Thursday, March 28, 2013

Set sail on Sydney Harbour

Sydney sailing tall ships on beautiful sydney harbour

It's so good to get out for a little adventure in your own backyard isn't it. One of the many things I love about where we live is its proximity to the harbour and the city. This afternoon the kids left school at lunch time for a little history in action on our harbour. Thanks to some cheap tickets via one of those deal emails, we  set sail on Sydney harbour on a historic Tall Ship.  History coming alive for my kids as well as a beautiful afternoon on the harbour taking in Sydney's beautiful shoreline.

sailing tall ships on beautiful sydney harbour
sailing tall ships on beautiful sydney harbour

The clouds made a beautiful backdrop to the city

sailing tall ships on beautiful sydney harbour opera house
sailing tall ships on beautiful sydney harbour

The sunshine made a spotlight over the harbour bridge.

sailing tall ships on beautiful sydney harbour
sailing tall ships on beautiful sydney harbour
sailing tall ships on beautiful sydney harbour

I have to say though I think the kids preferred the ferry trip home. Aren't kids funny like that. Although the afternoon was very still on the harbour today and there was not much speed in our sails on the tall ship (just lots of people drinking champagne) so the fast ferry home probably was more fun.

sailing tall ships on beautiful sydney harbour
sailing tall ships on beautiful sydney harbour

Have a lovely Easter,


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Easter Break: Hot Cross Bun Recipe

Hi everyone, I'm taking a little blog holiday for the moment. I've been a little run down with possibly the flu and I have decided to pull back from the non essentials of life (and yes, blogging is non-essential although it doesn't feel like it at times).

Here's a post I wrote last year with a good hot cross bun recipe. I'm going to be making these on the weekend but I'll add some extra spices.

Enjoy your Easter break and if you are on the roads, travel safely.

Fiona xx


So my little boy came home with a joke yesterday:

What do you get when you pour hot water down a rabbit hole: Hot Cross Bunnies!

It reminded me that Easter is around the corner and I never posted the recipe for the Hot Cross Buns that I make.

fantastic hot cross buns bun recipe easter

This recipe is from The Women's Weekly BAKE cook book.

Hot Cross Buns

Makes 16. Unglazed buns freeze well so start baking now!

For the buns

1 tablespoon (14g) dried yeast
1/4 cup (55g) caster sugar
1 1/2 cups (375ml) warm milk
4 cups (600g) plain flour
1 Teaspoon mixed spice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
60g butter
1 egg
3/4 cup (120g) sultanas

Flour Paste for Cross

1/2 cup (75g) plain flour
2 teaspoon castor sugar
1/3 cup (80ml) water. approx


1 tablespoon caster sugar
1 teaspoon gelatine
1 tablespoon water
  1. Combine yeast, sugar and milk in a small jug. Cover, stand in a warm place for about 10 minutes or until mixture is frothy.
  2. Sift flour and spices into large bowl and rub in butter. Stir in yeast mixture, egg sultanas. Mix to a sticky dough. Cover with plastic wrap, stand in a warm place for about 45 minutes or until dough doubles in size.
  3. Grease a lamington tin or 23cm square tin.
  4. Turn dough onto floured surface, knead for about 5 minutes or until smooth Divide into 16 pieces, knead into balls. Place balls into pan, cover, stand in warm place for 10 minutes or until they have risen to top of pan.
  5. Meanwhile, preheat over to 220°C/200°C fan forced.
  6. Make flour paste for crosses by combining flour and sugar in a cup. Gradually blend in  enough of the water to form a smooth firm paste. Place in piping bag with small plain tube, pipe crosses onto buns.
  7. Bake buns about 20 minutes. Turn buns, topside up, onto cooling wire rack.
  8. Make glaze by stirring ingredients in small saucepan over heat, without boiling, until sugar and gelatine is dissolved.  Brush hot buns with hot glaze. Cool on wire rack.
Unglazed Buns 
fantastic hot cross buns bun recipe easter

Glazed buns

fantastic hot cross buns bun recipe easter

Ready for eating!

fantastic hot cross buns bun recipe easter

These hot cross buns won't keep long as they don't have any preservatives. best to eat straight away or within a day. No problem there as they are so yummy! But if you don't want to be slaving away on Easter Sunday, make the day before and leave the shaped uncooked buns in the pan and cover with oiled cling wrap and place in the fridge overnight. They will prove overnight and you can then pipe the crosses, bake and glaze ready for Easter morning.

Happy Baking!
Fiona xx

Monday, March 18, 2013

White painted furniture and a surprise

lilyfield life white painted furniture for sale sydney

I've had a run on bright white furniture lately although these pieces I finished today are not my usual style as I ended up spray painting them in a high gloss. Something quite different to my usual matte French style of furniture painting. I have never been happier to finish a job!

lilyfield life white painted furniture for sale sydney

These cube shaped beside table and bench started out life, I'd say, in Bali. They spray stained in a dark, dark orange colour, and then top coated. Unfortunately for me where the slats of the bench meet the cross bars, the top coat wasn't sufficient and despite 2 coats of water based Zinsser primer, orange stain was still bleeding through. - More than bleeding, it was a full on hemorrhage. So I did what the professional say to do and that's spray shellac over the trouble areas. Still no success. I finally cracked out the oil based Zinsser BIN and gave it two more coats. Man I was getting sick of it by this stage.  Two coats of BIN seems to cover most of the bleed through except for one little area - I gave it a third BIN coat and then spray painted it in high gloss lacquer. It turned out beautifully... and I have never been happier to say good bye to a piece of furniture. 

lilyfield life white painted furniture for sale sydney
lilyfield life white painted furniture for sale sydney

If I had to do this piece again I would have spray primed it with Zinsser BIN from the outset. It probably would have bled a bit still but it would have been fixed more quickly than 7+ coats of primer. I have worked with bleed-through from old mahogany before but it has never been like this. Anyway all's well that ends well. 

The bedsides were much better behaved!  No bleed through - just lots of love from white paint. Lovely and glossy now ready for the beach house. I didn't style them as the paint was only about 6 hours dry and I didn't want to mark them but you get the picture. 

lilyfield life white painted furniture for sale sydney
lilyfield life white painted furniture for sale sydney

Louise came by this afternoon and picked them all up and was very happy  She said they had nearly thrown the bench out but they are so happy with it white. White paint really can breathe new life into your furniture!

I have two little surprises to share - one really lovely and one kind of funny. The funny one is last night when I was crawling into bed I lay my head on the pillow then crept my hand under the pillow to move it a bit and found this....(terrible late night iPhone photo, I was probably still shaking)

I actually screamed so loudly I woke both the husband thought it was pretty funny, he had put it there, not my son who I initially thought was responsible. The stupid tarantula is remote control, a present from my brother in law, luckily we've never got it working - not that I have tried too hard. It's scary enough sitting still (it's about the size of an adult's face). 

A much nicer surprise was waiting on my doorstep this morning when I got home from swim squad. Along with two cases of delicious Rockfords Alicante Bouchet we recently ordered, was a little thank you present from Jane at Planet Joy.

lilyfield life white painted furniture for sale sydney
lilyfield life white painted furniture for sale sydney

Isn't she thoughtful! so pretty in it's summery fabric.  Thank you, Jane.

Now to hide the damn spider somewhere to scare Phil back ... any suggestions?

Fiona xx

Sunday, March 17, 2013

5 things I'm loving right now

sydney beach sunset

One: Late afternoons on the beach. It seems that Sydney is packing in the sunshine before winter sets it. Summer continues to linger here with beautiful long afternoons spent on the beach. Yesterday we headed over to one of our favourite beaches, Shark Beach. We swam for ages then had a delicious dinner of fish, chips and Greek salad on the shore and watched as the golden sunshine slipped into a beautiful hazy twilight.

Two: Sibling Love - I love it when my kids really get on well together. My kids have their normal fights and arguments but mostly they are great together and very caring to one another. Yesterday at the beach after we'd eaten, Phil and I sat on the cafe deck and watched our kids play on the shore. The kids were just gorgeous, playing on an old pipeline and letting the waves crash over them. They told us later they were making up funny stories and using British accents. "Would you like a cup of tea?" as the waves broke over them. 

Holding hands and giggling together.  
Happiness all round.

I am very close to my sister as well as to my step-siblings, so I love this beautiful relationship between the kids. Long may the peace last (I'll probably be pulling my hair out over them fighting again soon.)

Three: Good Neighbours ... and these flowers. We are blessed with really great neighbours all around us. It's a wonderful community here.  Our immediate neighbours next door bought us these lilies yesterday as thanks for helping them out last week when they were sick. The lilies were unexpected and unnecessary but they are very lovely and brighten up our kitchen. (I am loving the clean kitchen also!)

Four: Scented Candles. I often have a scented candle burning in the kitchen. Kathy, the across the road neighbour, gave me this beautiful Gardenia one. It seems to go on forever. I have it burning for hours a day and it's only half gone. The breeze through the house means the whole house smells beautiful.  

Yesterday I had a vanilla candle lit, just a cheap one but with a lovely scent.  I had my camera out to take some photos of the lilies and went into the kitchen and found my son mesmerised by the flame. It must have taken all his self control to not blow the flame out. He was there watching the candle and drawing with his finger on the bench for ages.  So sweet when you can take photos of your kids without them realising.

Five: Organic Coconut Butter.  A friend put me onto Organic coconut butter a few years ago. I mainly use it as a facial and body moisturiser but I should eat it and cook with it more. Some of the benefits of organic coconut butter are: it boosts immunity, kills bacteria and viruses, protects against cancer and other degenerative diseases, helps with weight loss, and prevents osteoporosis by promoting calcium absorption. It also slows down ageing and is good for skin radiance.  I love how my skin feels after using it and it's cheap and this bottle has lasted me for years. Empty now, so I'll have to get some more.

What are you loving now?

Fiona xx

Friday, March 15, 2013

A painted White Country Sideboard that was an effort

As I sat down to type this post my husband just said that it's the things that you think are the simplest are always the hardest. This pine country style sideboard has definitely been one of those. Man oh man, this took me longer than I expected. Lucky I'm persistent.

white country sideboard painted french Sydney Lilyfield Life

I've even messed up the photos of it and taken them all at 6400 ISO for some reason and I didn't notice until I'd taken the heavy sideboard outside again to be picked up on the weekend. After pulling it/carrying it inside and then back outside all by myself I am not going to re-stage the photos and will just deal with the graininess. Lesson learnt - check settings on camera before taking photos and then check photos on the computer screen before dismantling a photo shoot!

white country sideboard painted french Sydney Lilyfield Life
ginger jar blue white shell

When I initially got the request for a quote to paint this sideboard I thought wow this will be lovely and hopefully quick to paint. I even offered to go pick it up for free as it was only about 15 minutes from my house. It was a very tight squeeze in my car but I managed ok. I was planning on my husband to help me unload it but he left for work early the next day before I asked him but a neighbour came to the rescue.  After wiping it down I realised that the pine was very distressed loaded with knots and divots. I filled in a lot of the holes with filler but not all of them as the whole sideboard would have needed a skim coat!  

white country sideboard painted french Sydney Lilyfield Life

The above photo shows how many holes I filled and the below photo is with the primer. This is often the stage people panic and think their paint job isn't turning out. My advice is to keep on going. Pieces almost never look good half painted.

I gave the sideboard two coats of Zinsser Primer and started painting it in a lovely bright white paint to coordinate with Mandy and Michael's Hamptons' style furniture.  I had some issues with hot weather and the paint drying too quickly but sorted them out with lots and lots of sanding and some Floetrol Paint Conditioner. I then purchased new black hardware that was not quite the same size but covered the old holes (which I hadn't filled as I thought I'd be able to find hardware the exact same size) but it all worked out perfectly with a few little new pilot holes drilled and the old holes covered by the hew hardware.  I then gave it all a coat of wax and was re assembling it all when I realised that the drawers looked to be a different white to the rest of the sideboard. ARGHH!!  I have no idea what happened or if it was just my eyes playing tricks...but I think I had some pine bleed through or something. I'm not sure how that happened with two coats of primer but I removed the handles, removed the wax, sanded, re-primed, re-painted, re-waxed and put the handled back on and yay! everything looked the same shade of white. Phew.

white country sideboard painted french Sydney Lilyfield Life
iron french handles

I think Mandy is going to love the new hardware. 

white country sideboard painted french Sydney Lilyfield Life
pineapple lamps

I then dragged the sideboard in to my bedroom to photograph it for the blog (which means rearranging a lot of the furniture in my bedroom and using a lot of muscle) and I've stuffed up the photos.  As much as I like this sideboard I won't be sorry to see it picked up over the weekend!

white country sideboard painted french Sydney Lilyfield Life
white country sideboard painted french Sydney Lilyfield Life

What are you up to this weekend? We have a few things planned but some quiet time also. Maybe some more mojitos using our fresh limes!  I'm also hoping to get over to Manly early Sunday morning to do The Bold and The Beautiful again. It's a 1.5km swim from Manly Beach to Shelley beach return. It's an early start but so worth it for an amazing ocean swim. Here are some photos from last Saturday.

bold and beautiful sydney swim ocean
bold and beautiful sydney swim ocean
bold and beautiful sydney swim ocean
bold and beautiful sydney swim ocean

Even though I grew up on the far south coast and spent my childhood on the beach, this was my first major ocean swim and I found it quite tough even though it's quite a bit less distance than what we cover in squad but I was a bit panicky in the deep water especially when I swam over a plastic bag and I thought it was a massive jelly fish!  The swell and chop of the ocean also makes it much tougher than swimming in the pool.  Do any of you do oceans swims? Any tips for a beginner like me?

Do you think Michael and Mandy will like their sideboard? I hope so especially as Michael freaked me out a bit when I picked it up by saying "we have high expectations of you". Nothing like a little pressure...

What are you up to for the weekend? I'd love to hear a little about you and what you get up to. Thanks to all those who do comment - I love hearing from you.

Fiona xx