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Monday, November 28, 2011

Christmas....its nearly here...ahhhhhh!

Do I look ready??!!

So I am feeling the Christmas craziness descending on will not. I intend to be organised. Yes. Organised. Are you listening to yourself Mrs PTF??

No last minute mad dashes to the shopping centres walking around aimlessly in a daze buying crap nice, well thought out, meaningful gifts for someone when you can't even remember if you've already bought them something or not.

No more staying up till midnight making christmas stockings for your 5 siblings and mother and father and crying because you cut the beautiful material the wrong way for your own stocking. (Ok so that was ages a while ago.....but the scars are still there...)

No more ruining your nice ikea display unit by sticking Christmas ornaments on each shelf and then letting the candle light melt the sticky tape and ruin the finish on the shelves.....sorry bout that Mr PTF.

No more going nuts making six...SIX plum puddings....what were you thinking? Did it help enhance your Christmas experience, or fill you with Yuletide glee? No. Enough said.

So before I embark on my Christmas pilgrimage to Ikea (and there will be one Mr PTF, just putting it out there), before I become ensconced in gorgeous handmade christmas ornaments up to my eyeballs, or get carried away cooking up a storm and attempting to create the worlds biggest gingerbread house.....

I shall.......

  • Stop and think about the real meaning of Christmas 
  • Focus on making and enjoying special family moments (rather than six plum puddings)
  • Think of ways to make Christmas special for others who don't have the means to
  • Write a heck of alot of lists....its the only way to keep me from having a meltdown.
  • Attempt to keep things in proportion (you see I do listen to you sometimes Mr PTF)
  • Get creative and make rather than buy things for people....when possible... 
I will definitely be showing you our decorated house soon....when I get to decorating it that is. I may even have to take you for a walk down our street and show you some of the hilarious houses all lit up by their owners who go nuts plastering lights and other Christmas paraphernalia all over (I kid you not)

So that is it for me right now.

You must check this out for the real meaning of Christmas. Sooooo cute.
The Christmas Story

Have a lovely day and hopefully you can enjoy the Christmas Season and not let the craziness get to you.....I am determined it shall NOT get to me.No. Not one little bit!

xo Rachel

Sunday, November 27, 2011

On how NOT to do a Garage Sale

Our disastrous Garage Sale

So a little while ago we thought we would have a garage sale to get rid of some stuff, clear out the very cluttered garage and maybe make a bit of moulah on the side. Well, that's what we thought anyway.
Clearly we were wrong.
We made about $100 after taking out the $25 for the add in the paper. We worked like trojians leading up to the big event and we stayed 'open'  the whole day in hopes of getting rid of our junk treasure at bargain prices. We didn't.

So perhaps I shall tell you our sad little story right back from the beginning.....

About 3 weeks before we were to have our awesome garage sale, our lovely neighbour had a garage sale at her house. I actually bought all my plants for the driveway from her (loving them by the way). She did hers to raise money for Missions in developing countries and after her garage sale we were talking and she mentioned she still had so much stuff to sell. I unwittingly mentioned that we were having one in about 3 weeks and she would be welcome to come over to our place and sell some of her things at ours. No said she, she would just sell her stuff in her garage on the same day. I was a little taken aback however I just smiled and nodded and I mean what could I really say?No? Of course not. So I told her the dates and she was all set to do her own garage sale on the same day as ours.

We got things all organised and cleaned out the garage, sorted clothing, priced, labelled arranged and fluffed around a bit. I had the crazy idea to sell our crystal cabinet, which meant the night before the garage sale I had to pack all the wine glasses and my rather extensive range of tea cups away. At least we have packed some boxes in anticipation of the move though so in my mind it was a double gain.

Mr PTF being the organised, clever man he is, printed out and laminated some signs and put them up all over the neighbourhood in anticipation of the crowds we would attract to our amazing sale.

The big day arrived, we woke up early and got ourselves together. We had advertised in the paper that we would start our sale at 8:30am. However when we opened our curtains to look out, we saw people coming and going from our neighbour's house.
Mr PTF informed me of this as I stumbled out of bed. "Rach, our neighbour is doing a roaring trade over there...I think she's pipped us to the post"
He was right.
Right from the start we had not a hope in hades of competing. She was raking them in. She had started her sale at the ungodly hour of 6:00am. Her garage was closer to the street than ours, so people would go straight to hers before seeing ours. In fact I would say, confusion was the flavour of the day. People would see all her goods out on display and then see our sign and would stand there deliberating over which house was having a garage sale and which one they would go to first.

They went to hers.

People that did come to ours seemed to feel the need to comment on the steepness of our driveway...I am not sure what they were expecting us to do about that.

They also felt fairly free to haggle and haggle us down over every item. Now I myself am a self-confessed haggler, but really, some of these people. A brand new Sunbeam electric kitchen knife still in its box with manuals for $15 we eventually brought it down to $10....a lady felt inclined to haggle it to $8....I remained firm." No. $10 is fair" I said. "Its brand new in its box." The lady looked at me with raised eyebrows and informed me, "you can buy them new at Kmart for $15." I calmly reminded her that it is brand new. I felt like saying....."well go and buy one from Kmart then." However, I remained cool and collected. We stared at each other for a little minute and she reluctantly handed over the $10 with pursed lips. I gave her a watery smile and she turned on her heel and left.

It was like this all day. Mr PTF was haggled down over a brand new computer modem. He had it for $5 and then gave in to a man who informed him he would buy it for $1 no more.

Next door....a plethora of people coming and going, talking and laughing.....
I turned up our radio with some classic hits.....loud

We hung up a zillion balloons all up the driveway (much to little O's delight)
We had our 'goods and wares' attractively presented in nice baskets and on picnic bench seats
We moved our furniture out of the nicely arranged garage progressively down the driveway to try and lure the public up our supposedly steep drive.
We hung shirts and clothing up high, some even made it along the driveway fence
We greeted people with friendly smiles, Mr PTF even gave the odd joke.
We turned the music up louder

Nothing worked.
We were somewhat deflated, just like our balloons up the driveway. I vasilated between mildly frustrated, ticked off,  and irate, to a giggling/blubbering mess at the hilarity of it all on Mr PTF's shoulder.

Our neighbour was happy. 
She made $300.

To top it all off, when we went round during the day to see how it was all going, she informed us it wasn't for missions, this garage sale of hers. She was just wanting to make a bit of money.
She did.
Good on her.
We will probably never have another garage sale again.
Or if we do, we will most likely not offer our services to her again. She didn't need them.
So there you go, how Not to have a garage sale.

Better go, I need to do a couple of trips to the thrift store to umm, get rid of some stuff.
xo Rachel

Perhaps these scenes from our trip to Europe will help to ease the pain of our disastrous garage sale....

Thursday, November 24, 2011

My 'Thrifting Compulsion' me!!!!

I've got it bad!

So...I have a bit of a problem...
I just lurrrrrrrrrve to go treasure hunting in 'op-shops,' however I think I will call them 'thrift stores' from now on. To me it just sounds better. Don't know why. OR maybe even the phrase 'to go '' (that is my new word... I think) to me the phrase 'to look for bric-a-brac' is so much more appealing, it has a cutesy sound to it maybe...

Anyway, so back to my problem....I can't seem to resist looking for old plates, cups, bowls, glasses.... actually it has now extended to cutlery and old egg beaters and not to mention old linens, vintage children's books or materials.

 I mean, I already have an old set of egg beaters (courtesy of Mr PTF's grandma....I persuaded her I 'needed' them. I did..) and yet, I am still drawn to all these things. I already have a rather large stash of blue and white china and floral tea cups... but does that stop me? I am afraid not.

There are numerous reasons why I should not indulge in this obsession.....
We are moving house.
Our new house does not have that much storage.
I am running out of boxes (and so far all I have been packing is china....and I am not half done in that department.....)
We are supposedly saving our moulah so we can pay off Pear Tree Farm.
The people at the store are probably beginning to recognize me and that is kinda awkward.
Mr PTF continually raises his eyebrows at me and my 'treasure' (actually, this has never put me off and probably never will so it probably doesn't count does it...)

Nevertheless there I am, often on my hands and knees trawling through crates of china and cutlery, boxes of books... unable to resist the urge to 'just have a quick peek.'

But enough about my guilt....don't you want to have a look at all my bargains?! I'm sure I heard you say yes.

Bargain number 1.

A beautiful cut glass bowl.

 I am thinking it would look gorgeous with some roses floating in it as a centre piece or even some tealight candles....mmm!

Bargain number 2.

A faded blue-handled set of egg beaters

Now my justification for buying these egg beaters, (despite already having a pair) is that I was not going to buy them for me you must understand. I was buying them...for a know.......mmm just have to think of who?
I must tell you a bit more about them though. I had gone in to the thrift store under the guise of dropping off a whole bunch of clothing that had not sold at our disastrous garage sale (more about that another time). However I could not help but notice this beauty in the window. I saw the price was $10 and to me that was not bargain I asked the lady kindly if she 'didn't think that was a bit much?" to which she replied she thought that was "maybe a bit cheap dear" as she was sure she had seen a pair for $30..."They are quite collectable now, didn't you know?" drat the woman....she was onto me! She then said she would have to ask the manager. He went on about how these wretched beaters dated right back to the 1940s....I was not convinced. I said I had seen a pair for $8 and would he take that for them. He agreed and even took another whole 50 cents off the total price of all my 'finds'...ah I could kiss him....not really.

Anyway on to bargain number three

Bargain number 3.

A gorgeous white serving dish with scalloped edges....think that's what I love most about this one. Plus its 'whiteness' and not to mention the lovely little embossed pattern around the edges. sigh.

Bargain number 4.

Ok so this one is not exactly vintage...but I still have a place in my heart for it....maybe not in my cupboard...but definitely in my heart.

Bargain number 5.

Love these 1950's (I think?) tea cups. My mother-in-law came round one afternoon recently and we sipped tea from them together and we had such a lovely time. She told me they took her straight back to afternoon teas with her relatives when she was a girl. They are really just plain-jane  Johnson and Johnson tea cups but I still think they are sweet.

So there you have it... 'thrifting' or '' (which ever term floats your boat)
my one weakness. Hahaha!

Have a lovely afternoon.
 I am off to thrash Mr PTF on the tennis courts.....did you hear that Mr PTF? Thrash you!!!!

See you soon,
xo Rachel

Monday, November 21, 2011

On our trip to the 'Big Smoke'

If I were a City Girl...I would.....

So as I mentioned in the last post, we went to Melbourne last week. We stayed in Carlton on Lygon Street for a whole week.
 As I walked the streets of Melbourne I couldn't help but think....If I were a City Girl....what would I do? Where would I shop...have a coffee with my groceries?

 So I thought you might like to come for a little walk around the city with Mrs Pear Tree Farm.

Just a little walk, to the places she liked most. To see the things that caught her eye....and believe me there were quite a few!
So here we go....are you ready??

If I were a City Girl I would most likely spend a lot of my time.... here

A gorgeous shop full of stationary and other lovely bits and hard to resist!!

If I were a City Girl I would probably have to have one of these to ride around the city and fill my basket with lots of fresh produce and other essentials.

Or perhaps I would need to scoot round in one of these? 

I probably wouldn't want one of these....much to Mr PTF's relief I am sure!

Maybe I would have to jump on one of these instead!

If I were a City Girl I think I would enjoy a walk in the Carlton Gardens....wouldn't you?

And watch my little girl do this

And this

If I were a City Girl and you were walking around the city with me, I would have to treat you to some gelati here and you would most likely beat me at Chess.

Maybe I would take Little O here....for some 'culture'

If I were a City Girl I think I could be pretty happy shopping here

Or here

If I were a City Girl I would totally buy my pasta here.....for a special occasion that is....or else Mr PTF would have words with me.

Maybe I would buy my bread here

Maybe if I was a City Girl, I would get my Fish and Chips here.... I could I not??!

Then maybe I would need to stop here for a drink or a florentine? You refresh myself.

Or maybe sit out in the sun and watch people walking by here

If I lived in the City I would have to go here.

 I have always wanted to do a short cooking school and this one was calling to me every day this week as I walked past longingly. Unfortunately I didn't get to go in and have a look at all the produce they had advertised on the sign out front.

I popped in to this gorgeous old and rambling bookstore and I think if I were a City Girl, I could well and truly lose myself in here

If I was a City Girl I would most likely take Little Miss O to Readings book store and let her play here

I would also be very inclined to buy most of the children's books on the gorgeous!

If I were a City Girl I think I would miss seeing this

And this

And I would probably want to have plenty of  room to grow these

So that Little Miss O could do this

I love the city and I had a great time just pottering around the streets and sighing over many of the cafes, gourmet produce and fine foods stores. However the other part of me was so very happy to come home to 'The Country' to our cosy little home with our garden and vegie patch and most of all the peace and quiet that surrounds us here. I wouldn't change it really.

xo Rachel

I'm Back!

Hello Again!
Phew I have been flat out lately and have been away from home for a week, so have not been able to post anything. I am realising I have a bit of catching up to do and to follow through with some of my promises. So here I go!

On getting fit and fine as......mmm.....perhaps I should leave it there...oh dear.
I am afraid to report that apart from a fairly long daily walk last week, the leg lifts, sit ups and what not did not get done at all as religiously as I would have hoped....oh dear oh dear oh dear. Tut tut!
 The week before I was doing really well but then last week we went away to Melbourne and stayed on Lygon street...hence my unravelling in more ways than just exercising....I mean, Lygon Street... good food, shopping, cafes...restaurants galore, how was I to avoid all of that?!

But today is Monday again and I can start afresh! I am feeling pretty good with all the exercising and the walking has been so great. Pushing that pram up and down the hills were we live is a great challenge! So this week I will get those running shoes on and get going. Am thinking of wearing the pedometer in the photo above to help me stay motivated to get to 10,000 steps per day (the recommended amount to stay fit and lose weight). Will keep you posted on my progress!

Now on to Thankyou Water.....I meant to post about it awhile ago and never did. Oops!
Thankyou Water  is an awesome initiative run by young Australians to provide clean water for developing countries such as Kenya and Cambodia. They sell bottled water labelled Thankyou Water and they use 100% of the profits made by selling this water here in Australia, to supply clean drinking water for developing countries. How wonderful is that?! I lurrve it and am keen to support it.

Unfortunately it is not sold at major supermarkets yet but hopefully in the near future it will be. It is currently sold at 7 eleven stores and other cafes. You can go to their website Thankyou Water  and find a store located near you if you want to purchase a bottle or two or three! So keep your eyes pealed!
A Kenyan woman

There was a segment awhile ago about Thankyou Water on the 7pm project and also on Sunrise, (for all those in Australia) and they interviewed the founders of the organisation. You can watch the interview here: as it explains it all better than I can and is really interesting.

So there you go. Something I am passionate about and keen to support. Hope you can find a bottle of Thankyou Water in a store near you!

I better go for now though as my little O is up and ready for some dinner! I will write soon about my happenings last week!

xo Rachel

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Cooking and Whatnot

My attempts at being a Domestic Goddess

So I love to cook and experiment in the kitchen most days. On the other days I find I just cannot be bothered to cook anything or be creative in the kitchen and would so much rather Mr PTF took over that department. There is certainly nothing Nigella Lawson about me I am afraid. But on the most days I lurrrve to play around in the kitchen and I find a great sense of achievement when I accomplish a delish dish 'from scratch'!

I have to say I have the most excellent crowd to practice on too. Mr PTF will gobble most things up with relish...I kid you not ("'Oh! cornflakes!....yum!" I'm serious...he will often say such things....or "Mmmm, peanut butter on toast...yummm!") Not the most discerning palate I grant you...however as he is always so complimentary to my cooking,  I feel I cannot complain too much on this score.Then there is my dear little O, who also gobbles up most things, smacking her lips and grinning at me...although Chicken Cacciatore the other night might have been a bit ambitious on my part....

Anyway, I thought I would include some of the recipes we can't live without. They are old favourites, some of them made up, lots of them adapted or should I say 'improved?' and lots of them are handed down from my mum and both my lovely grandmas. Here is recipe number one!

Easy-as, Healthy-as, go to Fruit Loaf

1 cup Self raising flour
 (I prefer a wholemeal flour or even spelt as it has a nice nutty flavour)
1 cup of bran 
(however I prefer to use half a cup of almond meal and half a cup of LSA (linseed, soy                           and almond mix instead)
1 cup mixed dried fruit
 (I do 1/3 a cup of dried apricots, 1/3 cup of dried dates, 1/3 cup of dried                                    cranberries....however you could go wild and add whatever fruit tickles your fancy)
1 cup milk
1/4 cup of raw sugar
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt

Mix everything together and plonk into a loaf tin....or if you want to do something a little different, use a proper nut loaf tin!

I found one up in the Dandenongs at a vintage cookbook shop.... cute, I wanted to stay there and bake something right there on the spot and I so could have bought up all the vintage cookie cutters! Just as well Mr PTF was there to stop me.

Anyway...back to my fruit loaf...Bake this gorgeous fruit loaf in the oven on 180 degrees C for about 20mins or so or until the knife comes out clean (my fav testing technique)
You just have to be careful not to over cook it otherwise it can be dry, that's why I usually test it with a knife before its due to come out, just to be on the safe side. 

There that is a nutshell. Not hard...not at all. In fact I reckon it takes me about 10 mins to get this all in the loaf tin and in the oven .It makes a beautiful moist, pretty healthy fruit loaf and it is super easy to make! It is the best for when someone decides to pop in last minute or you are going out and realise you need to bring something but don't want to look up a complicated recipe or get something store-bought. You can just 'whip' it up in a most Nigella-like manner and give the impression of domesticity. You can even freeze it and zap it in the microwave for a couple of seconds to heat it up when you want some.

I love it love it love it!
Let me know what you think!

xo Rachel

P.s I am going to upload some pics of this fruit loaf...haven't taken any yet....but tomorrow I will! I have my lovely mother-in-law coming over in the afternoon, so I may even have to crack open my lovely old vintage nut loaf tin just for the occasion!

Thursday 10/11/2011

 Ok so I have upload all the pics now. I used the loaf tin very successfully. I just lined it with grease proof paper and a bit of canola oil spray and it came out just fine. You can just use a regular loaf tin though, or even a muffin tray. Whatever floats your boat.

My mother-in-law came over and we had a lovely time sipping tea from tea cups, laughing at Little O's antics and devouring this loaf...mmm delicious way to spend the afternoon.

See you soon with more updates on my Fit and Fine-as progress....

xo Rachel

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