Some Salads

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I am currently sifting through some old blog notes and recipes that have not previously seen the light of day.

I will post them here as I think they are worth remembering for the coming months as the weather heats up.

CHICKEN SALAD (Serves 2)

1 chicken breast fillet (steamed and shredded)
1/4 cup dried cranberries (chopped)
2 tablespoons walnuts (chopped)

Combine the ingredients and dress with mayonnaise.  Chill.

Serve with other salad as desired.

CUCUMBER & ONION SALAD

Lebanese cucumber (thinly sliced)
Onion (thinly sliced and separated into rings)
Good quality salt (I use Himalayan pink)

Layer the cucumber and onion rings in a shallow dish, adding a fine sprinkle of salt to each layer.  Chill and allow to stand for about an hour before serving.

I do not have a photo of this very simple, yet tasty, salad.

PEAR SALAD (Serves 2)

1/2 pear, cored and sliced thinly
Small stick of celery, sliced thinly on the diagonal
6 walnuts, chopped
Parmesan cheese, shaved
30ml lemon juice           }
5ml balsamic vinegar   } – Dressing
5ml olive oil                     }

Arrange the pear, celery and walnuts on the plate.  Combine dressing ingredients and drizzle over salad.  Top with shreds of parmesan cheese.

Here it is served with grilled salmon and coleslaw.

It is useful to have a selection of simple, appetising dishes for when the weather is hot and inspiration for meal preparation is often lacking.

Close to Home

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All things are relative.  Today we went to Brisbane which is about 80km from where we live but compared to London, New York or even Melbourne, it is close to home.

We had a business appointment to attend this morning and decided that we would make a day of it and go out to lunch for a slightly delayed birthday celebration for GMan.

Although we both worked in the city for quite a number of years, we were not terribly familiar with restaurant options.  We had mostly packed our lunches and when we did eat out it was usually with work colleagues in a noisy pub environment or fast and furious cafe.  Neither of these were the setting we were looking for.

I turned to the ever-helpful Google and found Greenglass, a French bistro and wine bar.  One review I found described it as “a cross between elegant wine bars of old and a spacious NYC loft apartment”.  The simple black door at street-level belied the airy, minimalist decor and quality food which we encountered after ascending the narrow staircase.  We enjoyed our meal and the outlook of trees despite being in the centre of the CBD.  If I had any criticism, it would be the level of noise due to the polished timber floors and lack of any soft furnishings.

There is a reason I mentioned London, New York and Melbourne in the opening paragraph.  We have visited all of these cities and the weather we encountered as we departed from Greenglass was far more reminiscent of one of them than sub-tropical Brisbane and its usual ‘perfect’ winter weather.  The predicted rain had arrived during our lunch and this was the dismal scene that greeted us despite it only being 2pm.

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Since I have barely been to any shops in the past 5 months (apart from groceries and home renovations) I took the opportunity to pick up a couple of things that I needed.

With about 30 minutes to spare before the next train was due, we headed to Sugar’n’Spice Cafe which is quite close to Central Station.  This is the view that greeted us as we entered the small, old-world premises.

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Coffee and gluten -free carrot cake consumed while perched snugly at the high counter overlooking an increasingly wet afternoon.

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Today was a complete departure from our home renovation activities of yesterday and we both enjoyed the opportunity to be out and about while still managing to maintain effective social distancing.

 

Time Out

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Things have been quiet around here for a couple of days because despite the limitations due to COVID19 we managed to get away for a couple of days.2020-06-27 01It was great to see some different scenery and catch up with a couple of friends along the way.

If you would like to know more about our short break and see some photos, please pop over to my travel blog, Somewhere, Anywhere.  The blog covers our planning and travels, mostly overseas, for the past 8 years.  This is the link to our latest jaunt.

Project Preparation

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Well, I had a couple of days off from blogging as we have been out and about. Yesterday WordPress decided it did not want to play the game when I tried to write this post. However, all seems to be well again and I am back in business.

Over the last couple of days we have purchased some materials and equipment for the next DIY project. 

For a number of years we have talked about creating a defined entertaining area under our high-set house.  When we first moved here over 14 years ago, this area was simply sloping dirt which was of absolutely no use and merely contributed to the dirt and dust which made its way into the house.  So, we had the area concreted , albeit on a couple of levels.  Since then it has really been a storage area for materials collected for future projects as well as overflow from the workshop area.  We had decided that the best approach was to screen off an area for casual entertaining using battens and the remainder could still be used for storage.  After literally years of discussion and refinements of the design we are ready to begin.

Initially, we planned to use salvaged hardwood for the rails but realised that we could not source enough timber of consistent dimensions that was straight and true so we opted for new timber from Bunnings in this instance.  After carefully measuring and calculating our requirements we bought the necessary lengths whilst ensuring the minimum amount of waste.

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The other major requirement for this project which GMan had identified was a saw which would make a quick and accurate cut.  There were 21 rails to be cut plus approximately 170 (yet to be purchased) battens.  He decided on this mitre saw and stand.

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The rails were cut to length in no time and are now ready to be painted.  We also need to sand and paint the rusted steel posts before attaching the rails.  

This is clearly not a job which will be done in a week but we are confident that our planning and preparation will ensure the success of the end result.

I am looking forward to being able to use the entertainment area during the summer as our summers are becoming increasingly hotter and this area is definitely the coolest place in the house.

 

 

Rainy Day Activity

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It has been a cool, showery day so outdoor activities were not really possible so I returned to my photo project.  I started this about 2 months ago and you can read the details here.  After the initial burst, I have continued to make progress by doing a bit almost every evening.

Yesterday, I located the albums which had all been scanned.  They were carefully stored in the bottom of a wardrobe in the guest room.  It was an incidental find as I was not specifically looking for them.

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Today I have cross-checked that all the photos have been scanned and filed in correctly dated folders.

It seems like an enormous waste but the hard copies of the photos and albums will eventually all be discarded.  However, I need to retrieve all of the dates and details to include in the description of the digital copies before I consider doing that.

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The albums cannot be reused as there are details written in them.  Therefore, I will be removing the plastic photo sleeves which can be recycled as ‘soft plastic’ and then the lightweight cardboard pages will be able to be recycled separately.

As you can imagine, it has been something of a nostalgia trip as I sort through over 40 years of photographs documenting various aspects of our lives but predominately celebrations and holidays.  It is a stark reminder of how valuable photographs were when images were recorded on film then sent away to be developed and the anxious wait for their return.  We thought twice about taking dozens of images which were relatively expensive to develop.  Our attitude to photos has certainly changed with the advent of digital cameras and cameras built into mobile phones.

Cold Frame Completed

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Following on from this post.  We retrieved our jigsaw on Tuesday and were able to cut the polycarbonate sheeting for the final step of the cold frame.

Once the pieces of polycarbonate sheeting were cut to size, it was relatively easy to screw them to the timber frame.  The only thing left to do was to fill the post holes and level the ground.

Finished and ready for use.  You may be able to see the tray of basil seedlings near the left-hand end of the structure.

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Another view of the cold frame as part of the wider vegetable garden layout.

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Since our winters are really quite mild, this is really only necessary for overnight protection.  I will need to make sure I open it up everyday or otherwise the basil will be cooked by the end of the week.

 

A Day Out

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We have not long arrived home from a rather extensive day out.  An early start saw us gone just after 7am as we had quite a bit to do in Brisbane and it was just over an hour of driving to reach our first destination.

The prime reason for the trip was to take the frame for the mirror from this dressing table to a glass merchant so that we can have a new one cut.  They no longer do resilvering as the precision equipment available today means that a replica can be produced more easily and at less cost.

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After dropping off a couple of items to a friend and my brother, and picking up our saw that we had lent, we made our way to visit my mother.  Or more specifically, to pick her up.  We then headed to Shorncliffe, a bayside suburb, where we braved the breezy day and had a picnic lunch of fish and chips from The Shelley Inn.  It was lovely that my cousin was also able to join us.

A final stop a little further along the shore to see the historic Shorncliffe Pier which was rebuilt and restored about 5 years ago.  Here are a few views.

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We rounded off the day with a few shopping chores with my mother.

A little pre-planning ensured that today was both enjoyable and an efficient use of our time and fuel.

 

 

Cold Frame Construction

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What is a cold frame?  The best description is a mini glasshouse which is low to the ground.  You can check out one from Gardening Australia here.  They are predominately used in much colder climates than ours, however, the primary reason that we built one is that I want to grow basil throughout the winter months.  It will also be perfect for starting spring seedlings a bit earlier than usual.

For the past few weeks we have been taking small steps towards building a cold frame.

Two hardwood sleepers form the back wall.

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Deciding on a location, sourcing materials (the majority secondhand) and developing a design have all taken time.  GMan has cut and painted timber as well as replacing putty in the window frames.

Everything has moved up a notch in the last couple of days as we began building in earnest.

The construction is almost complete with only the polycarbonate sheeting to be added to the front and ends of the enclosure.  This last step is on hold until we retrieve our jigsaw (lent out recently) to cut the sheeting.  Hopefully this will happen early next week.

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We won’t win any prizes for our carpentry skills but the structure is solid and functional.

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A pair of casement windows from the timber salvage yard form the top of the cold frame.  They are hinged at the back and we attached some old cupboard handles to the front edge to facilitate easy access.

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Apart from the polycarbonate sheeting on the sides, we also need to finish levelling the ground and filling the holes around the uprights.

In the meantime I have put the tray of basil seedlings in this space overnight as even without the sides completed it still offers a warmer and more protected space than their previous location.

The components which we purchased new for this project were the sleepers, hinges, window putty and long screws for the frame.  The windows, handles and timber all came from the salvage yard while the screw used with the hinges and handles came from our collection of odds and ends at home.

I would love to hear of anyone else’s experience  with a similar kind of set-up.

Road Trip

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For 2 months we have mostly stayed at home apart from a weekly trip to buy fresh produce and dairy and a couple of forays to Bunnings for necessities for the renovation projects.  Over the last week or two we have also made a couple of visits to family.

COVID19 restrictions have been eased slightly but I have no real desire to go browsing in shops or mix with people whom I do not know.

However, we needed to get out and a road trip seemed like the perfect answer.  

Packed up and ready to go.

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We set out with a vague idea of going to Toowoomba. That did indeed become our destination, albeit via a rather circuitous route. Our first stop was for petrol so we then took the back road via the Glasshouse Mountains lookout to Woodford.  From there, we headed through Kilcoy, Yarraman and Oakey before arriving in Toowoomba.  It was definitely the road less travelled.

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It was time for a late lunch by the time we reached Toowoomba and we found a Turkish restaurant that were also offering takeaway meals.

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Despite the cold weather (apparent temperature about 2C) we headed for Queens Park to find a picnic table where we could eat. 

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We were rugged up with jackets and I had my knitted cap which kept my ear and head warm.  There were other people in the park but social distancing was certainly not an issue.

A couple of views of Queens Park and some of the autumn foliage.

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Our return route was via the highway to Brisbane where we made a brief stop to visit my mother and then back onto the highway for home.

In no time we had a fire going to warm the room.

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Our day out was an adventure which broke the monotony of the days at home.

A Winter Wardrobe

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Some of you may be familiar with Project 333 by Courtney Carver.  While I briefly flirted with the idea some years ago, it was never really my intention to try to manage on a specified number of items for 3 months.  You can read one of my early posts on the subject here.

It is now the latter part of May and we are fast approaching the official start of winter.  Although our climate is fairly mild we do still need winter clothes which are more than summer frocks or shorts and singlet tops.  The maximum temperatures this week are between 14 and 18C (55 – 65F) where I live.

I finished full-time work at the beginning of July last year.  Although my workplace accepted a business casual dress code, my clothing requirements have certainly changed in the past year.

The change of season is as good a time as any to review the contents of your wardrobe.  This is mine before I started today.

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Not everything is hung up so here are views of the 2 drawers in my dresser which contain outerwear.  My underwear, pyjamas, swimwear and scarves are in 2 smaller drawers.

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I removed everything from the wardrobe that I do not envisage wearing in the next 3 months (end of August) and have hung it in the wardrobe in the spare room.

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A couple of items that were previously folded have now been hung in the wardrobe and the contents of the drawers re-arranged.

This drawer is what I may wear in winter.

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All of the summer shorts and tops have been consigned to the bottom drawer.

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Then it was time to tackle the shoes.  These are the summer ones I have put aside.

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The end result looks like this.

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Due to washing and wearing requirements there are a few pieces missing from this photo.  2 pairs of blue jeans, a rugby top, 3/4 sleeve tshirt, long sleeved jumper and my black ankle boots.

The total inventory is:

Jeans/trousers x 5
Trackpants/travel pants x 3
3/4 sleeve tshirts x 3
Long sleeve tshirt x 1
Short sleeve shirt x 1
3/4 sleeve shirts x 5
Rugby tops x 3
Cardigans x 3
Jumpers x 3
Dress x 1
Vest x 1
Polar fleece jacket x 1
Waterproof jacket x 1
Trenchcoat x 1
Long boots x 1
Ankle boots x 2
Dress shoes x 2
Casual shoes x 2
Walking shoes x 2

In addition, I have scarves, beret, hat, gloves and a couple of thermal tops.

Is it enough?  Or too much?  I am sure there will be some items that don’t make the cut at the end of the season and there is a good chance that there will be some additions.  My aim is that any new pieces will be sourced secondhand or made from fabric I already have on hand.