Thursday, March 31, 2011

Quick & Inexpensive Art

You've stared at the bare spot above the couch for one too many years. Try this quick, inexpensive and changeable alternative; a framed piece of fabric, from Real Simple.

staple gun
a stretched canvas (sold in art-supply stores)
some fabric, preferably heavy linen or cotton in a pattern without straight lines. 

1. Cut out a piece of the fabric that is four to six inches longer and wider than the frame.
2. Place the material pattern-side down on your work surface, and center the canvas facedown on top of it. 
3. Then staple the cloth to the back of the frame. Start by placing one staple in the center of the left side of the frame. 
4. Pull the fabric tight, then do the same on the right side. 
5. Continue stapling on opposite sides, keeping the fabric taut as you work out from the center toward the edges of the frame. 
6. Repeat on the top and bottom sides, and make neat hospital corners when you reach the edges.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Mini Maple Choc Chip Pancake Muffins

Ever get a taste for pancakes, but don’t feel like flipping? Well Bakerealla's Mini Maple  Choc Chip Pancake Muffins are perfect for you…

Ingredients (makes 24 mini muffins)
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2/3 cup buttermilk
1 egg
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar in a medium bowl. Sift together with a wire whisk.
3. In another bowl, stir buttermilk, egg, maple syrup and melted butter until just combined.
4. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir with a spoon until combined.
5. Stir in chocolate chips. Reserve a few chips to sprinkle on the tops.
6. Bake for 8-9 minutes.
7. Let cool slightly and remove from the pan. You may need to use a toothpick around the edges to separate the pancake muffins from the pan.
8. Serve immediately with warmed butter if you like or even just with maple syrup.


Visit Bakerealla

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

26 Paint Projects, Ideas, and Patterns

Got the itch to paint? Get inspired and try one of these decorative painting projects from Better Homes & Gardens, to personalise your home or update your furniture. Most of the projects won't take more than a weekend, but the results will last for years. Below are a few of our favourites…

Fake Centuries of Wear
Trowel on thin layers of paint to create the timeworn look of 
aged Venetian plaster in minutes instead of centuries.
 Paint a Pewter Finish
Give your furniture the contemporary chic look of hammered pewter. 
Simply sponge paint two light shades of silver paint over a darker hue.

Stencil for a Wallpaper Look  
Imitate the look of Old World wallpaper with stenciling. Not for the faint 
of heart, this advanced project delivers fabulous results worth the effort.

Put Pattern on the Wall
Go glam with a large-scale diamond pattern on a focal-point wall. Base-coat the wall, then lightly trace the diamonds onto it using a template cut from cardboard. Mark the top and bottom points of the diamond, then find its middle. From there, mark the horizontal left and right points. Tape the diamonds off and paint. For dimension, hammer upholstery tacks at the points where the diamonds intersect.

 Blend Colors for Impact
Paint waves of color on your walls in a subtly ascending pattern.
Unexpected and refined, this color-blending technique is the
perfect way to add an original finish to your rooms.

Visit Better Homes & Gardens for the full 26 ideas.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

At BD we believe that chocolate dipped strawberries are the perfect dessert! They’re gorgeous enough to impress your sweetie and easy enough to make for your kids. One Charming Party shows you how to whip these up in less than an hour.

Fresh strawberries with their stems on
Chocolate chips in white, milk or dark
Optional garnishes such as white chocolate, dark chocolate, chopped nuts
Adisposable frosting bag or quart size zipper bag

1. Carefully wash and thoroughly dry the strawberries. Melted chocolate won’t stick to wet strawberries. 2. Melt a bag of chocolate chips or chocolate candy melts in the microwave in a glass bowl. Stir the chocolate every 30 seconds to keep from burning. 
3. Hold on tightly to the top of a strawberry and dip it into the chocolate. 
4. If you are using chopped nuts, roll the dipped strawberry in a small bowl of chopped nuts. 
5. Place the dipped strawberry onto a Silpat or piece parchment paper on top of a tray. 
6. If you are using white or dark chocolate for contrast, melt that chocolate in a glass bowl in the microwave. 
7. Transfer the melted white or dark chocolate to a disposable frosting bag or a quart size zipper bag. Snip a tiny hole at the bottom of the bag and gently squeeze the bag of chocolate to drizzle thin lines over the strawberries. 
8. Refrigerate the strawberries until you are ready to serve, at least 30 minutes.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Pretty Tissue Flowers

Create an elegant centerpiece for your wedding with these delicate petals from Better Homes And Gardens. Whether scattered down the center of a table or piled on a platter these hand made flowers are cheap and so simple to make. 

 To create, cut a flower shape or 3-inch circles from eight layers of tissue paper. Place in a stack. Next, poke a hole through the stack with a pin. Pull the paper off the tip of a twist tie and insert the exposed wire through the paper layers. Twist the wire to create the flower center. Make the flower bloom by gently pulling up one layer at a time.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

31 Ways to Make Over Your Closets

Closets can be the bane of your existence, so Real Simple have come up with 31 ways to make over your closet…

 Use Proper Hangers
Proper clothing care calls for appropriate hangers: satin padding for 
more delicate items and sturdy wood hangers for tailored jackets.

Mount a Peg Board
Pegboard mounted inside a closet door creates
an inexpensive mini-dressing station.

 Store Accessories in Clear Plastic Drawers
Clear plastic drawers make perfect storage quarters for
neatly rolled scarves, underwear, and belts.

 Hang Bags on Hooks
Durable hooks keep large bags from slumping
and losing shape on shelves.

 Hang a Mirror
A walk-in closet becomes a dressing area with
the simple addition of a mirror.

 Shelf Dividers
Shelf dividers prevent leaning towers of cashmere
and keep unruly items in their place.

 Take Advantage of Doors
An over-the-door rack makes the most of the
unused space behind a closet door.

Visit Real Simple to see the full 31 ideas.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

DIY Furniture Transformations

Make the most of your furnishings by repurposing pieces into custom creations that look good and work hard. With these simple and affordable ideas, from Better Homes And Gardens, you'll be able to transform your ordinary furniture into fresh finds for your home.

Tray Chic 
Couple an adjustable-height stool with an oversize tray to create a chic side table. Apply construction adhesive between the stool top and tray to permanently connect the objects.

 Bookcase Buffet 
Convert bookcases into a custom store-and-serve buffet. Using wall anchors, hang a pair of bookcases horizontally while placing a third on the floor directly below. Mount the middle bookcase at counter height so it can be used as a serving station for cocktails.

Pillow Talk  
You'll have sweet dreams with this homemade headboard made of floor pillows. Shop for floor pillows that are of equal width of your bed when placed side by side. Stitch several plastic rings (sold at sewing centers) in a row to the back of each pillow near its top edge. Install nails or screws on the wall above the bed to hang the loops.

 Let Sleeping Dogs Lie 
Pamper your pooch by building a bed made from an unused side table. Remove the top and doors, then cut away any support pieces. After sanding rough edges, apply a fresh coat of paint that will complement your space. Finish by placing a fluffy dog pillow inside.

Raise Your Glass 
Alter a simple armoire to create a storage-packed buffet. Cut the doors in half and remove the hinges to make room for a beverage bar and storage cabinets. Winery-inspired shelves create more space to house your favorite drinks. Finish with a fresh coat of paint.

Mirror Magic 
Save money and construct a custom frame by building your own around a mirrored closet door. Incorporate a piece of paintable textured wallcovering to the inset panel above the mirror. Try adding decorative trim or molding for an extra design motif.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Chocolate Mousse Tarts

Make this delicious Chocolate Mousse Tart, from Donna Hay, to impress your next dinner guests…

125g butter
¾ cup (165g) white sugar
1½ tablespoons brown sugar
2 eggs
⅔ cups (100g) plain (all-purpose) flour
⅓ cup (35g) cocoa
⅛ teaspoon baking powde 
cocoa, extra, for dusting

chocolate mousse filling 
100g dark chocolate, melted +
2 eggs, separated
50g butter, softened
1½ teaspoons brandy
1 teaspoon caster (superfine) sugar
1. To make the chocolate filling, combine the chocolate and egg yolks, one at a time, in a large bowl and mix well. Add butter and brandy and mix until smooth. Beat the eggwhites in an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Add the sugar and beat until glossy. Fold quickly through chocolate mixture. Refrigerate until set.

2. Preheat oven to 170°C (340ºF). Beat the butter, white sugar and brown sugar in an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and beat well. Sift over the flour, cocoa and baking powder and fold through. Grease 4 x ½ cup-capacity heart-shaped cake tins ++. Pour in the mixture and bake for 25 minutes or until set. Cool in the tins.

3. To serve, trim edges from cake hearts and halve horizontally. Sandwich together with the chocolate mousse and dust with extra cocoa. Serves 4.

+ To melt the chocolate, place chopped chocolate pieces in a heatproof bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water. Stir until melted and smooth. Use immediately.
++ Non-stick heart-shaped cake tins are available from department and kitchenware stores.

Visit Donna Hay

Monday, March 21, 2011

How to wallpaper a filing cabinet

A filing cabinet is the best solution for storing important papers. HomeLife shows us how to transform a standard piece of office furniture into a decorative item for your home.

Wallpaper offcuts or heavyweight wrapping paper
Spray adhesive (from art supply stores)
Ruler or measuring tape
Scalpel or stanley knife
Soft, clean cloth

1. Remove the drawers and measure carefully – a tape measure is best to use for complicated areas. Cut paper to size, allowing for overlap to cover edges.
2. Spray the front of the drawers with adhesive. Apply some to the side edges. Place the cut paper on the prepared drawers and use a soft cloth to neatly smooth the paper, working from the centre out. Set aside to dry.
3. Cover the sides and top of the cabinet using the same method as above. For a neat finish, cover the top first, then the sides. Bring the top edges down the side a little then apply side panels and use the blade to trim excess.
4. It’s easier to cover the front if you have paper to spare. Spray the adhesive over the drawer frame and fix a sheet of paper over the entire area. Smooth as above. Let it dry a little, then use your blade to cut an ‘X’ into each drawer space. This will allow you to trim the paper neatly, leaving a small edge to fold and glue in place. When all elements have completely dried, put the drawers back in place.

Visit HomeLife

Friday, March 18, 2011

Vintage Photos in Vintage Jars

We love this DIY idea for decorating your wedding by Oh Lovely Day

For a unique, vintage way to display your photographs just place the photo down in the jar and display. This is a such a great way to incorporate old family wedding photos at your own wedding. And then put them on a shelf and continue to display them in your home long after your day has passed.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Red Velvet Cupcakes With Cream Cheese Frosting

At BD we love cupcakes! And this Red Velvet Cupcake recipe is just to die for. Recipe from picky cook.

Red Velevet Cupcakes 
Cupcake Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups sifted cake flour - sift it before you measure it
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 oz. red food coloring (approx. two bottles)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon baking soda

Cupcake Method:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two 12-cup muffin tins with cupcake papers.
2. Sift together the cake flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl; set aside. 
3. In a small bowl, mix food coloring and cocoa powder to form a thin paste without lumps; set aside.
4. In a large bowl, using a hand mixer or stand mixer, beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about three minutes. 
5. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then beat in vanilla and the red cocoa paste, scraping down the bowl with a spatula as you go. Add one third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture, beat well, then beat in half of the buttermilk. Beat in another third of flour mixture, then second half of buttermilk. End with the last third of the flour mixture, beat until well combined, making sure to scrape down the bowl with a spatula.
6. In a small bowl, mix vinegar and baking soda. Be careful - it will fizz up. Add vinegar mixture to the cake batter and stir well to combine. Using an ice cream scoop, fill cupcake cups with cake batter. 
7. Place muffin tins on the middle rack of a preheated 350 degree oven. Bake for approximately 20-22 minutes, rotating pans halfway through. Cupcakes are done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Check early and don't overbake. 
8. Cool the cupcakes in their tins on a wire rack for 10 minutes then remove and allow to cool completely before frosting.  

Cream Cheese Frosting
Frosting Ingredients:
16 oz. cream cheese (2 packages), softened
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
pinch of salt
Frosting Method:
1. With an electric mixer, blend together cream cheese and butter until smooth. 
2. Turn mixer to low speed and blend in powdered sugar, salt and vanilla extract. Turn mixer on high and beat until light and fluffy. 
3. Use immediately or refrigerate, covered, until ready to use. If refrigerated, the frosting will need to be brought to room temperature before using (after frosting softens up, beat with mixer until smooth). 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

How to create a rustic finish on a wooden side table

With a new coat of paint and a little sandpaper treatment, battered finds can acquire fresh character and tired, familiar furniture pieces gain new life. The process offers the twin appeal of ageing and renewal, and can be applied to any piece of timber furniture, including cheap pine – shabby chic!

We found this great DIY tutorial to revamp an old table at HomeLife, and can be carried out in just one weekend. The trick is to be bold with colour while making sure to choose tones that will work with your interior. Take inspiration from accessories in the room, such as cushions or artwork.

Sugar soap
Three different grades of sandpaper (100 grit, 180 grit, 320 grit)
Cork or sponge sanding block
Low-tack masking tape
Enamel undercoat
Matt acrylic paint (Porter's Paints Eggshell Acrylic in Jodphur Blue)
Paint brushes (at least one 25mm brush)
Matt sealer

Hints and Tips: Ask your local hardware store for specific advice on treatment or materials best suited for your table.

1. Place your furniture on a drop-sheet. Sand the piece back with 100 grit sandpaper. Wash the surface well, using sugar soap, then allow to dry. Cover any areas you don't want to get paint on (such as drawer handles) with tape. Apply two coats of undercoat then sand back. (Because our table had been treated with a gloss, we used an enamel undercoat to prevent any bleed-through.)

2. Start painting with your chosen colour. (We used the Porter's Acrylic and applied it with a 25mm brush, using cross-hatch strokes.) After the first coat, allow paint to dry completely then lightly sand back with 180 grit sandpaper, to remove ridges formed by brush strokes. Apply a second coat.

3. When the second coat of paint is completely dry, give the table a light sand with 320 grit sandpaper. We alternated between the 180 and 320 grit sandpapers for the final stage, until the desired aged look was achieved. Use small pieces of sandpaper to concentrate on the edges, curves and details of the furniture. Sand evenly to reveal the white undercoat and some of the timber.

4. Wipe table down with a clean cloth then apply two coats of matt sealer for protection. Be sure to allow enough time for the sealer to dry in between coats – six hours should be enough.

Visit HomeLife

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Paper Daises

Materials & Equipment: 
Scrapbooking paper
Paper flowers

1. Cut circles out of the scrapbooking paper (two circles makes one daisy). Your circles can be any size you like, depending on how big you want your daisy to be.

2. Once you've cut your circles, make 8 cuts as shown below. Do not cut all the way through the circle - you will need to leave a small circle area in the centre where you will place the brad. 
Repeat this step for each layer of the daisy.

3. Fold the petals - each in half lengthways (as shown by the dotted lines).

4. Make holes in the centre of the layers, making sure the hole isn't too big (use a craft knife!)

5. Assemble the daisy by placing one layer on top of the other and securing them with a brad. Place a paper daisy underneath the brad for added effect!

 Visit eckersleys for more DIY ideas.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Fabric Covered Notebooks

Beautiful, fabric-covered notebooks are a perfect gift as they can be used as address books, diaries, scrapbooks, or places to write down favourite poems or quotations. Covered notebooks can be expensive to purchase, so HomeLife offers their own DIY project so you can create fabulous notebooks yourself for next to nothing using plain notebooks and scraps of fabric.

Materials and equipment
  • Iron and spray starch
  • Fabric such as linen
  • Notebook
  • Pencil and ruler
  • Scissors
  • 2.5cm wide double-sided tape
  • Needle and sewing thread
  • Button, ribbon, and large round sticker (all optional)
  • Twill tape or leather string (optional)
  • Craft glue (optional)
  • Fabric scraps, ribbons, or other decoration
  • Envelopes no larger than notebook
  • Paper (optional)

1. Iron the fabric with spray starch to stiffen it. Place the fabric wrong side up on your work surface and lay the notebook open on top. With a pencil and a ruler, mark out a rectangle on the fabric at least 1 1/4in (3cm) larger than the notebook all around. Using scissors, cut out the fabric.

2. Stick double-sided tape to the outside edges of the notebook, but not to the spine area as this needs to be free to move. Remove the backing paper from the tape. With the notebook closed, stick the fabric to the outside, leaving an equal amount of fabric projecting all around.
3. At each side of the spine at the top and bottom, snip into the fabric that projects beyond the notebook. Stick double-sided tape to the edge of the projecting fabric, but only as far as the snips—leave the fabric above and below the spine free of tape.
4. Remove the backing paper from the tape. Fold the taped fabric onto the inside of the book and stick down. Snip off the excess fabric at the top and bottom of the spine. Miter the corners.
5. If you are using a button and ribbon, sew the button to the front, sewing through only the fabric by inserting the needle at an angle.

6. Cut the ribbon so it is long enough to be wrapped around the notebook at least once and then around the button (if used). If you have sewn on a button, stick the ribbon in place on the inside, just under the button, using a large round sticker. If you are not using a button, the ribbon doesn’t need to be stuck on. If you are using a leather string or twill tape instead of ribbon, cut them so they are long enough to be wrapped around the notebook and tied. (If desired, you could make a tying loop at the end of the leather string, gluing the end in place).

7. Stick on your chosen decoration. I used strips of colored polka dots and squares from a piece of fabric for one notebook, sticking them to the spine and front with double-sided tape. Ribbon looks pretty, too.

8. Stick envelopes to one or more of the pages with double-sided tape, leaving the flaps open to create pockets. To cover the fabric edges on the inside of the covers, stick on either an envelope that is the exact size of the cover or a rectangle of paper or fabric cut to size. If you wish, make a bookmark from a strip of patterned fabric and place it inside. Tie the ribbon, leather string, or twill tape around the book.

Visit HomeLife

Friday, March 11, 2011

Recipe: Caramel Easter-egg muffins

We love these muffins with a hidden centre of caramel Easter-egg, from Taste. Yum! 


2 1/4 cups self-raising flour
2/3 cup caster sugar
125g butter, melted, cooled
3/4 cup milk
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
12 small caramel-filled Easter eggs (when Easter eggs are not available, use Rolo chocolates or pieces of caramel-filled chocolate)

1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Line a 12 x 1/3-cup capacity muffin pan with paper cases.
2. Sift flour into a large bowl. Stir in sugar. Whisk butter, milk, eggs and vanilla essence together.
3. Add butter mixture to dry ingredients. Use a wooden spoon to mix until just combined (don't over-mix or your muffins will be tough). Spoon batter into cases so each is one-third full. Place an unwrapped Easter egg into the middle of each muffin. Spoon over remaining muffin batter.
4. Bake muffins for 18 to 20 minutes, or until light golden and cooked through. Stand in pan for 10 minutes before turning onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Visit Taste for more great Easter recipes.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

DIY Lolly Table


A lolly table can be a whimsical addition to your reception, or act as playful and interactive favors. Project Wedding offer some tips to get you started!


Use a colour scheme that matches your wedding palette: wedding colors aren’t just for the flowers and bridesmaids dresses!

Create depth and height in your display. You can wrap the boxes in decorative paper and sculpt a beautiful landscape on your table.   

Take advantage of your centerpieces by adding one or two to the lolly table to help tie it in with the rest of your reception.

Don’t be afraid to use trimmings details like good quality linens, ribbons, and paper can add nice touches to your overall display.

Where will the lolly table be located? Will there be a nice backdrop or wall behind it for pictures? Or will it be open so people can access it from all sides? These are all good questions to ask yourself before deciding on a set-up design.
And most importantly remember less is more!


Having a specific colour scheme can really make your candy table pop. Make sure to consider different hues and shades. If using primarily dark colors, try to use trimmings in lighter shades to bring energy to your table.

If you’re open to other types of treats consider mini cookies or spiced nuts as sweet additions. Placing the wedding cake or groom's cake on the same table can add visual diversity.

Keep it simple by having a variety of flavors and different types of lollies can be satisfying to everyone, but don’t be afraid to go with a specific flavor profile.  

Containers and Supplies

Apothecary jars and similar containers tend to be the standard, but don’t miss out on other shapes and sizes you can find elsewhere! Vases are fabulously inexpensive alternatives, and are easy to find. You can also use cake stands, flat platters, and other serving ware to give your guests a variety of ways to choose their sweets!

When choosing containers, make sure you keep in mind how your guests are going to get the candy out! Scoops, tongs, and other serving ware should be small enough to get the goods!

If your table is set up as a DIY favor station, little bags or mini boxes can be great take-homes. Dress them up with a little label and ribbon and your guests have a tasty treat for later. Small, clear plastic cups or even napkins are also cheap ideas if you prefer the sweets to be eaten on the spot.