Since the last time I posted about our house renovation project, there have been a few things my parents progressed with. We have now floors on all levels! (insert clapping and sounds of cheers here)
It’s been a long time coming, as it’s a lot of work and needed a lot of coordination such as not to suddenly find yourself having to rip it all up again cause the concrete foundation for the new separation wall hadn’t been laid or new beams needed adding below the floor for the structural integrity of the house.
I’ve seen partly how a floor can change the feeling of a room. It’s been all open for such a long time and it is very odd to see how the house might actually look like when you can’t see the roof anymore from the cellar. So seeing photos of the final floor, where the living room will be, is such a motivation. I am sure more for my parents, than for me. It also means they can soon start with the roof… No pressure.
Aside from the wonderful wooden planks to be walked on without fear of ending up one level lower, we also now have a new entry door. The new hole for it hasn’t been built yet, but we’ve got a door to go wherever it needs to. It also cost us a lot less than what we’ve looked into, which I am so happy about. It is definitely worth looking into summer sales, if the quality matches what you’re looking for. With this door, we do need to add our own handles and door knocker, in fact, I can’t wait to browse around to find some nice unique, maybe even antique ones.
For the past few days, my mum has also been working on finishing the last bit of the wall, which, on your own, is quite the task. Each stone weighs 8 kilos times however many you need and you have to obviously get them from A to B. Then you need to mix 35kg bags of mortar every 6 brick stones or so (a lot of it ends up in a slurping move between said stones and existing wall). And then try that in 35°C plus heat.
Also some kudos to Hagen, who carried all the mortar bags from way below to the upper deck where they were needed. I sometimes think they have secret powers, or eat way too much spinach.
A couple of weeks ago, amongst all the travel preparations and house renovation organisation, I took a break and spent almost the entire day trying out drawing with ink and bamboo pens.
The bamboo pens were hand carved by Kate Moby from bamboo grown by herself and came in three different sizes. I first came across her about 4 years ago and fell in love with her owl and her style and have since purchased many other animals to give them a home. Though I never really thought about trying to draw with bamboo pens and ink myself.
After evolving my own style last year, I wanted to try something new to break out of the minimalist shell, so I thought, why not this, with even more colour and unconventional combinations. I didn’t quite know what the effect would be drawing with bamboo pens, instead of let’s say brushes and ink, or how easy/difficult it would be to draw since the pens only hold so much ink at a time. I’d like to think that I got into my own style quite quickly (only took me a load of watermelons and different types of paper) but I’d like to try out different ways of using ink, either less diluted or even more diluted.
I am not quite sure what my fascination with birds is, but for some reason I keep coming back to them. I guess I like how versatile they can be in terms of expressions and characters they can take on in a drawing or photo.
I am chuffed with how the ‘I’iwi (Scarlet Honeycreeper from Hawai’i) turned out.
The camel was a bit more of a challenge. I drew a camel before, but I think it was lacking character. I am happier with these two and also the colour combinations I tried out, though this one is a cheeky, tricky animal that needs a bit more practice capturing.
I had some very ripe and brown bananas left, so I decided to make something banana-ish that would be a nice treat. I was considering doing cookies but felt more tempted by muffins, as I also had some dark chocolate left over. And since I’ve also got other things that needed using up in my cupboard before we go travelling, it was a perfect fit.
What you need
- 3 overripe bananas
- 2 flax eggs (2tbsp flax + 6 tbsp water)
- 250g flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 4 tbsp coconut oil
- 120g sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp salt
- chocolate chips
Add the flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl and add the other, wet, ingredients in a medium-sized bowl and mix it well.
Mash the bananas so it becomes a paste. It does look a bit odd but try to ignore.
Then add the mashed banana to the wet mixture and blend it well. I like using a spatula. That way you can really scrape all the mixture off of the sides. Once you’ve got a nice wet mixture, make a little well in the middle of the dry mixture and slowly add the wet mixture to it, stirring it in.
If you are adding chocolate chips, this is the stage to fold them into the dough.
Also, dark chocolate is technically a fruit, right?
Cat intermission. Not to worry, the dough was saved at that point, not that she would eat it.
Once the cat has left to hunt pigeons in the garden, line your cupcake tin or grease it with oil. Then add the mixture bit by bit into the moulds. I like to use a tablespoon and a teaspoon. I scoop with the tablespoon and then help the mixture into the cupcake holder with the teaspoon to avoid any spillage.
Bake it in the oven for about 20 minutes at 175 degrees Celsius. Do check in and do a test with a toothpick or something else to see if any dough sticks.
And then of course, dig in. Maybe even keep it for a breakfast treat. It’s got banana in after all.
Today marks 1 month until we’ll hopefully sit on a plane to Indonesia. My inner state is split between “ARGH” and “EXCITING”, and I occasionally go through periods of “shit, what are we doing?” especially when packing things up. It’s been all about packing the past couple of weeks. I started slowly with a box of books. Then I realised that I might as well just do as much as I can to take the pressure off, and ended up packing all books, taking down the shelving unit and whipped out our suitcases to crack on with clothes we don’t currently wear and need.
Once the packing itch caught me, I cracked on with drawings, pictures and paintings. Everything looks a bit naked now. Once all our plants were gone, I already thought that it felt odd but now all what makes a home homier is gone. I also realised, that we don’t actually have that much. Every time I’d scan our selection of packing boxes, I question whether we’ll fill them all. I guess it is a good problem to have. It would be slightly more hair-pulling-panic-inducing, if I walked around trying to find more flat-packed cardboard.
I had packed already so much this past week, that boxes started to pile up in the living room. Considering that we still have to live here for another 3 weeks without jumping at the shadows in the middle of the night whilst going to the toilet or bumping your legs and feet every 5 minutes, I figured we need to re-jig things around the flat. So that is what we did yesterday. Husband in tow, I explained my vision (I clearly have thought very long and hard about it!).
We still have a load of packing boxes left, which I assume will now mostly be for the kitchen and other bits and bobs. Also, our suitcases aren’t even full. We can easily add what we’re currently using but not taking with us in there, which feels very reassuring.
About a week ago, we also test packed for the first time. Plan is to do another round this week when we’ve got some more missing bits. I think we’re on track and don’t actually have that much. Revisiting and revising the packing list definitely helped and also thanks to all the feedback we’ve received. I uploaded the latest packing list in the packing list post.
Here’s a little compilation of Instagram stories I did over the past couple of weeks.
I’ve been fancying that new cookie Prêt A Manger has been doing but for some reason you can’t get it anywhere these days. My local one is always out and the other day when I passed by a staff person said they’re revising the recipe.
So I’ve been scouring the web for something I can make that will temporarily fill the void of the perfect cookie lost in reinvention.
I am in no disillusion that what I’ve created today is a near enough replacement, but it is yummy still and did the job. Also, I ended up baking a load though I just wanted ONE cookie. Who am I kidding, I had 2. Might go for another one after dinner.
For anyone wanting to bake some delicious cookies. They really don’t take long to make.
What you need
- 2 flax eggs (2 tbsp ground flax seeds and 6 tbsp water. Leave for 15 min.)
- 125g almond butter
- 3 tbsp coconut oil
- 60ml maple syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 60g sugar
- 140g flour
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 2 tbsp cocoa powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 100g dark chocolate chips
How to make them (about 15 cookies)
- Pre-heat the oven to 175°C.
- Mix in the dry ingredients in one bowl. Set aside.
- Mix in the wet ingredients in a bigger bowl (not yet the choc chips) and mix the almond butter well so it is all smooth.
- Bit by bit, add the dry ingredients to the wet batter until it is all mixed together.
- Stir in the chocolate chips.
- Scoop little balls onto a baking tray with baking paper and press them down a little.
- Bake for 12-15 minutes at 175°C.