The best thing about having all my things out of storage, and my baking boxes unpacked, is being able to bake again! The smell of freshly made cookies or cupcakes is a smell that I wish I could bottle and take in on those days where I’m feeling a little blue.
As my fellow bakers will know, when you move into a new place or get a new oven installed, you need to test out the heat and thermofan settings using a tried and tested recipe. In my case this recipe is for chocolate brownies.
My first ever baking attempt in my new kitchen was some brownies for my uncle. And being something I have baked and baked and baked over the years, the chocolate brownies were the perfect recipe to test. I kept a beady eye on my oven and the batch of brownies making sure they didn’t cook too quickly with the thermofan and get too crispy on the edges. My uncle gave me the thumbs up, naturally!
Since then I have had a ball in baking cookies and cupcakes that I haven’t been able to make in 1.5 years since the recipes were in a box along with my pink measuring cups and spoons, mixing bowls, etc. My plan is to bake something new each weekend. I want to test out each recipe I have collected in my treasured recipe box over the years and see which ones work out as planned and which are complete flops (which may have to be retested to be 100% sure). Hopefully I’ll come across some new recipes to add to my list of favourites.
These jam drop shortbread cookies are sinfully delish and another favourite of mine because they’re so easy to make! They are the perfect size to pop a full one in your mouth, again and again and again (when no one is looking of course). I have tried these with Nutella replacing the jam and they were equally as delish. Next time I want to try with some tinned caramel… (The pic shows the cookies before baking and after.)
These were the latest batch I made, called Hokey Pokey biscuits. I have been told that they have an ever-so-slight taste of ginger, even though there isn’t a hint of ginger used. To me they taste like the gooey filling of a pecan nut pie… They are crunchy on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside. I think they’d be even better if they were finished off with a drizzle of melted chocolate…
My baking adventures have just begin in this kitchen that is all my own! I bought a biscuit press that I am dying to try out, especially on some Melt-in-the-Mouth cookies sandwiched together with melted chocolate or caramel. I am also planning to make some peanut butter cookies, because although I’m not the biggest fan of peanut butter, the cookies are just amazing. And then of course there’s fudge, and cakes, and lemon meringue pie, and and and…
For the third year I submitted some of my images to be exhibited at the iPhoneography event in October. And I am very happy to say that this year TWO of my photos were selected!
It is always difficult choosing images but these are the two that were selected. I’m really pleased with the colours and the textures. And I can’t wait to hang these on my wall when they are returned after the exhibition.
If you missed the before pics head here. (And head here for the during pics.)
Seeing the end result was incredible considering what the place looked like originally. It is now more modern yet classic, with a load more storage space, and overall a better use of space.
Big hugs and lots of kisses to Mr Man who first suggested getting rid of the kitchen nook and opening up the space. From this suggestion the rest of the kitchen took shape quickly and allowed a lot more cupboard space (you know, for all my baking stuff!!).
As I mentioned before, I knew I wanted a neutral colour scheme throughout the space, but the end colour scheme began with the colour of the kitchen cupboards. The kitchen was the first contractor I had met with and I am really so glad I did as I couldn’t comprehend my kitchen cupboards in any other colour.
The bathroom feels so spacious and open now! Gone is the double cupboard. Gone is the teeny tiny shower which would suit a hobbit. Gone is the plastic sink and old-fashioned bath. Hello new and sexy! I decided to use the same mosaic detail in the kitchen and bathroom to keep things simple and create a flow to the space. The same tiles throughout the space helped with this too.
The paint colour did wonders to change the look and feel in the whole place, but especially the living areas. The colour is a very light grey that it could almost be called white. And the tiles were the perfect choice as they have texture but are also dappled in colour so they don’t show dirt as easily as a straight/one-coloured tile. Those nasty carpets were ripped off the stairs which were then sanded and sealed the same dark colour as the beams. I changed every light fitting in the house as the lighting was horrible and old.
The unpacking process is a bitch! But I’m getting there… The cupboard I had built in the upstairs little room is a life-saver for clean towels and linen, for Christmas decorations, and for all my wrapping stuff! Soon I will have a small desk in there for when I need to work late, or wrap gifts. (I’ll be using a piece of the old kitchen nook counter so there’ll be no need for extra costs besides the brackets, legs, etc.) The lounge and dining room are pretty much sorted, I just need to figure out what artwork/pictures to put up on the walls. The spare room is still the room where everything gets shoved to deal with another day. But that’s okay… These things take time of course!
If you missed the before pics, head over here.
This big adventure all started with my kitchen as the first contractor I met with is a kitchen god! Although I knew more or less the colour scheme I wanted throughout the space, the entire thing all started with a sample of the kitchen cupboards. Can you believe it?! When I saw the particular shade and texture, I just knew it would be perfect, and that the neutral and modern palette I wanted would be realised.
The kitchen required a complete overhaul so the Kitchen God drew up some aerial plans for me as to the overall layout. This was so important for me to look at and relook at since trying to picture what it would be like was difficult when all you saw is what it currently was. He also drew up the layout from my view depending on where I was standing which helped me visualise as well.
Who knew a kitchen could be removed so quickly?! It really was everything but the kitchen sink (and fridge) left and all of a sudden there was space, and lots of it!
Once the kitchen carcass started to be placed and installed I finally got a sense of the entire space and what my finished kitchen was going to be like.
I decided to tile throughout the space (including the bedrooms). Not only is this easier to keep clean and better for my asthma than carpets, but it is a fantastic way at creating a more modern and uniform style. Plus I couldn’t face the thought of carpeting after seeing the state of the old carpets, and what the floor looked like underneath since a base covering wasn’t used.
The bathroom was another eye-opener! The previous layout was such a bad use of space that there were approximately three or four full tiles that you could actually see and stand on. The space looked and felt cramped! Not to mention that the shower was a lot smaller than any standard size. Basically, I could stand inside with my hands on my hips and my elbows would touch the sides of the shower! Can you just imagine what it would have been like to try and wash my hair in there?! Plus the shower head was a lot lower than the standard height which would prove another problem if I’d kept everything the way it was.
The contractor I chose for my bathroom (and who ended up doing all the other bits other than the kitchen) was able to see a totally new layout that would make the bathroom look and feel so much bigger and make it completely different. My Mr Man lovingly drew up a layout for me after I moaned once too much saying I couldn’t see the end result. Once I got a feel of the new space and how the different elements would work, I was a lot more at ease.
A whole lot of rubble! A whole lot of space!
In total the renovation took about 1.5 months to complete which is more or less what I’d planned on. And the final product really took my breath away!
In case you missed it… At the end of February this year I found a house I wanted to make my home.
The complex has been around for years, and proof of this is how old everything is within the place. (I am sure that the kitchen and bathroom were installed before I was even born!) But because it’s an older complex, the rooms are a lot bigger which is a huge bonus when you have the amount of stuff I do. When I first started looking at properties to buy, I realised how small the new places are with almost zero storage or cupboard space, so finding an older place with such space was a huge bonus!
Because the place was old and space wasn’t being used to the maximum, renovations were in order. These are the before pics (which are actually the pics used on the online property listing).
The dining room (looking to the lounge):
The dining room with a view of the loft area:
Once the house had been transferred into my name, I started obtaining quotes for the renovations I wanted to do. And based on what I wanted to do, the place was essentially going to be gutted! The renovation process is up next…
Last Thursday I attended a bingo evening as a fundraiser for a special little boy nicknamed Lionheart.
I have been following Stacey for years and have always marvelled at how she manages with the cards life has dealt her. Not many would cope if they were dealt the same hand, that’s for sure. So when I first heard about this special fundraiser I just knew I wanted to participate, even if it was only a small part of the bigger picture. And then the added chance to dress up…it was a definite!
A colleague at work used to be a professional make-up artist, so when I first booked my seat for the event, I asked her whether she had ever done make-up to make someone look old, and whether she would stay late one day and do this for me. Of course, she said yes! And the end result was better than I could have hoped for.
The before pic (with my hair clipped back).
And the after pic (after an hour’s work).
And the after after pic once I’d found something to wear that would make me look older. (Notice I even mismatched the buttons on my cardigan because that’s classic old-person right?!)
The bingo was super fun! The last time I’d played bingo was for my half-birthday last year at Beefcakes but that didn’t involve dressing up. The bingo cards were quite different this time and didn’t feature a standard square playing card. But it wasn’t a biggie as we got the hang of it really quickly.
I didn’t win a single round of bingo. BIG SAD FACE. But Robyn, who sat next to me, won three separate rounds! Lady Luck was definitely shining on her. Perhaps it’s a sign for her to quit her day job and take up bingo professionally! Ha!
On Friday I was treated to a VIP concert experience with TicketPro. If that wasn’t exciting enough, the band I got to see was One Republic (who was preceded by Gangs of Ballet).
My VIP ticket got me a special parking area so I didn’t need to fight all the peeps in traffic for a parking space in the masses of parking. This special parking area also meant a quick getaway after the concert. The VIP area was a short walk away from the parking area and was on the mezzanine level so I didn’t need to fight the crowds once again. Score!
I was treated to some yummy snacks and an open bar. But best of all was being able to sit on comfortable chairs away from the throngs of other concert-goers with our very own set of bathrooms. (Can you tell I’m getting older?!) After experiencing a concert this way, I fear I may not be able to attend another concert the “normal” way.
Gangs of Ballet were absolutely amazing. They sound exactly the same live as they do on the radio. And I didn’t realise how many songs of theirs I knew! I have a problem where I sing to a lot of songs on the radio but generally tune out when the DJ says who the artist was or what the song title was.
Just before One Republic came out a big announcement was made that the band’s first DVD was going to be filmed that night so we were going to get an extra amazing concert and that we should be extra amazing with our applause, woohoo-ing, etc. Excitement!
The concert was phenomenal! I sang along to all of the songs and had an absolute ball. I couldn’t quite believe how full the venue was. It must be the first times I have seen the Dome looking so full!
That right there folks are thousands of cellphone lights. What an awesome scene from our little spot.
The finale where confetti burst from the ceiling.
A big thanks to TicketPro for this amazing experience and allowing me to see such an awesome concert.
It’s been a busy year with a LOT going on all at once. Who was Einstein kidding when he said:
The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once.
The Blairgowrie house was put on the market at the beginning of January and by the end of the month there had been a lot of interest but ultimately one excited couple and a signed offer to purchase. It’s taken a while for that house to get wrapped up but it finally happened at the end of May.
Once that house was on the market and the interested buyers had signed paperwork, I decided it would be a good idea to start looking at the property market in terms of what was available, whether I could afford what I wanted, which areas to look at… I quickly found out that my budget and the areas I was looking in did not quite match up so I had to extend my search a little, and toughen my skin learning not to get despondent when the perfect place didn’t smack me in the face on the first try.
I basically inquired about (almost) any and every property that was in the areas I was looking at, at or below my budget, and with my minimum requirements. I had reached the point where I’d decided to wait for the Blairgowrie house to finish up completely before looking further when it happened…
I had first been put off by this one property because it had a thatch roof (asthmatic and spiders-falling-into-my-mouth-while-I-sleep worries) and needed work to modernise it, but once I saw it I realised I had hit the jackpot! Two bedrooms, one full bathroom, loft area, dining room, lounge, and kitchen. By the end of February I had seen it twice and decided I had to make it mine. By the first week of March I’d put in an offer to purchase which was accepted. By the second week of March I had received bond approval. And by the third week of March I’d already started signing paperwork. It was transferred into my name in the first week of May.
In the space of just over two months I’d managed to get a place of my very own! And today the renovations started. But that’s for another post…
– The before