Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Making tomato sauce

I think I mentioned here before that I had planted twice as many tomato plants as I normally do because I planned on making tomato sauce. Over the weekend I picked a bucketful of tomatoes (approx. 6 kgs) and on Monday I made what I think will be a years supply of tomato sauce for us since Amelia is off to university in a couple of weeks which leaves just Caitlin and I. Might have to give some away....along with some fresh tomatoes as there are still many more tomatoes to ripen and pick. The recipe I used is an old recipe given to me by a friend but can also be found in the Aunt Daisy cookbook.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Paper patchwork.....

 A couple of months ago my china cabinet got water damaged from a burst water pipe. I've had a few burst water pipes in the last year or so but this one was quite spectacular in that it was coming out of the wall in a fountain across the room. Unfortunately this china cabinet was directly underneath it....
On the plus side of this unfortunate incident was that I had always intended to  remove the ugly old wallpaper that graced its interior but just hadn't been able to prioritise it to the top of my 'to do' list. Every time I opened it I was greeted with a grandmotherly musty smell. I dragged it out onto my deck so I could make the removal job of the old paper a bit more pleasant by doing it in the sun. It took quite a few hours to scrape off the layers of paper as I discovered the top layer was covering 2 more layers of ugly old wallpaper.

 I have had a collection of Amy Butler prints for a while now waiting for a perfect project to show them off on although I did use a few on this table here last year. I cut out the paper squares and pasted them on all in one evening. So much more pleasurable than scraping off the old paper.

I'm so very pleased with how this cabinet looks now. It really has given it a new lease of life with its modern vintage look.
Oh and it smells so much nicer now :-)

Monday, December 29, 2014


  Summer seems to have finally arrived in my part of the world and my garden is looking very lush and almost jungle like especially around my veggie patch. The potato plants are now too heavy to keep upright and are covered with flowers so freshly dug spuds will be on our menu in just a couple of weeks. The self seeded pumpkins have taken over the spaces in between a couple of the raised beds and if all the flowers turn into pumpkins I shall hopefully have enough to give away to friends and neighbours. 
 The tomato plants are laden with ripening tomatoes with more flowers still being produced. Looking forward to an abundant crop so I can make my own tomato sauce!
 Have just harvested my first crop of beetroot ever. 

 I grow strawberries every year and have previously bought new plants every 2 years which the 'experts' suggest you do. This year being on a limited budget I decided to ignore that expert advice and just take the runners off my old plants and re-plant them in as many pots as I could find along with a few mixed in with my raised herb garden. I used mostly purchased compost to plant them in and have fed them regularly with some strawberry food leftover from previous years. All that work of dividing and re-planting is now paying off as each plant is laden with fruit and every day there is a small handful of good sized berries ready to pick and eat :-)

 When the weathers good I often spend a couple of hours in my garden on a Sunday afternoon. Its a nice time to spend alone lost in my own thoughts although I'm often not quite on my own as Leo likes to follow me around resting in the shade where he can. 
And when its just too hot outside he puts himself to bed.....yes that would be my bed in exactly the spot where I sleep with his head resting on my pj's because I hadn't quite got around to making my bed that day....

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

A little like Christmas....

 Our tree is up and decorated with some favourite decorations along with some handmade wreaths around the house. Our little street is looking like a disco with a few of the houses going slightly overboard with outdoor Christmas lights bringing a steady stream of cars crawling up our street.

 Somehow even though we are surrounded by festive Christmas lights and our house is suitably decorated we are somehow not feeling very festive this year. My eldest daughter Amelia commented that I hadn't done any Christmas baking like I normally do each year. So in an effort to make at least my daughters feel a little more festive, yesterday afternoon we decided to make some chocolate peppermint bark. It's an easy recipe to make just a bit of waiting time for each layer to set before adding the next. We started melting chocolate then realised we didn't have any candy canes. A quick trip to the supermarket revealed that they were all sold out so we decided to improvise and make do with what we did have and we came up with triple chocolate peppermint and pistachio bark.

 Not much of a recipe to share but here it is:
  1. Melt 200 gms white chocolate with 1/2 tsp peppermint essence and 20 gms kremelta (vegetable shortening) and spread onto base of a lined sponge roll tin. Place in freezer to set.
  2. Melt 200 gms milk chocolate with 1/2 tsp peppermint essence and 20 gms kremelta and spread onto set white chocolate layer then sprinkle with chopped pistachios. Place in freezer to set.
  3. Melt 100 gms dark chocolate with 1/4 tsp peppermint and 10 gms of kremelta and spread over second layer. Melt 100 gms white chocolate with 1/4 tsp peppermint essence and 10 gms of kremelta and place on dark chocolate then using a skewer marble the two layers together. Finally sprinkle with more chopped pistachios.

Another recipe I usually make each Christmas are these fresh ginger biscuits which I made this afternoon using a variety of Christmas themed cookie cutters. This recipe makes a lot so they are good for giving away ;-)
  • 375g softened butter
  • 1 3/4 cups brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • grated rind of 2 lemons or oranges
  • 3 3/4 cups flour
  • 2 tblsp ground ginger
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground white pepper
  • 1/4 ground cloves
  1. Beat butter and sugar together until light and creamy. Beat in the egg, grated rind and fresh ginger.
  2. Sift together all dry ingredients and stir into creamed mixture until well combined.
  3. Roll out the dough to 0.5mm thick and cut out shapes using various cookie cutters.
  4. Bake at 180C for 10-12 mins. Cool before storing in an airtight tin.

Monday, November 17, 2014

3 Retro chair makeovers...

 Earlier this year I inherited three of these retro 70's lounge chairs from my Mother who was moving to a smaller home. There were originally six of these chairs which were purchased to go in my parents shoe shop and then once that was sold three of them ended up in my parents home.
 That lovely faded yellow boucle` fabric which was once a  bright "70's" orange had to go and the wooden arm rests were in desperate need of some 'TLC'.
 And here they are, finally finished with 3 different but much more cheerful Scandinavian prints purchased at Andshine on Etsy.  
 The metal chair frames were given a fresh coat of blue/grey spray paint. Much nicer than their original dreary brown don't you think ;-)
 I'm really pleased with how the arm-rests turned out which I sanded back then applied 3 layers of polyurethane to bring out the lovely wood grain.
I like them all but this pretty butterfly print is my favourite and is designed and printed by an old Swedish fabric company called "Klippan", a family run business that was established back in 1879.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

November in my garden.....

 Spring seems to be the most colourful time in my garden. The camellia's and azalea's have nearly finished flowering but my many rhododendrons are just starting. 

 This old fashioned lilac bush has been in my garden for a few years struggling to survive until last year I moved it to a sunnier spot in the front garden. This is the first time it has produced flowers.
For the past few weekends I've been working on my veggie garden...weeding, digging in compost and re-arranging my herb garden from one end to the other and I'm now pretty pleased with how its looking. I have potatoes planted in the right-hand end one, and in the left-hand end one is now my herb garden along with a few strawberry plants. The middle three have tomatoes, spring onions, lettuces, basil, beetroot, red onions, rhubarb and self-seeded pumpkin plants. In each of the pots in between the containers are more strawberry plants. Some of my tomatoes have flowers forming already and we have been eating freshly picked lettuce and herbs. It's feels so satisfying to pick and eat our own vegetables and herbs plus of course they taste so much better than the store bought veggies. 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Upcycling ......

 Feeling pretty pleased to have some finishes this week to show everyone. The painted stool took a lot longer than I anticipated but now it is finally finished I am very happy with how it's turned out. It took a good couple of days to sand off the original dirty off-white paint to reveal yet another layer of an ugly wood dark stain. Forgot to photograph some before shots but they were both in well need of a freshen-up :-)

Once it was stripped back bare I applied 2 coats of undercoat then 3 coats of each colour of top coat. Each triangle had to be taped up with painters tape to get those nice clean straight edges so that slowed the process down a lot but so worth the extra time and effort. Then to protect all that painting from wear and tear I applied 3 coats of polyurethane. 

And this stool has been waiting very patiently for its makeover since I bought it way back in January. I just couldn't find/decide on the perfect fabric. The fabric I have used is a Scandinavian print produced by Swedish textile company "Klippan" who only use top quality natural fibres and incidentally use New Zealand lambswool for their blankets. This particular print is 50% cotton & 50% linen and was purchased from "Andshine" on Etsy 

 Just love the way piping gives such a professional look to an item.

And this is what is keeping my hands busy at night. I think I'm nearly 2/3 finished.
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