its true. i’m moving

I haven’t been on the blog for ages. Some of you may have noticed. For those that didn’t, not to worry. You didn’t miss much. Mainly cause I didn’t post for months.

Well, I’m back. At least I’m sort of back. In a whole new direction.

While I was in Greece I realised that my heart was on Paros, with my mom and my family. I missed them and I missed Paros. I’d always dreamed of living on Paros and now I’m ready to make it a reality.

I’d always planned to retire on Paros, but I realised that I really didn’t want to wait that long. I want to spend quality time with my mom and more time with family. I chose to live far from my family from the age of 23… its time to be back with them.

I knew I was in trouble when I didn’t hate Athens the way I usually do…

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When I got back from Greece I had to make some really hard decisions, have some really hard conversations with Wayne, and look into my heart and make the decision which would be best for me.

Its been a really stressful and difficult time, hence the blog silence. I just didn’t know what to write. Things were confusing and I couldn’t plan anything since every single move depended on something else to fall into place first. It was like the goalposts were constantly being moved. Exhausting. Depressing.

Yet also exciting.

I love Paros. My heart has been there for years. Paros IS Greece to me… to all of us in our family. So the prospect of living there full time is like a dream come true.

Most of my family and friends in Athens have their doubts… Paros? In winter? There’s nothing to do there! You’ll be bored and lonely!

Ha. They obviously haven’t lived in the country in Tasmania…

I look forward to spending a few quiet months ‘finding myself’… making friends, reconnecting with my creative side… living quietly and just being. I believe its the right decision for me at this stage of my life. A new life.

Of course it won’t be easy. I need to earn a living so I’ll have to find a job. I’ll do anything till I find my place.

Then there are the heartbreaking bits to moving. Mom doesn’t want me to take a dog over. Montana is too old for such a trip but I had planned to take Romeo – my living, breathing, poodle security blanket. My support. My very own family.

But with mom not wanting a dog in her house, with me not having my own place (yet) and no job (yet) and not knowing where I’ll be for the next few months… I had to concede that she has a point. It will be better for the dogs to find a new home in Australia and not have to face change after change.

I’m heartbroken. I never planned to be without my dogs…

Ok. Well. I’m trying very hard to think positive right now.

We sold our house. That in itself was a horrible experience. It was quick, but it wasn’t without a ton of stress. The buyers from hell. That’s all I have to say about that. But its done now. And we have a settlement date of November 16.

30 days.

Can you say RUSH?

Can you say exhausted?

I’ve been photographing and listing stuff for sale for weeks but now I’m stepping it up a notch. Or four. I’m having a huge garage sale on the weekend (part of the garage sale trail) and of COURSE today its been thundering and pelting down with rain.

Always happens. I’m a weather system all of my own. Need rain? I’ll move there and bring it with me. All I need to do is plan an outdoor activity. Guaranteed to bucket down.

So… I have 4 weeks to pack up, sell up, clean up and move out.

I’m getting there but there’s still so much to do.

The plan is to move out of here, find a home for my babies (the poodles!), go to Melbourne for a while, visit family and friends in Canberra, maybe even Sydney, sell the car, go to Greece.

You know what plans are, don’t you? Those things we make which we have to change again and again.

I’ve moved back and forth from Greece to Australia and back many times but it never seemed so hard before. Maybe its cause this time I have my own home and years of accumulated possessions to sort through. The last times I’d been a student or living in rentals so never had so much.

Whatever.

Its happening.

Stay tuned for the new adventure.

z

 

in transit and still being good

If there’s one thing you can say about international airports is that they’re not good for the ‘no sugar’ thing.

They’re full of duty free chocolate shops… or maybe its just me that sees chocolate everywhere…

I have to confess, I haven’t been 100% good. Yesterday I woke up feeling fluey and spent almost the entire day in bed. As a result of feeling sick and needing to nip it in the bud I’ve had more sugar than I’d like – in my throat lozenges, in the hot toddie’s I got Wayne to make me (honey, not sugar) and in the vitamin C gummies I’ve been chewing on since Wayne came down with the flu a week ago. (Thanks Wayne!)

Thank goodness it seems my flu shot paid off – I am better!

So, although I haven’t been GREAT, I’ve still been GOOD.

For instance I haven’t had a single sweet or chocolate. I didn’t touch my airplane dessert lamington and haven’t had sugar in my coffee or tea.

Ok, so I had one iced coffee… no cream but with a dash of caramel… I’m only human!

I think I’ll allow myself that small indulgence given all the other temptations I’ve let go by.

Other than that, the trip has been good so far. The first hop from Hobart to Melbourne was lovely and brief. The jump from there to Singapore not so much… three and a half movies later we had an an hour and a half to kill in Singapore walking up and down the gate lounge to get circulation back in my legs.

I can’t sleep on planes… times like this I wish I was a five year old again, able to curl up in the tiniest space… sigh.

Almost five hours in Dubai and honestly, there really isn’t that much duty free shopping one can do. Two coffees, two lovely chats with women from other parts of the world, and we’ll soon be boarding for the last leg to Athens.

By now I just want to BE somewhere. No longer on the go. This is such a long trip…

z

katy perry doll

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Yep. I tackled the cupcake dress!!

This is another of the dolls winging their way to the UK and she was the one that took the longest to make.

Obviously.

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Most of the hair rooted – faceless doll heads on pens is a common sight around here…

Firstly I had to order blue hair from my favourite local seller (Custom Doll Hair AU), then I had to re-root my barbie head with said blue hair. And paint on her face, of course.

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I bought a dress which was suitable as the base for my cupcake skirt. And some cupcakes from ebay. There was no way I could make that many cupcakes in this lifetime…

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The only way I could figure out to make the skirt was papier mache. My old standby. I love papier mache and can make anything with it. I’m pretty good at it, even if I do say so myself. ūüôā

So I built myself a ‘scaffold’ from cardboard (ok, its more like a layered cake) and tissue paper. It only took 3 goes to get it right. I gave it 3 coats of white acrylic paint and made 2 different layers of ruffles which I hot glued to the bottom.

I made a matching ruffle for the top of the dress, which I stitched onto the straps and neckline. I then cut the dress to the right length and attached it to the skirt using hot glue. Not while it was on the doll.

Obviously.

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Headless doll. Another common sight around here.

Once I picked the shoes I preferred and had her all dressed up she was ready!

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She needs one of those stands that holds her up by the legs cause there’s no way that skirt is going to allow her to have a regular ‘around the waist’ stand. What can you do? Its the price you pay for looking so fabulous!

z

 

falling down places

I don’t know about you, but I love falling down, abandoned houses and sheds. There’s something so sad yet beautiful about them. I love the faded colours and the weathered timber. I mourn the waste of these places, left to disintegrate ’cause for whatever reason, no one wanted to live in them and love them any more.

A few years ago I spent time photographing old sheds with greyed timber and rusty roofs. This trip I couldn’t resist some of the abandoned buildings we saw. There are too many of them…

This old church was one building we were able to walk around and even inside.

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Inside it had a lovely curved roof and a small stage. Vandals had broken windows and most light fixtures. Rain and critters had done their share of damage as well.

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Nature starting to assert itself, bushes starting to grow in through broken windows.

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Around the back two outhouses, one still standing, the other on a serious lean. Would you visit this outhouse? I’m sure the redbacks living in there wouldn’t mind…

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Next, a simple old farmhouse, one which already had plants growing over the porches and inside the front room. You can believe me when I say I stomped around really loudly as I explored. I wanted to let the snakes know I was there.

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Around the back things were sadder. I know there are lots of reasons old homes might be abandoned, but it still makes me sad to see.

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What was left of the sheds was a mess, but offered some great textures for photos.

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This is one of my favourite photos, an old door and a bit of old metalwork…

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This old house stole my heart. It would have been such a beauty when it was loved.

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As it stands now, sagging verandah and rotten timbers, I wondered if it would be possible to restore it or if it was too far gone. Too far gone I think. But what a lovely old home… A part of me wants to know if its for sale…

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There were sheep grazing in the yard so I’m guessing the old farm was bought by a much larger property, the old farmhouse not needed and left to eventually become part of the landscape.

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Sigh…

This little cottage is definitely beyond any hope. From the outside it looks a bit of a wreck…

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With the leaning chimneys…

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And inside is more of a wreck. The place has perhaps been gutted as well.

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Look at the colours of the ceiling timbers! If I was salvaging bits of this house I’d be taking those ceilings, rotten timbers or not!

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And look at the old bits of newspaper and wallpaper still clinging to the walls.

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If I can’t restore and love these places, can I at least salvage from them?

Apparently no. It’d be considered stealing.

No fun!

z

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rodeo! (and more)

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We’re back from some weekend fun. And I’m so tired. It seems like I’ve been driving all day today (in fact I was driving most of the last two days), but it was worth it.

I took Wayne away for a weekend up north of the state, to the Carrick Bull Riding Rodeo.

I don’t have any photos of the rodeo. It was too windy and too hard to take photos, but hey, everyone knows what a rodeo is like. Horses, bulls, whips, cowboys, hats, barrel racing, roping, steers and dust. Not in that order necessarily.

It was an evening event and by the end of the night we were both frozen and could pass for a red indians thanks to the red dust. It was fun though. I do love a rodeo.

Here are some pics of our trip. I decided it’d be a trip through the central highlands and past the great lakes of Tasmania so we went through Bothwell where we stopped for coffee at a cute little coffee shop.

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I loved the sign, but I loved the door even more!

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Not to mention this table was so rustic, I could have it here, no worries.

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The only photo I took of one of the lakes at Breona, dark clouds and amazing colours.¬† I began to think I’d love a shack up there… to spent time up near the lake.

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I love going up north through the middle of Tasmania, the way the countryside changes as you leave the lush Derwent Valley, through the dry highlands, trees being replaced by scrub as you get up higher, down the mountains with their dense forests and ferns, all opening up to the lush pastures as you go down the other side.

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This time we stopped in Deloraine. I’ve only ever driven through (on the way to dog shows up north), never stopped to look around and appreciate the town. It’s beautiful. I love it. I want to live there.

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We had lunch at the 50s Diner and it was great! The best malted milkshake I’ve had in years!

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And all the collectibles! I was in heaven. If I lived in Deloraine I’d live in the Diner…

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I’d found a cute little Air B&B unit to stay in at Evandale. It was a bit further on from Carrick so we drove there to check in, then backtracked to go to the rodeo.

Our hosts were great and the self contained unit was gorgeous, thoughtfully decorated and very comfy. This was only my second Air B&B stay and way better than the first!

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Wayne made himself at home straight away…

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I’d been to Evandale before, (for a dog show – obviously!) so bascially I hadn’t really been there. For years I traveled around the Victoria and Tasmania, only ever seeing the showgrounds…

Evandale is gorgeous. I love it. I want to live there.

Wayne says I want to live everywhere I visit. Maybe so, but Evandale was beautiful…

And it has a famous Sunday market. I didn’t take many photos, I was too busy darting around from stall to stall, but loved the colours (and items) at this stall.

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Before you ask, yes, I did buy a few things. Like this little rusty corrugated iron pig made by a local Evandale artist. Isn’t he gorgeous?

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I also got a jar full of wooden buttons, some bone handled knives, a poodle with her pups and a minty green clock!

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I’m happy.

Tired and happy.

I have a ton of wonderful photos of falling down houses I’ll share in another post, so stay tuned!

z

okay, this is for you

I just got this email from a friend and I have to share. I’m seriously sore from laughing so hard. Its not often you get something that makes your day like that. So this is my gift to you – Hope it makes your day!

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Complaints from Council House Owners.
These are genuine clips from council Complaint letters:

1. My bush is really overgrown round the front and my back passage has
fungus growing in it.

2. He’s got this huge tool that vibrates the whole house and I just
can’t take it anymore.

3. It’s the dogs’ mess that I find hard to swallow.

4. I want some repairs done to my cooker as it has backfired and burnt
my knob off.

5. And their 18-year-old son is continually banging his balls against
my fence.

6. I wish to report that tiles are missing from the outside toilet
roof. I think it was bad wind the other night that blew them off.

7. My lavatory seat is cracked, where do I stand?

8. I am writing on behalf of my sink, which is coming away from the
wall.

9. Will you please send someone to mend the garden path? My wife tripped
and fell on it, yesterday, and now she is pregnant

10. I request permission to remove my drawers in the kitchen.

11. 50% of the walls are damp, 50% have crumbling plaster and 50% are
plain filthy.

12. The toilet is blocked and we cannot bath the children until it is
cleared.

13. Our lavatory seat is broken in half and is now in three pieces.

14. This is to let you know that our lavatory seat is broke and we can’t
get BBC 2.
A Spot of British Humor

As reported in the newpaper…

Commenting on a complaint from a Mr. Arthur Purdey about a large gas
bill, a spokesman for North West Gas said, “We agree it was rather high for the
time of year. It’s possible Mr. Purdey has been charged for the gas used up
during the explosion that destroyed his house.”
(The Daily Telegraph)

_____

Irish police are being handicapped in a search for a stolen van, because
they cannot issue a description. It’s a Special Branch vehicle and they
don’t want the public to know what it looks like.
(The Guardian)

_____

At the height of the gale, the harbourmaster radioed a coastguard and
asked him to estimate the wind speed. He replied he was sorry, but he didn’t
have a gauge. However, if it was any help, the wind had just blown his Land
Rover off the cliff.
( Aberdeen Evening Express)

_____

Mrs. Irene Graham of Thorpe Avenue , Boscombe, delighted the audience
with her reminiscence of the German prisoner of war who was sent each week to
do her garden. He was repatriated at the end of 1945, she recalled. “He’d
always seemed a nice friendly chap, but when the crocuses came up in the
middle of our lawn in February 1946, they spelt out ‘Heil Hitler.'”
( Bournemouth Evening Echo)

____

A list of actual announcements that London Tube drivers have made to
their passengers…

“Ladies and Gentlemen, I do apologise for the delay to your service. I
know you’re all dying to get home, unless, of course, you happen to be
married to my ex-wife, in which case you’ll want to cross over to the Westbound and
go in the opposite direction.”
____

“Your delay this evening is caused by the line controller suffering from
E & B syndrome: not knowing his elbow from his backside. I’ll let you know
any further information as soon as I’m given any.”
_____

“Let the passengers off the train FIRST!” (Pause.) “Oh go on then, stuff
yourselves in like sardines, see if I care — I’m going home….”
_____

“We can’t move off because some idiot has their hand stuck in the door.”

_____

“Please move all baggage away from the doors.” (Pause..) “Please move
ALL belongings away from the doors.” (Pause…) “This is a personal message
to the man in the brown suit wearing glasses at the rear of the train: Put
the pie down, Four-eyes, and move your bloody golf clubs away from the door
before I come down there and shove them up your bum sideways!”

Are you laughing yet?

z

the couch – finally

A long long time ago I talked about how much I wanted a new couch. I had my heart set on leather, brown leather. I really really wanted a brown leather couch. I was sick and tired of fabric couches which ended up being covered in dog hair and smelling of dog. Thanks Barney. Poodles don’t shed! Or smell doggy.
My first preference was a chesterfield. An old chesterfield. Brown. Worn. Soft.

But do you have idea how expensive those things are? As expensive as a new leather couch. Plus almost impossible to find. Sure, I found a few I drooled over… in Sydney. The price of the couch plus shipping would have killed me.

Then I began to think of club lounges. The solid, chunky blocky type.

Not as shiny as that… softer, cosier…

Couldn’t find one I liked that I could afford.

So I began looking at stores in Hobart and found this one at Freedom. The Hermitage.

Not exactly the thickest of chunky club lounges, but very comfy, in a lovely dark brown, studs at the bottom… I was ready to buy.

If I could have afforded it.

So I started saving.

Then, somewhere along the line I began to think of tan leather… lighter colours, not so heavy looking… I think it was the mid-century looking TV divider I built which changed my mind on style of couch. So I began to look for a couch like this one…

Better yet this, Freedom’s Copenhagen 3 seater.

I was totally convinced I wanted this one. I dreamed of it. It was even more expensive than the Hermitage, but I wanted it.

Till I went in and sat on it… and slumped back and almost slid off it.

It was too deep, I couldn’t sit in it properly. I’d have preferred that when I was younger and could get up off a couch without having to roll off, but not so great now I’m older, fatter and I almost need help hauling myself off deep low furniture.

Bean bags are a nightmare these days!

Anyway, I spend a lot of time in Freedom testing their couches. In the end I picked this one. The Bonnie 3 seater.

Not as long as the Hermitage, not as deep as the Copenhagen, not as soft as most of their couches. A firmer, higher couch. Easier to sit up properly in and get up out of.

I can get off this one without looking like a floundering whale.

Here it is in the living room.


I need to make new cushion covers. I want a bigger rug. I need to get rid of the awful carpet. I want to get rid of wires everywhere. I want a full wall of books behind the couch but till then I wonder if I should paint the timber bookcases white so they’re all the same colour.

But at least I have my leather couch!

And bonus: the dogs don’t like it! They only get on it if I’m on it and have a throw over me. Fantastic. I was worried they’d damage the leather with their nails.

Another bonus is that Wayne won’t sit on it either – he’s terrified he might ruin it and I’ll kill him.

z

apple bread – a pinterest recipe test run

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’ve been AWOL for ages, then I finally come back and share a recipe! Not a craft project, not a home improvement project, not artwork, no furniture makeovers…

I have the nerve to come back after a long absence with a recipe!

Geez.

I feel your frustration.

But I have an excuse. I’ve been busy! I ran out of gas! I had a flat tyre! I didn’t have enough money for cab fare! My tux didn’t come back from the cleaners! An old friend came in from out of town! Someone stole my car! There was an earthquake! A terrible flood! Locusts! It wasn’t my fault! I swear!

(must be channeling John Belushi)

But we all have to eat, right? So I made cake.

This is the cake I decided to try (click image for original recipe).

Holly from Spend with Pennies calls it Apple Bread with Cinnamon.

This is what mine looked like the day after. I was too busy eating it the day I made it.

You’ll notice two things: mine is darker brown (I took the photo under artificial light without flash) and its drier. I probably cooked it a bit longer than I should have…

But its still yummy!

This is her recipe with comments, I didn’t change it:

Apple Bread with Cinnamon
 
¬Ĺ tablespoon ground cinnamon (me, I like cinnamon, I’d use more… its not enough!)
‚Öď cup white sugar
‚ÖĒ cup brown sugar, divided
¬ľ cup butter, softened
¬ľ cup applesauce (Holly said you can skip this if you double the butter… I used applesauce. Too much apple is not possible.)
2 eggs, well beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or, like me, just pour it into the bowl and guess what a teaspoon is)
1¬Ĺ cups all-purpose flour (or plain flour if you prefer, or live in Australia)
2 teaspoons baking powder
‚Öď cup milk
1 large or 2 small apples, peeled and chopped obviously¬†(I used 2 smaller apples but I think I’ll go for broke and use 3 next time, just cause I can.)
1 tablespoon butter, melted
 
Instructions – the way I did it
Preheat¬†oven to 350 degrees F or approx 200 degrees C.¬†Grease¬†and flour a loaf pan. I skipped that and just lined the loaf pan with baking paper. Why scrub if you don’t have to?¬†
Combine¬†‚Öď cup of the brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and¬†set¬†aside. Next time I’m going to put in a bit more cinnamon. Or maybe I have defective cinnamon.
With mixer on medium,¬†beat¬†white sugar, remaining brown sugar and butter until fluffy. Mix¬†in applesauce.¬†Add¬†well beaten eggs and vanilla. Yeah. I did that, in that order. My sugar and butter refused to go fluffy cause there wasn’t enough moisture. So added eggs and it went fluffy. And vanilla and applesauce and it was a bit curdled looking… Eh. What the heck… I was going to cook anyway, right?
Stir¬†together flour and baking powder. I sifted them together and then mixed. Can’t hurt to be careful they mix well.¬†Add flour to egg mixture and stir just until combined. Do not overmix!!¬†Add¬†milk. Ok… now this bit I didn’t understand. Add milk after you’ve mixed the flour into the batter… after?

Ok. I mixed the flour in and didn’t overmix. I didn’t want the world to end. Even though I was worried I’d have some floury unmixed bits of batter in my cake… And I might have added the milk before I’d totally combined, not overmixed, the mixture….
Pour¬†half of the batter into a greased and floured loaf pan.¬†Sprinkle¬†with ¬Ĺ of the apples and ¬Ĺ of the brown sugar mix.¬†

Stir the remaining apples into the remaining batter and pour into the pan. Top with remaining brown sugar mixture.

I see the theory of this. However, in my endeavour to improve every recipe I come across, I think that next time I’ll do it this way: Pour half the mixture into the baking paper¬†lined¬†pan¬†you don’t have to scrub later, top with half the apples and less than half of the brown sugar mix. Do as she says for the top, but put more of the sugar and cinnamon mix on top cause its what gives you the caramelised crunchy bits you’ll want more of!
Bake¬†approx. 40 minutes.¬†Remove¬†from oven,¬†brush¬†topping with melted butter. Brush? The crumbly sugar mix? I think not… I poured the melted butter over. I think it got the idea.¬†
Continue baking¬†an additional 5-10 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Don’t know about you, but I use a slightly longer skewer when testing a cake. About 10 inches longer. I already burned my finger when melting the butter!

Let cool 10 minutes and remove from pan. Agreed. But about that baking time. I did the 45min thing, the butter thing, then put it back in… but every time I tested it, my skewer came out coated in batter. I’d give it another 5 min, then another 5. In the end I think I overcooked it a bit.¬†

All in all, I think this was a success. A great cake and I’m definitely making it again. I like it even better than banana cake or carrot cake!
And one day I might even work out how to use an oven properly.
z

quick and easy fingerless gloves

…Or what to do with knitted squares…

Long story, but I got ahold of some knitted squares. The obvious things to do with them are to: make a blanket, a scarf, cushion covers…

Or fingerless gloves!

These were so easy to make and look so cute that I decided to share in case you have knitted squares, or if you can knit and can only make squares…
So here goes:
I opted for blanket stitching the side in a contrast colour and to decorate with some buttons. I think you could make them out of scraps of polar fleece fabric just as easily. 
They’re so cute everyone wants a pair. ¬†Can’t wait till winter so I can wear them for real.
z

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final guest room reveal

Its been a gruelling few days, but the house is finally ready for mom’s visit.
I’ll start by sharing the guest room, but before I do I’d like to thank my friend Patrice for all her help today. Without her I’d still be walking around in circles, overwhelmed by the task ahead of me.
So here is the guest room before (right after I decided the old office would make a better guest room – that post here):
And here is is now, with the bed made, the ladder bedside table and fresh flowers.
Before:
After:
Yes, you’ll notice something new… the linen cupboard has doors! More on that later.
Enjoy some more photos of the guest room. Mind you, the shelves aren’t really ‘dressed’. They’re just ‘there’. I had to draw the line somewhere or I’d still be working.
A nice, light, bright and welcoming room. And just to make it a big Christmassy, I hung these little twigs with felt shapes I made last year near the door.
I think mom will be comfortable in here, don’t you?
I know I’m very pleased with it.
z