great for the kids as they always love to make things up themselves and eat with their hands.

There are heaps of recipes going around for felafel but the basic gist is pureed chick peas with some onion, herbs and spices. A can of chick peas will cost you around $2 and should make enough felafel patties for a family of 4. I use this basic recipe for felafel. I just add the herbs basically by taste, adjusting the flavour as I go. And I only add the flour if it's needed to stiffen the mixture.

I then make a quick salad of diced tomato and cucumber, you could also add mint or parsley. Some lettuce or baby spinach for a bit more green. A sauce is also nice so I either make hummus (more chickpeas!) or I make a simple cucumber and yoghurt dip by grating a cucumber and a tiny bit of lemon zest into natural yoghurt. A small tub of natural yoghurt will cost you a couple of dollars.

The last step which is really yummy is to make your own flat bread. I've done this a couple of times and we all love it. You can find the recipe I use here, as well as some other very tasty recipes.

All up this is quite an easy meal, healthy, kids love it and it's cheap!
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