Archive for the ‘Randomness’ Category

And I said last year’s was a very belated stylemas, turns out it can get EVEN MORE belated! This is now StyleMAS in July territory!!!!

Happy 2019 StyleMAS, in 2020 StyleMAS in July!

But I wanted to share with you because:

  1. Tradition
  2. I did a craft

After decorating my 2019 StyleMAS tree, it was missing a certain something, something, something. So I finally tried out a random craft (making baubles out of old book pages) that I’ve been meaning to do for several years!

Defacing and repurposing books is a very loaded topic, but where the book is past usefulness but you still have an attachment to it…what to do with it? I have some old books that have been so well loved over the years that they have given up the ghost, and I’ve replaced them with more sturdy versions. And I have a couple of very  battered abridged versions of books where I have also got a copy (or copies) of the non abridged version, and that non abridged book has more meaning to me…so what to do?

[I really only need 3 copies of Little Women, not 4 where the fourth is abridged. And two working copies of the complete Sherlock Holmes is fine. And one properly functioning copy of Anne of Green Gables is acceptable, as opposed to one properly functioning copy, and one that’s spilling its paper guts out every time you pick it up.]

Book baubles

Obviously there is still the sentimental attachment to the books, even if the actual physical item doesn’t instigate the same emotional response. And old paper is quite beautiful, so I was never going to throw these slowly degrading treasures out. But I really wanted to find something quite special to repurpose them for.


I found a couple of tutorials online about making paper baubles, and baubles out of old books:

And I earmarked them to try with one of my stash of decrepit but still possibly useful books! And last year I finally got the time…

Repurposed copy of Anne of Green Gables, and bell from the crackers used at last year’s Fambly Christmas party

All you need is a glue stick, a circle template (I used a glass), invisible tape, a pencil, scissors and some twine.

And you don’t have to use these baubles only at Christmas 🙂 They can be an all year round ornament if – as a random example – you like hanging things of some random twigs you have in vases in your house:

These are actual pages from a PD James book. Crime and Detective fiction for the win!

I made some for friends who either love Anne of Green Gables (kindred spirits, ya know) or are Canadian, and decorated them with little bells repurposed from last year’s Christmas Crackers:

QA Assured them by hanging them on my own Christmas tree

And I found that 3-5 segments is the perfect amount (there was some testing early on), while 7 is a bit too much. So I made versions that were either 3 circles, 4 circles or 5 circles. You can see some of my source books in the background:

My StyleMAS tree, covered in crimes to be solved

Pretty happy with this effort!

Book baubles and baked goods…


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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…


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I ❤ these placemats. They were my 2017 birthday treat to myself, and they only come out on very special occasions.

…even if they are unscented.

Yes that is an ikea watering can being used to hold a floral arrangement.

The shot glasses holding the smaller tulips were my Nana and Poppa’s (Australian grandparents). They have history.

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Happy StyleMAS 2017

It’s that time of the year: StyleMAS time

I splurged a little this year: I’ve really been feeling mercury glass (I blame Fixer Upper because I am thinking about mercury glass panes in the uppers of kitchen cabinet doors when that eventually gets redone…).

So I got some mercury glass StyleMAS lights and a mercury glass tree topper to glam it up and get the mercury glass fixation out of my system a little.

The mercury glass looks quite sweet with my matte white porcelain ornaments (another obsession not yet out of my system)

I went a little early with the tree this year, not because I want to be friendly and cohesive (#eyeroll) but because – for a variety of reasons – I wanted to spend some time caving in my house, and making it pretty and mine again. And I actually like the fun of decorating the tree…as well as the glass or two, or bottle, of champagne I drink while decorating it. It is the little things 😉

When they are on, the lights are quite blue…

It’s pretty cool. I also got some scandi style swags that you can see hanging on the window behind the tree:

In position…

I also pulled out a silver lamp that my aunt gave me, and popped a light inside it. It’s now smouldering (metaphorically not literally) in the corner of the lounge by the fireplace and the plants:

Sultry silhouette

The tree looks quite pretty at night:

The reflection on the glass table top is something else:

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A picture says a thousand words…

Let me OUT.

So here’s 1000 words for you:


And even more words, all very unimpressed:



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The horror and the glory

You may, or may not, know that I do like a retro cookbook. I have a vast and fantastic collection thanks to my mum’s collection, which I have posted about previously:

Marvel at the wonder, the glory…and the interesting food photos, people.

There are a couple of twitter accounts which celebrate the wonder and the horror that was the retro cookbook, and regular stories about them (when my friends find these stories, they often tag me in them so I can add to my collection):

Again: marvel at the wonder and the horror. I love it AAAAAALLLLLLLL.

My aunt also has (or shall I say “had”) a glorious cookbook collection, one that I explored when I lived at her house for a while. I have dropped hints over the year that they would find a good home in my collection…

…years passed, and the time came for her to rationalise her house in preparation for a new house. Yes, dear reader, she handed her amazing glorious cook book collection onto me. All of the wonder, all of the horror, all mine. My precious.

It’s a wide ranging collection, from classic Australian cookbooks, to celebrity chefs of the time, to curated cordon bleu cookbooks and more. I’ve taken photos of some of the more amazing recipes and books in the collection.

And I do plan to make recipes from this collection, even if they won’t visually be presented in the same way…or will they? Would you mess with the presentation of the Black Forest Bavarois?


The 80s called, it says there’s not enough piped cream on this.

On the other hand, not so sure I will make a stuffed cabbage:


Cabbage leaf rolls fine, stuff cabbage…not so fine?

The books are a fantastic document of food presentation and techniques of the time, including artful platters of fish with grapes on top (Sole Veronique) or piping (Fish in Spinach Sauce):


Savoury piping is a lost art.

Delia does Sole Veronique differently now. And these days Fish in Spinach sauce comes without the fancy piping and artfully placed toppings.

How could you not marvel at the glory of endives, radishes, and a starburst of white asparagus (probably canned white asparagus)? It is majestic:


Majestic or Bombastic, To-MAH-To To-May-To.

And then there’s the wonder of some sort of spinach mould, filled with baby potatoes:


If that was a chocolate cake, and those were chocolate easter eggs I would be like HELLS YEAH HAPPY EASTER. When it’s spinach mould and baby potatoes, my enthusiams are more moderated.

While we are still on the savouries, can I get a holler for the chicken and peanut butter stew…ye satay chicken from ye olden days:


I plan to make this. You’ve been warned.

And then there’s the variant on beef wellington, which involves stuffing a loin of lamb into a home-made loaf of brioche:


Note the cold veal pie to the right with the immaculate hard boiled egg in the middle of it. This cookbook is about stuffing foods, into other foods. And I applaud it.

If we leave aside the savouries, there’s always the desserts. Like the Nectarine Cream Mousse, which is now a life goal:


Who wouldn’t want a jelly mould that’s this fantastical? I ask you!

Then a confection of evaporated milk, lemon jelly and glace cherries, served on a bed of EVEN MORE glace cherries:


I do like a glace cherry.

While we’re on the subject of mousse, gin and lime mousse anyone?


An epic of piping.

Then from the Australian Women’s Weekly classics, there’s the children’s cake book. Featuring cakes in shapes and sizes to suit every child…as long as they still make the lollies and chocolates used for decoration. If not, find a suitable alternative or risk making a child cry on their birthday, and no one wants to do that, do they?

Cricket pitch (it’s summer in Australia after all):


The most boring game on earth, slightly more interesting in cake form. Sorry cricket lovers, I am at best a disinterested party, at worst (when it’s put on the tv in my workplace): a hater.

Soccer pitch (also called football, if you’re not Australian):


I particularly like the recycled netting used for the goals. Find that in your fruit & veggie compartment if you’re old skool.

Lest we forget, the covers and graphic design of these glorious tomes:


If the bubble print gets larger on each line, people will know this book is about PARTIES.

Another Australian Women’s Weekly classic, The Big Book Of Beautiful Biscuits:


Apparently Beauty is in the eye of AWW, and NOT the beholder. Someone tell Margaret Wolfe Hungerford.

I’ve now got two versions of this glorious Cordon Bleu cooking series, one from my mother and one from my aunt (one appears to be the abridged version):


They’re slightly different. So I can’t part with either.

And then lastly, the glorious recipe that started it all. Frosted Green Cheese Mould. This is the photo that was my epiphany about retro cookbooks and recipe. If you want to blame anything or anyone, blame Hudson and Halls and THIS:


Check out the milk glass goblets, the painting and the turquoise stoppered bottle. I have home decor envy.

If you’re getting a sense of deja vu, you’ve seen this shape earlier in this post: the spinach mould with baby potatoes. Apparently in the 80s everyone was big on the ring shape, with various fillings piled in artfully. And if that’s kale on the right, Hudson and Halls were well ahead of the kale trend of the 2010s. If it’s curly parsley…it’s bang on their era. Perhaps we could update the recipe with kale?

Let me introduce you to Hudson and Halls, TV chefs from New Zealand who made it big in the UK. FYI: They were actually a couple, and were known for the quote “are we gay – well we’re certainly merry”. Love ’em:


When I grow up, I want to have a trifle bowl that I fill with Iceberg Lettuce, just like Hudson and Halls.

There’s a documentary about them: Hudson and Halls: A Love Story.


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Happy StyleMAS 2016


With the new tree topper

This year’s StyleMAS was a little subdued, one of the housemates was ill when I was setting it up so my heart wasn’t in it this year.


Pretties from the side, with the old tree topper

The colour theme this year was matt white porcelain and lime green.


Silhouetted pretties

I bought a new tree topper to go with this theme after I’d decorated the tree, so you have a couple of photos with the old snowflake tree topper and a couple with the new star tree topper.


With a couple of fancy presents under the tree.

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Let’s talk about lists…

house-1059We need to talk about lists. And I don’t just mean your wishlists on Amazon, ASOS, Modcloth, eBay or umm….anywhere else (and trust me: I most definitely am not judging you if you have more lists, elsewhere. I fully support your desire to dream.) We need to talk about lists of things to do.

As you’ve probably guessed already: I may be the tiniest bit ambitious with my aims, some might even say: I am a little bit of an overachiever.But hey: I try not to support shaming, regardless whether it’s body shaming, ambition shaming or other.

I acknowledge I have big aims, set myself big goals and an excited when I live up to them. Sometimes the goals change, sometimes they are a little bit longer in the post before they arrive, but I always have a list of things to do: personally, professionally, creatively, house-related, shopping list, wishlist, posts I want to write…

…you name it, I probably have a list for it.

You don’t see all mys lists, and why should you? This is a house blog, I am letting you into a certain part of my life, but it is with restriction. If you know me and/or if I share this with you: it’s still only part of the puzzle. And there are as many puzzles as there are facets to anyone’s personality, obvs 😉

But while I was on holidays in November and December, I had a couple of realisations about lists.

Realisations that had been in the post for a while, but that I finally had time to think about and – fyi I hate this word used in this context but… – I had to “process”:

  • Sometimes my lists don’t contain all that I want to achieve in that area, because the things to do are on another of my lists elsewhere. And this also applies with what I communicate to others (including you)
  • I need to stop and smell the roses and celebrate ticking items off one/some of my lists

Interestingly: this blog came about because of 3 things:

  1. I needed to keep family overseas in the loop about the house, without repeating myself and boring them with every conversation’
  2. I wanted to stop and smell the roses, big and small
  3. I wanted to celebrate the goals I’d kicked on my lists

You probably already have an idea that I am ambitious in terms of lists. You just need to look at the Houseolutions I set myself every year to get an idea of that:

Overachiever? I don’t know where you get that idea 😉

But seriously: this post isn’t about the lists I tell you about, it’s about some of the ones I don’t: because I want to acknowledge I expect a lot from myself.

So let’s start with the holiday list:


Holiday List

In 6.5 weeks, I managed to tick 7 things off it (8 if I can remember what AAB was: at the moment I am drawing a blank, but I am very pleased it’s crossed through).

Not on that list:

  • Cleaning my dad’s kitchen and sorting stuff out at his house (let alone the second, post-holiday task where I cleaned his whole house)
  • Watching 3.5 seasons of Nashville (okay: that’s not house related, but it was fun)

Then there’s another list, immediate things I want to do in each area of my house, broken down room-by-room. I have keep this list for about 4 years: this one is probably the 13th version of it…and since I spilt soya sauce on it (top right), there’s about to be a 14th version of this list.


Another, other list.

Plus there’s my fortnightly shopping and bunnings list, so many lists. It’s actually interesting to collate them all and look at achievements across all the different lists: sometimes it feels like where I kick a goal on one, there are several other lists that still need items to be ticked off.



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Celebrating the little things


From the side.

Sometimes you need to stop and celebrate the little things. Like the blue ginger jar I got from Great Aunt Eileen’s house in Tamworth, NSW, and how it goes so well with the blue glass jars I bought in my 20s and only recently bought over from DIY Dad’s house.



Wonder at the beauty of the reflections of the blue glass and wireframe basket, that you can see on the top of the glass dining table. And how, even though it’s shining hot and bright outside, it’s calm and peaceful inside.



Celebrate that life looks good with filters, and without.


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Champagne glass eye view

So I had two functions across two different weekends at mine, a high tea with the ladies and morning tea baby shower with workmates.

But I was thrifty about it: you’ll note each function is decorated with the same bunch of flowers. White lisianthus and small green chrysanthemums. When I was getting ready for the baby shower, I cut off another inch of the plant stalks, refreshed their water and got rid of any manky leaves and flowers.


Baby shower all set up

I couldn’t be bothered doing a lot of washing up for the baby shower, so I used bamboo cutlery that I bought from Eco Toys. I bought the cutlery last year, for my birthday party (along with bamboo plates and biodegradable paper cups) and I still have plenty of supplies left: the idea being to be able to use sustainable, renewable, compostable and/or recyclable items when I have BBQs, parties and etc and I don’t want to do a lot of washing up.

After a party catering for 25+ people, 4+ BBQs, a baby shower and a couple of other events – it’s working pretty well so far. And not enormously different in terms of cost compared to the non-sustainable, non-recyclable plastic forks, spoons and cups sent to landfill every year. I just bought in bulk to justify postage (and I bought from a reputable supplier).


All set up for the Baby Shower

I did have to use porcelain side plates instead of bamboo plates, as everyone was seated in the lounge and resting their plates on their laps.

For the Downton-esque ladies high tea there were only 4 ladies, plus a mini me (4.5 of us), with the Editor-In-Waiting bringing her 2 year old daughter. So easier to clean up from – you might recognise some of the decorations from Getting out the best silver.


Champagne eye view, with some height thanks to a portrait orientation.

See The things you can do with Crostini for the recipes of the different crostini featured at both the morning tea and high tea.


Victoria Sponge cake filled with whipped cream and home-made mulberry jam and home-made mulberry syrup.

One interesting fact about the difference between high tea and afternoon tea, is although now high tea has been claimed as refined and classy exercise, it actually originated with the Victorian working classes while afternoon tea was the province of the wealthy upper and middle classes:

The drinking of tea not only became a social event for the upper classes, it altered the time and manner in which they took tea. Afternoon Tea became the bridge between meals because many wouldn’t eat their evening meal until maybe 8pm. As such, Afternoon Tea became a ‘mini meal’ in itself.

This was all well and good for the upper classes, but the working classes ran to a different schedule and a different budget. Tea was still quite expensive at the time and the working classes could not afford to waste it on anything other than necessities. A wearied factory worker wouldn’t arrive home until six in the evening, and when he did, he was famished! Thus, in the industrial areas of the UK (northern England and southern Scotland), the working classes evening meal evolved: high tea.

So while Afternoon Tea was largely a social event for their upper class counterparts, high tea was a necessary meal in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. This traditional high tea still exists for some parts of the North and Scotland.

What is high tea?

Meanwhile, afternoon tea

Afternoon Tea is a tea-related ritual, introduced in Britain in the early 1840s. It evolved as a mini meal to stem the hunger and anticipation of an evening meal at 8pm.

Afternoon Tea is a meal composed of sandwiches (usually cut delicately into ‘fingers’), scones with clotted cream and jam, sweet pastries and cakes. Interestingly, scones were not a common feature of early Afternoon Tea and were only introduced in the twentieth century.

What is afternoon tea?

Other sources indicate additional differences: High Tea had cooked food and was served at the dining table with people seated at the dining table, while Afternoon Tea was served in the parlour and eaten while seated on the more comfortable lounging chairs.


High Tea: seated at the dining table, featuring cooked savoury items.

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