It’s getting hot in here

For those of you lucky enough to be blissfully unaware, for the second time this month Melbourne is in the throes of another heatwave, with temperatures set to soar above 40 several times this week.

I didn’t cope well in the heat 2 weeks ago. I live in a ground floor apartment by by beach, that normally stays nice and cool till the afternoon sun streams in, then quickly cools down again at night time. However lately it hasn’t been cooling down at all – we’ve either got no breeze at night, or just warm gusty winds. Not pleasant. Especially when you don’t even own a fan, let alone an air-conditioner.

Last time the weather was like this I was working from 2pm to midnight, and actually kind of looked forward to going to work, just to get some air con time. This time I’m on holidays for the week, so no such luck. Tomorrow I do plan on going to buy a fan, however I fear most shops are going to be sold out, with everyone having the same thing on their mind.

At least the shops will be air-conditioned!

In the meantime, my blender has been getting a workout, making endless smoothies and soups. Soups in summer? Gazpacho is the ultimate summer soup – its like a smoothie in a bowl.

Does anyone else associate Gazpacho Soup with Red Dwarf? For many years this was my only knowledge of the soup. One hot day I tried making it myself, and I was hooked. Visiting Spain I had the chance to try it there a few times, and loved every version I tried.

Rimmer

My version is adapted from Jamie Oliver’s recipe, which you can find here. It’s ridiculously easy to make. I like it best served with parmesan cheese and sliced avocado. It’s close to being a bloody mary, without the vodka!

Gazpacho soup

Gazpacho soup

Gazpacho Soup recipe

Ingredients

  • 4 or 5 ripe tomatoes
  • ¼ loaf of yesterdays bread (crust off)
  • small cucumber (peeled & rough chopped)
  • 1 red capsicum (deseeded & rough chopped)
  • 2 cloves garlic, (peeled)
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Sherry or red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
  • Tabasco sauce
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Method

  • Prick each tomato with a knife, cover with boiling water for about 30 seconds. Take out and peel.
  • Slice bread and place in a bowl.
  • Pour over 100ml of water to soak
  • Place cucumber, red capsicum, garlic and peeled tomatoes into blender. Blend them together.
  • Add the soaked bread, a good glut of olive oil and a small splash of vinegar and tabasco. Blend again.
  • Taste soup, season with salt and pepper, and a good splash of water to loosen the mixture.
  • Retaste and re-season if necessary.
  • Pour into a jug, and keep in the fridge to chill – the longer the better!

DIY #3: Bedside table for verandah

It’s been a long time between DIY posts, hasn’t it? Actually it’s been a long time since I’ve been posting with any regularity, but let’s ignore that (for about the 10th time on this blog) and move along to the good stuff, shall we?

This DIY is a carry-on from number 1, where I found a chair on the side of the road and moved it up onto my verandah.

Having a chair there is great, and now that the weather has warmed up, its lovely to sit out there in the warm evenings after the harsh afternoon sun has passed, and enjoy a drink (or two!).

You know how it’s scary when you realise you’re turning into your mother? Well it’s even scarier when you realise you’re turning into your grandmother. My babushka has a deep love for her vernadah and will happily sit out there for hours watching life go past.

Christmas in the Gong

Clearly she recognises a good thing!

For a while I’ve been wanting to find a bit of furniture to place beside the chair that serves 2 purposes: 1) acting as a table which to rest my drink on, and 2) acting as a shoe storage so I don’t have to sit there staring at my sneakers, and so they don’t get wet every time it rains.

I decided a bedside table with a door opening rather than drawers would be perfect. I’ve kept an eye out on roadsides for close to 6 months now with no luck. I’ve even set up ebay searches and visited a few vintage/2nd hand shops. It seems the items in good condition are too expensive for something that’s just going to sit outside my verandah. The cheaper options are either so old that there are major structural problems or the drawers/door don’t open very easily. I was even willing to buy a brown/badly painted one and attempt painting it myself, but that wasn’t to be.

Till now, my temporary solution has been an Ikea Skubb box I had lying around to house my shoes, and a smaller little plastic table (that I did find on the side of the road) to rest my drink on. Kept the shoes nicely out of the way, but the table was definitely too low.

New bedside table

Deciding I needed a solution for this before the end of summer when it was no longer nice enough to sit outside, I decided I needed to hit Ikea and see what options they had. I ended up walking away with this Musken bedside table, which is exactly what I had in mind design and size-wise. It’s made out of particleboard rather than solid timber, so I have no idea how it’s going to hold up over time, but given that it’s mostly covered, and for $50 I thought it was worth risking.

New bedside table

And now, I’m all set! I even sat there yesterday afternoon and did a bit of study. Will wonders never cease?

New bedside table

Rain, rain, go away

Well I made it back from Africa in one piece. A gratuitous animal picture post to follow.

In the meantime, I thought I was going to be returning back to a balmy Melbourne summer. Instead I’ve got the heater and blanket on when I’m lazing on the couch. I’m still cooking soups and stews instead of salads and dreaming of BBQs.

The only upside? All this rain totally justifies my purchase of purple gumboots.

Purple Gumboots

A rare sunrise

Sunrise

I’m definitely a night person. Combine that with the crazy shifts that I work it’s rare that I get to witness a Melbourne sunrise. But when night shifts mess up your bodyclock in a good way, you gotta go with it, right?

It was chilly, but oh so pretty. Balloons and all!

Sunrise

Desexed

One of the hardest things I’ve had to do lately is get my dog desexed. I had no doubts it needed to be done, but I think I’d been putting this off for the last few months simply because I didn’t want to think about it. Possibly the same reason why I *still* haven’t done my tax…sigh!

Not without some apprehension, I finally got around to making the appointment.  Let’s face it, for female dogs this is a big operation. It’s not just a nip and tuck, its a full hysterectomy, ovaries and all.

I’d made the appointment for a day where I was able to drop her off at the vet by 8am, and then pick her up by 5pm – basically a day off. She was fine as I dropped her off, but I had to stop myself from shedding a tear or two. Luckily I had to go into work for a few hours that afternoon, so it took my mind off things. When I called up at 3pm they said the operation went fine, she was still recovering from the anaesthetic but would be ready by 5pm.

When I got there I could hear her crying out the back. Hearing a dog cry (when it’s not just because they want attention or to be let out) is a heartbreaking thing.

She was doped up but still in pain most of last night. Every time she tried to lie down she let out a bit of a yelp, so sat up most of the night and was definitely not her normal little tail-wagging self.

This morning the tail is wagging, but she’s still letting out the odd little yelp. She’s also started trying to lick her wound, which had me concerned. The vet had given me an Elizabethan collar to put on if she did that, but it wasn’t working too well. She couldn’t walk properly, kept banging into the side of furniture and just looked unhappy. I couldn’t imagine living with that on for 10 days.

Indy desexed Indy desexed

To try and protect her tummy I’ve devised a little jacket made out of one of my old singlets. So far she doesn’t seem to mind it too much, and it seems to have stopped the licking.

Indy desexed
Indy desexed

Dare I say it also looks kinda cute? Does that mean I’m going to become one of those people that dress their dog up in a jacket in winter? Stay tuned!

Breakfast Hash

No DIY today, and I hesitate to even call this a recipe. Here’s one of my favourite breakfasts of late: hash with egg on top.

Breakfast hash

Just looking at it is making me salivate.

Basically it’s just a combination of whatever veggies you have on hand, mixed together in a bowl, bound with a little milk if needed. The most common things I include are:

  • mashed potato
  • mashed sweet potato
  • corn
  • mushrooms
  • onion
  • capsicum
  • carrot
  • snow peas
  • lentils
  • spinach
  • radish

…really, whatever you have in your fridge is going to work just fine (as long as you have some sort of vegetables in there). I always like to have either regular or mashed potato however, to help it all clump together.

Then the fun stuff: a bit of a grated cheese and some chopped bacon (completely optional). Mix together add a few spices (basil, coriander, chilli, paprika), then either fry or bake in oven (depending on how much time you have – my oven takes forever to heat up so I often go the frying route if I forget to pre-heat whilst doing all the prep).

Top with a fried egg and its a tasty, filling, veggie laded breakfast. No bread needed! And that’s a big thing coming from a bread-addict like myself!

If I manage to get my act together I may even try to prepare a big batch of this at the start of the week so all I have to do each morning is cook it all up – no chopping and stirring. Mornings are not my strong point so anything that makes them less painful has got to be a good thing.

DIY #2: Handbag strap extension

So my second “DIY” was pretty much as easy as my first. But hey, it involved going to Bunnings and making a small purchase, so that’s gotta count right?

I bought this awesome green handbag in Spain (sorry for the appalling picture, I only had the patience to take one shot). I have spent at least 2 years looking for a handbag that is oversized enough to house a laptop, a few books and a water bottle comfortably. My requirements: I don’t like too much structure, don’t like bling, must be silver hardware, must be colour other than black…..doesn’t sound too hard, does it? Trust me it is.

DIY #2: Handbag

Before purchasing it I spent an inordinate amount of time dithering over whether the shoulder strap was too short to fit comfortably underneath my arm. For some reason, so many of them seem uncomfortably short. Maybe I have a big glenohumeral – axillary distance?

Anyway, eventually I decided I liked enough about the bag that I could live with the length – surely an inch isn’t that much to squabble over. I secretly really hoped I could find some way to lengthen it, even just an inch or two, however.

Luckily attached to the zipper was a long green tassel (full of bling!), that I promptly took off, cut off a few of the tasselly ends and looped them together to make an extra “ring”. Mission accomplished.

DIY #2: Handbag

Not very pretty, but it did the trick and made the shoulder length perfect. I would have been perfectly content with this solution, however the other day one of the tassels broke, and I started to doubt its stability.

My solution: purchasing a metal clip from Bunnings.

DIY #2: Handbag

It matches the silver hardware perfectly, and adds even a little more length than the tassel did. I think it looks nicer too. If I really wanted to go nuts I could go back and buy another one for the other side too.

And the best bit? Cost = $2.76. DIY victory!!