Spring has sprung!

And these are some of my favourite spring things:

IMG_0244Green, green grass.

IMG_0249Blue skies and palm trees.

IMG_0247Fresh new leaves.

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Our first home.

We’ve done it! We’ve finally moved into our first home. It has certainly been a long process, and I’m sure it’s still not over.

It started in November when we first saw the house for sale. That same day (very out of character for us) we made an offer on it which was accepted! There were a few hiccups along the way, but we finally gained possession of the house in January.

From January until the end of August we’ve been knocking down walls and illegal extensions; cleaning, cleaning, cleaning; ripping up carpet and lino; painting walls, cupboards and doors; putting down floating floorboards and carpet. (Here are some photos of what it used to look like).

We’ve had lots of help from family and friends with everything from painting to knocking down walls. From removing rubbish (thanks dads!) to putting in sliding doors in the bathroom and loo. My brother-in-law Joel has helped us the most, and for a while he was coming over every weekend to help (he’s a chippy so is a great help). We really appreciate all the help we’ve had, we couldn’t have done it without you (especially you Joel)!

So now our home is habitable!

We only have curtains in our bedroom (which makes sitting in the lounge watching TV at night kind of weird. We’ve still got boxes and boxes of stuff in the back bedroom, waiting for a more permanent home. We’re still missing our pantry door. We have no hooks in the walls, and therefore no pictures on the walls. We’re missing some skirting boards and some cornice still needs painting.

But it’s all good.

IMG_1727The backyard before we got to work. It was full of rubbish!

IMG_1723The long, dry grass. A perfect hiding place for snakes.

IMG_1808But now the backyard’s starting to take shape!

IMG_1813Sam’s started planting a few things.

IMG_1728The dining room. Notice there are a few doors resting against the wall here waiting to be hung.

IMG_1737One of Sam’s many indoor plants. Lucky I love them.

IMG_1730Our kitchen. We still need to paint that panel behind the breakfast bar.

IMG_1740We’re really happy with the floor. These are floating timber boards, but they’ve been distressed to make it look a bit old/reclaimed.

IMG_1743Notice the missing pantry door.

IMG_1744Our new laundry. We’re very happy with this room. Except for the washing machine. It’s not working properly. But it’s the plumbing’s fault, and that’ll get fixed soon.

IMG_1755This is the bathroom. We still don’t have towel racks, hence the towel hanging on the bath. Can you spot another indoor plant?

IMG_1731Middle bedroom. This room actually looks much better now than it does in this photo.

IMG_1758Our bedroom. It looks much better in real life now too.

IMG_1749Lounge. It’s not quite so messy anymore. I really will have to post some more recent photos soon.

IMG_1745We’re waiting on some new lounges. But until December(!) this will have to do. Notice we’re using the bookshelf as a blind? Hopefully we’ll get our curtains on soon so we can move this and start filling it with our books.

IMG_1746We love it.

Homemade stevia extract.

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Sam’s been growing stevia in the garden. It’s supposed to be a really great sweetener that isn’t sugar and is completely natural. Read more about stevia here. I thought I’d give making stevia extract a go to use in cooking. Here’s what I did:

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  1. Collect lots of stevia leaves. Wash and dry them.
  2. Chop the leaves up and place in a large glass jar.
  3. Cover with enough vodka to cover the leaves.
  4. Put the lid on and place somewhere you’ll see it.
  5. Leave the jar for 36 hours, shaking occasionally.
  6. After 36 hours (don’t leave it too long, or it will become bitter), strain the liquid into a small saucepan.
  7. Heat the liquid on low and bring to a simmer. Make sure you don’t boil it, or it will become bitter.
  8. Simmer for about half an hour, stirring constantly.
  9. Remove from heat and cool before pouring into small glass jars.
  10. Store in fridge for up to 3 months.

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I got the recipe for this here. Use it instead of sugar in recipes like this chocolate avocado mousse, or this dairy-free ice cream, and this lemon tart (you will have to change the recipes a bit – I’ll post some new recipes sweetened with stevia soon).

 

Mayfield Gardens.

Autumn is my favourite season. I love the cool air with the sunny days. I love the colours of the leaves. Everything about autumn makes me happy. So when we visited the beautiful Mayfield Gardens a few weeks ago I was so excited.

IMG_20130420_170521It did cost $20 per adult to get in, but it was so worth it.

IMG_20130420_170805There were beautiful water gardens with ponds and bridges and so many beautiful plants.

IMG_20130420_171311I really liked the birch forest. How cool are silver birch!?!

IMG_20130420_173642You could even explore through a pine forest.

IMG_20130420_173219There were so many small trees and plants. Imagine what it will be like in another 20 years!

IMG_20130420_173501There was a purpose-built chapel on top of a hill with amazing views of the garden beyond!

There were heaps of other amazing things to see; luxury chook yards, a grassed amphitheatre, a huge bird Avery, display veggie gardens and even a new oriental garden in the works. I’d love to come back in spring and see everything in flower!

 

We made a veggie garden.

Soon after we moved into my sister-in-law’s unit, my husband and his brother cleared out our back yard and built a veggie garden. There are two raised beds that are two sleepers high. Here it is:

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Sam planted veggies, here it is full of seedlings:

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We’ve got tomatoes, capsicum, chilli, chia, thyme, oregano, parsley, coriander, chives, and more things I can’t quite remember.

IMG_20130304_194110We’ve had heaps of growth over the summer!

IMG_20130304_194322We harvested tons of tomatoes, chillies, capsicum, and have heaps of wonderful herbs.

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When we move into our house, we’ll have to build new veggie gardens.

It’s a bit gross.

It's a bit gross.

But compost is cool!

Just put all your food scraps (except onions/citrus etc) in a bin in the kitchen. When it gets full, tip it out into an outside compost bin. Add some newspaper/egg cartons/dry grass etc to balance the compost. Add a bit of water occasionally and stir it occasionally. Eventually it will break down and will be great fertilizer to use on the garden.

(I usually let Sam look after the compost.)