Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Just linen around

#Smugcatlyfe

The holidays weren’t just about drapery for DIY Dad, I managed to purchase a linen bedspread in my favourite green. Turns out: also The Ginger Menace’s favourite green.

Reflections and creases (well: l.i.n.e.n. d’uh).

It looks pretty and replaces the green “floral/branch” one which sadly developed holes, and is now having a second life as a dustcover at DIY Dad’s beachhouse. Look for it in cameos in future posts.

Advertisements

This post 2 months late, no biggie…

White, tin and wood themed styleMAS tree

I took these photos in early December, but just didn’t get around to writing the post for a number of reasons: 2018 was a big year for me.

Why? Well let me unpack how big it was for me…I am still trying to process it myself.

I started studying late January 2018, while still sorting out being burgled in late 2017 (that situation didn’t get fully resolved until early March 2018). So there’s that.

I studied two modules that overlapped by a month in April/May, so I could apply for a Masters at mid-year (which I was accepted into). So I swung from the modules, to applying for a new course, to studying again. And of course I decided to do a second year unit in my first semester of the Masters #nobiggie!

My exam was 2 days before my birthday in November, the results didn’t come out until the 11 December so I didn’t completely wind down from that aspect until the grades were up (got a High Distinction so it paid off!).

Moody lighting

The study load alone would have been tiring, but we went through change management at work too.

If you’ve been through one, you know how shite they are for months on end. That’s months and months and months of stress, speculation, the anti-climax of the announcement, followed by the drag of waiting for the changeover date…and then months and months and months as new hires and new teams storm, form, norm and perform (and that’s still going on).

And while there appears to be a fantasy that change management can be smooth, easy, not stressful and transparent, the reality is it’s about change, people’s livelihoods, and change. And that is always stressful: whether you have the stress or whether you are surrounded by others who are stressing, speculating, second guessing. And then there are the people who are impacted, really impacted by the change. People who you know and work with for many years. It’s a tough time on so many levels, and that suck is part of the ugly nature of organisational change…

So yes: 2018 was a big year. On many fronts.

Dark reflections

And then on top of that, my sister announced the date and location for her wedding: so I knew I would be travelling in early 2019. That threw a wonderful spanner in the works in terms of house stuff for 2018-19, study in 2019 and meant other things to prepare for. Delightful, wonderful spanner, but a spanner in all my finely laid plans nonetheless.

Make no mistake, it’s going to be great: DIY Dad and I will be travelling over, celebrating with friends and family in an all inclusive resort and then doing a road trip afterwards.

Meanwhile planning and logisticating for the epic trip in early 2019 meant much time in between study, shite and stuff has been spent planning the itinerary, destinations and logistics for the upcoming holiday. Also planning menu items: I plan to eat my way across the USA, eating all the regional foods. And maybe see some sights…in between courses.

Well lit

On top of that, I was still on planning duties for DIY Dad’s epic home renovation. ARGH. If my lunch breaks weren’t full of study, or trip planning, then they were full of Ikea kitchen, bathroom and laundry planner and planning. I was even tempted to add Expert at Ikea Kitchen Planning to my resume: I did it that much.

Across 2017-2018, I have tried every online planning tool there is, and then had to jig, and rejig designs as DIY Dad confirmed measurements, requirements, preferences and then selectively listened to counsel about important features for kitchens, bathrooms and laundries which he then turned into some naively optimistic demands that could not be facilitated in the space he had, on the budget he had or with the design constraints he himself had put in place.

If you have ever wondered where I get my Veruca Salt level demandingness, wonder no more. DIY Dad gives Veruca and me a run for our money (something that not only impacted kitchen, bathroom and laundry planning but has also impacted Daddy-Daughter road trip and itinerary planning as well).

You can thank me for the fact that there is a place inside DIY Dad’s house where you can fill a bucket for a mop, wash a cat litter bowl and soak clothes…that isn’t the kitchen sink. You can thank me for planning a laundry that meant he had to get rid of his twin tub washing machine and upgrade to a front loading washing machine. You can thank me for the ample amount of bathroom, kitchen and laundry storage (DIY Dad has so much storage he does not know what to do with it, but for everyone else there is an ample and satisfying amount). You can thank me for introducing him to 4 switch light switches, over trying to have 4 separate light switches on one wall. Yes: thank me.

Last belated pic

I even hit my holidays running: going up to the beach house with DIY Dad to drop off the day bed, making curtains for DIY Dad and cleaning and jzuzzing his house, having sleepovers and making cheese, testing out blancmange and junket recipes (long term goal, tell you about it later), plus reorganising, gardening, and doing all those annual jobs and stuff around the house in preparation for the big trip plus getting the flu…and then recovering from the flu (still not 100%  yet). YIKES.

So I have been a bit slow on posting, and I probably will be for a little while as I catch up and think about what else I want 2019 to have in store for me…

 

I’ve always wanted to write that sentence on this blog: and it’s curtains for DIY Dad. And it is literally: curtains for DIY Dad.

Some people travel on their holidays, some catch up on things to do around their house, some watch eleventy billion hours of netflix…and at least one person will make curtains for their Dad. 24 metres of curtains. That’s right: 24 metres of curtains. Yes, dear reader, that IS a lot of curtain. It is a shedload of curtain, a metric fuck-tonne of drapery, a herculean holiday task…one that I decided from start to finish it was only going to take me 5 days.

This herculean and expedited task involved wrangling 8 metres of 280cm wide blockout lining, 18 metres of 150cm wide curtain fabric and 5 metres of 280cm wide curtain fabric to turn them into 24 metres of tab-topped curtains for 4 windows. Not that I am counting, or anything. And I pretty much did it: started them on Thursday afternoon and (mostly) finished them on Monday (there was one tiny piece of facing I sewed the next morning). So I feel like a bit of a hero, actually.

The backstory to this epic sewing task is: DIY Dad is reaching the final stages of doing up his house. And part of those final stages has been the gentle realisation (thanks to many firm suggestions on many fronts) that matchstick blinds and 2 saris do not a window treatment make. They don’t make a window treatment if you are seeking privacy, and they don’t make a window treatment if you’re seeking to block the sun out and they certainly don’t make a window treatment if you’re in a 100+ year old weatherboard workers cottage which needs all the insulation help it can get:

Not actually a window treatment, unless you’re living in a share house in the 80s or 90s…and even then.

For the record: matchstick blind and sari thing is actually all my fault: I decided it was cool in the 90s and did it in my bedroom…and then DIY Dad wanted to do it in every other room in his house.

Clearly sari-over-matchstick-blinds was a design decision that appealed to his patchouli-scented, indian bazaar maxi wrap skirt wearing, doc martens owning and Smashing Pumpkins listening nineties uni student self. The nineties are alive and not only living in Portland, they’re also living in DIY Dadland.

These saris have been hanging up there since about 1997-98, for the record. The original vintage sari I used in my room disintegrated about 15 years ago…

Something needed to be done, and not just in his bedroom (the photos above), but also in the guest bedroom where these curtains were hanging when DIY Dad purchased the house…and they were old then (the blinds are slightly newer…if you remember that everything 90s has come back around and is new again):

What super villain puts window length drop curtains in a room that has 12 feet high ceilings? ARGH.

And then in the loungeroom, DIY had replaced the disintegrating vintage silk sari with some hand-me-down curtains that one of his lady friends gave him to address his lack of curtains (nice curtains, not really to the style of the house AND WHAT SUPER VILLAIN PUTS WINDOW LENGTH CURTAINS IN A ROOM THAT HAS 12 FEET HIGH CEILINGS!?!), so that’s two layers of sheer if you count the matchstick blinds:

For the record: the matchstick blinds don’t have long to live…

And then in my old bedroom, some more ill-fitting matchstick blinds (my old bedroom is the junk repository at the moment, hence the broken chair and eskie in the shot):

Privacy: who needs it when you’re in weatherboard cottages this close together?

Luckily the firm commentary about drapery and curtains from MANY sources made an impact, so DIY Dad and I went on a daddy-daughter haberdashery expedition, where we purchased 8 metres of 280cm wide blockout lining, 18 metres of 150cm wide curtain fabric (I had to order the living room fabric from the UK):

It looks a lot smaller when it’s folded.

And then I had to do planning, lots and lots of planning involving consulting several sewing and interior design bibles (including the 1985 Laura Ashley Book of Home Decorating, which my aunt gave me along with her retro cookbooks):

Luckily I had a good project manager

And then I had to scribble a bunch of calculations for hems, widths vs lining widths, tab calculations (width, count and distance between…#headexplodingemoji). It was analogue Mission Impossible level planning:

The only reason I didn’t have post its stuck all over my house…I WAS OUT OF POST ITS

Srs planning: for each room and each set of curtains because each of the windows and curtain rod measurements were not quite the same:

Many calculate, much plan.

The project manager was concerned about the complexity of the job and the timeline allowed for it:

Concerned and bitey project manager.

Thanks to some amazing tips from the peeps at Homecraft, I managed to eke out double layers of curtain lining for 3 of the 4 rooms…the 3 where the weight of the curtain fabric was lighter. That’s going to be good when the cold hits the weatherboard in winter:

I turned my lounge room, dining room and kitchen into a curtain production line…

First curtains finished, marimekko-esque canvas ones for my old bedroom. I actually thought the curtain colour choices would help mute the level of yellow paint DIY Dad has applied to every room of his house. Fun fact, it didn’t and in fact the yellow is reflecting off the curtains…

Pretty epic curtain drop (I’m going to hem all the curtains once they’ve hung for a while and settled)

I had enough canvas fabric left over to make both DIY Dad and the project manager some cushions. The project manager decided he liked his newly reupholstered throne:

Every day he’s supervising.

Then it was onto the guest bedroom:

That light duck egg blue is not making a dent in the yellow…time to cover it with artwork.

At about this time I realised DIY Dad’s house had not been dusted, polished or cleaned since I last did it…in 2016 when my sister visited. So I added another holiday job to the list: cleaning and jzuzzing DIY Dad’s house. The photo below is pre-cleaning and it’s been colour corrected to show the colour of the curtains:

It’s a shame the yellow walls aren’t this washed out.

At this point, you might be asking why DIY Dad has a thing for yellow walls? Turns out: along with the sari-over-matchstick-blinds-for-window-treatments, that’s also my fault.

Yep: my fault….In 2007 DIY Dad and I went to the UK to see my sister (she lives there) and as part of that trip I dragged them across the channel for 5 days in Paris. Because DIY Dad likes Monet’s paintings (as do I), I thought it would be a great idea to visit Monet’s house and garden in Giverny.

And it was a great idea: amazing, amazing, amazing.

An amazing idea, but for one thing: Monet painted his dining room yellow. And boy did that make an impression with DIY Dad: he liked that. He liked that a lot.

He liked it so much he’s so far painted the inside of two houses: yellow. Every single room inside those two houses: yellow. For the record: Monet only painted ONE room of his house yellow (along with the dining table, chairs, credenzas and more) and he covered up a lot of the walls with artwork and the colour scheme for Monet’s kitchen is BLUE, but those are minor details and when DIY Dad picks a colour…he really PICKS a colour.

So yep: that’s also all my fault. Unintended consequences. BRILLIANT.

Getting back to curtains, the last set to be made in my 5 days of intense curtaining (and cleaning), were the ones for DIY Dad’s bedroom (to replace the mismatched saris):

Pre-cleaning…and the yellow just bounces of everything.

The curtains really are a lot whiter than they look in the photos (thank you so much Monet, thank you so much 2007 me):

Much pigment, many eyeburns.

Then I had to wait for the living room fabric to arrive from the UK (and for time in my schedule to finish the herculean epic). The fabric for the living room curtains gave me the most joy:

Welcome to the jungle…

At this point, I had cleaned all the house and jzuzzed (just ignore the tiled platform in the living room…that’s a battle I will fight another day):

Curtains by big sister, cat cushions by little sister…

And I had fabric left over from this, so I made DIY Dad a runner for his kitchen/dining buffet (and did a bit of cleaning and reorganising as well):

Nana and Grandma’s crockery takes a bow

And placemats for his dining table (trying to ween him off terrible tablecloths):

I got to put the placemats down, then I had to put everything back on the table…

And I even had enough fabric to make placemats for myself #winning.

Now that I’ve recounted my epic task, I am feeling a bit tired…I think it’s time for some downtime chez moi:

Project manager MIA

 

 

At last…

The story of the daybed restoration project is definitely one the ages, a tale spanning (half)decades. For those who haven’t been following along, a brief history of daybed:

Before it could head north to its intended home, there was some final jzuzzing to be done. Thanks to the way I’d constructed the cover, it was not quite the neat fit I wanted:

Daybed in need of fillers…

So I bought a 5cm memory foam mattress topper, shovelled it into the cover on top of the mattress (for the record: working with foam-on-foam is the absolute #worst when it comes to sewing imho). Then I cut the topper to fit the special mattress size, et voila!

That’s more like it!

Once that was done, it was a matter of teeing up a weekend where DIY Dad and I could go to the beach house and put the daybed in its final resting place. We did a quick 24 hour trip to the beach house (it was supposed to be longer, but life intervened):

Action shot of DIY Dad tying the daybed in position on the roof rack

After a 3 hour trip north, the daybed reached it’s final resting place underneath a bunch of lairy cushions (DIY Dad special selection):

Goes perfectly with the beach house theme…

Now I just have to restore the retro cast iron bed I have for my studio, so that house guests have something to sleep on… 😉

I freely confess that I had two agendas for planting nasturtiums in my backyard:

  1. I do love the flowers, and their leaves, and the fact that they spread everywhere each year…enroaching a little bit more on each part of my tiny back garden
  2. I’ve always wanted a source of edible flowers on tap, and boy do I have that this year.

Flowers…not just for decoration

This salad is just a simple riff on an italian salad, which I jzuzzed with my nasturtiums.

Too pretty to eat? I think not.

Ingredients

  • Several large handfuls of rocket
  • 1 pear, thinly sliced (go for a Beurre Bosc or a Golden Pear)
  • Shaved parmesan (you know it has to be freshly shaved)
  • 1 tbsp Balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbps Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper for seasoning
  • Nasturtium flowers, as many as you think your guests will eat

Arrange layers of your rocket, pear and parmesan on a platter. Mix up the balsamic with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Drizzle the dressing over the salad and then artfully (has to be artfully) arrange your nasturtium flowers around the platter. Serve!

Serves 4.

Additional options:

  • Serve individual plates of salad with a poached egg or two on top for a light dinner, or quartered soft boiled eggs
  • Sprinkle capers in the salad for a tangy bite (goes really well if you are including the egg)

Super pretty

I apologise in advance for not having the best photos of this drink. For some reason I keep forgetting to take a photo of it when I serve it. And I serve it at almost every dinner party, because it is a non-alcoholic winner of a drink for the non-drinkers, and the skippers and the responsible amongst us.

Elderflower spritz to the right, gravy to the left

It’s a bit of a fave amongst the non-drinking dinner guests, and so easy to make.

Alcoholic drink to the left, Elderflower Spritz to the right

Ingredients

  • 250mL Apple Fruit Drink (it’s 30% Apple juice and you can get it in convenient 6 packs)
  • Elderflower cordial, you’ll use a couple of good slugs of this
  • Soda water or mineral water (I use my sodastream)
  • Slices of lebanese or continental cucumber (say 10 thin slices)
  • 1 lemon, cut into 8ths or 1 lime cut into quarters
  • Sprigs of mint

Pop about 1cm of elderflower cordial at the base of a jug, add in your apple fruit drink, add icecubes and then fill up with soda water but don’t fill to the brim. Add your cucumber and your lemon/lime (squeeze these into the jug as you add them), and your sprigs of mint (squeeze these to bruise them just before you add them). Stir and serve: simples!

You can keep topping it up with soda water and elderflower cordial throughout the night…

Elderflower spritz hiding behind the pear and rosemary cocktail, also in a jug.

2018 is all about the canapes. When I have a dinner party now, I don’t do a starter or an entree: I do a canape or two. So refined 😉

…even vegetarians can have a yorkshire pudding canape

I’ve been on a quest to redeem myself since I first tried to make Yorkshire puddings: they ended up being more like Yorkshire pikelets. They were still delicious…but they definitely didn’t pud.

I had my first Yorkshire pudding in 1996 (yes I am very old), when I visited the UK. Yorkshire puddings were the responsibility and specialty of my English grandpa (who otherwise didn’t actually cook). And boy did he make a good Yorkshire Pudding: it’s probably a good thing I didn’t have a working oven and the idea of heating oil scared me, because these are not low cal delights!

So I know I have the Yorkshire Pudding Making gene in my family, even though my first attempt was…flat. Very, very flat:

You can see them trying desperately to curl themselves up into proper Yorkie shape, bless their flat little souls

No amount of filtering can change the fact that they were disappointingly flat. Disappointingly albeit deliciously flat:

Yorkshire Pikelets, a new food trend?

I did some investigating, and decided that where I went wrong was following the oven temperature instructions for the recipe I’d found. All ovens are different, so rather than choosing a temperature, the rule of thumb with yorkies is to turn it up as high as it will go (turn it up to 11). That and weighing all your ingredients. Those are the two secrets!

Armed with this new knowledge, I attempted to make them again. I did a first test run of 12 (apparently if I had a mini muffin tin, I could have made 24…but a muffin tin still gives a good size):

Victory at last

I was so successful, that I may have accidentally eaten the Yorkshire puddings I was planning on using as canapes in the evening…as both breakfast and lunch. So I had to make a second batch #oops.

Ingredients

For puddings

You’ll need a muffin pan.

  • 115gm plain flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 145mL (I actually weight 145gm) milk
  • Olive oil

Pop your flour, salt and eggs into a bowl and stir to combine. Add in the milk and stir until the batter is smooth. Let the batter rest for 30 minutes on your counter (you can make the toppings while you wait), then pour it into a measuring jug.

Preheat your oven as hot as it will go (mine goes to 260°C).

Pop about 2-3mm of olive oil in each muffin hole. When the oven is hot, pop the tin in the oven and heat for about 5 minutes (the tin will be smoking hot). Carefully take out the tin (you do not want to spill smoking boiling oil anywhere) and pop it on a counter (I put mine on a chopping board so I don’t burn the laminate). Working quickly, pour equal amounts of your batter into each muffin hole. There should be enough to mostly cover the bottom of each muffin hole.

Carefully manoeuvre the muffin tin back into the oven, and cook until puffed and golden (about 12-20 minutes). Leave to cool in the tin.

So beautiful

You can make these ahead and reheat later in the day (just pop them back into the muffin tin, at the bottom of the oven for about 5-10 minutes tops).

For toppings

  • 3 button mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 sprig rosemary, chopped finely
  • 1 small piece of fillet beef
  • Creamy Dijon mustard
  • Butter
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper for seasoning

In one frypan, melt butter. Add clove of garlic and rosemary, when fragrant add in the mushrooms. Stir to coat with butter, fry until soft. Set aside.

In another frypan, pop some olive oil and heat. Add your small piece of fillet steak, and cook until rare/medium rare. Let rest and then slice into thin strips.

To assemble: put about a tsp of dijon mustard into each Yorkie, then top with either the beef or the mushrooms.

Serves 6 (or 4 very hungry people).

Delicious, delicious, delicious.

An alternative topping:

  • Mix 1 tsp horseradish with 2-3 tbsp thickened cream and season with salt and pepper. Dollop that into the Yorkie pudding, then top with slices of fillet steak. Then sprinkle with chopped chives, because you’re fancy.