Thursday, 3 November 2011

we are still at it

Four months ago it was, when I was thinking to myself that I'll be depending on all things green and leafy, that I will be working my arse off and sure I will be able to get into those pair of jeans that I hadn't been able to tackle for the last five or six years. Miraculously with the capital 'M'!

So lets have a little reality check to make sure that I am on track and to help you to understand what this random pledge was all about.

Well, this is my problem.
I absolutely fell in love with this little maisonette that had nothing but issues written all over it.
Floors were infested by woodworms, all windows and architraves were smothered in full gloss paints to make die of its beauty, every inch of internal doors were covered with vanish it might as well just disappear. The entire walls in the house was suffocated by layers and layers of wall coverings that took me all the way back to the beginning of the year, 1905; the full circle of fashion.

I convinced and persuaded Toby that this will be our absolute dream home that we had to go for it. And as any loving man will do, he did.

The thing was though, as much as I was confident that I could see it through and we will get to it before we know it, I couldn't deny the fact that this was all down to me. Absolutely everything. 
From having to live in the house full of dust with no kitchen, no heating, no proper walls and no complete floors, to giving up cultural infills of telly nights and sociable weekends in an attempt to get some works done, was and is all because of me. 
And honestly, the pressure is on.

Lying in or chill out weekends were written out from our dictionary fairly earlier on.
Every evenings were fight. Trying to make one thing better, we had to make ten things worse. Then there was the senseless arguments on why we were doing what we were doing at that time of the night, when most of the others would be sipping a lovely glass of wine, sitting comfortably in front of telly, unwinding. 
We did in fact, of course had glasses of wine. Only difference was that we were hopelessly crashed on the shaky floorboards with our glass full of tired sighs, high degrees of frustrations and the dangers of potential anger. 
Such a simple tasks attacked us with resilience. Every job was our enemies putting us in test, the world of 'Battle DIY'.

We feel more home in building site. Stress and problems are the air we breathe to feel alive. Barking mad at each other brings some much needed familiar passion back to our lives. Boxes of mess comforts us that we are still standing. 
I file my nails in sand paper grit 80 with a huge success rate whilst sanding skirting boards. Toby cracks up the joke about possible electrocution while handling lights and switches and there it comes my bonus, he swears heavily with some extra injected emotion. 
Microwave has never been so useful feeding exhausted hungry souls. Hoover becomes none existence as dust becomes our lovers. Camping has never been so close to our hearts as we learn to live with all things basic that comes with great difficulties.
And going back to the beginning of my pledge, my intention of being super healthy eating all things green, in aid to naturally shift that extra few pounds through this hard working building exercise experience has no chance to shine, as I make up those extra calories with what I would call, well deserved bottle of wine.

So as you can guess, we are not anywhere near reaching the finishing line and I have no desire to get into that old pair of jeans. 
It's relentless and it is tiring.
But the realisations of compassionate loving is something we learn as we plod along through this long rocky road. As long as we share that momentary laughter in togetherness every now and then to cheer each other up, I think, I will be alright. 

Hot and sour soba noodle salad with prawns 

soba noodles, cooked as instructed
some king prawns, cooked and peeled
1/2 cucumber, seed scooped out and sliced
1/2 carrot, sliced like matchsticks
2 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
1inch root ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
couple of shallots or 1/2 white onion, finely sliced
some spring onions, chopped
some hot red chillies
1 tbsp caster sugar
2 tbsp cider vinegar for pickling and 1tbsp for dressing
1/2 tbsp palm sugar
3 tbsp tamarind water
1/2 tbsp fish sauce
1tbsp soy sauce
lime juice
pinch of salt
white pepper
some rice bran oil

This is very simple delicious dish that can be made with very little effort. All ingredients give lots of different layers of texture that make dish more filling and interesting.

Start by pickling carrot and cucumber slices in caster sugar and vinegar mixture. Add 1tbsp warm water and a pinch of salt. Cover it and leave them for at least 30mins or longer the better. Make sure to squeeze the moisture out thoroughly when you're ready to use them. 

In the mean time, heat shallow frying pan with some rice bran oil (you can use vegetable oil if you prefer but not olive oil). Add shallots, garlic and ginger into the pan and carefully fry them until golden.

Make the dressing by placing palm sugar, vinegar, tamarind water, fish sauce, chopped chilli and soy in a jam jar, or salad dressing shaker if you have one. Add pinch of salt and some freshly cracked white pepper with lots and lots of lime juice and stir, mix or shake vigorously. You want to be able to taste the kick from the chilli with some fruity sweetness and the salty fish sauce getting you again at the back of your throat. Fresh lime juice will make it all zingy and lively. 
Adjust it to your taste with more lime or sugar or fish sauce. You can add a little warm water to loosen the dressing if you want it milder.

In a large mixing bowl, put noodles, prawns, pickled carrots and cucumber, fried onions, garlic and ginger. Stir well to coat all ingredients with prepared dressing.
Sprinkle them with some more fresh chilli and spring onions for some added kick.

We will get through it. 


  1. wow that's brave decision! He must love you very much to agree to move in. But building a house needs time, I think you both know it so, just think how proud will you and Toby be when it's done!
    ps. I'm more concerned with the woodworms part though...doesn't sound like something time can fix(?)
    Good luck!:)

  2. Thanks Ruby.
    Things are slowly progressing and as regards to woodworms, fortunately enough we had professionals in to carry out some treatments to remedy.
    I just hope everything will be in place for us to enjoy the first Christmas at our new home. Fingers crossed!

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  4. Wow. So brave to decide to do this yourselves!!

    We're having a band of builders but things are not easy. We're about a month and a half behind and way over the budget (and penniless!). To top it up, we just discovered the house won’t be finished by Christmas. Gutted gutted gutted. You should be incredibly proud of yourselves!

    P.s. I'm totally making this dish; been relying on supermarket meals too much lately. Not good with stress.