Friday, April 29, 2011

Make Your Own Flower Fairy Lights

These flower fairy lights from HomeLife create a gentle, rosy glow, perfect for an outdoor wedding reception. While they create a great visual impact, they’re incredibly simple to make.

Vellum paper in a variety of colours (Vellum paper is available from art and craft stores)
Hole punch (optional)
Fairy lights (available at hardware stores)

1. Cut 15cm squares of vellum paper in a variety of colours. You will need two or three squares of paper for each fairy light. Fold paper square in half diagonally to form a triangle. 

2. Fold the left and right corners up to meet at the centre, forming a diamond shape. Fold in half to form a small triangle. 

3. Cut curves along the open edges to form a heart-shaped top and create the petal effect. You might like to choose different petal shapes for each colour. When you layer them, the variety of shapes will add depth. You can use decorative scissors and hole punchers to add an interesting effect.

4. Cut across the bottom point to create a small opening to slip the light bulb through. Unfold.
5. Layer a few paper petals in different colours on each fairy light. Attach the flowers above the bulb on the plastic wire so the bulb is left exposed. 

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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Cottage Pies


The best thing about these cottage pies from Taste, is that they are low cost, easy to prepare with little mess and they're delicious!

Preparation Time 10 minutes
Cooking Time 40 minutes
Makes 4

500g potatoes, peeled, cut into cubes
60ml (1/4 cup) hot skim milk
2 tbs chopped fresh chives
Olive oil spray
1 brown onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled, finely chopped
1 zucchini, trimmed, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
400g lean beef mince
1 tbs no-added-salt tomato paste
1 x 400g can no-added-salt diced tomatoes
125ml (1/2 cup) water
Mixed salad leaves, to serve

1. Preheat oven to 200°C. Cook the potato in a saucepan of boiling water for 10 minutes or until tender. Drain and return to the pan. Add the milk and mash until smooth. Stir in the chives. Season with pepper.
2. Meanwhile, heat a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Spray with olive oil spray. Add the onion, carrot and zucchini. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 6 minutes or until soft. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
3. Add the mince and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon to break up any lumps, for 4-5 minutes or until mince changes colour. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in the tomato and water. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes or until mixture thickens.
4. Divide the beef mixture among four 250ml (1-cup) capacity ovenproof dishes. Top with the potato mixture. Place the dishes on a large baking tray. Bake in oven for 15 minutes or until golden. Serve with mixed salad leaves.

Swap it: For a different flavour, swap the potato for sweet potato.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Lovebird Pillows


We love this great DIY project from Homlife. These love bird pillows will dress up any bedroom in need of an instant makeover. If you can’t find a suitable bird print fabric, however, you could use one with a butterfly print or something similar. The branch the birds are sitting on is appliquéd fabric, and some silk flowers and leaves are added to create the effect of spring blossom. The flower pillows are made using cutout fabric flowers on embroidered stems, and even the chintz-type fabric has some added silk flowers and leaves. Green sequins sewn onto all the pillows add a delicate sparkle.

Materials and equipment
Solid-colored and floral linen, for pillow covers
Cushion inserts
Scissors and pins
Long ruler, tailor’s chalk, and pencil
Set square
Fusible web and iron
Patterned fabrics with flowers and birds that can be cut out
Dark fabric, for branch
Silk flowers and leaves
Embroidery needle and floss in yellow and pink
Sewing needle and sewing thread
Green sequins and yellow beads
Green embroidery floss, or sewing machine and machine embroidery thread

1. For each pillow cover, cut from the linen a rectangle twice the length of the pillow plus 15cm and the width plus 3cm. Using tailor’s chalk, mark the main elements of the design on the right side of each fabric piece. 

2. For the bird pillow, iron fusible web to the wrong side of the bird fabric and the wrong side of the dark fabric for the branch. On the backing paper of the fusible web ironed to the dark fabric, draw a branch (remembering that it will be the mirror image of the final design). Cut it out. Also cut out the birds from the bird fabric. Remove the backing paper and iron the branch and then the birds in position on the right side of the linen.

3. Pull the silk flowers and leaves off the stems. Sew the flowers in place on the branch using cross stitch and yellow floss to create stamens in the flower centers. Sew the leaves in place on the branch, using running stitch in green thread down the centers. Sew sequins to the linen.

4. For the floral-patterned pillow, sew on additional silk flowers with little yellow beads in the centers. Sew sequins to the linen.

5. For the flower pillows, embroider green vertical stems with tiny leaves either by hand using running stitch or backstitch, or by machine using zigzag stitch. You could also sew on a strip of green sequins to make a wider stem.

6. Cut out some flowers (and leaves if you wish) from fabrics and iron fusible web to the wrong side. Remove the backing paper, and iron them to the tops of the stems. If you wish, you could use free machine embroidery to stitch over the centers and stems and to add the outline of another flower or two.

7. Pull flowers and leaves off the stem of some silk flowers, and sew the leaves to the embroidered stem using running stitch and green thread down the centers. Sew the silk flowers in clusters at the top of other embroidered stems, using cross stitch to create stamens in the centers. Sew sequins to the linen.

8. Complete the cover by hemming the short edges, stitching the side seams, and turning right side out.

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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Orange & Coconut Cake

Topped with Easter eggs and icing sugar, this cake from Taste makes a perfectly sweet statement on Easter Sunday. Wishing you all a very safe and happy Easter!

Preparation Time 6 minutes
Cooking Time 50 minutes
Serves 4

1 cup caster sugar
125g unsalted butter, softened
3 teaspoons finely grated orange rind
4 eggs
1 cup (160g) self-raising flour, sifted
1 3/4 cups (150g) desiccated coconut
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
Easter eggs and icing sugar, to serve

1. Preheat oven to 160°C. Place sugar, butter and orange rind in a large bowl, and beat with electric beaters for 4 minutes until light and creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well between additions.
2. Fold flour and coconut through mixture, along with orange juice. Spoon mixture into a 22cm-round cake pan greased and lined with baking paper. Cook for 50 minutes or until cooked through when tested with a skewer.
3. Allow to cool, then decorate with Easter eggs and a dusting of icing sugar.

At the end of the prescribed baking time, test if the cake is ready by inserting a bamboo skewer into the centre of the cake. Remove the skewer and if it comes out clean the cake is ready. If the skewer comes out coated with a little moist mixture the cake is not ready. Continue cooking for 5 minutes then check again.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Dazzling Easter Brunch Recipes

Whether you're planning a simple brunch for a small group, or a meal for a crowd, Better Homes & Gardens have got just the right recipes for you…
Apple Butter Hotcakes
Made on the grill the morning of, or prepped ahead of the holiday for a stress-free start, these zippy pancakes get their flavor from creamy apple butter and dark sweet cherries. See Apple Butter Hotcakes Recipe

Eggs Benedict 
You can whip up this classic brunch favorite ahead. Simply top it with Hollandaise sauce (and warm it in the oven) before your guests arrive. See Eggs Benedict recipe

Coconut Waffles 
Add a sweet touch to your brunch menu with these coconut and chocolate topped waffles. Add almonds for a satisfying crunch and a dollop of whipped cream for the perfect finishing touch. See Coconut Waffles recipe

Rosemary Potato Frittata 
Fresh rosemary, sweet peppers, and new potatoes give this no-fuss frittata a company-worthy touch. See Rosemary Potato Frittata recipe

Banana Bread 
With just 15 minutes of prep time, this classic brunch bread is quick and easy and it freezes beautifully. Serve it with honey butter for a festive touch. See Banana Bread recipe

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Create a family tree


All families differ. Some are small, some extended, some blended. For young children it can be very difficult to conceptualise where they fit in and how we are all connected. Children use each of their senses to understand complex concepts, with sight at the top of the list. So HomeLife have devised a craft activity for you and your children using found objects from nature to create a visual, three-dimensional family tree.
What you will need:
large leafless branches that look like mini trees
a photograph (or photocopy) of each family member
marker pen

1. Glue the photograph or photocopy to cardboard. 
2. Cut around the images to create different shapes.
3. Create a small whole in the top of the shape. 
4. Use the string to attach the photos to the branches.
5. Label each tree with the name of each family member. 
6. Start with the oldest family members and work your way down the tree.

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Monday, April 18, 2011

Easy Decorating Projects

Try Better Homes & Garden's do-in-a-day decorating projects that deliver big-time personality without a lot of effort.

Create an Artistic Assemblage 
Cover a variety of different-size artist's canvases or canvas stretchers with the fabric, stapling it in place on the backs. Be sure to cut the pieces so that you are displaying your favorite parts of the fabric's motifs.

Paint an Accent Wall
Wake up a wall with brightly colored paint. A cheery color such as this vivid yellow goes a long way in a small space so limit it to one wall in a room. Ground your saturated color with furnishings in neutral colors such as the white sofa.

Wallpaper an Accent Wall
Add pattern to your walls without visual overload. Choose one accent wall in a room to cover with wallpaper that shares at least one color with your other walls. An accent wall injects an artistic touch while saving decorating time and dollars. 

Cheap and Chic Coffee Table
Craft an easy and unique coffee table from two shipping pallets. Secure the pallets together, one atop the other, using wood screws. Cut a top and base to size from medium-density fiberboard (MDF) and screw to the top and bottom of the pallets. Frame the top MDF piece with lattice strips to finish the edge. Paint the entire piece and let dry. Cut a decorative rug to fit inside the top, then secure with an appropriate adhesive such as Gorilla Glue. Attach casters to the bottom.

Swap Out Cabinetry
Add elbowroom to a small or galley kitchen by adding open shelving to a bare wall. Match the shelf materials to existing cabinetry for consistency then paint the wall behind the shelving in an energising color. Stack your favorite pieces on the shelving for instant decor.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Lamb, Rosemary and Garlic Pies

Everybody loves a good meat pie and this lamb, rosemary and garlic pie from Taste is just delicious!

Makes 2, Serves 8

1/4 cup olive oil
1kg diced lamb
1 red onion, thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
500g golden delight potatoes, peeled, cubed
2 carrots, peeled, cubed
1/2 cup tomato paste
1/3 cup gravy powder
3 cups beef stock
2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons cornflour
4 sheets frozen ready-rolled puff pastry, partially thawed
1 egg, lightly beaten

1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add half the lamb. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until browned. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with 1 tablespoon oil and remaining lamb.
2. Heat remaining oil in pan over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic. Cook, stirring, for 3 minutes or until soft. Add potatoes and carrots. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until browned. Add tomato paste and gravy powder. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
3. Return lamb to pan. Add stock and worcestershire sauce. Increase heat to high. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low. Simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, for 2 hours or until lamb is tender. Stir in rosemary. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Combine cornflour and 2 tablespoons warm water. Add to lamb mixture. Simmer for 1 minute. Remove from heat. Cool.
5. Preheat oven to 200°C/180°C fan-forced. Lightly grease two 3cm-deep, 20cm (base) round glass or ceramic pie dishes. Line base and sides of each dish with 1 sheet of pastry, trimming excess. Place each dish on a baking tray. Line pastry cases with baking paper. Fill with uncooked rice or ceramic pie weights. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove baking paper and rice or weights.
6. Divide lamb mixture between pastry cases. Place remaining pastry sheets over filling. Trim. Press edges together with a fork to seal. Prick top of pastry with a fork. Brush with egg.
7. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until pastry is golden. Remove from oven. Allow to stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Stand all pies for 5 to 10 minutes before serving, as filling will be very hot. To freeze the lamb and rosemary pies, wrap in cling wrap then foil. Freeze for up to 3 months. Defrost overnight before reheating. Nutrition data is per pie.

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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Bridal Shower Tea Party Ideas From Martha Stewart

Get inspired by these pretty and practical ideas for a bridal shower tea Party from Martha Stewart.
Tea Shower Invitations
Start by sending guests invitations that fit the tea theme. These invites are tea bags with handwritten, accordion-pleated messages enclosed in pink envelopes.

Heart Doilies
Dress up a tea party with these adorable handmade doilies in the colors of your shower. They're easy to make and a great decoration for the tables at the shower.

Personalised Tea Bags
Serve up these personalised tea bags at the shower, or send guests home with them after the party is over. Simply place your favorite tea inside a glassine pouch. To get the classic tea bag shape, fold the corners in, then the top of the pouch down. Use a needle and thread to stitch closed, and add a tag. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Make Your Own Hot Cruss Buns

With Easter just around the corner why not try and make your own Hot Cross Buns? Try your hand at making them with this step by step recipe from Taste.

Makes 16

1 1/2 cups (375ml) warm milk
2 tsp (7g/1 sachet) dried yeast
1/4 cup (55g) caster sugar
60g butter, melted
1 egg, lightly whisked
4 1/2 cups (675g) plain 00 flour
1 tsp salt
3 tsp mixed spice
1 cup (170g) sultanas
1/4 cup (45g) currants
1/4 cup (50g) mixed peel
1/3 cup (80ml) cold water
1/2 cup (170g) apricot jam

1. Combine the milk, yeast and 1 tbs of sugar in a small bowl. Set aside in a warm, draught-free place for 10 minutes or until frothy.

2. Combine the milk mixture, butter and egg in a jug and whisk to combine. Combine 4 cups (600g) of flour, salt, mixed spice and remaining sugar in a bowl. Add the sultanas, currants and mixed peel and stir to combine. Make a well in the centre. Pour in the milk mixture and use a wooden spoon to stir until just combined, then use your hands to bring the dough together. 

3. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10-15 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Place the dough in a bowl and cover with a damp tea towel and place in a warm, draught-free place for 1 hour or until dough doubles in size.
4. Preheat oven to 200°C. Grease a 23cm square cake pan. Punch the dough down with your fist. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 2-3 minutes or until dough is smooth and elastic. Divide dough into 16 even pieces and shape each portion into a ball. Arrange dough portions, side by side, in the prepared pan. Set aside in a warm, draught-free place for 30 minutes or until dough has risen 2cm.
5. Meanwhile, mix the remaining flour and water together in a small bowl until a smooth paste forms. Place in a small plastic bag and snip off the end. Pipe a continuous line down the centre of each row of buns, lengthways and widthways, to form crosses. Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 180°C and bake for a further 20 minutes or until golden and cooked through (buns are ready when they sound hollow when tapped on the base).
6. Turn onto a wire rack. Place the jam in a small saucepan over high heat. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes or until jam melts. Strain through a fine sieve. Brush hot jam over the buns. Serve warm with butter, or toasted.

Also known as baker's flour or strong flour, 00 flour is a super-fine grade flour, traditionally used to make pasta or bread. The gluten content is higher, giving bread its chewy texture. It is available from supermarkets and delicatessens.

Variation: To make chocolate hot cross buns, replace 1/4 cup of flour with 1/4 cup of cocoa, and replace the sultanas, currants and mixed peel with 250g of chocolate chips.

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Monday, April 11, 2011

Make Your Own Chocolate Easter Eggs


This Easter, try making your own eggs with this easy step by step guide from Taste. Pick up a mould (available from craft stores, such as Spotlight), melt your choice of chocolate, then follow these steps.

Step 1: Brush an Easter egg mould with vegetable oil to lightly grease. Spoon the melted chocolate into the prepared mould (about 1 1/2 tablespoons each side for a large mould and 2 teaspoons each side for a medium mould). Working quickly, use the back of a teaspoon to spread the chocolate evenly over the inside of both sides of the mould.

Step 2: Close the mould so the edges join. Use clips to secure. Shake to coat on both sides. Set aside for 5 minutes. Turn over and set aside until almost set (this stops the chocolate setting on one side only.)

Step 3: Place in fridge for 5-10 minutes to chill (this makes it easier to remove the egg from the mould). Remove the clips. Gently press the top and bottom of the mould, one side at a time, to release the egg.

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Friday, April 8, 2011

Rose-Covered Aisle

A aisle covered in rose petals looks just stunning and so easy to achieve! Martha Stewart Weddings suggest to use large hurricane vases containing floating candles on either side of a path strewn with rose petals in shades of pink and yellow. If you are picking from your own garden, pluck them early in the morning, when roses are their freshest.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Cheap & Chic Headboard Projects

Make a personal statement in your bedroom retreat with a pretty headboard for the bed from Better Homes & Gardens.

Painted Florals
Upgrade a plain wooden headboard with paint. First sand all surfaces and coat with a water-base sealer. Using a household trim brush, base-coat the entire headboard with white satin paint. Next, apply a stripe and dot border. For the flower, download the pattern below, transfer onto the headboard, and paint. Download the Stencil

Door Do-Over
A trio of painted closet doors dresses up a plain bed. To start measure your bed to determine the number of doors you will need. Next, use painter's tape to mark off stripes. Paint all the stripes of one color. After the paint has dried, remove the tape. Repeat the process for each color. Once all the stripes are painted and dry, attach the doors with hinges or brackets on the back, lean against the wall, and brace with the bed frame. Step-by-Step instructions

Naturally Modern
Make this ultramodern headboard in an hour. Buy a piece of plywood from your local home supply store. Sand it, stain it, seal it, and then set it behind your bed. The clean lines will help you sleep in style.

Smart Stencil
Love the look of wrought-iron headboards, but not the price? Get the look without the cost by painting one on your wall. Make your own stencil by cutting out a design from acetate with a crafts knife, affix the stencil to the wall using a spray adhesive or low-tack tape, and apply paint inside the stencil. Use acrylic paint or specially formulated stenciling cream.

Perfectly Padded
For a new take on an upholstered headboard, hang a bench cushion by its ties from wall-mounted hooks. Top the hooks with a piece of over-door molding, which you can find at a home centre. To create a tufted look, sew covered buttons to the cushion with ribbon, poking both ends through the bottom of the cushion. Pull the ends tight and tie.

Visit Better Homes & Gardens to see all 26 ideas.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

DIY Wedding Decorations


Romantically light the way for wedding guests at the ceremony or reception location with these Paper Lantern Wedding Luminaries from Weddingstar. Line a sidewalk, light an entry way or enhance a garden setting with these classic paper lanterns.

Visit Weddingstar

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Chocolate Self-Saucing Pudding by Bill Granger

So rich and delicious, this is better than your Grandmother makes. One of Bill Granger's signature desserts.  

Ingredients (serves 4)
125 g Plain Flour
1 Pinch of Salt
120 g caster sugar
3 teaspoons Baking powder
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
250 ml Milk
85 g unsalted Butter melted
2 Eggs lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Double cream or crème fraiche to serve
185 g soft brown sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
250 ml boiling Water
Measurement Conversion Calculator

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4).
2. Sift the flour, salt, sugar, baking powder and cocoa powder into a bowl.
3. Add the milk, butter, egg and vanilla extract and mix with beaters until combined.
4. Pour into four 250 ml (1 cup) greased pudding moulds.
1. Stir the brown sugar and cocoa powder in a bowl to combine, then sprinkle it over the pudding batter.
2. Pour boiling water carefully over the puddings, then bake for 20 to 25 minutes.
3. Serve with thick cream. 

Monday, April 4, 2011

Decorating With Blue

There’s no easier hue to work with than blue, in all its warm and cool tones and Real Simple show us how…

Warm Blues
Famously calming and peaceful, blue can have very different effects on a room depending on its temperature. Warm blues, like the shade shown here (or like denim, ocean blue, or slate blue), contain hints of red. Color experts say they advance, or come toward you, so they help make a room feel cozier. Decorators often like warm blues in social spaces, like the living room, the kitchen, or the dining room.

Cool Blues
Shades known as cool blues like cobalt, turquoise, and ice blue, have yellow in them and tend to recede, or back away, which can help a small space look bigger. Color experts explain that cool blues encourage calmness (which is nice for a bedroom) and focus (say, in a home office). Sometimes cool blues can go a little further and be cold. But in a bathroom, where you want a crisp, clean vibe, that can be a good thing.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Donnay Hay Autumn cooking, Special Made Simple

As the cooler days roll in enjoy the flavours Autumn brings with your new issue of Donna Hay Magazine. From scallop and garlic chive dumplings and salt and pepper prawns to tender soy chicken and Chinese fried rice, each recipe contains the sublime oriental flavours that mingle salty, sweet and spicy with crispy vegetables and traditional cuts of meat. Take advantage of this seasons offerings by making sweet and easy desserts like fig and marsala pudding, plum and chocolate clafoutis or a heavenly maple pear tarte tatin.

Maple Pear Tarte Tatin (as seen on the cover of Special Made Simple)

Ingredients (Serves 2)
25g (3/4 oz) unsalted butter
1/4 cup (2 fl oz) maple syrup
1 pear, sliced
375g (13 1/4 oz) block store-bought puff pasty...

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (355°F). Place the butter in a 13cm (5 in) non-stick frying pan over medium heat until melted. 
2. Add the maple syrup and arrange the pear in the base of the pan and cook for 5-6 minutes or until just soft. Remove from the heat and set aside.
3. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface to 5mm (¼ in) thick. Cut out a 14cm (5½ in) circle to fit inside the pan over the pears. 
4. Bake the tart for 30-35 minutes or until the pastry is puffed and golden. 
5. Allow to stand for 2 minutes then invert onto a plate. 
6. Use a thick dry cloth that covers both your arm and hands to cover your skin when flipping. 
7. Place a plate on top of the tarte tatin pan then flip it directly on to the plate. 
8. Serve the tarte tatin warm or at room temperature.