Sunday, 14 December 2014

Pinterest Reviews

Its time I did another pinterest review post... Sadly no crafty stuff with this update - I really must get back into posting the crafting things!


I've been cooking quite a bit recently - all sorts of stuff from savoury to sweet from salads to cookies but if you were to look through my pinterest "Stuff I've Tried" board anyone would think that its all sweet and sugar-filled (some have been, but definitely not all of them).

If you want to try any of these for yourself, just click on the recipe name to go directly to it.

Chocolate Chunk Peanut Butter Swirl Fudgy Cookies

One word - YUMMY!

These are without a doubt some of the best chocolate biscuits I've ever made/tasted. Serious chunks of chocolate that seems to stay soft and oozey combined with the saltiness of peanut butter and a lovely, slightly crumbly biscuit base tying it all together.

I've made this a few times now and the only change I make to the recipe is mix half and half crunchy and smooth peanut butter for a tiny bit more texture (and I forgot to add the baking soda to the last batch but they turned out OK so maybe that isn't essential either).

Salted Caramel and Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars

Salted Caramel and Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars
Recipe and pic from 

Decadence plus. These were a huge hit when I took them to a work morning tea. They are a bit messy to eat, but most people did not have an issue with that and they disappeared pretty quickly.

This one was surprisingly easy to make and well and truly satisfied the craving I had been having for pecan pie, while also providing a really good chocolate hit (one can never have too much chocolate). 

One thing I was pleased about with this recipe was that when cut and served carefully, my version of these bars looked almost identical to the promo pics - That doesn't happen very often and its such a nice feeling when it does all come together.

Cinnamon Rolls

24-hour Cinnamon Rolls
Recipe and pic from:
I know cinnamon rolls are a fairly American thing, but I'm just about ready to start lobbying to make them an Australian tradition!

My latest attempt at cinnamon rolls was made using the recipe from Made it. Ate it. Loved it. and again were a huge hit at work - even with my (formerly) American boss.

A word of warning if you are going to use this recipe - it makes a LOT!

I didn't have the 10 cups of flour the recipe calls for on hand (and I don't think I have a mixing bowl big enough to handle a recipe that large anyway) so I halved the recipe and still ended up with 3 trays of cinnamon rolls.

The bonus with this recipe is that most of the work (and its not really a lot of work anyway) is done the night before so in the morning all you need to do is pop them in the oven for about 15 minutes and then glaze them.  Nothing better than a warm sticky cinnamon roll with a cup of hot, strong coffee for morning tea.

Cleaning stuff

yeah, all the boring stuff...

Shower screens 

My pinned source - a post on 
Don't get me wrong, I'm still loving my beautiful bathroom, but I never realised just how grotty glass shower screens could get. They are not something I've had to deal with before having only ever had a curtain at most.

We were doing OK making sure that we use the squeegee fairly regularly after showers and keeping it reasonably nice, but it just doesn't give it a really good deep clean by itself so last weekend I was determined to get in there and clean the glass properly. I scrubbed and scrubbed with windex but it  wasn't getting through the hard water stains to my satisfaction. So where do I turn? My source of all things domestic - Pinterest of course! and again it delivered for me.

The secret - magic erasers... those funny little squares of dense sponge (I think they are melamine based) that are apparently good for cleaning all sorts of things.

And the results? They speak for themselves. Both doors in the pic below had been cleaned - the one on the right with just windex, the one on the left with the magic eraser and then windex. I think we have a winner!
On the right - shower screen after scrubbing with just windex
On the left - scrubbed with magic eraser, followed by a gentle wipe with windex
I probably should turn my attention towards more festive topics and crafty stuff for my next post, and with 3 weeks off work, hopefully there will be some more crafting and blogging happening.

Until next time


Sunday, 9 November 2014

More little renovations - Spare room refurb

We've had house guests recently so our spare room (aka the junk room) had to return to being the guest bedroom it was always supposed to be. After clearing out the accumulated junk it was decided that the room needed a lick of paint to freshen it up before it would be guest ready.

Somehow "a lick of paint" turned into "demolish a wall and re-plaster". I'm still not entirely sure how that happened, but with a week before our guests' arrival we were pulling off wall sheeting and teaching ourselves (with the help of Google and you tube) how to hang and finish new plaster sheets.

It begins! skirting boards and cornice removed and the old wall sheeting coming off

Nice new plaster  sheets hung
Note the panel installed back to front with the print facing out?
Don't do that - it causes no end of trouble when it comes to painting!

Well we managed it! The room was replastered and back together, fit for guests within the week (if not entirely finished with all the little details) and we learned heaps in the process.
  1. Moving 3m long sheets of fragile plasterboard from Bunnings to home and then into the house is a logistical nightmare.
  2. Gyprock definitely does have a right and a wrong side
  3. It's tricky getting those joins and corners plastered neatly
  4. The 16 square metres coverage claimed on the tin does not apply to undercoat going on fresh plaster.
  5. Oil based sealer is a really handy thing to have around when red ink printing starts appearing through your new paint job (see #2 above).
The other half has said he wouldn't mind redoing the joins and smoothing out the layers of sealer we used to cover the red print that kept seeping through the paint where one section of sheeting was installed back to front,  but overall I'm pretty happy with the results.

Next jobs on the list for that room - repainting and re-installing the pelmet over the window, new curtains and replacing the old louvre door.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Christmas is coming (Ready or not)

I had a colleague return to the office after lunch yesterday and announce that she's just finished all her Christmas shopping. And just in case I needed another reminder that there are less than 7 short weeks until the holiday I stopped in at the the pharmacy on my way home last night and there were carols playing  over the store PA system.

How can it be November already? My how the year has flown!

I've barely even started my preparations this year! Sure I've been browsing Pinterest a lot, and I've pinned some potential decorating and gift ideas - but I'm always browsing Pinterest so I don't think I can really count that towards actual Christmas preparation.

Now that I've been forced to think about it, I'd like to try and get back to basics a bit more this year. The last couple of weeks before Christmas always end up being a frenzy of preparations, parties and spending so this year I'm going to try and avoid that a bit, do more to actively enjoy and share the festive spirit and put more thought, time and love into selecting (or making) gifts for family and friends that will hopefully be appreciated more than an easy commercial option that will be broken or forgotten within days or the no-brainer gift cards which are my usual go-to gifts when I run out of time or ideas.

All of that basically boils down to the fact that I need to get motivated, organised and creative again... and really soon

Have you got your festive season planned and organised yet?  If you're going the home made gifts option this year, what have you got started so far?

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Colour inspiration

I was pretty happy with the blue and white colour scheme in my bathroom pre-renovation.  The blue theme was an extension of the colour palette used throughout the rest of the house - pale blue walls, dark teal door trims, white ceiling and cornice and cream skirting boards (we won't mention the odd olive green colour of the doors - it doesn't go with anything but we've put up with it until now).

Existing colour scheme for most of the house:
Pale blue walls, teal door frames and trim, cream skirting and white ceiling

That colour combination has been okay up until now but with the recent bathroom renovation came a new colour scheme in that room and its made me re-think the colours for the rest of the house.

New bathroom = new colour scheme for the whole house?

I do still need to paint the new bathroom door ASAP and I intend to get some "bullet proof" grey gloss on the door this weekend which I think will work well with the pale grey and silver in the bathroom. I was also thinking that a darker charcoal grey/almost black for the door trims (instead of the teal) would finish it all off nicely so that will happen over the next few days as well.

But of course I can't just paint one door and frame and leave the rest as-is; that would just look silly so I'll be changing to charcoal trims and bulletproof grey on all the doors and frames throughout the house.

New colour scheme in bathroom - to carry through the rest of the house?
Snow Storm grey walls, charcoal grey door frames and trim, bulletproof grey doors, white ceiling

I really do like the new colours in the bathroom, somehow it makes it look and feel more luxurious than it actually is but would it look OK if I were to take that colour palette and use it throughout the rest of the house? The floor tiles through most of the house are a pale mottled grey, and none of my existing furniture and fittings would clash with such a neutral colour scheme so it should work, but I'm still not 100% sure.

Decisions, decisions...

So I'm definite that  I need to change the door and door frame colours through the house, but for the walls and other trims do I use the same colours as the bathroom or do I choose something completely different, and if so, what?

I'm pretty sure that the bathroom scheme would work in the rest of the house but there are still those couple of questions:

  1. Do I really want the same super pale, almost white, snow storm grey on all of the walls in the house?
    I definitely want something reasonably pale and bright, but will that particular colour be just too pale and show up all the grime from everyday wear and tear too easily? (it works in the bathroom because the painted walls are generally higher with heavy wear areas on the lower parts of the walls being tiled)
  2. What do I do with the skirting boards? Gloss white would be an obvious choice carrying through from the while tiles in the bathroom and reflecting the ceiling and cornice but white would show up dust, floor grime and every little scuff mark.
    Would a dark color on the skirting boards look odd? perhaps I could use the same colour as the doors or door trims?

What would you suggest that I do with the walls and skirting boards in the rest of the house? Let me know in the comments.

Life after the bathroom reno - what now?

I've had people ask me recently what I'm going to do with myself now that I'm not constantly focusing on getting our bathroom sorted out.

The bathroom saga has taken up so much of my time and energy over the last almost 2 years that its been really hard to focus on doing much in the way of home improvements beyond simply keeping things ticking over. But not anymore! It's over, the bathroom is beautiful and we can move on.

But move on to what?

The "To-Do" List

I have a to-do list as long as my arm (possibly even longer) and its time we started moving on checking some of the things off that list. I'm posting them here not to add pressure or set time frames, but as a reminder. And hopefully as we go along I'll remember to come back and cross things off and add links to the posts if I happen to blog about them. So here it goes....


I know, it should be all finished, but there are still a few things to do in there.
  • Replace window with louvres
  • Install window covering (I'm thinking a silver venetian blind would work perfectly)
  • Paint door
  • Paint door frame
  • Install full-length mirror on wall behind door
  • Replace framed mirror above vanity with more permanent wall mounted solution
  • Wall art piece(s)
  • Decorative plant or pottery piece
  • Hanging shower storage - done Jan 2015
  • Replace light fitting - added to list and completed Feb 2015 (a necessity when the old one died)


  • Paint walls to match bathroom (Taubmans snow season)
  • Paint door
  • Paint door frame
  • Replace toilet and cistern (mostly just the cistern)
  • Replace window with louvres
  • Install window covering (silver venetian as per bathroom?)
  • Sort out and install more elegant storage for all the miscellaneous bits and pieces eg extra toilet rolls, cleaning gear, air fresheners etc
  • replace light fitting

Laundry (aka the cat's night time retreat)

  • Remove and replace asbestos wall sheeting (exterior wall)
  • Paint walls & ceiling
  • Clean out / reorganise cupboards
  • Source and install a multi-basket laundry sorting system of some sort
  • Replace light fitting
  • Replace window with louvres
  • Replace vinyl skirting with tiles as per bathroom and toilet
  • New cat bed and concealed litter tray


  • Repaint walls and ceiling
  • Gap filler between linen cupboard and ceiling
  • Re-organise linen cupboard
  • Replace light fitting
  • Hang photo gallery display
  • Install additional lighting for photo gallery

Bedroom 1 (Our room)

  • Replace windows with louvres
  • Re-plaster external wall
  • Install split-system airconditioner
  • Repaint walls and ceiling
  • Replace ceiling fan
  • Replace light fitting
  • Remove and replace wardrobe
  • Install smoke detector
  • New curtains
  • Install pelmet 
  • Wall art piece(s) and/or headboard

Bedroom 2 (aka The Monster's room)

  • Replace windows with louvres
  • Install split-system airconditioner
  • Re-plaster external walls
  • Repaint walls and ceiling
  • Replace timber louvre door with solid door
  • Paint door and trims
  • Paint bookshelves and storage chest
  • Replace ceiling fan
  • Replace light fitting
  • Remove and replace wardrobe
  • Install smoke detector
  • New curtains
  • Install pelmet 
  • Wall art piece(s)

Bedroom 3 (Spare/guest bedroom)

  • Replace windows with louvres
  • Install split-system airconditioner
  • Tidy up/ smooth off wall plastering
  • Repaint walls 
  • Replace timber louvre door with solid door
  • Paint door and trims
  • Paint bookshelves and cabinet
  • Replace ceiling fan
  • Replace light fitting
  • Remove and replace wardrobe
  • Replace traditional double bed with a sofa bed, murphy bed or similar (something more compact to make better use of space when not being used by guests)
  • Install smoke detector
  • New curtains
  • Install pelmet 
  • Wall art piece(s)


  • Remove and replace entire kitchen including cabinetry, benchtops, splashbacks, sink and rangehood
  • Replace windows with louvres
  • Install smoke detector

Dining room

  • Reclaim room for intended purpose (its currently the place where all the tools, equipment and supplies for our current projects are stored.)
  • Replace windows with louvres
  • Replace light fitting
  • Install smoke detector
  • Repaint walls
  • Repaint ceiling
  • Paint door
  • Window coverings - venetians or curtains - not sure yet
  • Wall art piece(s)
  • Floor covering / rug of some sort

Lounge room

  • Replace windows with louvres
  • Change back windows to sliding or bi-fold door
  • Install smoke detector
  • Repaint walls
  • Repaint ceiling
  • Paint door
  • Replace lounges (or at the least the lounge cushions)
  • Floor covering / rug of some sort
  • Window coverings - venetians or curtains - not sure yet
  • Wall art piece(s)
  • Floor covering / rug of some sort

Wow! What a massive list - I can see I'm going to be busy for about the next million years and that doesn't even include anything with the exterior of the house, or the garden. 

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

The bathroom of nightmares is no more!

Has it really been more than 2 months since I last posted? How time flies! So much going on and even though some of it has been blog-worthy I just haven't found the time.

Lots of goings on in our household, with the biggest being that our bathroom has finally been re-done properly after a disastrous insurance repair job more than 18 months ago.

For those of you not familiar with the saga... super quick summary... burst water pipe = flooded house & insurance claim to locate leak, repair and reinstate the bathroom. First repair job done so badly that it needed to be entirely re-done...and now almost 2 years later its finally over!

I've promised people pictures so here they are.

The before (and during) pics

Trying to work out where all the water is coming from...
"Maybe there's a pipe broken under the bath?" 
"Or perhaps its actually in the floor slab! "
"Hmm we'll need to wreck all the tiles around the bath, rip out the wall lining and dig
through the floor to get to that. But its OK because we'll fix it all back up just the way it was."

"We'll make sure everything is completely safe while we're working"
(yes that is live electrical wires strung across the bathroom at head height
and tied to the shower rose. And yes, the mains water was still switched on at this point.)
"We'll find new tiles that are similar to the
original ones and patch that nasty hole in the floor.
See? you can barely notice the difference in color and texture"

"You like sharp, sticking out corners right where you could
take chunks out of your shins/eyes/forehead
when you slip on the wet bathroom floor don't you? "
"What do you mean its not straight?
Aren't all baths supposed to have a gap at one corner?
How else are the creepy crawlies going to get in and out from under the bath?"
For some reason the insurance assessor was a bit put out when we insisted it wasn't good enough and that we didn't want those contractors back to try and sort it out. So after much back and forth, waiting, expert reports, quotes, waiting, arguing, more expert reports and several dragon-lady appearances during this time it was finally conceded that perhaps it wasn't good enough and needed to be re-done.

The after pics 

We've had GSK Patrick Builders here for the last few weeks and they have been fantastic. A completely different (and 1000% better) experience compared to dealing with the previous contractors. They've been helpful, knowledgeable, friendly, reliable and the quality of work has been marvelous.

First we had to go back to a bare concrete shell of a room.
But after just a couple of  weeks its all done and that is just a memory. I'm so thrilled with how the room looks now that its become my favourite room. See for yourself.

New shower including glass screen and tiling
I love those accent tiles, photos just don't do them justice.
Deliberate choice of a fairly neutral colour scheme
so I can jazz it up with any colour accessories.
Dark grey floor, gloss white wall tiles with
pale grey paint and chrome trims
Another shot of the shower
Those mosaic tiles are actually silver, mirrored glass tiles
with occasional textured silver in the mix
grey, white and chrome
Bath taps! after almost 2 years with no taps
on the bath it seems weird to finally have them back
Perfectly sized ledge for a glass of wine or scented candle
to complement a relaxing bath
More gloss white and chrome

A lot of time and angst to get to this point, but so very worth it in the end. 


Thursday, 15 May 2014

Laptop bag - Part 2

There has been progress! The divided interior of the bag is pretty much done.

Now to sort out the design for the outside and put it all together...

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Lesson for the day! Focus

I've had it reinforced yet again this afternoon...Winging it and working things out as you go usually works out much better when you are able to get your brain focusing on the task at hand.

Trying to cook dinner, discuss everyone's day, help with homework and create without a pattern can lead to results with the potential to get messy (and frustrating).

Thanks to Jack the (seam) Ripper and my trusty scissors I think I've salvaged it but there was a scary moment or 2 there when I thought I might have to just cut it and adjust all the corresponding pieces to the same smaller size.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Laptop Bag - Part 1

Over a year ago I replaced my old laptop after it decided it just wasn't going to turn on anymore. Unfortunately the new computer is a different size and doesn't quite fit in the carry bag used with the previous one. It's probably a good thing that my laptop doesn't go on too many outings because after more than a year I still haven't gotten around to getting a new bag.

I'm about to start studying again this week and I'll need to take my laptop with me to classes so that absence of appropriate carry bag needs to change and quick smart. I've looked around for a reasonably priced off-the-shelf bag but none of them are the right dimensions or the right style for me and my computer.

Solution:  Custom made!

I want an actual bag (rather than just a protective sleeve) so I can carry all the miscellaneous bits and pieces I will need all in one bag - the computer itself, the charger, the mouse as well as some papers, books or folder and my purse, phone, keys etc. 

I've been trawling the net for patterns and inspiration but as usual when i have something particular in mind none of the available patterns seem exactly right so I'm designing my own.

The basic requirements for the bag are:
  1. Actually fit the laptop (duh!) - The laptop when closed is 28cm long x 41cm wide x 3.5cm high - the design will need to be based round these dimensions.
  2. Have multiple, separate spaces to keep everything in its place and organised.
  3. provide some padding and protection to the computer
  4. Be easy to carry - I think either a backpack or messenger/satchel style will probably be most functional.
  5. Be reasonably stylish - so many of the off-the-shelf bags are so very utilitarian and boring. I want something a bit different.
I've put some of my ideas down on paper and drafted a basic design for the interior of the bag and I've chosen the materials I'm going to use so now I need to bite the bullet and actually start cutting  the materials and see what happens.

The rough design for the interior 
2x dividers plus large elasticised pocket.
I'll probably add a couple of smaller pockets as I'm going as well.

Materials for the exterior
Faux leather in black, white and silver and a grey and silver patterned
home decorating fabric with a small amount of shimmer to it (I love that fabric)

Materials for the interior of the bag
The cream fabric is super soft and will help to protect the actual laptop section,
the grey chevron fabric will form the majority of the interior and I'll probably
use a little bit of the royal purple as an accent for a pop of colour.

Watch out for Part 2 coming soon.


Friday, 18 April 2014

How many versions of "me" are there?

Do you ever get the feeling that there is more than one version of you lurking within your body? Do you like one version of you more or less than any of the other versions?

Recently I've been pondering this and have realised that there are at least 4 distinct versions of me that come out to play at different times. (That there are so many distinct versions of me is probably a sign that I'm going a bit crazy but oh well - a little bit of craziness makes life interesting I think!). I've loosely defined the versions of me as "partner and mother me", "professional me", "social and recreational me" and finally a version of me that I've dubbed "the dragon lady".

Generally all the versions of me are just permutations of the same theme but with her own particular focus and strengths, they all get along well alongside each other and I can transition from one to the other fairly seamlessly or even better, pull aspects of each version out and utilise them as the situation requires. The one exception to that harmoniousness is the dragon lady and it's her that has me most intrigued at the moment.

Dragon lady tends to come out when I'm stressed or under pressure  She appears ultra rational, well spoken (or written as the situation requires), organised and assertive but she also has a tendency towards spitefulness, holding grudges and can rant and rave a bit. Usually she's ice cool on the outside but I know that just under the surface she's got steam pouring from her ears and is ready to breathe fire at the slightest provocation.

She's been coming out with increasing frequency and I know that without the dragon lady's help over the last year-and-a-bit I would probably be a blubbering, shaking mess in the corner by now, but even so I'm not sure that I really like her all that much. I certainly don't like feeling that spitefulness and I can hear myself getting ranty and I hate that - but darn is she good at getting others to see things her way and  getting things done!

A work colleague (someone who I had worked with previously and am now working with again after a break of a couple of years) recently commented to me that ever since she's known me it seems like I've always been talking about "going through a process of working on myself and making changes" and although I laughed it off at the time I've realised that she is right...I do always have something about me that I'm working on.. but I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing - it's not that I'm unhappy with my life but I think if you ever get to a point where you consider that there's nothing at all in your life or in your person that could be improved then you've settled for less than what you could have and you've reached a pretty boring and pointless place in your life - there would never be the drive to search, change, learn or grow.

So here's to embracing the good things about me, while constantly striving to make things better! And right now I  think working out how to make friends with the dragon lady and finding a way to utilise her strengths without letting the negative aspects of the dragon lady personality take over is a good thing to add to my personal improvement "to-do list".


Sunday, 19 January 2014

Happy New Year: resolutions, a new addition and home improvements

Am I the only person who loathes new years resolutions? I totally understand the desire to make changes in your life - everyone has something they want to change whether its losing those few extra kilos, quitting smoking, finding that dream job, whatever; what I don't get is why the decision to take action has to coincide with the beginning of a new year... If you have reached the point where you have identified your goals and are ready to take steps to make them happen then it shouldn't matter whether it is the beginning of the year - why not just get out there and make it happen whatever the date! <end rant>

So after all that happy new year! Welcome to 2014! Obviously I'm not making any specific resolutions; what I am doing however is planning on a big positive 2014 with lots of good things on the cards for the year. Hopefully that will include continuing on this blogging journey (and blogging more regularly), plenty of happy family events, more crafting and sewing and a successful year at work. I wish the same for you and yours. Love, happiness and prosperity all around is my hope for everyone.

In our house we've started the year on a high already by welcoming a new addition into our home...

Introducing Charlie the budgie.

We're assuming that Charlie is a boy however because he's so young we won't be able to tell for sure whether that is actually the case for another couple of months. But even if Charlie does end up being  "Charlotte" rather then "Charles" it's not a biggie.

Charlie joined us on January 2nd and already feels like part of the family. He's doing so fantastically already with his training, is showing real interest in what the family is doing as well as making sure (sometimes quite vocally) that we remember he's part of the family now and wants to be involved in everything too.

Also on the home front we've been having a few bits and pieces done around the place so there's been trades-people traipsing in and out for what feels like weeks (in reality its probably only been just over a week since they started coming in quoting on the work but it feels like longer). No major renovations or anything, just replacing some old light fittings, switches and fans that we've been putting off doing for ages and installing a split system aircon in the lounge. It's amazing to see how much of a difference these little changes really make.

Of course once you start these little changes things start to snowball so there is now a growing list of further  'little' bits and pieces that are being added to the to-do list. Next on the list will probably be repainting so I'm looking forward to choosing colours and getting some paint splashing around. I find there is something very satisfying about painting a wall - it probably has something to do with my constant need to see something tangible as a result of my efforts and you definitely get that from painting. And then of course you can't repaint without also replacing the soft furnishings.... cushion covers,  curtains,  rugs... I'm getting excited thinking about all the things I could make!

So much to do, so many options. What are your favourite / least favourite DIY home improvement jobs? What little touches do you think make the most impact in your home?