Friday, February 14, 2014

Home Makeover: Master Bedroom {P,H,F,R}

Well, I have indicated in my last few posts we have been slowly working on doing up our house.  There is still a way to go but I thought it was time to share some of our progress.

Auntie Leila always says to start with the Master I am for my {Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real}!


Here is the room as it currently looks.

I am pretty sure that our painter got his colours mixed up and the blue grey that was supposed to be in the Master Bedroom ended up in Tom Kitten's room and the baby blue for his room, in ours.  But, with all the furniture in it is not as obvious as it was in the beginning. 

Our bed is the one we purchased in Melbourne from Wilkins and Kent.  It was when we were pre-children and our disposable income was rather higher and our thriftiness rather less.  These days it just wouldn't happen!

The chest of drawers next to the bed and the blanket box under the window were both bought secondhand from Village Antiques in Bungendore.  The chest of drawers was a deeply discounted bargain - although the middle drawer does smell rather strongly of cigarette smoke!  It holds Mr Provincial's clothes providing valuable storage.  The blanket box has the winter doonas and spare pillows for guests in it.

Don't you love the pink and yellow stained glass in the window.  It is so cheerful.

We had the carpet taken out and the floorboards polished.  The wood is Cedar.

The lights above our bed came from Bunnings and used to sit on the bookcases in our house in Darwin where we had a lack of light problem in the living area and this was the only temporary solution we could come up with.  Now given the lack of space in the room we can't get in bedsides and therefore bedside lamps.  These lamps are ideal.

The painting which I love so much used to hang in my Grandparents house.  It is called Generations.

The curtains and bedclothes are from Country Curtains.  I got the inspiration and link for the curtains from Posie Gets Cozy.  I picked up the light bedspread and pillowcases from the clearance section of Country Curtains.  We really needed something lighter than our summer doona as our bedroom is un-airconditioned and we are making do with the ceiling fans we had installed.

On Mr Provincial's dresser sits "The Cat Who Walks by Himself" which I bought at the British Library; I haven't got round to persuading Mr Provincial to hang it yet.  My Mother-in-Law sent Mr Provincial the Dancing Lion from Singapore.  The cross-stitch was a gift from my Godmother for my 21st birthday.

Oh, don't you love double-hung windows.  They may be draughty in winter but they are so cosy cottage looking.

The bookcase we had in our study in our old house.  Now we live in a tiny three bedroom house we don't have a study so it is in the bedroom!

I love the umbrella and finally having it on display.  Mr Provincial bought that for me when we were just 18 and he was living in Taiwan for a year.  I wonder if our parents knew those schoolyard sweethearts would end up married with children!

The Ballet painting is by my Grandmother.  The Renoir print is from the Musee D'Orsay.  I always regretted not getting the sister print from the Met when I visited.  There is a lovespoon below it that my mother-in-law bought me back from the UK for my birthday last year.

The chair was my Great-Aunts.  I had it re-covered when we were first married.

This dresser was the first 'antique' I bought when I was 15.  It is looking a bit worse for wear after all its travels round the country, but I still love it.

I always have a stack of books by my bed; I seem unable to just read one.  Are you a focussed reader or a toe-dipper like me?  I seem to dabble then reach a point where I am gripped and throw myself in whole-heartedly.

My Mum drew the Degas inspired chalk drawing above the dresser.  She is such a talented artist.  She finally has time for such things now she is retired.


Excuse my daughter throwing the tantrum on the bed.  When you lived with young children you sometimes face these staging issues!

We had the same amount of built-in-storage put in each bedroom.  It does mean that my husband and I have a little less space than we could use, but will allow our children to share their rooms if, God willing, there are more children in the future.

We paid extra to have the storage go to the ceiling in each room.  We are so glad we did as we can fit in crates of out-of-season clothes, or in the kids rooms out-grown clothes.

The floor rug my husband got when he went treking in Nepal. It was made by Tibetan refugees.


Would you like to see the befores?

At the point where Mr Provincial returned from the South and presented these pictures to me in Darwin I started to get a little worried as to what we had actually undertaken.  Actually, in the scheme of the house's entirety the bedroom was one of the better in appearances:)

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Feeding Our Families: From Scratch

I am loving blog-hopping around the contributors to Renee's Feeding Our Families series.  So, I am being very presumptuous and joining in!
Often times I find myself wondering if I am making the best food choices for my family.  What are the words from Desiderata? "If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself". And, then I remember how far we have come in a few short years and have to give myself a little grace to make some mistakes.  I came from a non-cook home, and I only started cooking (as opposed to baking) at all when I left home.  Although I think my interpretation of 'cooked from scratch' was very different then than now - if it hadn't come premade out of bottle or packet I considered it cooked from scratch LOL.  There is so much more I actually make from scratch than I did when Ginger was born 3.5 years ago.

Bearing in mind it is Summer here, the following photos were all taken since mid-December....
From left: homemade yoghurt, granola, cakes (for church morning tea) and homegrown tomatoes

Shelling broadbeans from the markets

Rhubarb and apple pie

Ol' Vegemite Face

Fresh bread and my daughter's current 'pose for the camera' face

Apple Slices

Can't leave out the dolls

Stoning wild plums - a rather thankless task

Just back from the Orchard and ready to preserve - we live near the stonefruit growing area

Making ketchup

Weekend tradition - pancakes

Stewed nectarines - we found these growing wild on the side of the road.
I have to say that these days food preparation seems to consume a fair portion of my day, and yet I don't soak grains or beans like many whole food Mamas out there. 

So, what do I see as working in our kitchen?


After many mis-adventures I have finally got a method for yoghurt that gives regular good results - I use the crockpot method - heat on low for 2 hours, cool for 3 hours, stir in half of a cup yoghurt then wrap in a towel and leave overnight.  So much less fiddly and more reliable than my old stove top method!  And, apart from buying yoghurt to use as the culture we haven't bought yoghurt in 2 years.


Growing up roast chicken in our household meant someone had been to the chicken and chip shop and picked one up!  When I was 12 we went to the UK and stayed with a retired policeman and his wife for a couple of days.  She made the most amazing spread one afternoon including a home roasted chicken - her secret was coating the chicken in butter.  I was resolved that I would roast my own chickens once I left home.  And, this is now a fairly consistent meal on our menu plan because it yields.....

Chicken stock - I am not very good at making this immediately after our meal.  Usually I strip the meat off the carcass for another meal and then put the carcass in the freezer  Then on the day I have an identified need for chicken stock I pop it into the pot with fresh water, an onion, couple of chopped carrots and some celery.  Boil for an hour or so, then strain through a colander.


Home made granola now forms part of our summer breakfasts.  The first homemade Granola I made,  I realise in retrospect was still laden with sugar.  We eat a much healthier version now.  I got this off a forum somewhere in the depths of the internet but have tweaked a bit over time.  I double the batch now we have a huge oven, so I need only make this every couple of weeks.

6 cups rolled oats
1 cup shredded coconut
1 cup wheat germ or LSA
3/4 cup nuts
1/2 cup raw sunflowers or pepitas
1/2 cup sesame seeds

Combine in a large bowl.

1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup oil
1/3 cup water
1 tsp vanilla

Mix together and pour over oat mixture.  Stir well. Spread in a thin layer on baking sheets.  Bake at 160 deg C for 10 minutes.  Stir and bake another 5 minutes.  Stir again and bake 3-5 minutes.

I always seem to be making bread.  I am working on remembering to actually start this before 8:30 in the morning or I don't have bread ready at lunch.  In those circumstances, we generally have 'cheesy pizza' - our usual bread mix rolled out and topped with tomato and mozzarella (saves the time of the second rise) or Gozleme; the children eat the latter sans spinach.  Ginger calls Gozleme "God's Lemon"!

Gozleme Recipe

The dough
1 1/4 cup bread flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp dried yeast
2 tbs olive oil.
I use the bread maker and just threw in the ingredients and let it do the work.  It need only rise for 20 minutes once combined.  Once ready, divide into 4 and roll out.  Place some silverbeet or spinach (fresh or steamed) over half the dough and then scatter with fetta and fold over.  Cook on a greased cast iron frying pan over low-medium heat, about 2 minutes each side.  Serve with lemon wedges.


Soup uses up the abundance of the garden or market.  At the moment I have 8 meals worth of zucchini soup stashed in the freezers because our plants are giving us so much.  Last night's meal was a defrosted zucchini soup with fresh bread.


Air-popped popcorn - does this need a description?  The kids eat it by the bowl full.


Our sweet treats these days are generally made from scratch.  My brother-in-law gave us a microwave recipe for custard.  Boy is that good!  While a homemade cake is better than a cafe offering, these days I am thinking we need to make some healthier sweets.  I have borrowed Wholefood Baking by Jude Blereau from the library and want to try out some of her recipes.

Monday, February 3, 2014

The last couple of months....

 We have enjoyed abundant and delicious local food....

 We have worked in and enjoyed our garden

 And we have played....

Well, I was looking through my archives today at naptime with Ginger - that would be Tom Kitten's naptime; Ginger sadly has given up her daytime sleep in the last month.  She loves looking at pictures of herself when she was younger and I think it is such a pity that I have not been good about record keeping the last 12 months.  So, there really is no time like the present to do some catching up!

The last 7 months have just been so busy for us.  Since Mr Provincial left the Army it feels like we have been working flat out.  Evenings our now occupied with gardening or bottling produce.  He also now has a 3 hour daily commute so I am holding the fort a lot more.  Occasionally there is time to add a few stitches to the cross-stitch I started a couple of weeks after getting here - progress on that feels grindingly slow.

The weeks seem to be full as well.  For the first time in my adult life it is the week between weekends that seems to disappear; not just the weekends!  While the renovations were intensive up until Christmas and I thought I would just about lose my sanity if I saw another builder or contractor, we are slowly settling down into our rhythm.  Bread is being made daily, yoghurt weekly and I made my first batch of homemade laundry powder (since we got here) this morning.  The house is actually both clean and tidy!  The gardens...well they are enormous and we have so much work ahead of us but we are harvesting tomatoes and zucchini in abundance thanks to Mr Provincial's hard work.

We have been blessed in our neighbours - our neighbours over the back fence are lovely and we often while away a good hour in the evening chatting.  Ginger and Tom Kitten have been spoiled with the arrival of a play kitchen and doll's house from said neighbours - turns out our male neighbour enjoys a good garage sale!  Our neighbours across the road have offered to baby sit and even arranged for us to take up a egg arrangement they have had in place for 20 years but no longer needed because they have purchased their own chickens.  I love how we now always have an abundance of eggs in the fridge and opening the carton and finding a variety of egg sizes within.

Ginger is now at a local preschool one day a week.  She was so happy (if exhausted) when I picked her up last week - it was the right decision to send her.  We have kindygym, swimming, and music group during the week.  Ginger has ballet on the weekends.  Church for all on Sunday.  Just last week I was invited to join a bible study, we are going to try to attend but I do like to be home some of the time LOL!  At home I am at peace and the more we are home the more comfortable being at home we are.

I am finding everything requires more planning now we live out here in the country.  I also have to constantly be reminded by Mr Provincial that although Canberra is just over an hour away and offer so many opportunities we chose to live out here and need to engage in our local community; even when that means giving our children different opportunities than we might have given them had we chosen to live in Canberra.  Mr Provincial is now being given errands to run after work because it saves us $15 in petrol if I don't go in to do them - not to mention quite a number of hours.

But, most importantly we are content in this little brick house.  Our children are happy and we are settling in.  I couldn't ask for more than that.