Tuesday, May 31, 2011

How to Paint a Striped Feature Wall

Concentrating your resources on one wall is a shrewd way to invigorate your home without committing to the disruption and expense of a total upgrade.

Horizontal stripes in contrasting shades of the same colour add definition and perspective to a featureless room. This method is particularly effective when applied to a long, unbroken wall.

What you will need
3 shades of paint (the base colour and two complementary colours).
Assorted paint brushes
Masking tape
Length of wooden dowelling
Spirit level

Buy the best masking tape you can find to help prevent paint bleeding on the line.
1. Begin by ensuring that the wall is clean, then apply the main colour to the whole surface. Leave to dry completely.

2. Once the paint is perfectly dry, you can begin to explore where you want to place the lines. To achieve a balanced, flowing look you should take furniture, paintings and any fixed features into account. If you're unsure of placement, try attaching strips of paper where you think the stripes should be, add a piece of furniture for perspective and stand back.

3. Once you're confident of your placement, you can draw the lines in place, but you'll need a partner to ensure the lines are straight and level. Use the length of wooden dowel as a ruler. Hold it in place, use the spirit level to check that it's straight, then use the pencil to draw two lines, one for the top and one for the bottom of the stripe. Repeat until you've marked all the stripes.

4. To apply masking tape to each penciled line, carefully roll out a length then have one person hold the end, and the other carefully smooth the tape along the line, taking care not to stretch the tape. Repeat for each penciled line.

5. Use the paintbrushes to fill in each stripe with the contrasting colours, then carefully peel away the masking tape. With a small brush tidy up any paint bleeds. Repeat for your each stripe.
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Monday, May 30, 2011

Easy Weekend Decorating Projects

Want to give your home a mini-makeover in a weekend? Check out these simple projects from Better Homes & Gardens for inspiration…

Refresh Your Bedroom with new bedding, a fresh coat of paint, and unique lighting will give a bedroom a new personality and it can be finished in a weekend.
With wallpaper's recent comeback, a ray of beautiful choices are available to jazz up any room. Look for oversize patterns to create a sophisticated and dramatic look.

Give your standard cabinets a boost with a new coat of paint and modern hardware. This Swedish-inspired look is enhanced by a beadboard backsplash and red-and-white toile curtains.

Creating a classic flower arrangement doesn't have to be difficult. With a few simple steps you can turn a grocery store bouquet into a masterfully crafted centerpiece.

This once-ordinary unfinished bookcase was given a modern look with an espresso gel stain finish and a few accessories. To make the bookcase truly unique, a linen roller shade was installed to conceal clutter.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Cookie Crisps with Decadent Dark Chocolate Sauce

Here’s a great way to enjoy the antioxidant benefits chocolate has to offer. Flaxseed is rich in alpha-linolenic acid, a type of plant-derived omega-3 fatty acid similar to those found in fish. In many studies, flaxseed has been shown to play a role in fighting heart disease by lowering cholesterol. Read on for the fabulous recipe and be sure to visit Yahoo 7 Lifestyle for more yummy recipes…
• 120 g dark chocolate
• 1⁄2 cup whole milk
• 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
• 2 cups wholemeal pastry flour
• 2 tablespoons flaxseed
• 1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda
• 1⁄4 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon cinnamon
• 1⁄2 teaspoon ground ginger
• 4 tablespoons trans-free margarine, softened
• 2 tablespoons canola oil
• 1⁄3 cup packed dark brown sugar
• 1⁄3 cup honey
• 1 large egg

Chocolate Sauce:
1. Heat the chocolate, milk and sugar in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir constantly until melted and smooth. Serve warm.

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Coat 2 baking sheets with cooking spray.
2. Combine the flour, flaxseed, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and ginger in a medium bowl. Set aside.
3. Cream the margarine, oil, sugar, honey and egg with a hand mixer. Add the reserved dry ingredients and stir until combined.
4. Drop by rounded tablespoons on the prepared baking sheets and bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden. Let cool on the trays for 5 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool completely.
• 830 kilojoules
• 2 g protein
• 25 g carbohydrates
• 10 g fat
• 9 g saturated fat*
• 5 mg cholesterol
• 28 mg sodium
• 1 g fibre


• 1,066 kilojoules
• 4 g protein
• 31 g carbohydrates
• 12 g fat
• 1 g saturated fat
• 22 mg cholesterol
• 180 mg sodium
• 4 g fibre

Yahoo 7 Lifestyle

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Memory Box

Trace the journey of your lives together and hang it on the wall with a sequence of memory boxes.

Available from department and homeware stores, these box frames are a wonderful way to preserve those little things that represent moments in your life. Rather than hiding them away, you can create a pictorial narrative from holidays overseas, something from your wedding, your baby’s first rattle, a pair of tiny ballet shoes. These are the treasures that tell the story of a life.

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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Agnolotti With Roasted Pumpkin

Pasta makes for an easy and economical vegetarian meal. Use your favourite vegetables to whip up a variety of vegetarian pasta recipes. For an extra dose of protein add lentils into the mix. We love the Agnolotti with roasted pumpkin recipe from Taste.

Ingredients (serves 4)
750g butternut pumpkin, peeled
100g butter, melted
625g packet fresh ricotta and spinach agnolotti pasta
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh chives
1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped


1. Preheat oven to 200°C. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Cut pumpkin into 2cm cubes. Place onto tray. Brush with 1 tablespoon of butter. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden and tender.
2. Cook pasta in a large saucepan of boiling salted water, following packet directions, until tender.
3. Heat remaining butter in a frying pan over medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes, or until golden brown. Add nutmeg.
4. Drain pasta, reserving 2 tablespoons of cooking water. Return pasta and reserved water to saucepan. Add pumpkin, butter, walnuts, chives, parsley, and salt and pepper. Toss over low heat until well combined. Serve immediately.

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Monday, May 23, 2011

Sweet Pea Place Cards

Encourage loved ones to dig in literally with these cute place settings from Martha Stewart Weddings. Fill tiny packets with the seeds of your favorite flower, and stitch them onto simply printed seating cards; then watch the happiness blossom.

Visit Martha Stewart Weddings for instructions.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Decorate Your Wedding Cake

We love these adorable Circle Cake Flags from Etsy. A sweet little way to top your wedding cake. Each set comes with 3 circle cakes flags (1 wood, 2 paper) Choose your initials, sayings or mix and match. All circles are lined with a different patterned paper, each are unique and hand crafted.

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Thursday, May 19, 2011

How To Grow Tomatoes

The heroes of the home garden, rich in nutrients and antioxidants, a home-grown tomato surpasses store-bought fruit in terms of flavour. There are hundreds of varieties of tomatoes with different uses and slightly different flavours. After a few years of trial and error, you’ll discover some delicious varieties that appeal to your tastebuds.

What you will need 
Pelletised manure mulch
Gardening trowel 
How to
1. Plant your tomato seedlings when the soil temperature reaches 15°C after the last frost.
2. Plant in a sunny spot with lots of air circulation.
3. Rotate tomatoes each year and never plant them in the same bed two years running. Plant tomatoes a little deeper than usual, as they will grow roots along any stem that comes into contact with the soil, creating a deeper and stronger root system. Do not prune the lateral branches, as this will reduce your yield. If you find they are becoming unwieldy, just thread the stems through your trellis.
4. Keep the soil moist - neither dry nor wet. Water plants with seaweed solution and don't over feed them; you can simply add a pelletised manure through the growing stage. Make sure you remove any leaves that come in contact with soil and mulch around each plant to a depth of 15 centimetres.
5. Save the seeds and carry on the strain.
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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Minestrone soup

We love this hearty minestrone soup full of healthy vegetables, pasta and bacon, perfect for a cold winters night.

Ingredients (serves 4)
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 rashers middle bacon, rind removed, chopped
1 medium brown onion, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, trimmed, finely chopped
1 large carrot, peeled, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
4 cups salt-reduced vegetable stock
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3 large ripe tomatoes, chopped
3/4 cup Vetta small shell dried pasta
400g can cannellini beans, drained, rinsed
2 small zucchini, chopped
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh basil leaves
finely grated parmesan cheese, to serve

1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over high heat. Add bacon, onion, celery, carrot and garlic. Cook, stirring, for 3 to 4 minutes or until onion has softened and bacon is golden. 
2. Add stock, tomato paste, tomato and 1 cup cold water. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low. Simmer, covered, for 30 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
3. Add pasta, beans, zucchini and peas. Simmer for 15 minutes or until pasta is tender. Stir in basil. Top with cheese. Serve.

Spice up your minestrone by using 4 slices of spicy pancetta instead of the bacon.

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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Napkin With Flowers

Weddings are full of flowers, but sometimes the littlest arrangements make the biggest impact. Guests will be delighted to find cut flowers tucked into their napkins. Martha Stewart Weddings show us how…

To fold the napkin, lay it on a flat surface, and fold in half widthwise so the folded edge is near you. Fold the top layer back down halfway. Turn the napkin over, and fold the edges into the center. Finish by folding the napkin in half and tuck the flower in to the napkin. To keep the blooms from wilting during the cocktail hour, slip the stems into little vials of water (available at floral shops).

Monday, May 16, 2011

Headboard Art


Sick of staring at a cold, stark, empty wall in your bedroom? Infuse it with warmth and style by adding creative art, like this bedroom from Better Homes & Gardens. Use framed prints to fill up blank space on the wall behind a bed, an arrangement that doubles as a headboard. To create this gridlike look, use square black frames and hang them close together, leaving about 2-3 inches between the frame edges. You could hang, artwork, photographs, prints, the options are limitless.

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Thursday, May 12, 2011

Individual Lamb & Pumpkin Cottage Pies

Pumpkin and spiced lamb are a perfect match in this twist on traditional cottage pies. With winter definitely in the air this this will be sure to be a hit at the dinner table.

Preparation Time 20 minutes
Cooking Time 55 minutes

Ingredients (serves 4)
1 tbs olive oil
1 brown onion, coarsely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
3 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground chilli
500g lamb mince
1 x 400g can diced tomatoes
125ml (1/2 cup) salt-reduced chicken stock
2 tbs tomato paste
1.5kg butternut pumpkin, peeled, deseeded, coarsely chopped
80g (1 cup) coarsely grated cheddar
2 tbs pine nuts

1. Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 6 minutes or until the onion is soft. Add the garlic, ground coriander, cumin, cinnamon and chilli and cook, stirring, for 1 minute or until aromatic.
2. Increase heat to high. Add the mince and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon to break up any lumps, for 5 minutes or until browned. Stir in the tomato, stock and tomato paste. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 15 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, cook the pumpkin in a steamer basket over a saucepan of simmering water for 8 minutes or until tender. Transfer to a heatproof bowl. Use a fork to mash until smooth.
4. Preheat oven to 200°C. Divide the mince mixture among four 500ml (2-cup) capacity ovenproof dishes. Spoon the pumpkin evenly over the mince mixture and use the back of a spoon to spread. Sprinkle with the cheddar and pine nuts.
5. Bake in oven for 20-25 minutes or until the cheddar is golden and the pine nuts are toasted. Set aside for 5 minutes to cool slightly. Serve.

Freezing tip At the end of step 4, cover the dishes with lids. Alternatively, wrap in plastic wrap, then in foil. Label, date and freeze the pies for up to three months. To thaw, place the portions in the fridge for 6-8 hours or until thawed. Preheat oven to 200°C. Remove the lids or plastic wrap and foil. Continue from step 5.

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Publish Post

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

How To Make Soy Candles

Use the scent of fresh, zesty citrus and make handmade candles with this easy 4 step guide from HomeLife, for a chic gift that will lift the spirits.

Equipment is available at craft stores, or in kits from Candle Making

Equipment (makes 6)
6 small votive candle glasses
500g white soy wax
Double saucepan
1 tsp pure essential oil of choice (orange, lemon, lime or grapefruit)
6 tabbed wicks
1 skewer
6 clothes pegs

1. Prepare your work area close to the stove.Lay down newspaper in case any wax is spilled, then arrange votive glasses on top.
2. Melt wax in the top of a double saucepan over simmering water. Add essential oil; stir.
3. Use ladle to carefully pour wax into the glasses. Place wicks in each glass, positioning with the skewer. Hold wicks in place by securing at the top with a peg.
4. Leave to set overnight. The next day, if the wax has dipped in the centre of the candles, melt more wax and top up. Once set, use scissors to trim wicks to 0.5cm in length.

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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Miniature Woven Picnic Basket

This miniature picnic basket from Weddingstar, comes with an optional solid lid and adorable double handles. The lid can be simply and decoratively held in place with a pretty wrap of ribbon tied into a bow. If desired, the lid can be eliminated all together. This will accommodate larger fillers such as homemade cookies or similar confections that require just a little more space. Regardless of what you choose to tuck inside, the resulting favour will have distinctive casual charm.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Chicken Antipasto Pasta

This quick and easy pasta dish from Taste makes Monday night's dinner a breeze.

Ingredients (serves 4)
375g dried penne pasta
6 slices prosciutto
1/2 large barbecued chicken, skin removed, shredded (see notes)
150g semi-dried tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup pitted black olives, chopped
50g finely grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup Lupi extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh basil leaves
basil leaves, to serve


1. Cook pasta in a large saucepan of boiling salted water, following packet directions, until tender. Drain and return to saucepan.
2. Preheat grill on high. Grill prosciutto for 2 to 3 minutes each side or until golden and crisp. Set aside to cool. Break into pieces.
3. Add chicken, prosciutto, tomatoes, olives and parmesan to pasta. Toss to combine.
4. Combine oil, lemon juice, chopped basil and salt and pepper in a jug. Add to pasta mixture. Toss to combine. Serve topped with basil leaves.

You will need 1 1/2 cups shredded chicken for this recipe.

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Friday, May 6, 2011

Make Stitched Handmade Cards

These simple stitched handmade cards from HomeLife, are incredibly easy to make and can be decorated with a range of motifs. A stitched initial is a lovely way to personalise a card, and perfect to add to your Mother's Day gift!

Mid weight card (art stores)
Embroidery needle (used as hole punch)
Emroidery thread or wool
Adhesive tape

1. Fold a piece of plain mid-weight card in half, then draw your design on the inside of the front cover using a light pencil.
2. Use the point of an embroidery needle to pierce holes at equal intervals along every line.
3. Using embroidery thread or wool, thread the needle then knot at one end. Starting from the inside, stitch around your design.
4. Tie off the thread and secure with adhesive tape.

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Thursday, May 5, 2011

Heart-Shaped French Toast

Breakfast in bed should always be beautifully presented and served of course in bed! This heart-shaped french toast recipe from HomeLife is a sweet and simple treat for your mum this Mother's Day.

1 egg
1/2 cup of milk
1 tsp sugar
Pinch of salt
Thick slice of bread
1 tbs butter
Heart-shaped pastry cutter
Icing sugar
Fresh strawberries
Maple syrup

1. Whisk together egg, milk, sugar and salt in a bowl.
2. Melt butter in a frying pan over medium heat until foaming.
3. Meanwhile, use a heart-shaped pastry cutter to cut out the centre from a thick slice of white bread. Dip the bread into egg mixture.
4. Place bread in the pan, cooking on both sides until golden. Place on a serving plate and sprinkle with icing sugar. 
5. Serve with fresh strawberries and maple syrup.

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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Strawberry & Cream Tart

Mums work very hard so why not give yours a break this Mother's Day by making her something delicious, like this strawberry and cream tart from Taste.

Ingredients (serves 6)
1 1/3 cups plain flour
2 tablespoons caster sugar
90g butter, chilled, chopped
1 egg
250g cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup icing sugar
1 teaspoon rum
500g small strawberries, hulled
1/4 cup strawberry jam, warmed

1. Process flour, caster sugar and butter in a food processor until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add egg. Process until pastry just comes together.
2. Turn onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth. Press into a 10cm (diameter) disc. Wrap in greaseproof paper. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.
3. Place a baking tray into oven. Preheat oven and tray to 200°C. Roll out pastry on a floured surface to a 5mm-thick round. Line a 3cm deep, 19cm (base) loose-based tart pan with pastry. Refrigerate for 5 minutes.
4. Line pastry case with baking paper. Fill with raw rice. Place onto hot baking tray. Bake for 10 minutes or until edges are light golden. Remove baking paper and rice. Bake for a further 8 to 10 minutes or until pastry case is light golden. Set aside to cool.
5. Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese, sour cream, icing sugar and rum until smooth. Spread mixture in cold pastry case. Top with strawberries. Brush with warm jam. Cover. Refrigerate overnight. Serve.

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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Fabric Covered Tins

Find a use for old tins and brighten up a corner of your home by covering tins in fabric and using them for kitchen or home office storage with this easy 2 step guide from HomeLife

Old tins or cans
Tape measure
Fabric scissors
Artist’s spray adhesive
Lengths of fabric 

1. Wash your tins well then peel or scrub off labels. Allow to dry.

2. Use your tape measure to measure the height and circumference of each tin. Use a ruler to trace the shape on to a length of fabric then cut out. Spray wrong side of fabric with artist's adhesive then gently smooth over tin - fabric should sit just below the lip of the tin, where the wrapper would have been. Use tins to store utensils or pencils and pens. 

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Monday, May 2, 2011

Oven-baked Chips with Chilli & Thyme

Get stuck into these home made low-fat hot chips from Taste. The clever coat of flavoured salt makes them the last word in finger food.

Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes
Serves: 6

11/2 tbs chopped fresh thyme
1-2 tsp dried chilli flakes
1 tsp cracked black pepper
2 tsp sea salt flakes
Olive oil, to grease
4 (about 1.3kg) large coliban potatoes, peeled, thickly sliced lengthways, cut into 1.5cm-thick batons
2 tbs olive oil, extra

1. Place the thyme, chilli, pepper and half the salt in a mortar and gently pound with a pestle until coarsely crushed. Stir in the remaining salt.
2. Preheat oven to 250°C. Brush 2 baking trays with oil to grease. Line with non-stick baking paper.
3. Place the potato in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 3 minutes. Drain. Transfer to a large bowl. Add the oil and half the salt mixture, and toss to coat.
4. Arrange the potato, in a single layer, on the prepared trays. Bake, swapping trays halfway through cooking, for 15 minutes or until golden. Serve with remaining salt mixture.

Time plan tip: Prepare this recipe to the end of step 1 up to 1 day ahead. Store in an airtight container. Continue from step 2, 30 minutes before serving.

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