Posts Tagged ‘Tips’


Reeeduce, Reeeuse, Reeeecyyyycle, Reeeeepurpose.

Things you can do with used bamboo party cutlery: wash it, write on it and turn it into plant labels.


Hai future basil!

This should prevent a recurrence of the great oregano weeding incident of 2010.

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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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Clean…as clean as I’ve been.

While I was on holidays I helped DIY Dad clean out the kitchen at DIY Dad-quarters as he’s in the process of renovating and the next step is to gut the back of DIY Dad-quarters, including kitchen, and redo it.

Segue #1: When it’s done, it will be only the second kitchen in his life that he has lived in which is complete and fully functioning (just like my kitchen was my first complete and fully functioning kitchen). Oh the novelty. Oh the amazement. He won’t know himself.

Segue #2: Like architects who live in unfinished houses, DIY Dad tends to live in houses that need a lot of his DIY attention. It should also be noted that DIY Dad’s version of procrastinating is also soooo DIY Dad: he builds something. Everyone else just lies on the couch and watches Masters of Flip/the cricket/Orange Is The New Black. Not DIY Dad: he builds furniture. For reals.

As part of the clean out, I had to go through family crockery and cutlery. Including the “family silver”. Some of it from my maternal grandmothers family, some from my paternal grandmothers family. All handed down and kept. And very badly tarnished as it has been stored in less than ideal conditions.

So I had to look at cleaning it. Did you know how painful it is to clean silver? Painful.


There’s no other way to put this, chaps: this is going to hurt.

Or should I say: Painful unless you know better.

First we start our silver cleaning journey the hard way…

And of course, I approached it like a traditionalist (to start with anyway): I got some silver polishing cloths (rationalising that as this is cutlery, it would be better to not use litres of silver polish on it). Polishing silver takes time, and elbow grease. Particularly when it’s tarnished, or ornate silver.


Elbow grease machine…powering…down…

While I was fine hand polishing the smoother and smaller pieces… when I looked at all the ornate cutlery still to do (including a giant silver soup ladle), my brain went into meltdown and my elbow greasing ability froze.

So what did I do? What I should have done to start with: I turned to Google.

Turns out, when you polish silver you are actually removing silver. Over generations of polish this loss builds up (…should that be “builds down” since I am taking about vanishing silver?). So it’s recommended you only polish silver once or twice a year.

Additionally, there are a heap of other ways to remove tarnish from silver. That don’t use toxic materials and are more about cleaning, than polishing. And some of these techniques involve readily available materials from around your house. These are like super easy and super simple (p.e.r.f.e.c.t.)

Given I was facing a mountain of ornate silver cutlery…I decided to trial a really simple one. And BY GOLLY: it worked.

Now let’s try silver cleaning the easy way…

All you need is:

  • An aluminium BBQ tray (or if you have ungainly items, a bowl which you have coated with aluminium foil)
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp bicarb soda (aka baking soda)
  • Hot water (not boiling, but hot)

All you do is pop the salt and bicarb in the BBQ tray, cover with hot water and mix (I used a ceramic spoon to mix). Then submerge your silver items in the aforesaid “bath”. You may need to leave them in a couple of minutes if they are badly tarnished. Wipe them down with a cloth (any old cloth, not even a special silver cleaning cloth) and then dry them.




Seriously: magic.

And it’s non-toxic, plus you can recycle the aluminium at the end of it 😀 Winner winner, chicken dinner!

The links I’ve provided also give tips about dealing with really really tarnished silver, correct storage and what you should do moving forward. If you are a silver surfer, silver owner or just a dutiful DIY Daughter, I encourage you to read them as they.will.change.your.life.

But wait, there’s one more tip!

This silver platter was challenging as it was deeper that the other bowls I cleaned,  but I found I could clean it in stages.

First I tipped it on its side (you need the area being cleaned to have access to water that’s in contact with the aluminum, so filling it up was not an option), using a dipping sauce dish.


On its side, like a diva.

If you do that in stages (both either end length-ways and either end width-ways), you can clean it by immersion.


After the first stage, showing the cleaned quarter and the 3 quarters to do.

If you end up with a section in the middle that isn’t clean, don’t fret! I have a solution for that too!

Pour the water, salt and bicarb mix into the dish and then immerse s0me alfoil into it (you might need to hold it down with those little sauce dishes you’ve been propping it up with). Problem SOLVED.


A gleaming treasure chest…well gleaming treasure crate anyway.

I didn’t take a photo of the finished dish (I was getting a little tired of photographing the silver at this point), but you can see it hanging out with its friends in the photo above.

Next stop is to use some of this stuff more regularly (that stops it tarnishing) and store it in a dry environment (Silver doesn’t like humidity, humidity makes Silver sad. And when silver is sad, it cries tears of tarnish).

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Tip: Dealing With Broad Beans

I gave some of my broad bean bounty to DIY Dad, only to find out that he doesn’t know how to prepare Broad Beans properly :/ So I thought I would outline, with photographic illustration what you do with larger, older broad beans. The photos and the explanation should DIY Dad proof everyone, so we all know what to do with a broad bean.

The Eternal Truths…when dealing with broad beans…

Truth One: Older broad beans need to be podded twice. The first podding takes the beans out of the pod, the second podding takes them out of the bitter tasting skin. It’s this skin that gives them their bad rep.


These broads have been podded once (they are out of the shell) but now they need to be podded a second time.

Truth Two: You need to blanch the beans and then pod them the second time. It’s easy if you blanch them and freeze them, and then pod them the second time when you want to use your frozen harvest. You just need to blanch them again to defrost and the start podding.


Broad bean in the middle of its second podding.

Truth Three: After blanching (and especially after freezing), the bitter outer skin should hang loose so you can squeeze the bean out. Alternatively just rip it down the seam and squeeze the bean out.


Nekkid broad bean, along with countless discarded broad bean pods.

Truth Four: Use the bright green bean kernel you have left, discard the broad bean skin (compost them).


Nekkid broad beans on the way to becoming broad bean pesto…

Truth Five: The second podding works best when accompanied by a glass of wine. I recommend a nice Chardonnay or Semillon Sauvignon Blanc.



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In which I am totally guttered

You may have realised from my post about the colour of my roof that, apart from doing a massive tidy up of my house during my holidays, I’ve also been spending time on (or near) my roof. I booked in some time with DIY Dad to help me clean my gutters. My neighbour pointed out some of them were quite full, so they needed to be done (yay, my gutters were the shame of the neighbourhood, so much so my neighbour commented on them…)

DIY Dad being DIY Dad, a DIY Daddy-Daughter date to clean gutters meant he got up the ladder and did the bulk of the work, while I stood below to make sure he didn’t fall off, emptying buckets of gutter-clogging material and Facebooking (it’s a hard life, but he really doesn’t share the ladder):


DIY Dads Don’t Share Ladders

My tiles are quite close to the  edge of the gutters, so while I borrowed the Amazant Monsieur H’s spare Gutter Getter…we actually used DIY Dad’s patented gutter cleaning tool more:


DIY Dad-made tool to the left, professional scoop to the right

Okay so it’s not patented, but DIY Dad made it and I have included a photo so anyone else who lives in a house with exceptionally narrow gutters can make their own too 🙂 …and clearly when I write “We used…”, I actually meant “DIY Dad used…”

While I wanted to use a power jet to get rid of the debris (jet!), DIY Dad went old school and used a bucket, his gutter cleaning tool, a dustpan brush and occasionally the Gutter Getter scoop. Very low-fi. We actually had to do this job over two days, before we could do the side of the house you see below, we had to prune all the bushes lining the driveway so we could reach it…

At the end of the job, we did get to use the hose jet to clean some of the stuff we couldn’t reach (or at least shift it into a part of the gutter that we could reach). So at least I got to use a jet on something (jet!!).


The last part of the job, standing well back because the hose can be turned on daughters as well as gutters

Although, again: I didn’t really use the jet, Dad used the jet while I was in charge of suggesting the solution (JET!), handing up the hose, turning it on and making sure the hose didn’t kink. We play to our strengths…


Never standing in front of any of my family if we have a hose in our hand, it’s just asking for trouble…(yes: DIY Dad did deliberately spray me with the hose abut 5 seconds after this pic)

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I’ve been on hols for the last 3 weeks, so have been doing little things around my house including re-sealing my kitchen.

I first did this in 2010, however the section behind my sink was not perfect…and of course that is the bit that gets most of the water so I stripped the silicone out (again) and re-sealed with some new knowledge that I want to share.

This time I masked off the tiles and the counter so that I could really work the silicone into the join, without spreading it all over the counter top or tiles:

Who needs corner tape?

Who needs corner tape?

You can buy a product called corner tape to do this, it costs you about $15 and only has one use (to mask corners)…of course I bought the wrong sized one and didn’t realise it until I had opened the package and cut a bit off (making it non returnable). ARGH!!!

Instead of buying another $15 roll of tape that only has a single use…I decided to improvise with the existing masking tape I had and it worked a treat! So that’s my tip for today 🙂 Don’t spend $15 when you likely have masking tape on hand that you can use instead.

Using masking tape also means you can mask to the exact size of the gap you need, rather than the arbitrary gap provided by the corner tape.

Other things I did differently this time: I also bought a square edged plastic paint scraper so I could really work the silicone into the join so it should be better sealed than my first attempt. And, I bought a silicone and grout scraper which worked a treat when I need to get rid of the silicone from my 2010 attempt.

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Thyme After Thyme

I moved the thyme out the front about 6-8 months ago. At the time I had potted it on from a weedy little plant in a ~12cm wide pot into a 20+cm wide pot.

In that thyme time it has gone absolutely bonkers and completely filled the larger pot:

From 12cm wide and weedy, to 20+cm wide and thriving in 6-8 months

Not bad for a second attempt at growing thyme in this house. The move to the front garden appears to have been a good one.

It needed to be potted on, so I decided to section it into 4 and use 3 on my verge to start off my verge project. The remaining quarter went back into the large pot to grow plentifully as before.

When I took it tout of the pot, I found that it was pretty much root bound:

Innovative solution to root mass problem

I could have pulled it apart, but I wanted 4 pieces that were of a similar size. Plus I was worried that in pulling it apart I’d rip apart the top of the plant unevenly – both top and bottom were like tangled balls of wool and I didn’t want to end up with a section that had all root but none of the greenery that was feeding into the root.

So I decided to use a serated bread knife to section the plant evenly and to cut through the roots (Tip #1):

Like cutting bread

It worked really well to cut through the roots and a month on the sections are still alive so I didn’t do too much damage to the plant compared to the havoc and mess I would have wreaked trying to pull it apart:

Perfectly sliced

Before planting, I roughed up the other edges of each section to stimulate the roots so they would grow beyond the pot shape (Tip #2) – they are still holding their shape as you can see in the pic above, so roots and plant were pretty tightly packed in.

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