AT PLAY

For the home enhancers, the foodies, the wanderers

Happy Christmas lovely readers!

Hi there my beloved festive folk (and not so festive too)! Don’t know about you but I’m ready to slip away from the Christmas mayhem to a quiet Bora Bora beach with a pile of books and a sweet wait-staff sporting crisp white attire, a large palm frond and crystal flutes brimming with Champagne. Instead I’m heading to Hay.

Where the hell is Hay I hear you ask? Well it’s a small rural NSW town wrapped around a critical service station somewhere between Dubbo and Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide. They do a damn fine nosh at that there servo. Just ask the Truckies and Grey Nomads!

It’s also the place where my Mamma resides. Where my siblings unite from said cities to wrap that Mamma in love and laughter. Perhaps a little bubble wrap too when she indulges in a wee glass of Baileys. Fairy lights, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, that famous Xmas pudding of hers, sparkling white wine, 40 decree temps…and family…in all its dysfunctional glory.

Enjoy your own family gatherings this Christmas lovely readers. Or that solitary beach retreat. Just don’t post pictures of those brightly coloured toenails against an azure blue ocean backdrop on Instagram for I may just be inclined to disown you. Happy Christmas!

Just in time for the new year…

Six budget friendly speedy nest updates…

Hi there lovely readers. Can’t believe it’s been 12 months since I had my home reimagined (photos in my Interior Designer’s hands) yet I’m ready for a little refresh – new year, new beginning and all that. What about you? Given a total makeover can be costly (my bank balance is still quivering!), luckily there are quite a few wallet-friendly ways to spice up your space while scratching the redecorating itch. Here’s my top 6 for doing exactly that.

Grab a can of paint

Feeling ambitious? A fresh coat of paint is an excellent way to give your place a facelift. Paint an accent wall in an afternoon. A whole room across a weekend. Wanna go small for starters? I’ve just painted the frame surrounding a quote print and two very old trays a rustic gold. Both look hot off the show room floor! You can try spray painting a knick-knack gold to up the glam factor, or go hard and reimagine a whole room!

Image: sharedesign.com

Add a couple of new accents

If you’re more of a shopper than a painter, there are plenty of places to score new, budget-friendly accent pieces. Think big-box stores like West Elm, Pottery Barn, Freedom, Domaine, Ikea,Target as well as local interior boutiques. Looking for something with history and character? Try First Dibs on line. Fancying a coffee table spruce? Check out: Feathering our nests

Image: MyDomaine

 And fresh flowers or plants

Notice pot plants have made a come back? Succulents and air plants make for great budgetoptions, very on trend and ever so easy to maintain compared to the good old Maiden Hair fern of yesteryear. Or go all out by hitting the flower markets first thing in the morn for fabulously, cheap fresh flowers. I love trawling the freezers for bulk flowers in just two complementary colours to spruce the place when guests are coming to dine or stay over. Don’t mind paying a little extra? Grab a bunch during the weekly grocery run. Oriental Lilies last up to two weeks, Monstera leaves last for months, making them both worthy buys.

Shop your own home

Sure that item might live in your bedroom but does it have to stay there? Bar carts can turn into side tables and desks can serve as nightstands. Single seat arm chairs can visit other rooms, so too side tables, lamps, storage trunks, cushions, throws. Why not move a piece of art that’s always been in your living area to somewhere more unexpected, like the kitchen or the bathroom? The choices are endless.

Image: sfgirlbybay
Image: becauseitsawesome.blogspot.com

Restyle those shelves

Similar to shopping your own space for big pieces to rearrange, try switching up your “shelfie” by changing which items are on display. Small decorative objects, pretty books, and candles can all be rearranged for a completely new look. Move that candle to your nightstand, try arranging your books by colour, swap out those plants, photo frames. Cluster complementary colours together for a streamlined ‘styled’ look.

Image: Poppytalk
Image: smittenstudioonline.com

Finish off with a rug or two

Rugs can be a surprisingly affordable way to add a pop of colour to a room. Cow hides, Flokati, turkish, jute, hemp, sisal, the choices are endless.They’re also useful for defining areas in smaller spaces or across open floor plans like studio apartments. Have fun!!

Image: My Ideal Home

Super Slutty Spaghetti alla Puttanesca


Good news folks! My urge to play in the kitchen has returned, and, given the blog needs a top up of tasty coupled with a spot of scintillation, here’s the perfect combo – Spaghetti alla Puttanesca. It’s my ‘when‘ dish. When there’s a chill in the air, when time is poor, when a robust red deserves a tasty counterpart, when loved ones suddenly lob and need feeding. Been a number of ‘when’s lately. Wins too. A friend recently exclaiming ‘this recipe’s going straight to the blog’! Right said I, for who can resist a quick and tasty, easy on the waistline dish that can be knocked up in 10 minutes from mere pantry staples when one’s too lazy to trawl the supermarket?

‘Slut’s Spaghetti’, ‘Working Girl’s Pasta’, ‘Prostitute’s Pasta’ – so what’s in a name?

Puttanesca has a sauce base of capers, olives and tomatoes and is usually served with spaghetti in a dish known as ‘whore-style pasta’. Nigella calls her version ‘Slut’s Spaghetti’, Jamie’s recipe titled ‘Working Girl’s Pasta’. ‘The name ‘Prostitute’s Pasta’ originating from folk-law claiming the savvy Puttanas (prostitute in Italian) made the quick and easy pasta sauce to minimise down time between clients. Others say the robust aromas of the dish were designed to entice clients into the house of ill repute. A less audacious version indicating the sauce was created by a chef who had a volume of guests arrive at his restaurant late one night just as he was about to close and, not having enough of any one ingredient to make a meal for them all, pulled everything from the kitchen together to make this legendary Italian pasta sauce.

My favourite theory? Tongue in cheek, LV Anderson (Prostitutes have nothing to do with it) says Italians use puttana (and related words) almost the way we use shit, as an all-purpose profanity, so pasta alla puttanesca might just have originated with someone saying, “I just threw a bunch of shit from the cupboard into a pan.”

The origins of its name might be debatable but one thing’s for certain – it really does make an easy, quick, cheap and delicious pasta sauce! And seriously, who can resist a dish with such a shady title? Here’s my version. Enjoy!

Need:

  • 400 g dried spaghetti (or linguini)
  • olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced (avoid using a garlic crusher for finely crushed garlic will burn before absorbing the aromatics)
  • 3 anchovy fillets, roughly chopped
  • 1 small Chorizo sausage, roughly chopped (optional)
  • tablespoon tomato puree
  • a small handful of salted capers, rinsed and drained; or brine version, drained
  • 1-2 fresh red chillies, sliced (seeds in if you like it hot, hot, hot, out if you like it mild)
  • a small handful of black and/or green Sicilian olives, de-stoned
  • 2 handfuls very ripe cherry tomatoes, halved
  • a small bunch of fresh basil, leaves picked
  • Parmesan cheese, to serve

 Do:

  1. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil, then add the spaghetti and cook according to packet instructions.
  2. Meanwhile, place a large frying pan over a medium–high heat. Add a good lug of olive oil, followed by the garlic, anchovy, chorizo, capers, chilli and tomato puree. Tear in the olives and stir for 2 minutes, or until the garlic starts to turn golden and the anchovies start melting.
  3. Add the cherry tomatoes, a good splash of pasta water and cover with a lid. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the cherry tomatoes start to cook down slightly.
  4. Drain the pasta, reserving a cupful of the cooking water.
  5. Add the basil to the sauce along with the pasta and a splash of the reserved cooking water, to loosen.
  6. Taste and season if needed.
  7. Transfer to a serving platter and top with a good shaving of fresh Parmesan and Basil leaves.
  8. Reap accolades while smiling to self ‘prostitutes be damned’
Recipe based on Jamie Oliver’s Gennaro’s Spaghetti Alla Puttnesca

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