Wednesday 26 March 2014

Project Owner build - Pre start part two

Part two?! 
I know we are still on the topic of pre-start but as with any big project success is all in the planning. 

pinterest board

build planner

My organised chaos and how we like to plan. Completely old school with an actual real live pin board (take that Pinterest). You might also notice it was my birthday the other day I turned 25 for the fourth year in a row. 

As we are hoping to minimize the disruption to the rest of the house and continue living here while the build is going on it has been really important that we have the house prepared so that can happen. If you are planning your own major renovation project whether you can remain in the house or not should definitely be considered as the cost of possibly renting short term elsewhere can get expensive and eat into your budget.

One of the first things everyone tells you when you start an owner build renno no matter how big or small is make sure you get at least 3 quotes before you decide on anything... 
OK cool we can do that, it sounds easy enough RIGHT??

Well it turns out it's not always as straight forward or easy as you might think. Particularly if you live in a town that is rapidly growing and build works are happening everywhere. Chasing quotes and getting tradespeople to follow through with site visits has been had work. We can go weeks between sending the plans through for a quote to hearing back, sometimes we don't hear back at all 

So.... damn..... annoying.....

Chatting to a friend who happens to have a building company (building amazing homes sadly wayyyy out of our price range), she offered some interesting insight into why it is so hard to get quotes. Apparently a trades person will more than likely always favor a bigger repeat customer (a professional builder or building company)over a smaller one time job with a little guy like us. Smaller guys like owner builders also want a fixed up front price for the job (for obvious reasons) but as we are quickly learning this is hard to do as there can be so many unknowns that pop up along the way and blow out the time frame. OK that's fair enough, they have got to look out for their bigger clients first as they are the ones who keep the paycheck rolling in week to week and we probably drive them crazy with our need to exact fixed pricing. Still this doesn't really help us out too much in the meantime.

This unfortunately has been a big reason for delays in our start up but we have learnt a few things along the way that I wanted to share.

1. Make sure your plans are ready to go with detailed drawings and info on the project (asking for a general quote without the specifics will most likely get you a complete non response)

2. Persevere with getting several quotes, even if it pushes your timeline out further. We had one quote for steel we thought was quite good only to have one come in at the 11th hour that is MUCH better - like a few 1000$ better.

3. Go with your instincts about a trades person/ trade company if they seem disinterested, if they cancel quoting site visits, if they don't return your calls in a reasonable time frame etc you probably don't want to work with them. 

4. Total contradiction for point 3 but SOMETIMES if you have a good recommendation for someone, they may be worth pursuing to get in for a job, keep calling them back until they get back to you. This was the case with our site surveyor, he was hard to get a hold of and initially said he was too busy but he was a lot cheaper than the other surveying companies out there and actually did a great job for us (clearly those are the reasons he is so busy)

5. If you are fortunate enough to get some great trades on your job ask them for recommendations for other complementary trades you might need. A lot of these contractors work together on the same jobs so know who they like to work with. Our concrete polisher recommended a concreting company who we are now using. They are not the cheapest (or the most expensive) but they were the most professional and clearly take pride in the work they do. As the flooring is a big part of our budget we want it to look amazing.

6. If you want things to run smoothly (and this could be a no brainer sorry) make sure that you have all your major starting trades scheduled in locked and loaded BEFORE you start smashing down walls. 

Now down to the fun bit of demolition! Here is a little sneaky peak of whats been going on...

Next up I will be writing about the demolition process and how to minimize stress when you are renovating

Dani xo

Friday 21 March 2014

StraightGrain Hanami Dresses

Straightgrain Hanami

Whenever I'm looking for something new to sew for the little girls I seem to be a complete sucker for something a little vintage. My latest hunt saw me looking for something with a peterpan collar which I think looks just too sweet on little girls, what I found was the Hanami dress by StraightGrain patterns.

Truth be told I am embarrassed by how long it took me to finish these. Not due to the pattern makers fault but my own bite-of-more-than-I-can-chewitis. I had these cuties cut up and ready to sew since November eek! They were supposed to be Christmas dresses but Little B was going through a "I don't like any colour but pink" moment and this is honestly the most festive looking fabric she would agree to.

I was also feeling a little guilty about the fact that I have made my girls matching dresses, something I never thought I would do HOWEVER word on the street is this is totally ok (plus Little B just loves matching her sister).

Straightgrain Hanami dress
Straightgrain Hanami dress

I liked that I was forced to revisit the invisible zipper here, I'm not great at them but  it did occur to me I am never going to be any good at them unless I keep practicing. In the end I am actually pretty happy with my efforts here.

As Ally isn't walking yet confidently I have taken her dress right up for now but there is plenty of hem to let it out once she gets her baby waddle down pat. I was thinking of doing a bit of a mash up of the Hanami and the Tinkerbelle romper from Felicity sewing patterns to make it a little more crawling bub friendly but thought it might be better to master the pattern on its own first.

Hanami dress

I really liked the Hanami dress by StraightGrain patterns, and B likes wearing it (Ally was just as happy to get around naked) so I think this one is a winner yay!

hanami dress
hanami dress
Hanami dress

I'm feeling a little sad right now as this could well be the last sewing project for some time while my little sewing space is a demolition zone SIGH but I have a great plan! I am going to teach myself how to crochet! I may even make a nice blanket for the couch or some cute winter hats or some new undies (kidding). Anyhow lesson number one is right HERE if you are interested (yay again for Pip Lincolne!)

Dani xo

P.S If you have any pattern recommendations I would LOVE to hear about them!

Thursday 13 March 2014

Roast Pumpkin and coconut soup

Maybe this doesn't sound that appetizing to some but man it tastes good! It's probably a bit crazy to be making soup here in the West Coast right now as even though officially we are into Autumn it is still totally summer here but I just love this soup and like to eat it anytime of year. 

To make the basic soup you need just a few main ingredients...

1 butternut Pumpkin
1 tin of coconut cream
grated ginger (fresh is best) about a 1/2 thumbs worth (if I had to guess I would say about 5 or so grams)
a generous pinch of salt (or you can use veg stock)\
2 cups boiling water

If you like it a little spicy by all means feel free to add in some fresh chopped chilli

cut the pumpkin into 1/2 and scoop it out.
lay it face down into a oven tray lined with baking paper and turn the oven onto 180 degrees Celsius

Cook that sucker for 1-1/2 hours until its tender and the skin is blistering

Once the pumpkin is cool enough to touch scoop out the flesh into a saucepan, add in the coconut cream, boiling water grated ginger and blitz it with a stick mix. Add in the salt and pepper to your taste

Serve it hot with a coriander and chilli garnish if you like and enjoy

Yum yum, I'm off to eat some soup!

Dani x

This post was written as part of a blogging challenge devised by  Polka Dots & Frocks for the Blog With Pip alumni. This cue “…but it tasted good” is hosted by heikeherrling blog. To read the other great entries, please visit here.

Tuesday 11 March 2014

A cup of tea with me

Well hello there! This is my very last  Blog with Pip class post which has now sadly come to it's end. For those who have been following along for a while welcome back!! Those who may have clicked on my blog through Meet me at Mikes thanks for coming to visit I really hope you can stop by again sometime x

I thought instead of a bunch of Q & A's to tell you a little more about myself I would tell you a story. So help yourself to a cup of tea and grab a seat.

When I was a little girl, I lived far far away from where I live now in a big old house that was once a nunnery. It was so majestic and grand in my eyes, and spread over three levels. The top of which I was completely terrified to venture onto.

At some point in time before I was old enough to remember, I am certain that one of my many older cousins would have told me that the top floor was haunted by something terrible. Looking back now it was most likely a good ploy on their part to keep the pesky little Dani from trying to hang with the big kids.
For a long time it completely worked.

While we lived in this old house, my mother being the enterprising woman that she is set up a bed and breakfast which due to a combination of her delicious breakfasts and some fabulous luck quickly became a great success. During the tourist season of our little town, we always had a full house of fascinating strangers coming and going. I can be sure this is where my curious and questioning nature grew from. As I grew so too did my curiosity and most importantly for the story, my bravado.

One day while my mum was occupied elsewhere, and our newest batch of guests were out for the day I made a bold move.

Swallowing my fears I ran up those stairs
                                                                            to the top.

Once there with my heart racing, the next obvious step was to go into the guest rooms to have a look around....

I will stop here to apologize before I continue to anyone that may have ever stayed with us back in the late 80's I really didn't mean any harm going through all of your stuff I just thought you were super interesting and I was also so incredibly nosy SORRY!!

So now I wasn't scared of ghosts on the top floor and I had a new and exciting hobby YAY!!

All of this excitement came to a crashing halt one fateful day. I had become pretty brazen and had crept upstairs while several guests sat around in the guest lounge. That day I made an exciting discovery in an elderly lady travelers room.

Something I don't think I had ever seen before, I could only assume it was some kind of exotic hat.

It was lovely and had lace and interesting straps maybe a little confusing as it had a place for two heads not one, but I really felt I could pull it off. So overcome with pride of my risque fashion and certain I looked completely fabulous.

The only decent thing to do would be to strut my butt down those stairs shouting
to the room full of people....

My fashion debut came to a crushing halt that day as my mortified mother ripped the giant brassiere of my head and quickly returned it to an equally mortified elderly woman. Sadly my adventures up the stairs ended that same day.

The End (but not really)

That's me front and centre of the town playgroup float next to my doll Princess Carrot Nose

25 something years later, I am (mostly) all grown up and rarely wear bras on my head however some things will never change. I still have a pretty overactive imagination. I still believe in ghosts - there may be one living in my laundry. I want to know everything about everyone and love to hear stories about others misadventures. I read stories, books, blogs, the news until I can't keep my eyes open any longer at night and I am still an unashamed show pony.

I often think back to that beautiful old house I once lived in. I felt so safe and happy there, I thought it was fun, beautiful, grand and exciting. So now I am also a dreamer, one day I might be able to recapture that magic in my own home for my family.

Little me (age three) outside the front of our  bed and breakfast

So if you are feeling up to it and would like to indulge me I would absolutely LOVE to have a stickybeak into who you are! Do you have a funny story of your childhood, a special memory or a blog of your own you want to share with me? Don't be shy share your story/ link below!

Dani xo

Monday 3 March 2014

Homemade marshmallows

homemade marshmallow recipe

Why on earth would I make homemade marshmallows? That it the question that Mr DD asked me when I told him what I had been up to while the girls were sleeping. My answer because I wanted to, the recipe sounded fun and I am sure they will taste soooo much better than the shop bought ones.

Guess what? They taste 1000 x better plus you get the brag factor of "oh yeah I just whipped up my own marshmallows". I also had a lot of special requests to share my recipe so I would hate to disappoint.

Here is my recipe for Pink strawberry Marshmallows adapted from a recipe by Donna Hay, don't be scared, if you have a mixer it is actually quite easy to make them yourself.

**You will definitely need a mixer and a sugar/candy thermometer to make these, the thermometer if you don't have one already can be found at any kitchen store and are not too expensive.

Pink Strawberry Marshmallows

1/2 cup hot water
2 TBS of powdered gelatin

1 1/2 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup extra water
2/3 cup glucose syrup
pink food colour
1 tsp strawberry oil

For dusting
1/2 cup icing sugar
1 TBS cornflour


In your mixing bowl combine 1/2 cup hot water and gelatin and mix well so there are no lumps

Add 1 1/2 cup caster sugar, glucose and extra water and add to a saucepan over medium heat until it comes to the boil. Put your candy thermometer in and leave the mixture without stirring on the heat until it hits 115 degrees Celsius this can take up to 8 mins

Turn your mixer on using the beater attachment (I have a kenwood which I put onto the medium) and carefully pour the hot sugar mix into the bowl.

Turn the speed all the way up and add in a few drops of colouring to get the desired colour and the strawberry oil.

Keep your mixer running for 7-8 minus until the sugar and gelatine mixture becomes very light fluffy and has cooled right down.

While you are waiting on the mixer to finish, line a 20cm x 20 cm tin with grease proof paper and give the inside a light spray.

When your marshmallow is ready it will be very light and fluffy looking and have very little movement when you lift up the beaters.

Working quickly spoon the mixture into the greased tin, smooth over with a spatula.

Cover the top over with another square of grease proof paper that has been lightly sprayed with oil and leave in the fridge to set.It will need at least an hour to set properly

Sift the icing sugar and cornflour to combine into a bowl

When it is set carefully tip it out onto a cutting board dusted with the icing sugar and cornflour mixture cut into squares with a hot knife and put the squares into the dusting mixture.
** As the set marshmallow will be really sticky you may want to keep running the knife under hot water and keep your hands dusted with the icing sugar mixture.

Allow the marshmallow to come back to room temperature before serving and enjoy!

homemade marshmallows, strawberry marshmallow recipe

Just as a side note, I have been experimenting with creating a Chocolate marshmallow recipe, yes I said CHOCOLATE marshmallows, whilst they are completely delicious they were a little too ugly to photograph so I will be tweeking the recipe a little to get them to perfection before I share!

Dani xo

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