Cooking, Renovations and Fun Stuff

Monday, March 28, 2011

Preparing for New Kitchen Colour

After a busy week of training and travel, I had a big sleep-in on Saturday and spent most of the day reading. TJ was happy to relax too:



I woke up on Sunday feeling refreshed so decided to tackle one of our kitchen walls. At the moment it's green, and I think it's making the room appear smaller and darker than it actually is.


The paint had been applied with cross hatching to create a suede effect, so I first had to sand the paint back so that the surface was even. I used this handy little corner sander that I picked up from Bunnings for $20.


After sanding, I wiped down the walls with a Sugar Soap solution, then filled in some nail holes with Spakfilla. After it had set, I sanded over the filled holes and dusted the area clean.

Then it was time to apply an undercoat. Because I want to use a lighter colour paint on the wall, I needed to apply an undercoat to cover up the green.


I did one coat on the wall, but there is still green showing through, so I will do another coat next weekend, then try out some test colours.

Related posts
Exciting Plans
Kitchen Benches and Cabinets
Visiting the Kitchen Designer
Second-Hand Kitchen Cabinets
Cabinets - tick

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Life Lessons from TJ

Julie recently posted about things she's learned from her dog. I thought it was a great idea and wanted to do something similar.

So, here are life lessons from TJ:

Turn your back on the scales

Exercise regularly

Eat healthy food

Along with a few treats

Sleep as much as you can

Value your friendships

Spend quality time with your loved ones

And enjoy everything life has to offer

Have you learned anything from a pet?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Treadmill Workout - Hills

Thought I'd share my favourite treadmill workout. It's a great one if you like hill walking.

Charlotte's Favourite Treadmill Workout
20 min +, medium intensity, long intervals

Walk on the treadmill at a brisk pace (almost hard to maintain). Each minute, increase your incline by 1% until you hit your max (at least 8%). Stay there for 2 min, then decrease by the same increments. Stay on the flat for 2 min and recover. Start again and repeat until you run out of time.

For example:
Start, incline 0
at 1:00, increase incline to 1
at 2:00, increase incline to 2
at 3:00, increase incline to 3
at 4:00, increase incline to 4
at 5:00, increase incline to 5
at 6:00, increase incline to 6
at 7:00, increase incline to 7
at 8:00, increase incline to 8
at 9:00, increase incline to 9
at 10:00, stay at 9
at 11:00, decrease incline to 8
at 12:00, decrease incline to 7
at 13:00, dcrease incline to 6
at 14:00, decrease incline to 5
at 15:00, decrease incline to 4
at 16:00, decrease incline to 3
at 17:00, decrease incline to 2
at 18.00, decrease incline to 1
at 19:00, decrease incline to 0
at 20:00, stay at 0
at 21:00, increase incline to 1 and repeat

If you give it a go, let me know what you think!

Do you have a favourite treadmill workout you'd be willing to share?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

New Shoes

It was an expensive weekend. In addition to kitchen cabinets, I also bought a new pair of Brooks running shoes. My favourites are Brooks Inspire, but unfortunately they are no longer being made. I've worn them to death but it was finally time to try something else, so on Saturday I went into the Brooks outlet store in Smith St, Collingwood and came home with a pair of Brooks Adrenaline.

Old Brooks Inspire

New Brooks Adrenaline

TJ doesn't care what shoes I wear - he just wants to walk!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Cabinets - tick

A couple of weeks ago I posted about our plans to buy second-hand kitchen cabinets for our kitchen renovation.

I'm excited to say that over the weekend we bought some cabinets via eBay. Here are some pics. We just bought the cabinets, not the benchtops, sink or any of the appliances.







They are solid timber cabinets that have been painted white. If I find the white is too hard to keep clean, at least I'll be able to sand the cabinets back or paint them a different colour. The cabinets are modular, so the layout can be reconfigured to suit our kitchen, which is more of a galley style. The kitchen will be taken apart for us, so we just have to pick it up (in a couple of weeks). All for the princely sum of $600. Gotta love eBay.


Related posts
Exciting Plans
Kitchen Benches and Cabinets
Visiting the Kitchen Designer
Second-Hand Kitchen Cabinets

Friday, March 18, 2011

What does your day look like?

In this post, Skwigg asks 'Suppose all of your goals are already achieved. You're in your happy weight range, eating your preferred way, looking great, exercising regularly but not excessively. What does your day look like? What do you wear? What's for breakfast? Do you workout?'

For me that day would look something like this:

On rising: weights/cardio at gym followed by a walk with TJ and Rob

Breakfast: oats, fruit and yoghurt

Work from home, in smart active wear
pic from Ads of the World

Morning tea: fruit toast, coffee

Lunchtime: walk to bakery to get a cape seed roll for my lunch. Fill it with avocado, smoked chicken, tomato, cucumber, alfalfa, lettuce. Follow it up with some fruit.

Afternoon tea: mix of sunflower seeds, almonds, flax seeds, yoghurt, raisins and grated apple

Dinner: marinated salmon skewers, rice, steamed veges

Supper: hot chocolate

I'd love to read about your ideal healthy day.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Workout of the Week

Rob is just getting over a cold. I've been fighting it off the last few days and while it hasn't come to anything yet (*touch wood*), I felt worn out after doing my warm-up yesterday, so decided to avoid the super sets and giant sets I've been doing lately in favour of straight sets.

Not-feeling-well Workout
rest 1-2 minutes between all sets
Chest press, 2 sets of 15 reps
Lat pulldown, 2 sets of 15 reps
Shoulder press, 2 sets of 15 reps
Stationery lunges, 2 sets of 15 reps (per leg)
Step-ups, 2 sets of 15 reps (per leg)
Crunches, 2 sets of 15 reps
Alternate leg/arm raise, 2 sets of 15 reps.

I can feel my glutes today, so I know that my workout was effective, even if it was short and sweet.

Do you workout if you are sick or feel like you are coming down with something?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Quick Barley & Oats review

Goodness Superfoods have recently put out a new range of cereals, including this barley and oats porridge

The packaging says it has 75% more fibre and 85% more beta-glucans than just oats (beta-glucans help lower cholesterol reabsorption) so I was keen to see what it was like.

The ingredients are Wholegrain Rolled Barley Flakes (51%) and Wholegrain Rolled Oat Flakes (49%). You can see the darker barley flakes mixed in with the oats

The cereal is quick-cooking, and only took about 4 minutes in our microwave.

I topped it with yoghurt

and peaches with banana & mango puree

Breakfast is ready!

The barley adds a slightly different flavour to the oats but it's hardly noticeable, especially when it's topped with cold, creamy yoghurt and sweet fruit

And it's definitely more filling than oats - bonus!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Win a Trip to Mexico to Take Photos for Lonely Planet

Like taking photos?
Like to travel?

Lonely Planet and Corona are currently running a photo competition. Just submit your best shot from where you’d rather be, and you could be in the running to win a trip to Mexico to take photos for the next edition of the Lonely Planet Mexico travel guide. Click here for details.

pic from Corona

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Gluten-Free Gnocchi

I was checking out the health-food section of Woolworths on Sunday and spotted a new product: gluten-free gnocchi. I really like gnocchi but don't bother making it at home as Rob (who is gluten intolerant) can't eat it. So when I saw the gluten-free gnocchi I couldn't resist putting it in my shopping trolley



I was going to pick up some meat for dinner on the way home tonight, but as I was walking into the supermarket I remembered that we had a packet of gnocchi in the pantry, and a little bit of bacon in the freezer, so I gave the meat section a miss and went to the cheese section instead to pick up some gorgonzola cheese. One of my favourite ways to have gnocchi is with gorgonzola sauce.

Gluten-Free Gnocchi with Gorgonzola Sauce
Makes 2 (large) serves

When I got home I defrosted the four slices of lean bacon and put a large pot of water on to boil.

I put a non-stick pan on the stove on medium heat and gave it a little spray of oil. While the pan was heating, I sliced the bacon thinly, then added it to the pan.

Once the bacon was lightly cooked, I added a cup of skim milk to the pan, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. In the meantime, I put a tablespoon of arrowroot (a gluten-free thickener) in the cup I measured out the milk with, adding a little more milk to make a thin paste. I also used a potato peeler to make zucchini ribbons.

By this stage the pot of water had come to the boil, so I added a bit of salt then poured the packet of gnocchi in.

The milk in the non-stick pan was simmering, so I poured in the arrowroot paste, stirring constantly as the mixture thickened. I added a few knobs of gorgonola to the sauce (probably about 40g), stirred it in, then turned the temperature down to low.

Once the gnocchi rose to the top of the pot (a couple of minutes), I drained them well and then added them to the gorgonzola sauce in the pan, giving the mixture a good stir.

I made a 'nest' of zucchini ribbons in each bowl, then poured half the gnocchi mixture into each, finishing off with some cracked black pepper and a sprinkle of grated parmesan cheese.


The gluten-free gnocchi was slightly heavier than regular potato gnocchi (as many gluten-free products are compared to their 'regular' counterparts) but they still had that al-dente texture that I love. Rob and I really enjoyed this meal. I would definitely buy this gnocchi again.

Do you like gnocchi? What's your favourite way to eat it?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Organic Skin-Care Products

My favourite skin-care products at the moment are by Mukti, an Australian company whose range contains 'only pure, high grade certified organic and 100% natural ingredients'.



The products I have tried so far are:

deodorant & body spray This is great. My husband started using mine so I knew it was effective - he often complains that deodorants don't stand up to the amount of exercise he does. It has a nice smell too.

tinted moisturiser with sunscreen - nano particle & chemical free I use this every day. It comes in a pump dispenser so it's easy to get the exact amount you want. It's light and non-greasy to apply, and it has a nice natural-looking tint.

buzz off balm I don't really like the thought of spraying chemicals all over myself to keep the mosquitoes away. This is an organic, chemical-free balm designed to repel insects. It has quite a strong citrus smell (its ingredients include Geranium, Eucalyptus, Orange, Lemon Scented Tea Tree, Citronella, Lemongrass, Lemon Myrtle & Peppermint) but it does a good job of keeping the bugs away.

tooth powder You dip a wet toothbrush into the powder to form a paste, then brush teeth as normal. Although the website states that the tooth powder is mild tasting, I found it quite salty to begin with. I'm used to it now, but I'm not sure I would buy this product again.

bath & shower gel This has a pleasant 'pink grapefruit' fragrance.

lemon myrtle hand wash This is very lemony! Once it runs out I'll probably use the bath & shower gel as hand wash.

botanique shampoo Unlike some other organic shampoos I've tried, this one actually lathers well, so I feel like I'm getting a good 'clean'.

botanique conditioner Leaves my hair soft and shiny.

For the rest of this week, Mukti has 15% off in honour of International Women's Day - see the voucher below for details.


What are your favourite skin-care products?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Second-Hand Kitchen Cabinets

A few weeks ago I blogged about our plans for a new kitchen (see related posts below). The main priorities for us are to take a couple of walls down to open up the space and let more light in. Because that is going eat up a large part of our renovation budget, we have decided to make compromises in other areas. Instead of having cabinets made for our kitchen, we are going to buy second-hand ones. I’ve been looking on a few different websites – ebay, Trading Post and Second Hand Kitchens Australia – with a particular set of criteria (needs to be oriented a certain way, fit within our measurements but not be cramped, have timber cabinets, not require us to dismantle it). Hopefully something suitable will come up!

What's your spending style? 'Must have it at any cost' or 'Must stick to the budget' or a mixture of both?

Related posts
Exciting Plans
Kitchen Benches and Cabinets
Visiting the Kitchen Designer

Monday, March 7, 2011

Autumn Fruit

We are lucky enough to have four apple trees in our back yard. Way back in October last year they started blossoming:

And now they are ready to pick:

We have granny smiths (above), golden delicious and two red varieties. Here's one of the red ones:

The rosellas have been enjoying them too - at least there are plenty of apples to go around!


We also have a nashi pear tree that's the same age as the apple trees. It produced little baby nashis but they didn't grow any further. The nashi has a much younger normal pear grafted onto it and that has produced a few pears so far.

There are some tree tomatoes (tamarillos) on the way too:

What do you have growing in your garden?

Friday, March 4, 2011

Friday Funnies

A Must Read for Pet Owners

The following was found posted very low on a refrigerator door.

Dear Dogs and Cats: The dishes with the paw prints are yours and contain your food. The other dishes are mine and contain my food. Placing a paw print in the middle of my plate and food does not stake a claim for it becoming your food and dish, nor do I find that aesthetically pleasing in the slightest.
______
The stairway was not designed by NASCAR and is not a racetrack. Racing me to the bottom is not the object. Tripping me doesn't help because I fall faster than you can run.
______
I cannot buy anything bigger than a king sized bed. I am very sorry about this. Do not think I will continue sleeping on the couch to ensure your comfort, however. Dogs and cats can actually curl up in a ball when they sleep. It is not necessary to sleep perpendicular to each other, stretched out to the fullest extent possible. I also know that sticking tails straight out and having tongues hanging out on the other end to maximize space is nothing but sarcasm.
______
For the last time, there is no secret exit from the bathroom! If, by some miracle, I beat you there and manage to get the door shut, it is not necessary to claw, whine, meow, try to turn the knob or get your paw under the edge in an attempt to open the door. I must exit through the same door I entered. Also, I have been using the bathroom for years - canine/feline attendance is not required.
_______
The proper order for kissing is: Kiss me first, then go smell the other dog's or cat's butt. I cannot stress this enough.

Thanks to Dad for directing me to the website where these jokes were found.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Lactose-free Yoghurt

Today Lia asked, 'What have you tried lately that’s been different and healthy?'.

I've been buying two Black Swan yoghurts:

Black Swan Vanilla Bean Greek Style Yoghurt
pic from The Pantry Review

and Black Swan Sweet and Natural Greek Style Breakfast Yoghurt (sorry, no pic)

Both products are sugar-free and free from artificial sweeteners but don't have that tart yoghurt taste that plain yoghurts can sometimes have. I enjoy eating them on their own or as a creamy topping on oats or mixed in with muesli. They also contain the enzyme lactase, making them lactose-free.

pic from The Pantry Review

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

March = Maintenance

I've had enough of being hungry. I feel like it's pointless avoiding starchy carbs at dinner only to eat cereal/toast before going to bed. So I'm going to eat more food (including starchy carbs at dinner) for a while. I'll be eating for health rather than weight loss. That will allow me to switch my focus to getting plenty of sleep (as mentioned in yesterday's post) and slowly increasing the volume of my training.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

March Goal

My goals for February were to get to bed by 9pm (for 5am get-up) and to drink a glass of water with every meal. I give myself 5/10 for my efforts. I was fine for the first and last weeks of the month, but terrible in the middle (which coincided with TOM, not training and eating crap). When it falls apart, it ALL seems to fall apart! I'm going to focus on just one goal this month (outside of my training and nutrition) and that is to be in bed by 9.30pm on Sun-Thurs (for 5.45 get-up the next day).