Monday, October 31, 2011

White Tall Boy and Some Purchases

Last Friday I had great success at a furniture auction. I have been looking for a nice wardrobe and long low chest of drawers for my daughter's room. I found a matching set that I got relatively cheaply. They are a terrible mustard yellow colour as it probably was a cream oil based paint that over the years has discoloured.  I will repaint them white when I have time.

So I'm selling the tall boy that was in her room. I've given it a fresh coat of paint and wax.  This is a lovely chest of drawers that I bought when I first finished university.  However it is not good for a little girl who can't reach the top drawers or even pull out the lower ones as they are so deep and heavy once full.

and here are some very bad iPhone shots of the furniture I'm replacing it with.  Please excuse the mess....

I'll post some better photos of her room once I've had a chance to paint the furniture.
Happy Halloween, we're just home from trick or treating and it's time to get these kiddiwinks to bed.

Fiona x

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Cherub Lamp

I was recently given this lovely cherub/angel lamp.  I'm tempted to remove the lamp part and just mount the angels on a big chunky block of wood.  I'll leave it like this for a while though and see how I feel in a month or so.

Normally I'm not a fan of angels and cherubs - actually cherubs freak me out a little but these two have such sweet faces. I often find that cherubs look a bit sinister (especially for something that's meant to be angelic).

I've put them on this sideboard in my study area for the time being.  (And yes I know that the frames aren't hanging straight).

I've had a lovely day. My dad came over (from 2 hours away in traffic) to take me supermarket shopping and also to Bunnings (hardware).  I am still not driving and have been doing my weekly shop by walking 30 mins to the supermarket and then catching a taxi home with all the groceries. So it was nice to do it the easy way. He also took me to lunch, lovely to spend some time with him.

And I have finally worked out what colour my house trim actually is. Dulux North Sea Blue.  I'll be repainting the front door tomorrow!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Easy Dinner Recipe - Italian Lamb Shanks

I cooked these lamb shanks for dinner the other night - great for when it's a little cold outside. We've been having very changeable weather lately. It was a lovely hot 32 degrees the other day but now it's back to winter weather.

This meal is super easy - one of those ones that you can chuck everything into the pan and then let simmer while you play with the kids or sneak off and browse blogs on your iPad....

It's the way to my husband's heart.

Take some lamb shanks (anywhere between 2 to 6 for this recipe) and season them in flour, salt and pepper. 

In a pan saute the lamb shanks, onion, garlic and celery with a little olive oil until the meat is browned and the onion mix is transparent.  I have used red onion in the photo as it was all I had, but I usually use brown onions. This is one of those recipes where quantities don't matter too much. I only had 2 lamb shanks so I used 1 onion, 2 sticks of celery and 2 garlic cloves. If I was using more shanks I 'd double that amount, possibly not double the garlic though.

Once the meat is browned, add a teaspoon of sugar, a teaspoon of salt, a tin of died tomatoes, a cup of stock or water and half a cup of dry white wine (if you don't have any open you can skip this, or just drink it yourself if the kids are annoying you) and some aromatic herbs. I added a bay leaf and some thyme from the garden. Rosemary is also a good option.

Bring to the boil, lower the heat and cover. Now just let this simmer for around 90 minutes to 2 hours until the shanks are tender. Enough time for you to go and catch up on all your favourite blogs.

At this stage you can add sliced mushrooms and cook for a further 10 minutes or you can just serve.

This is divine served with gnocchi, mashed potato or pasta.
 This is divine served with gnocchi, mashed potato or pasta.

all this equals a happy husband...

cheers Fiona

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Baking Bread

On Sunday afternoon the kids and I made bread. We made a plaited loaf to have with dinner and some little rolls for the kids to take to their teachers on Monday morning. However as I was serving dinner, I noticed one bread roll was missing. My husband piped up guiltily "well I didn't know they were for the teachers".

So yesterday afternoon we were making bread again....

This is a fantastic recipe that works every time.  (courtesy of The Australian Women's Weekly Bake cookbook).  US readers be aware that your cup measurements are different to our Australian ones, I think.

You will need:
10g dried yeast
2 teaspoons castor sugar
125ml warm water
2 1/2 cups (375g) plain flour
1 tsp salt
30g butter, melted
125 mls warm milk

Whisk yeast, sugar and the warm water in a jug or bowl until yeast dissolves. Cover and stand in a warm place for about 10 minutes until the mixture is all frothy.

Sift flour and salt into a bowl. Stir in melted butter, milk and yeast mixture. If you have a mixer with a dough hook then mix on a low-medium speed for about 6 minutes. Else, turn dough onto a floured surface and give those biceps a workout. You'll need to knead for about 10 minutes until the dough is nice and elastic. I LOVE my KitchenAid!

Don't worry that the dough is still sticky at this stage. It is meant to be.  Otherwise your bread will be too heavy.

 Place the dough into a large oiled bowl, turning the dough once to cover it in oil. Cover and stand it in a warm place for about 1 hour or until the dough doubles in size.

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees (180 degrees Celcius for a fan forced oven). Oil an oven tray.

Turn the risen dough onto a floured surface and knead until smooth. 

These photos are of my 8 year old daughter kneading. She has amazing action - like an Italian nonna!
Shape your dough into whatever shapes you want. We made 4 plaited loaves using a double recipe. Plait just like you would long hair.
Place your rolls or loaves onto the oiled tray. Leave enough room between the loaves for them to spread.
If you want seeds on the top then brush with oil and sprinkle them on.
Cover with a clean tea towel and stand in a warm place for 20 minutes. The loaves should look something like this below.
Bake - the timing will depend on the shapes you have made. One large loaf will take approx 45 minutes. These loaves took around 25 minutes. Bread rolls will take about 15 minutes.
Turn onto a wire rack to cool. (or eat warm!)

Happy Baking! 
Sharing at:
Funky Junk Interiors

Monday, October 24, 2011

Grey and White Bedside Table

I've had a reasonably productive day - did some paid work (business consulting), painted some furniture, baked bread and cooked lamb shanks for dinner, did reading in my son's kindergarten, cycled for 40 mins (stationary bike in my lounge room), picked up a cabinet, did some housework and I even remembered to get ham for the kids' lunch tomorrow.

I've finished a quick makeover on a little vintage bedside table. The very top part of this had badly peeling and broken veneer so I just peeled it all off and sanded down the wood underneath. I then painted it all a greenish-grey and painted the trim in white. I think it's very sweet.

And here is the before photo. If people even dusted and polished their furniture before sending it in for auction I'm sure they would get heaps more money for their items. Although I'm not about to suggest that to the sellers....

In regards to my broken arm's progress, it's less painful today. I'm doing my physio exercises every 3 hours and I have booked into one of sydney's best hand and wrist orthopedic surgeon for a second opinion next week. I'm just not 100% happy with the alignment of my hand.

Anyway I hope you've all had a good start to the week also.


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Hello Cupcake!!

Today I'm surrounded by vanilla cupcake ingredients as I'm baking 200 cupcakes for our school movie night fundraiser tomorrow evening.

I've only been going for two hours and I've already licked my fingers that many times, I feel sick from the sugar rush.

So I thought I'd share these gorgeous images of cupcakes. Mine won't look like these though - the movie is Toy Story 3 so my kids and I have cut out heaps of little pictures of the movie characters and we'll glue them on to toothpicks and use them as cake toppers. I'll post some photos on facebook when we're done.

And some of my own creations

Well it's back to the kitchen for this little Martha Stewart....

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A Blue Chair and Side Table

I've finished my first two projects in a long while....and my arm ached last night but I didn't dare complain to my husband who already thinks I'm doing too much.

The little side table I shared in the last post has been painted in a french taupe (my kitchen colour) and I found (in my shed, as you do..) a gorgeous vintage crackled porcelain handle that was made in Limoges, France. It suits the table perfectly. I think I may keep this table for a while.

My aunt gave me a huge wicker chair that was very bright blue so I toned it down with a darker blue (Deep Ocean Blue by Dulux). I have a huge tin of this as I thought it was our house trim colour but unfortunately it isn't. Our house trim is actually darker than this so I now have a whole 4 litre tin to get rid of. (and I can't work out what our house colour is).

The chair is quite gorgeous. I love the plaited trim detail. It's very comfortable and in perfect condition but I have no room for it so I'll be selling it.

The chair before was a bright ,light blue and a bit too over the top to live with...

....and the side table before:

I'm off to walk to the supermarket and then catch a taxi home with all the groceries. It's such a bummer not being able to drive. Our school has a movie night on Friday and I'm running the cake stall so I've got 200 cupcakes to make and decorate (I offered before I broke my arm but am sure it will still be fine). I'll be busy tomorrow. 


Monday, October 17, 2011

Getting back into it slowly...

I went to the hospital last Friday to get my cast off my broken arm.  I had been completely sure I'd be almost fully functioning again....I'd even told a friend I'd see her at the gym today. So when the doctor started deliberating if they were going to operate and started mentioning things such as mis-alignment, early onset arthritis, possible fusing of my wrist etc I had a little panic!!  Anyway, the outcome is they aren't going to operate as it may actually make things worse but I have four more weeks in a splint and have to try and use my arm even less.  Four more weeks without driving which is a bit of a pain but I am enjoying the walking. (I'm not even allowed to run still).

So today I decided to try a little painting ... something that was light and easy to move and didn't require a lot of sanding.  I have only primed it so far but am happy to be back doing what I love.

This little table is very gorgeous with lovely wood but quite marked and the wood on the table top is actually a different colour to the legs (I think a bad staining job, rather than different wood).

I'm not sure if I should be painting with my arm but I am going a bit mental not being creative.

Check back later this week for the finished piece. I'm still not 100% sure what colour I'll paint it.  I'll have to check what nice paints I have in the shed.