Sunday, April 29, 2012

The sky is falling!

"Oh!" said Chicken Little, "The sky is falling! I must go tell the king."
So she ran and she ran, until she met Henny Penny.
"Where are you going Chicken Little?" said Henny Penny.
"Oh Henny Penny, the sky is falling, and I'm going to tell the king!"
"How do you know?" said Henny Penny.
"I saw it with my own eyes. I got out of bed, and I walked into the lounge room and I found this -"
Yep. Two and a bit metres worth of cornice fell out of our ceiling and crashed and smashed onto our beautiful floor while Adam and I were sleeping one night. We didn't hear a thing.
Leo, ever the helpful son - always under my feet by my side, was helping me to survey the extent of the damage.
Notice earlier how I mentioned our beautiful floors. I don't think I ever actually officially told you about how we got rid of that feral 70's carpet I mentioned back in early 2010 when the first few posts of this blog were made. Well I guess it's time for a catch up.
For almost 2 years we put up with the creamy-apricoty carpet covering the floor of our entire home with the exception of the wet areas (bathroom, toilet, kitchen). It was old and stained. Leo had two bathroom accidents on it, which no matter what you did or used, every now and then you would get a delightful whiff of l'eau urine de chat. And fighting off the flea invasion seemed like a daily challenge. An inside cat and too much old dirty carpet do not mix well. Adam and I hated that carpet, and knew that once we replaced it our home would feel and look sooooo much better. Leo, on the other hand, LOVED lounging around on that carpet.

He also loved tearing up and down the hall way, launching off the stairs or hiding against them. Total nut-bag material, but it was fun to watch.
When we moved into our home right before Christmas in 2009, we had savings that we planned to utilise for home renovations, but our job prospects did not work out as planned and that money was instead used on living and paying the mortgage. Since then, when it comes to reno's, we have done what we can when we can. 
So in early November 2011, I decided to put my voucher to good use.
You see I was given a homemade voucher book as a birthday gift from my family. I LOVE it! Titled 'Kristy Erins Little Book of Love <3 Expires: NEVER!", it is full of great vouchers from my Mum, Dad and brothers. Being that Rossco is a carpenter by trade, I put my voucher into action to get us a beautiful new floor. Adam and I discussed for a long time what we should put down after we rip up the carpet. For a long time it was tiles, though I was resistant to this - having grown up on Brushbox wooden floors I guess I was spoilt, but I find tiles hard and cold. A wooden floor is home beneath my feet. So when the new Masters opened at Nerang, we went to check it out and they had Bamboo click-clack flooring that looked spectacular and was much cheaper than I had previously thought... And Adam liked it too! From that I got to researching suppliers and in the end we decided on a Carbonised Bamboo Hardwood floor (not click-clack) for $39.95/m from Bamboo Industries.
We also spent a few hundred on glue to stick it down. It comes pre-polished - no additional cost to polish once laid. Being that it is a proper thick hardwood floor, if it is damaged or scratched over time, it can be sanded and polished like other hardwood floors. But so far it seems to be wearing well. No visible scratches or wear marks so far, even with Leo running around.
The first two boards go down. Oh! I can see it's going to be pretty already!!

That's Rossco putting down the last two rows of boards for the whole house. It was a damn fine effort Dad. Have I told you lately that I love you? Well I do. Thank you sooooo much for making us such a beautiful floor.
Here are some not so clear before photo's taken right before we moved in. 

No we did not keep that tiling detail at the front door...
And now for the AFTER photo's. Wahoo!

Yes we are totally in love with how our new floor looks. It was an instant updater. Even the 70's light fittings and the kitchen archway don't look so gordy with the new floor. But, the real questions are ... how will Leo be able to stretch out and relax now that the carpet is gone? Will he start to curl up in warm places like a normal cat? Just exactly what does he think of the new floor?
He seems to love it just the same. No need for carpet to stretch out for an afternoon nap. One day I caught him doing the thriller in his sleep.

And once he has had a nap, it is hilarious to watch him run around the house on our new floor. He slips and slides, runs on the spot. It has to be seen to be understood, but it is cute as hell. 
The cornice still needs fixing but we are hanging out for our Mr Fix-It Rossco to return home from an overseas holiday and teach us how to replace the cornice. There are a few other sections looking a bit dodgy. Hopefully it can be a 'see one, do one, teach one' experience and I'll be able to put it on here for your viewing pleasure.

Happy Rainy Sunday to you all!


Sunday, April 22, 2012

Baking ANZAC Biscuits

Adam and I are actually on Lite'n'Easy at the moment. For multiple reasons. For the light, and also for the ease. Both being shift-workers, we had both gotten into bad food habits and were spending WAY too much on food. Lite'n'Easy is a temporary fix, but it is definitely doing it's job. It's calorie counting and portion control all done for you. We've both lost weight (I can fit into my jeans again - wahoo!), and my stomach capacity has definitely shrunk. I could barely get through a third of a delicious Grill'd burger when out to lunch with Chloe, much to my dismay. Lucky I had with-held and not purchased those rosemary fries! So delicious.
I'm certainly not missing going grocery shopping and cooking dinner after finishing my 10 hour shifts. It's so nice to have dinner finished and a clean kitchen within less than half an hour of being home. But every now and then, I do miss cooking. Last week I decided I wanted to bake some biscuits.
I consulted my Hen's Tea Party Recipe Book. This book was made by  our family friends Donna and Jiorgie. All the girls invited to my Hen's Party were asked to provide a recipe to add to the book. I love it! I was flicking through the Sweets section and found Lady Mausey's recipe for ANZAC biscuits. That's my awesome Nan, for those not in the know! I am a big fan of ANZAC biscuits, have never baked them before and being that ANZAC Day is almost here I decided that recipe was a definite winner.
I had to text Lady Mausey to clarify a few things before I started. Yes, you read right. My Nan can text message. And yes, she can e-mail and has her own Facebook profile. She can even use the Google. But enough about how super cool and up-to-date my Nan is. Here's the recipe:

ANZAC Biscuits

1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup desiccated coconut
quarter pound of butter (google tells me that is 113grams)
1 tablespoon golden syrup
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons boiling water
pinch of salt

Step One
Preheat your oven to a moderate heat (170-180degrees Celsius).
Melt the butter and syrup in a saucepan.
Step Two
Add boiling water and baking soda.
Step Three
Add liquid mixture to all the dry ingredients. ANd mix to combine.
Step Four
Keep your husband out of the mixture.
First he tried to sabotage my photography attempts.
 Then I caught him red-handed getting into the mixture!
The Real Step Four
Roll mixture into balls and place on biscuit baking tray. I line my tray with baking paper, and squash the balls down a little. If the mixture is too dry, add a tiny bit more water.
Give them some decent space between each biscuit as they do seem to spread. My first tray ended up like a massive singular ANZAC biscuit. 

Step Five
Bake in oven for approximately 10-12 minutes or until golden.
Biscuits will be soft when removed from the oven, and will harden when left to cool.

Step Six
Eat them, share them with family and friends. They're simple, easy and delicious! Almost a hundred years ago now, during World War One, wives would bake and send these biscuits to their husbands serving in the war (hence the name!).

Lest we forget.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Happy Birthday To My Handsome Husband!

This week we saw Adam turn 29 (!).

Of course I woke him up by covering him in balloons, singing Happy Birthday followed by a repetitious mediocre rendition of You're the Best from The Karate Kid (1984).
Adam and I are big fans of movies from the 80's. We watched Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure (1989) earlier this week, but Adam's favourite movies of all time would have to be the Back to the Future trilogy (1985, 1989, 1990). So when I stumbled upon a link to a semi-DIY Back to the Future themed card, I jumped on it. Well technically I didn't jump on it, but I sure did download it quick-smart! Cubeecraft is an awesome paper-craft website with free downloadables of popular characters from movies, tv shows, video games etc. Years ago I utilised it to provide crafting activities for Chloe's Birthday. A more recent development for this website is PixelPages which is where I downloaded this:
I followed the instructions and used a craft scalpel to cut the appropriate lines, and managed to turn this flat printout of the Delorean (that's the Back to the Future time machine car, for those not in the know), into this:
Pretty damn awesome don't you think?

Inspired by my husband's ability to beautifully gift wrap a present (he once gave me Christmas presents wrapped in potato stamped paper!), I now have an obsession with gift wrapping, ribbon, stamps and hand-made cards and gift tags.
For Adam's birthday present gift-tags I actually hand-made my own stamps! As it was my first time doing this, I went for simple shapes that corresponded to the theme of the present. After all, we are both just a pair of big-kids at heart :)
I raided our miscellaneous stationary box for some old erasers, and a lead pencil, had my craft scalpel handy and actually sourced some tools from my manicure/pedicure box as well.
I drew the batman symbol on the eraser and then utilised the tools at my disposal to cut down and out the shape I wanted.
I may have accidentally taken off too much of one ear and one wing tip, but for my first DIY stamp making effort, I was pretty impressed! And to make it even better, It was free!. I didn't have to leave the house to buy anything because I already owned everything I needed to make it! So I made another one for his other gift...
I then wrote some relevant quotes on them, and attached them to his presents.
The first gift was a pair of Batman/Joker Themed shoes and the second was believe it or not (I know it's hard to tell in the picture) - a skateboard! This skateboard is actually shaped and coloured to look like the one used by Bart Simpson. After the present opening we spent two hours of Adam's birthday morning having a nurse interview with our new IVF centre. It was a big chunk out of Adam's birthday, but the girls so far have been great (they even called me Kristy - not Kirsty!). We now feel even better about our choice to move. After that was complete, we grabbed Adam a birthday coffee and a few groceries so that I could go home and bake him a birthday cake.

Remember how I told you about Adam's spectacular effort with my Nyan Cat Cake? Well with that in mind, I knew I had to do something super spesh. My husband has a true love of chocolate. We're talking a 'will get in a car at 9pm and drive to the servo just to get chocolate' kind of true love. Having never baked a chocolate cake from scratch (with the exception of a 3-minute chocolate Mug cake... I must find that recipe for you), I decided it was well over due. The cake I chose to bake I originally found on Pinterest. It has been on my to-do list since before I even learned to pin. Back then, Adam had seen it over my shoulder and mentioned that if I ever wanted to bake him that cake I could... in a hint, hint, nudge, nudge kind of way. I stored that in my not so reliable memory banks and I figured being that it was his birthday, it was time to give this cake a crack. I donned my apron and got to work.

Adam got some time to relax, play Playstation and do a few other things about the house while I baked. May seem a little boring, but it was lovely! 
I baked a three-layer chocolate cake!!!

Not only did I do that, but I baked a Three Layer Chocolate Cake, with Cream Cheese and Peanut Butter Frosting and a Dark Chocolate and Peanut Butter Glaze (!). I am no expert in the cake baking arena. I have been battling with either terrible or terribly tiny ovens since I moved out of my parents home. But I do love it. And I do want to learn. And hell, I will get my 1970's mission brown oven with a door-that-doesn't-close to work as best I possibly can until I can afford a new kitchen. Which, let's face it... with IVF in the mix, is a long, long, crazy long way away. It being somewhat inept will not deter me. Thank god I have my chilli red mix master and my super awesome dishwasher to support my cake-baking needs. Persistance will help me to tackle the terrible oven!
When it comes to icing cakes, I have only really attempted it once before, and never had I baked any sort of stacked cake. I have come to realise, that frosting-free Banana cakes have become my only staple. It's time to branch out and learn some new skills.
Like a good wife, during the many stages of baking this cake, I would take a spoon over to the Birthday Boy to sample. He LOVED the frosting and when I roused on him for eating too much of it - he declared that because it was his birthday I should have made extra for him to eat! I shoo-ed him out of the kitchen and continued the attempt to frost the cake.
It took a bit of time, common sense and patience, but in the end I was really happy with it! Not bad for a N00b. We had our HMV vintage record player going, so I was baking and singing along to Johnny Cash and The Beatles, which had me feeling that I was ever so slightly closer to my dream of being barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen.
I am also inexperienced at melting chocolate, but having seen it done on MasterChef I had a much better concept of how the whole thing was done (you know the whole water bath deal-io) and hence I somehow successfully made the glaze! Wa-hoo!
I was so bursting with pride, I got Adam to take a picture of me in my apron, with the cake.
At the Birthday Boy's request, we went to Shogun Japanese Restaurant for dinner, where we drank a little warm sake and shared meals with two of Adam's closest friends from the Academy and their gorgeous girlfriends (sorry you couldn't be there Forbe's!). They were great company, which made for a lovely night topped off with cake!
Definitely not for the faint hearted. This cake is delicious, but it is rich!

You can find the recipe and instructions that I used to bake this amazing cake from this fantastic Smitten Kitchen Blog Post.

Stay awesome.

Kristy xx