Sunday, 29 May 2011

Cheat's Moussaka

Here's another good hearty winter dinner recipe I picked up from this month's Real Living - Cheat's Moussaka

 via Real Living
My darling Yiayia would turn in her grave if she knew I was taking shortcuts making Moussaka - but hey if it means I can eat it more often I figure its worth it.

The "cheat" is that the bechamel sauce is actually made up of greek yoghurt, fetta cheese and egg.

I love me some fetta but I have to admit I was hesitant to how this would turn out.

Here's my lamb mince and sauce simmering away.

And to cut down the washing up I used the same pan for the eggplants.

The layering begins..

And here's the yoghurt/fetta sauce on the top layer with a sprinkle of parmesan.

And 30 minutes later - Hello golden brown deliciousness!

It was pretty tasty - definitely not as creamy as a true bechamel but certainly way quicker to make. I guess the yoghurt/fetta combo could possibly be more healthy also - but its probably a slighly more expensive option too.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Northern Hemisphere Peonies Blooming

It looks likes peonies are in bloom in the Northern Hemisphere - there have been a lot of of gorgeous pics being posted by bloggers over the past few days so here are some of my favourites.

via Vanessa & Valentine

via My Paper Crane

via My Ish Wish Dish

via Air Kiss
via Northern Light

via Stephmodo

Peonies are a lot harder to come by here in Queensland - I desperately wanted some for my wedding in October last year and was hoping to order them from either here or here but I was about two weeks too early unfortunately. Its one of the downsides of having such lovely warm weather!

Friday, 27 May 2011

A Cosy Night In

What better way to spend a chilly Friday night than a massive bowl of Spaghetti Marinara (I swear that wasn't all for me) ...

... and a roaring fire?

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Moroccan Fish Tagine with Almond Couscous

We received a gorgeous Emile Henry tagine for our engagement party last year so I'm always on the look out for delicious tagine recipes - and this one in this month's Real Living caught my eye since it uses fish rather than a red meat - making it much quicker for a weeknight dinner.

First I let the sauce simmer with the olives and grape tomatoes.

And then added the fish and coriander (yum!)

And then on went the lid - doesn't it look great! The fish didn't need too long at all to cook - the recipe noted 12 minutes which I think was about right.

Mmm taginey...

And a few slivered almonds and fresh coriander leaves will make almost anything look prettier!

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

What Else is Happening in the Garden?

Remember the tomato seedlings from this post? Those pics were from back in March - and they didn't look too different through April and May I can tell you now. I brought them outside, I brought them back inside, I put them in the sun, I put them in the shade - they didn't grow. 

At last I got so frustrated I plucked them out of their little trays and put three of them in the veggie patch - I knew I was meant to wait until they'd grown way bigger to transplant but they literally hadn't developed any further leaves for over a month.

Two weeks later look at how well this little one is going!

And Mr Tchotchke planted some supermarket Sebago potatoes a few weeks ago and their shoots are coming up now too. We had some real success with potatoes last year so I hope these ones go forth and multiply.

On the weekend I transplanted the rest of the struggling seedlings into the veggie patch to see if it would spur on some growth also.

Well they haven't been eaten by possums yet - that's a small victory in itself.

Monday, 23 May 2011

DIY: How to Stretch Canvas Art

I had bought this gorgeous painting in Alice Springs in April but it's been languishing in it's tube since we returned.

When I finally got around to ringing the local framers and stretchers I was amazed at their quotes. I appreciate that a professionals time doesn't come cheap - but I knew that this was something that I could tackle myself.

I purchased two sets of 30 inch stretcher bars from Art Shed and borrowed a staple gun from my Dad. (thanks Dad!)

After butting the edges of the stretcher bars together to form a frame (they don't use screws, they just wedge together) I laid it over the flat canvas, face down.

And they pulled each side of the canvas as tight as I could and stapled into the middle of each stretcher bar.

And then folded each corner carefully and stapled, and the stretched each remaining side and put in a staple of either side of the centre staple.

Here's the detail of one of corners - I put the folds on the top and bottom of the artwork so you wouldn't see them on the sides. You can also see that I sacrificed maybe 3cm of the artwork to the side of the canvas, but none to the back. A few of the professionals that I had spoke to were adamant that I'd have to sacrifice 10cm of the artwork since there wasn't a sufficient border.

And here is how it looks now (as modelled by Mr Tchotchke). Not too bad for an amateur job. The stretchers cost me $30, so I saved myself about $80-$120.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

More Garden Work: Landscaping Under the Deck

There was more garden work to be done this weekend - the ugly bit of dirt under the deck need some attention.

So off we went to Tingalpa Landscaping Supplies to source some gravel and pavers. I have to say we've been to a few landscaping supply yards over the past few weekends and without a doubt we got the best service at TLS.

Here is there delivery truck dumping half a cubic metre of Brown Gravel (20mm) on our driveway.

Here's the ugly before shot.

We'd bought weed matting and timber edging to keep the grass out and the gravel in - and Mr Tchotchke and my Dad had lots of fun putting it in.

I think my Dad had an episode with an sloping shelf as a child - because everything needs to be 110% level, even and square. I think I get some of my slightly OCD tendencies from him.

And here's the finished area. Its looking so much better now - but still a little bare. I'm considering bringing the stripy deck chairs down to this area and adding some potted plants.. everything's always a work in progress!

Saturday, 21 May 2011

DIY Budget Designer Bedroom Curtains

When we were renovating our home last year - I was seriously unimpressed with the range of ready made curtains available in attractive prints. Most options I found were either far too feminine or unimaginably bland. for  Everything I liked was custom made - and way out of my budget. 

I especially loved the below curtains that hang in Black & Spiro.

via Absolutely Beautiful Things

via Absolutely Beautiful Things
So when I found a similar print fabric in Ikea - look at what I made...

Not bad hey?

Even though the printed Ikea fabric was fairly inexpensive, the block out backing from Spotlight and the curtain tape and rail kit added up pretty quickly so it certainly wasn't the cheapest option out there - but I knew that if I went with a budget ready made option I'd always be longing for something prettier.

It took a few hours in front of the sewing machine but I'm pretty happy with how they turned out. I think the next project is recovering those lampshades..

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Paddington Antique Centre

On Sunday I visited one of the mainstays of the Brisbane Antique scene - The Paddington Antique Centre. 

It's a cavernous big building on Latrobe tce at Paddington that I believe used to be theatre in its former life. I've always loved its tattered yet vivid blue roof. I hadn't visited for a little while and noticed that there was a lot more vintage clothing than I remembered.

This chesterfield wing chair certainly caught my attention - it would definitely match our vintage couch.. 

I loved these bamboo bangles..

And these lovely glossy figurines..

But my pick for the day was definitely this green, hexagonal lamp - I'd switch out the shade and pop it on our sideboard pronto..

And although I can't be parted from my lovely yellow KitchenAid, I used to use my grandmothers Sunbeam Mixmaster and certainly had a soft spot for this vintage pink number.

Sorry this is such a terrible shot but they're having an event this Friday night - more details here.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Tretchikoff Green Lady Love

Our Tretchikoff print, Miss Wong, has a special spot in our living room - partly because she's so beguiling, and party because it's a miracle she's in one piece.

I spotted her in a ramshackle antique store in Glasgow, and after haggling with the gruff Scottish shop keeper we clung onto her through rush hour on their tiny subway system and then lugged her around the UK for another week before returning to Brisbane. I'm still amazed that the glass frame didn't shatter en route in Mr T's suitcase. 

And here she is - staring down her nose at me on the couch in my uggs watching 30 Rock. I'm pretty sure glamorous Miss Wong would never wear ugg boots.

I spotted another Miss Wong in the below bedroom on Anya Adores, along with a Green Lady. They're lovely with the blue and green linens, but I don't know how I'd feel about waking up to them each morning.

Liza Giles via Anya Adores
This even looks like the exact frame ours is in. And how great is that blue lamp base?

Casper James flickr
Here's a gallery wall full of retro female portraits. I think the large one on the left is a Sara Moon - my Mum used to have a print just like it - mm I wonder what she's done with it?
kimhas7cats flickr
And although the modern reproductions aren't nearly as fun - I'm loving these two murals.

Trailer Happiness via MrBaliHai

Maria Pateraki's Pinterest

Just because they're amongst the world's most popular prints doesn't mean they can't look unique.

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