Friday, 28 September 2012

Chicken wire cloche

When I went out to the shed the other day to get some paint, I spotted a roll of chicken wire that we bought to keep Gus, our schnoodle, out of the pool area when he was a puppy.  Hmmm, I wonder what I could use that for?  Maybe a cloche?

The chicken wire I had is only narrow, so I cut 2 lengths and bent it round to form a cylinder.  Twist the cut wire edges together to join the chicken wire.  

I then put one on top of the other and joined them together. If you had wider chicken wire you wouldn't need to do this.

I cut another small piece of chicken wire and bent it into a dome shape for the top.  I slipped it inside the cylinder and just pushed and squeezed the wire together to hold it in place.  Then tied a piece of Hessian around the top.

It's not perfect, but it was free.  I placed it in the shelves in the cinema room.

I don't know how good it would be at keeping out the flies?

I recently read an article by an interior designer.  Before she buys anything for her clients, she starts by shopping their home to look for things she can use.  I like the concept of looking around your house before you head to the shops.  Sometimes you might even have to look in the shed.  It's a real bonus when you can make or find things for free.  Do you shop your home?

This is my last post for Decorating Forum.  
Thank you for featuring my blog this week.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

The Hallway Challenge Success

I did it.  I have been procrastinating with finishing up and photographing my entrance hallway for like, um ... ages.  So last week I put all my inspirational photos on the blog and told you I'd be back in a week with the results.  Just the pressure I needed to finally finish it.  So here is my hallway.

I wrote about my lovely French sofa when I bought it here, and about the Love Home cushions here.  What I needed was a pretty display to hang above it.

So this is what I settled on.  The large heart wreath was from a little vintage shop down an arcade in Bulimba.  The little mirror is Laura Ashley.  I actually use it to slap some lippy on before I walk out the door.

This  wicker bird was $4 from KMart. I had an old rhinestone necklace pendant that I felt was too tacky to wear so I thread it onto the hook and tied some jute twine to it.

The antique keys were the same ones as here.  I cut the ring and painted the black keys white.  Then I brushed over a mix of clear varnish tinted with burnt umber acrylic paint to make them look a bit old.  The hooks they hang from are brass push pins from Bunnings which I sprayed white.

Here's looking towards the front door.  Can you see the diamond pattern under the rug?  Very unattractive feature tiles that I hated the minute I stepped inside the house nearly 12 years ago.  The rug is sisal, so it's very hard wearing.  I had the rug in another room and finally moved it here.  It's just the right size and I don't have to look at the feature tiles anymore.  Why didn't I think of that earlier?

The wall art was from House & Garden years ago,  These candles were chocolate scented, but they've lost their smell now.

Originally the pot was a bright orange terracotta colour, so I painted it.  I honestly feel like I paint everything sometimes.  The boxwood topiary ball was from Bunnings.  I think Masters have similar ones now.

This is the newest purchase, an Eiffel tower doorstop from Earthborn for $14.95.  Makes me smile when I see it.

This framed MCG print gets a lot of comments from guests - mainly male.  My husband went to the Boxing Day test match in Melbourne in 1996.  He managed to score a member's pass through my brother-in-law, and they had a wonderful day.  He bought the print and had it framed with his ticket.

Just off the main hallway is a small walkway to the powder room and laundry.  This is where I hang my hats and bags.

So it's all done thanks to the pressure of wanting to show it to you guys.  I'd already done a lot of it but as usual slowed down and procrastinated at the end.

By far, my favourite thing about this room is the little French sofa with the display above it.  It's nice to see something pretty as you walk in the door after a big day.

This post is featured at Decorating Forum this week - have you been there yet?

Sharing at French Country Cottage, Thrifty Decor Chic

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

The Gradual Outdoor Kitchen

This story starts a long time ago.  In fact over a decade ago, when we first bought this house.  This is what the back wall of our garage looked like.  The built-in barbecue that came with the house, our old timber trolley barbecue, and a grey concrete floor.

In September/October 2005, we took a big financial plunge and added an outdoor entertaining area to the back of the house.  It comprised the main area where we sit and entertain, and a smaller kitchen/barbecue area at the back of the garage.

The "Outdoor Kitchen" ended up looking like this.  The poles and the green bit across the front were meant to be timber (but that's another story and why I have learnt my lesson with builders - big time!).

That's our barbecue all shiny and new.  It still looks like that now after I restored it here.  So for the past 7 years our outdoor kitchen has looked pretty much the same, complete with "provision for hot and cold water" - translate - ugly pipes sticking out of the ground with me always explaining to guests "Oh that's where the sink is going ....eventually".

I knew I wanted a sink and a fridge.  I knew it needed to be stainless steel for when we get those crazy Queensland storms, this area gets wet despite the roof.  I knew that to get something custom-made would cost a bomb.  I looked at IKEA and Bunnings solutions but nothing worked the way I wanted it to.

Well it finally happened.  I found a sink and fridge unit, in stainless steel, the right dimensions and configuration to fit the space I had, and at a price within my budget.  Hallelujah!!!!  

Here it is.  The writing on the fridge says Schmick.  I think it's a pretty good description. It's all plumbed in, and my lovely electrician Matt came and put in an external power point for the fridge and any appliances we need to plug in.

I found this unit online at a site called Man Cave Oz.  Oh Yeah.  Where else would you find something like this but a blokey man cave?

So now I have a working fridge, sink and barbecue.  I also have a timber butcher's block trolley that I want to restore, and put it inbetween.  The idea is that if I can get this outdoor kitchen set up, we will have somewhere to cook when we finally renovate our indoor kitchen, and also it is so lovely to cook outside when you have people over.  You stay part of the conversation rather than being stuck inside.

The green fascia has discoloured and faded - which makes me dislike the builder even more, and you can see where the ceiling has dropped from rain getting in, but one trip to the BSA tribunal was enough for me.  One day we may have to replace the ceiling panels, but for now it will just have to be.  Maybe I could grow a climber up the poles and across the front?

Now all the really hard work is done, I can get on with finding lots of pretty things to make the kitchen look more than just brick and stainless steel.

This post is being featured at Decorating Forum.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Stencilled Cushions - Movie Quotes

Inspired by Anthropologie's 'You Are My Sunshine' cushion, and similar versions on pinterest, I decided to stencil some cushions.  As the cushions are for the home cinema room, I decided to use movie quotes from some of our favourite shows as the text.

Two of our favourite Aussie shows would have to be:

Kath & Kim - text is Look at moy, Look at moy, now I've got one word to say to you.  That's noice, different, unewe-sual.  Hunk of Spunk.  Foxy Morons.  Pru & Tru.  Epponee-Rae, Fountain Lakes

and The Castle - text is Dale dug a hole, tell 'em Dale, This is going straight to the pool room, Tell him he's dreamin', what do you call this darl?, how's the serenity?, It's the vibe of the thing.

How I Made Them:
I bought 2 plain cotton canvas cushions from Target for $10 each.  The stencil was from Spotlight, about $2, and the Sharpie laundry marker was $5 from Riot Art & Craft.

Once I worked out what I wanted to write, I used a pencil to trace the words on the cushion, so I could get my spacing right.  Here's a tip - don't use pencil.  It didn't wash out well.  Probably best to use tailor's chalk or those dressmaker pens where the ink fades.  Here's another tip - put an old magazine inside the cushion cover so the black ink doesn't go through to the back.

After I was happy with it all, I went back over the words with the laundry marker.

The cushions are in our back living room that my husband set up with an overhead projector and cinema screen.  Friday night is movie night in our house, especially on holidays.

Home Cinema Lounges

A home cinema room can be a tricky room to furnish.  My taste would prefer a big white slipcover lounge with lots of pretties, but the most important thing when watching a movie, is that you are comfortable, and you have somewhere to put your drink and popcorn.

When my Dad passed away, I brought his Jason leather recliner back here.  I thought it was so ugly, but we all fought over who was going to sit in it because it was so comfortable.

In the end, we chose comfort over design, and two years ago we splurged and bought this home cinema lounge.  We bought it from Devlin Lounges in Brisbane.  Through them, we were able to pick the colour, choose the configuration,  had the option of an electric recline, and they were priced in the middle of the market.  We didn't have enough room to have armrests between each chair so we chose to have two chairs together, great for snuggling up.

 This is the chair in recline position - so comfy you almost (and sometimes do) fall asleep.  The advantage of the electric recline is that it is easy to use and  you can stop the chair at any point.  With the manual recline you are pretty much up or down often at a frightening speed - anyone seen Candice Bergen as Kate in Sweet Home Alabama?

There are 4 chairs, with 4 cup holders.  One for each of us.  The centre console stores remotes and there is a pull out drawer in the bottom.

This is definitely the most modern piece of furniture in the house, but it works.  I really like that we all sit and watch movies together.  I will cherish those memories in the future.

This week my little blog is being featured at Decorating Forum  If you haven't already been, be sure to check it out.

Decorating Forum

Sharing also at Freckled Laundry

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Creating the Hallway

Okay, I am sick of having a messy hallway.  I want it to look pretty and inviting.  You know, create a good first impression.

  I want to give my hallway a little facelift, so what do I need?  Here's my inspiration.

Somewhere to hang my bag and hat.

Somewhere to sit (or dump shopping bags).

Some pretty artwork on the walls

Source: via Stylish on Pinterest

and maybe a basket to hold the mess and all the things that need to go upstairs, and I'm too lazy to take them up.

Source: via Stylish on Pinterest

I've set the challenge.  It's on the blog.  I'll see what I can do, and share the photos with you next week.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Roast Pumpkin Soup

Winter is over, and we are enjoying some lovely Spring weather here in Brisbane, so this soup is a little out of season, but my boy was home sick the other day so I made him some.

1-1.2 kg (2lb, 10oz) pumpkin (squash), peeled and de-seeded - use Kent, Butternut, Queensland Blue
2 large onions, diced
2 large carrots, peeled and grated
2 tomatoes, peeled and chopped (I remove the seeds but you don't have to)
2 cloves garlic (optional - see seasoning's note)
1.5/6 cups litres stock (vegetable or if you prefer, chicken)
Extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
salt flakes and freshly ground pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 180C/350F

Cut the pumpkin into cubes.  The whole pumpkin pictured above was 2.4kg and gave me 1.2kg of pumpkin cubes.  Toss the cubes in some EVOO and add any seasoning (see notes below).  Place in a roasting dish, and bake for 30-35 minutes.  Roasting the pumpkin first gives the soup a lovely flavour.  If you are using butternut pumpkin you can just cut it in half, remove the seeds and roast for 50-60 minutes, then scoop out the flesh to add to the soup.

While the pumpkin's cooking, prepare all your other ingredients.  Add 1-2 tbsp of stock or EVOO to a large saucepan/casserole dish and very gently on low heat, sweat your onions for 15-20 minutes with the lid on.  You want to cook them slowly over low heat so they release their sugars and become sweet.  You don't want to burn them or have them catch on the pan.

When the pumpkin is ready, add it to the casserole dish followed by the carrots, tomatoes, and stock.  Bring to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer for a few minutes until the carrot is soft.

I use a hand blender to purée the soup.  If you don't have one, you can also transfer the mixture to a heat-proof blender.  Once puréed, taste for seasoning and add salt & pepper if needed.

Notes & Variations:
Seasoning - here are some seasonings you can use when you roast the pumpkin - cayenne pepper, paprika, cumin, curry powder, chilli powder, or freshly grated nutmeg.  For sweetness you can drizzle the pumpkin with honey before roasting.  When I made this batch, I roasted 2 whole garlic cloves with the pumpkin and squeezed the flesh out of the skins to add to the soup. You could also roast a quartered red onion in the same way.
When you serve the soup you can add some snipped chives, chopped tarragon, or some mild red chilli slices.
You can also add a handful of chopped parsley (including the stalks) when you add the carrots and tomato.
This soup will make 6 batches which I freeze in plastic containers for quick healthy lunches.  Serve with good crusty bread - this one is olive sourdough.
To adjust the thickness of the soup, increase the amount of pumpkin, or reduce the amount of stock.  You can also use a mix of pumpkin and sweet potato.

Seasonality & Nutrition Information: can be found on my post - Roast Pumpkin & Olive Salad

Interesting Facts:  When buying a whole pumpkin, make sure the stem is still attached.  Store the pumpkin in a cool dry place, and preferably on it's side so moisture does not collect in the centre of the pumpkin causing rot. (source)

Why do I write all these notes at the bottom?  Well I don't want to have multiple recipes for pumpkin soup in my recipe folder, I just want one good one that I can modify depending on my desires.  This is one of the best recipes I've found, and with all the different seasoning suggestions, I can make many different versions of the soup.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Caring for a Stainless Steel BBQ

Summer's on it's way and it's time to crank up the BBQ.  Problem is, our BBQ was looking very old and tired.  Time for some elbow grease and some love.

Firstly, all the decals had worn off.

so I scraped them off.

I printed up some new labels on water-slide decal paper.  
Sprayed the sheet with a couple of coats of clear matt sealer, then applied them to the BBQ, the same way that I made a decal bottle vase here.

They're not perfect but at least I know where Hi and Lo are now.

Then it was time to clean the BBQ.  A quick wipe over with warm soapy water, then a good scrub with Gumption to remove rust, dirt, and other marks.  Then what do you do to keep your sparkling stainless steel looking like new?  Well you follow my friend Dana's advice, and you wipe it all over with cheap baby oil.  

It works a treat.

I even cleaned out the drawers, so I had everything I need at hand.

So now our 7 year old BBQ looks like new again.  

All we have to do now is fill the gas bottle.

My husband loves his BBQ.  He even took it to our tiny London terrace where it took up half the courtyard.  Our London neighbours came over for an Australia Day barbie, and remarked "Now that's a BBQ.  You're definitely Aussies."  You bet we are.

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