Monday, May 30, 2011

Trying New (Old) Things

As I hinted earlier today, PK and I tried something new this weekend. Well, sort of new- kind of old. You see, as a young couple, we have a lot of new things. And Muriel is starting to look too... modern? Not that looking modern is a bad thing, in fact, if that is what you are going for that's a great thing! It's just that now that the big kitchen reno is more or less finished, I feel that the great room has become a little too minimalist in appearance and I want to change that. Plus, as a former rental, Muriel could definitely handle some more storage! The kitchen has plenty, which is great for all of the 'kitcheny' things, but what about things that don't belong in the kitchen? There's a lot of stuff that used to find a home in the cavernous corner pantry (even though they had nothing to do with the kitchen)- can you spot a few?
Cat's carrier, spare folding chairs, tablecloth...
So PK and I are now on the lookout for some "lived in", "rustic" looking pieces of furniture to bring our room together. The problem with wanting something lived in is that it takes a little bit of effort to find. You can't just pop out to Ikea and pick up a "new-old" sideboard perfect for the living room now can you? (What a pity as I do love Ikea!) With that in mind then- and the thought of this week's meditation mantra- we took a trip to a couple of second hand stores to see what we could find!

I was a little surprised as I've never actually been into a Salvos, Vinnies or Good Sammy's. It's not that I didn't want to go or thought that I was 'too good' for these stores. In fact, I once compiled a list of all of the second-hand stores nearby, with the thought that I could visit one every weekend... I dreamed that I would stumble across some magical and perfect piece of furniture or clothing like some of the interior designers from the blogs I read (see the sidebar) seem to do... It just never happened!
Maybe something like this by RetroModern?
I feel quite happy to have taken that first step into a new territory, even though we didn't actually find anything perfect for us that day. Now that I have done it once, just like the windsurfing from the weekend before, I think I will definitely do it again- and who knows, I might pick up a bargain that makes the room!

Have you tried something new recently? Perhaps there is something that you've always wanted to do but have never plucked up the courage? I'd love to hear about it!

Monday Meditation

How was your weekend? Did you make use of the glorious weather (in Perth)? PK and I took a step into unknown territory, but more on that later!

Today's thought is this:

"I will try new things for the sake of broadening my horizons"

Tune in later to read about how this meditation comes just at the right time for me and Muriel!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Time Keeps On Slippin

This week is just flying by and today is the first chance I've had to recap the weekend that was! That's pretty bad, really- its nearly this weekend already! I should definitely get myself better organised... maybe this weekend I'll get on top of all of the posts that I have swirling around in my head. There are only so many hours in the day and most days lately I feel like I am racing the clock!
Contest timer by JAMAR Design
So, on Saturday PK and I went windsurfing with another couple that PK knows from his work (and also sailing). PK had picked these lessons up from Scoupon much earlier in the year and we had been trying to use them ever since. But since I work many weekends, that cuts down the available times to do things like this- plus you have to have the right wind conditions. One month there was one weekend where I wasn't working and the wind was perfect- and I was sick! So that is how we ended up doing windsurfing in such an unlikely time of year.
PK showing me how its done
I was a bit worried because, besides the inclement weather (overcast and cool), all of the others had some experience with windsurfing. And of course both boys have sailing experience, which definitely helps when understanding how to catch the wind in the sail! On the other hand, I am essentially a watersports newbie. PK has taken me out on the water before but let's just say it wasn't a positive experience! So I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly I was up and flying on the wind! My only problem was getting back against the wind- maybe something I might improve on with more lessons? I definitely had a great time and I have the bruises to prove it ;)
Getting the hang of it!
Straight after we got back from Safety Bay (where the lesson was held- about an hour's journey) we had to rush through the shower and get dressed up for the presentation night. That lasted all night and although I usually don't enjoy the sailing nights as much as PK, I had a great time! PK and his skipper didn't place this season for their division, but there is always next season!
The following day was our friend's wedding that PK was a groomsman for and true to my prediction, he scrubbed up real good like :) I kind of ran out of time on that day too: PK and I picked up two other groomsmen and then I dropped off the three off at the groom's house (an hour round journey) at midday. The wedding was due to start at 3:30pm, so I thought I had plenty of time to get back home, get myself ready and then get to the wedding (forty minutes from Muriel) on time. But with all the travelling around, I only just made it there before the bride did!! Ooopps! It was a lovely ceremony though and the the reception afterwards was just as fun- though we didn't get home until the wee hours of the morning. It was a good thing that I had a later start on Monday so that I could sleep in. It was only tiredness that I had to sleep off though- I was the DD!
How did you spend your weekend passed? Or for that matter the week nearly gone?

Friday, May 20, 2011

Many Things

I'm a little all over the place at the moment- I was in Adelaide last week for a work conference (I scheduled some posts before I went) so I'm still sort of catching up from that. Plus I've been on nights again (always throws me out), so please excuse this haphazard post!
Image by Night Owl
Unfortunately my little journey last week was all work, not pleasure. I didn't get to see any of the buildings that Adelaide ("City of Churches") is famous for- but I did see their pandas! The Adelaide Zoo currently has two pandas, "Wang-Wang" and "Funi" which we were lucky enough to watch eating a whopping mass of bamboo on the Thursday night.
Image by ABC News
I'm slowly learning how to use the new oven with all of its multiple functions- last week before I abandoned the new kitchen for Adelaide I roasted some turkey and this week I used it to bake a pie! It turned out pretty good too, if I do say so myself! Actually, I don't really need to say it myself, the fact that it disappeared quickly speaks for itself really :)
Oreo has been having fun finding out what is at the top of the new cupboards- without the help of a ladder- naughty kitty! He got his punishment today though- I took him to the vet for his annual vaccination. He really dislikes being in the car and will let out the most plaintive cries when I have to drive him somewhere!
You might see that we've given him a new collar too. The old one was getting a little shabby looking so we thought he deserved some new bling! Its reflective which is supposed to help his 'prey' spot him, but he has already adapted to the bells and attacks before you even realise he was stalking you! We'll have to keep a close eye on him for sure.

In missing posting for most of this week I think I managed to skip all of the annoyance that other Blogger users faced when Blogger went down this week. If you received duplicate entries in your inbox or reader from any Blogger hosted blogs, that's the reason- apologies if it happened with mine. I think I avoided that issue but any comments made over that time may have been lost to the black hole of the internet. So if you feel so inclined, please comment again!

This weekend PK and I are going to a windsurfing lesson (my first!!), PK's sailing end-of-season presentations, my friend is having a karaoke birthday party and then on Sunday, a close friend is getting married! PK is a groomsman and I can't wait to see him all suited up- he generally scrubs up really well ;) So it's going to be a pretty full on weekend! Hopefully I'll be more 'with it' next week- I have so much to share with you! What are you up to this weekend?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Monday Meditation

I was cleaning out the drawers in the study last week and found that it was well overdue! They kind of became the junk drawer during the kitchen reno, so there was lots of stuff in there that didn't belong. During my rummaging, I discovered a list of meditations that I had printed a while ago (from this page), with the intention of using them to help myself focus on the good things.

I never actually got around to framing them or using them in a meaningful way, though. So, I thought I might start to share them with you every now and then, as a way of enlightening your week and mine! The first cab off the rank is this one:

"I will think before I act, but I will always act" 

The suggestion with these meditations is that you find a quiet place and sit silently, repeating the meditation as a mantra in your mind. You might find it easier to do this before bedtime or when you rise, but they should provide a moment to clear your mind and really focus on what is important.

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Pits

Just thought I'd pop in for a quick Avocado growing update! I moved the plastic cup to the bench underneath the window so it catches the morning sun (and any light bouncing around from the sink too!). Not a lot has happened in the week or so since I started the attempt as you can see:
Yep, that is the last unfinished wall in the background- we'll get onto that soon hopefully! If you look closely at the Avo pit you can see that the dry, dark skin has started to split...
So it is actually doing something!
Exciting! I didn't think I would see any signs of growth this soon, so it's reassuring that I'm doing something right! Enjoy your weekend- I'll be watching the pit like a hawk for further signs of growth!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

WOW: Twisted Produce

Remember when I told you that the vegie patch was going a little wild? Well, I finally grabbed a few moments to clear it out the other day and harvested the last of the carrots. They were quite interesting!
Before you get too excited for us, maybe I should show you what the harvest looks like in context...
On the left is a "real" carrot from the grocery store, next to our baby sized efforts. Oh well, the illusion was fun while it lasted! They still tasted great though and I used them with some full size carrots, potatoes and beetroots in the first roast made in the new kitchen this week (yum!):
You can tell I'm not a food blogger huh? I give myself a C- for presentation but an A+ for taste! I'd never roasted beetroot before, let alone roasted anything in the new oven, so I followed an easy recipe I found online (just google "roast beetroot" and you'll find plenty of instructions). During preparation, I was particularly intrigued by one particular carrot that I had pulled up:
Then I realised that actually, it was two carrots that had grown around each other! Pretty cool huh? I bet if I had thinned them out while they were growing, they wouldn't have been so interesting (but probably bigger). Here they are, separated at last.
Twisty! Isn't it amazing how growing something yourself always makes it taste that much better- even if it doesn't look like it is 'supposed' to?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Everything In Its Place- part 2

As I showed you in a previous post, we are gradually migrating kitchen things from the spare room to new homes in the new kitchen. Today I'm sharing the story of the microwave migration. In the previous kitchen, the microwave stuck out like a sore thumb:
Kind of ugly right? Well, I thought so, anyway! So when we were designing the kitchen, I wanted to have it hidden away but still accessible (it is a necessary accessory after all!). Some suggested putting it below the bench, which just didn't work functionally for me when I gave it a trial-run at the displays and would have meant losing drawer space- no dice! Another designer had the microwave hidden in a narrow pantry, but we worried about food spoilage and having to purchase a new, narrower microwave to fit.
The microwave was under the 'return' in this design
Then, when our final designer came up with a little 'hutch' type of cupboard, we knew it was a winner! We were pretty excited about this cupboard, but we had to be patient in seeing it implemented: it sat on top of the bench top so it couldn't be installed until after the stone was in.
Waiting for the bench-top!
So we waited and waited until finally, the day arrived when the installer could come back and put in the last cupboard (as well as the kickboards). I was very excited by the end of that working day to see what it looked like, all complete. From the outside it looked exactly how it was supposed to:
Sleek and sexy storage! However, once that door with the handle in the middle was opened (by sliding across to the left like a concertina), the mistake was immediately apparent- it wasn't what we wanted AT ALL! Inside, the cupboard was a complete box, ie the stone that we had paid so much for was entirely concealed! It was also very shallow, with a narrow shelf running through the middle of it. How we were supposed to have stored a microwave in there I don't know, as it was deep and high enough to have only stored canned items! PK called KitchenHaus early the next morning (as it was too late that day to get in contact with them) and explained that it wasn't what was in the original design and that they needed to fix it ASAP!

*sad face*

They came back straight away and removed the offending piece to start over, but as they didn't actually have a replacement on hand (as everything that they supply is machined and shipped from Germany), they had to make something from the existing cupboard, plus additional pieces that they had spare. However, before too long (and before the splashback was installed), a custom-built cupboard was installed that worked as we had imagined! The hutch is now full bench depth, making the most of our space and all of the lovely benchtop. Our electrician came back once it was finished to install a power point in there too. Now we can have our microwave hidden away when it's not in use but is fully accessible when we need it- plus there is room in there for other things too!
We've since moved the toaster out of the 'appliance garage' (as PK's mum calls it) as we were a little worried about too much heat building up in there. Today it looks a little like more like this (with the under-cabinet lights on!):
Don't worry- we don't use the kettle in the hutch (again due to the thoughts of heat build up).  We don't use it very often anyway and can easily move it out when we do, so that's where it lives at the moment. I'm dreaming of a 'retro' whistling stovetop kettle (maybe like this one?) for Christmas (listening PK?)! And here's one last pic to demonstrate how the door 'concertinas':
As you pull on the handle, the door slides to the left along the track at the top of the cupboard and folds in on itself. We've applied a little clear rubber 'bump' on the splashback where it rests, just in case it opens too quickly and slams into the glass- can't be too careful! It really is a beautiful thing :)

I'm thinking I might create a little box shelf or something over the top of the microwave to store spices or similar on... But for now it is so great having this little space fully functional and as we imagined! Now to store the rest of our stuff...

Monday, May 9, 2011

Ya Mum

Yesterday families around the world celebrated the wonder that is motherhood- I hope you at least called your mummy! Mother's Day is always a little busy for our family: my dad's birthday is May 10th and frequently Mother's Day falls on the same day, so it's usually a dual celebration. I love this picture of me (the chubby baby with the Michelin Man arm fat!) with my parents- they both look so young and happy! I only grabbed a mere 18 months of solitary time with them before my brother came along, soon to be followed by my sister. And I've had to share them ever since, so any one-on-one time I can grab is precious!
She is such a courageous woman- this was on a wine tour in Margaret River last year -just me and mum! That thing in her hand, about to go into her mouth, is a witchety grub!! Ewwwwww. She inspires me all the time, I just hope I can be as good a mum when the time comes.

Unfortunately for my lovely mum, I no longer live at home (as I live here at Muriel!), so there was no breakfast in bed from me this year. However I was lucky enough to grab a few hours with her after I had finished work for the day, which I'm sure she appreciated ;)

I love you mum and admire all the work that you have put into making me the woman I have become over the years. You're just like a fine wine, mother- you get better and better with age!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

New Arrivals

Have I shown you the breakfast bar yet? No? Well, you'll remember the much maligned kitchen ledge:
We replaced that with a wide bench covering the long drawer cabinet -including an overhang that we could use as a 'breakfast bar', during our recent renovations:
Only problem? We didn't own any seating that was tall enough to use at this new breakfast bar- until now that is! While we were at work yesterday, the post man had paid Muriel a visit and when I got home for the day, (after a quick trip to the post office to pick it up) I was looking at one very un-exciting box:
Oreo thought it was pretty interesting though!
Unlike Oreo though, I knew what was inside and that was exciting! I wasn't prepared for the complete lack of instruction when I opened the box though...
But I am a lover of puzzles, so I got to work piecing them together
And before long, there they were!
They are just the right style for us- slimline enough to fit under the bench (without detracting from the rest of the kitchen) but also shaped to provide comfort.
In fact, the breakfast bar is already my new favourite blogging spot! Have you discovered a favourite seat at your place recently? Or perhaps you've made a recent internet purchase that has brightened you day? Tell me all about it!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

WOW: Possibility

I was cleaning out the fridge over the weekend and found an avocado that was a little past its best. So, following this instruction from wikiHow, I'm trying to grow our own Avocado tree!!
I'm pretty excited about the possibility that in a few months we could have a little tree that one day might grow fresh avocadoes! Mmmm guacamole...
If only I can wait for it to sprout... Have you tried to grow anything from seed like this -more recently than the school days of alfalfa heads?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Blog Updates

Hey hey! Have you dropped by the 'About' or 'Tour Muriel' pages lately? I've been hard at work updating them over the last couple of days, so do me a favour and check them out- I'd love to hear what you think!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Keep On Rolling Baby

You know what time it is... Please don't send me hate mail for that Limp Bizkit reference. It just popped out and I couldn't stop it!
Tools of torture!
PK and I breathed a sigh of relief this weekend after having just finished* the painting on Muriel's biggest room- aka the 'Great Room'. Yep, even after the supreme failure of our first attempt, we powered ahead and over the space of the last week, we managed to slap some paint on every wall, the trim and the skirting as well. Phew! It was quite a big task but we did a little bit every day (around our work schedules) and finished* just in time- on Friday night we had a 'kitchen warming' for the friends that had helped us along the way, as well as everyone else that could make it!
You can see our new couch (on the left) in this picture, but maybe not in its final place- we're still testing things out! We pushed all of the furniture out to the walls so that guests could take everything in when they walked in the front door (and it also left a lot of space for socialising). The bench seating actually belongs to the outside setting, but it fit right in and gave everyone a seat without being too crowded.
We had the LED lights under the cabinets and the rangehood turned on for maximum impact- it makes the splashback sort of glow don't you think? This is the view from the kitchen- I really enjoyed not being cut off from the action by the bench like I used to be!
We're both REALLY happy with the final wall colour, though it did take PK a little while to decide that we made the right choice! After the disaster with "Horizon Sky" I went into the paint centre and asked them what they recommended in the colour range we wanted- a very light sort of greyish blue/ bluish grey. I told the guy at the counter all of the details about where we were going to use the colour and the other colours already in the room- the charcoal lower cabinets, white uppers, whitish benchtop with the flecks of grey and mirror and our dark blue "Manhattan Storm" coloured couches. Then he got out a big BIG book of colours, pointed out where I should be looking (in the blues, not the purples!) and let me flip through it for as long as I wanted... I was there a while!
I took home a couple of samples and we painted them on the wall... and then we decided that we didn't actually like any of them! Well, sort of- we liked the one called "Hazy Daze" but thought it was a little too dark for us (even at the quarter strength), so we decided to customise it and go one step lighter. And wa-lah! Hazy Daze in 1/8th strength was a winner! During the day, it's a refreshing light blue without being too cold (like an icy blue could be in such a large open room) and then come nightfall, the grey tones become more apparent and the colour appears warmer, as in the pictures above. We still have a few small things to finish with the renovation, but having the walls painted really brings it all together!

How was your weekend? Did you get any big jobs finished* like us? Did you watch the big wedding on Friday night or were you just recovering from a chocolate hangover?

*When I say finished, I kind of lie! There is still another coat of gloss to go on the majority of the skirting boards and the garage door is only painted on one side (and still needs another coat on the side that is started)- and we haven't even started on the front door yet! But there is enough done to see real progress, so PK and I decided to give ourselves a rest for a little while to regroup and recover from our marathon week of painting!


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