Sunday, February 26, 2012

CRAFTS: Antique wash stand Restoration inc. Mosaics

I have been known to "save" the odd piece of furniture from a "certain death" from time to time. I tend to see the beauty within, and small pieces can often be squeezed into an already bulging house - if you get creative about it!!

I remember my first marble top washstand I parents bought it for me after I spotted it in a second hand store. They looked at it, then looked at me as if I had completely lost my mind. They could not see any beauty. I'll show you that one later.

This one was broken and forgotten and dug out of my husband's father's garage when both parents had passed away and we had to clear the house for sale. No-one gave it a second look, and I snapped it up greedily! Initially I restored it for my husband's niece, and therefore it became off-white. If I restored it for me - I would have stripped it to bare wood, then stained and varnished it to a baltic colour. After a time - the niece changed her mind over her decor - so the stand is still with me.

The first pictures I remembered to take. I had already started the sand/strip down of the top.

This is more indicative of the condition - snapped bottom shelf and paint that had seen bad times and years neglected and unwanted in a garage.

 All the sanding and stripping had taken place, and three coats of a light cream acrylic paint had been applied. I'm still wondering what to do with the inset feature of the door, and had started the mosaics on the top.

My mosaics shop (the one I had lessons with and later did some shop-minding duties in) had these beautiful ceramic hand painted tiles for $5 each. I jumped at the Iris, then found it was perfect for this project. Mosaic surround is taking shape.

And now finished and ready for grouting.

 Taaaa Daaaaa! Finished. Finishing and then looking at the piece FINISHED is always a euphoric moment. It's "my high" without any chemicals!

Grouted and re-assembled. My friend Lynn suggested to paint the door inlay with the same colour of yellow as in the background of the Iris tile. Genius!

With the flip top hinged lid on the top box, small drawer, and roomy central cupboard - I think it's a really handy piece.

All of my furniture is "wood" look - and this is doesn't match my house style. Lucky my main bathroom is Black and White so I can just get away with it in there. I don't think this is the final spot, but it will do for now. And it's very handy.

A Star is Re-born! (Not me, the washstand!!!!)

Friday, February 24, 2012

COOKING: Free-Form Nectarine and Macadamia Tart

I have always wanted to try to make a "free-form" type of pastry for a pie or tart. I don't really enjoy the faffing about that most pastry requires to get it into pretty pans and tart shells. This recipe caught my eye, and, on reading it - it seemed really easy! This is "food-processor" recipe, where first you blitz the pastry together, scoop it out, then without even washing the bowl, blitz the nutty ingredients for the tart! What bliss!

This tart can be made with any kind of stone fruit you have in season, plums, peaches, apricots etc. Figs would be great as well. You can serve it cold or warm, we had it warm with thick cream on the side - as you do, Here it is:

Worked perfectly. It may look a little too "brown" in places - but it was perfect in real life. (even if I do say so myself)

Aprons on:

Pastry: 1 1/2 cups plain flour, 1/3 cup caster sugar, 100g chilled butter cubed.

Tart Mix: 1/4 cup castor sugar, 1/2 cup raw macadamia nuts, 30g butter, softened, 1 egg yolk, 1 teaspn vanilla extract, 2-3 fresh nectarines, 1 Tbspn white sugar.

1. For the pastry - place the four, caster sugar and butter in the food processor. Process until mix resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add 1/4 cup of chilled water and process until mixture comes together. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead lightly until smooth. Shape into a rectangle. If it's a warm day, wrap in baking paper and refrigerate for 15-20 minutes, or until firm enough to roll out.

2. Pre heat the oven and a large flat baking tray to 200 degrees c. Roll out the pastry between two sheets of baking paper to form a 20cm x 30cm rectangle. Remove the top baking paper.

3. In the same food processor bowl process the sugar and macadamia nuts until the nuts are finely chopped. Add the butter, egg yolk and vanilla and pulse until the mix comes together. Carefully spread the macadamia mixture over the pastry, leaving a 3 cm border around the edges.

4. Arrange the sliced nectarines over the macadamia mixture. Fold the pastry over, leaving half the fruit exposed. Brush the top of the pastry with water and sprinkle with white sugar.

5. Slide the tart, still on the baking paper, onto the hot tray and bake for 25-30 minutes, or unitl the pastry is golden and crisp. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes. Serve warm with thick cream, ice-cream or yoghurt.

I gave this tart an appreciative 9 / 10.

Hope you get to try it. 

For those of you who asked......yes - you can call me Poots!!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

CRAFTS: Mosaic Bird Bath

Thankyou to those of you who have come over from Rubie's blog to visit me. You are very kind and have nice things to say to support me. Big hugs to you all.

It's been no secret that I love indulging in crafts, and one of my newest (only in the last couple of years - thankyou to Lynn, my friend who first took me with her to classes) is mosaics. There is a lot of satisfaction gained in SMASHING tiles and mirror and such and then putting the bits back together to make something lovely. I also have a good friend who is a ceramics artist (her web site is in my side bar) and I've passed the mosaics "bug" onto her as well. What is great about that relationship - is that we can make and fire all kinds of special small items and ornaments that we include into our pieces. You can see what I mean by checking out some of the selection on her site.

This is a birdbath I made for my brother's birthday....which was last October. I haven't quite been able to let it go because I love it so much, and he is about to do some backyard renos..... so I've used that as the excuse to not hand it over! Aren't I naughty!! My time is running out because he has said something like he "might see it for this years birthday".  Ooops.  Busted!

 First part done - the "bowl".


Rubie being curious as ever.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

COOKING: Passionfruit Parfait and Curd

Our Passionfruit Vine continues to produce an abundance of fruit even though we don't "molly coddle" the vine at all. It is lucky to be watered.

As we are ice-cream fans - I decided to have a go at this new recipe. I saw it on a morning TV show demonstrated by a chef. On the whole - it was easy and fairly foolproof, and the "yummy score" out of 10 was a self proclaimed 8/10.

This should be listed under "foods not to eat if you are thinking of losing weight" - but we all need a "breakout treat" once in a while.

The recipe can be found on this link Passionfruit Parfait,  I obviously added some fresh slices of banana and fresh passionfruit pulp instead of making the Honey Almond Brittle.

The "Birth" of this Blog

I decided to begin this blog due to the wonderful experience I am enjoying "supervising" my miniature schnauzers' blog Rubie adventures  It gave me the taste of keeping a "diary" but made all the more enjoyable because we can use the computer and import photos and other fun things. I have time on my hands, so I intend to share the things that make up my "freedom". So many of us are trapped in "being busy" and "having no time" - I'm not into that. Life is not a dress rehearsal. Don't judge me, don't judge anyone, don't be mean, life is too short.

Introducing me, my dog Rubie and Husband. 

(I'm not into putting our faces on my blog - just being hesitant)