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Monthly Archives: February 2013

Vertical Gardens

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Great article on Houzz about vertical gardens. Great for small spaces and courtyards in Urban areas.

Outdoor Entertaining Tips

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River rock paper weights

River Rock Weights

River rocks (available by the bag at garden centres) help keep plates and napkins where they belong, even after they’ve left the serving table. Pile them in a bucket on the buffet table for guests to grab along with their utensils; you’ll avoid having to chase fly- away’s.

rubber band wine glasses

Rubber Band I.D. Wine Glasses

A guests wineglass wont end up in the wrong hands when one of these brightly coloured rubber bands identifies it. Use a permanent marker to write your guests names on the bands after placing around each glass.

Mayonnaise mix ins

Mayonnaise Mix ins

Beef up your condiment offerings for burgers and sandwiches with these four easy blends. Start each with 1 cup mayonnaise and 1/4 teaspoon salt, then add: peppers (1/4 cup, finely chopped); Kalamata-olive puree (3 tablespoons); sun-dried tomatoes in oil (1/4 cup, drained and finely chopped); or pesto (3 tablespoons). Don’t leave mixes outside for more than two hours; refrigerate in an airtight container for up to five days.

Rosemary Skewers

Rosemary Skewers

With its sturdy stalk, rosemary makes a great skewer, infusing grilled food with its garden-fresh flavor. Soak stalks for a half hour before adding meat, fish, or vegetables. You may need to poke through the food first with a metal skewer.

Content from this post from Martha Stewart.com

Valentine’s Day with Kids Attached

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For some of us with kids going out for a romantic Valentines dinner can sometimes be not an option. I must admit that I’m usually anti-Valentines Day because its so commercial and even when it was just the two of us I usually was happy to have a quiet dinner at home.

Having a four year old in the house now who is obsessed with “Love hearts” I thought that a Valentines dinner at home could be fun with her as well.

So in my house we will be having a casual outdoor dinner made a little bit special with some Neapolitan cupcakes, just chocolate cupcakes with alternate vanilla and strawberry flavoured icing (Betty Crocker icing is the best pre made icing and easy to colour and flavour) topped with a chocolate a Damask melamine setting from Urban Spice and some home made Valentine hearts attached to some straws in red paper cups.

The main meal is yet to be decided but something casual like home made burgers might be a hit, hopefully it will be a lot of fun from a kids point of view and a little bit special for the adults as well.

Picture sources: Urban Spice, Pinterest

Trust Your Own Style

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Moroccan Pouffe

There is no doubt that this is an exciting time for the homewares industry at the moment.
With an endless choice of online retailers offering anything for the interior and exterior of your home we are simply spoilt for choice.

As one of those online retailers I too see a lot of people buying certain products that are popular and splashed across every known homewares magazine and I wonder if people are buying these items because they really love the item or are they buying it because it is in all the magazines so therefore they MUST own it just because its popular and because everyone is promoting that item.

I don’t mean to pick on any one particular item but for the point of this blog post I will use the Moroccan Pouffe as an example. My apologies to the pouffe for singling it out as I have no ill feelings toward it, but here is an item that is featured everywhere we look in colours from bright pink to high shine gold. How many people I have to wonder have bought this because their own sense of aesthetic has compelled them to do so or because this is the ‘must have’ item of the moment.

I am constantly being asked by friends, relatives and customers my thoughts on what items would suit their homes and I am always more than happy to suggest something for them, but what a lot of people don’t realise is they already have the ability to pick something that is their unique style and their own instincts should be trusted.

Our sense of aesthetic is something that is totally unique and is formed over our lifetime from our experiences, travels and loves. Have you ever noticed that you tend to favour certain colours in products over others? that is one aspect of your style, you may be drawn to organic shapes rather than stylised forms and you can probably see a certain theme in the products you have surrounded yourself with over time. Trust these instincts.

If you see something that you love, really love, in a store or online you should never stop to think “but where would I put it?” because you will always find a place for something you love and be able to incorporate it into ‘your style’. Whether you realise it or not you already have a style, you may need some tips from magazines to help with your layout but the decor within that layout should always be your choosing. The worst mistake you can make is to buy something just because it appears in magazines everywhere, if you didn’t fall in love with it at first sight try not to let it grow on you just because you see it everywhere.

Vogue magazines Anna Wintour once stated “Create your own style… let it be unique for yourself and yet identifiable for others” and even though she was referring to clothing style I cant think of a better rule that should be applied when it comes to our homes.

Madge.

Mango & Lemongrass Tart with Coconut Pastry

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Mango and lemongrass tart with coconut pastry

I would love to say I have made this but I do intend to try it this weekend to take to a party, I will let you know if my version looks anything like this…

  • Ingredients
  • 300ml thickened cream
  • 3 lemongrass stems, bruised
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup (75g) caster sugar
  • 1 1/2 gold-strength gelatine leaves
  • 2 mangoes, peeled, thinly sliced

Coconut pastry

  • 1 1/3 cups (200g) plain flour
  • 100g chilled unsalted butter, chopped
  • 1/3 cup (30g) desiccated coconut
  • 1 tbs icing sugar, plus extra to dust
  1. Place the cream and lemongrass in a pan over medium heat. Bring to just below boiling point, then remove from the heat and set aside for 1 hour to infuse.
  2. Step 2Meanwhile, for pastry, whiz flour, butter, coconut and icing sugar in a processor to combine. Add 3 tbs chilled water, then process until mixture comes together in a ball. Enclose in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes. Roll pastry on a lightly floured surface to 2mm thick. Use to line a greased 10cm x 34cm loose-bottomed tart pan. Chill for 20 minutes.
  3. Step 3Preheat oven to 180°C. Line pastry with baking paper and pastry weights or uncooked rice. Blind-bake for 10 minutes. Remove paper and weights, then return to oven for 5 minutes or until golden, crisp and dry (cook for 2-3 minutes longer if necessary, but keep checking). Cool.
  4. Step 4Beat yolks and sugar with electric beaters until thick and pale. Add cream, discarding lemongrass. Soak gelatine in cold water for 5 minutes. Return cream mixture to pan on low heat and stir for 2-3 minutes until thickened slightly. Remove from heat. Squeeze excess water from gelatine, then add to pan and stir to dissolve. Cool completely, then pour into tart case. Chill for 2-3 hours until firm, then top with overlapping mango slices.

Recipe from Delicious magazine

The Owner Builder Process Begins

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I mentioned in an earlier post that my husband and I were about to embark on building a new home. This is not our first build but it will be the first build that we have undertaken as owner builders.

I admit that the ‘owner builder’ title fills me with dread and with it comes visions of forgetting some crucial element that holds up the building process or worse ends up costing us money to fix.

Having previously used building companies in the past if something wasn’t done by a certain time or not done to standard it was easy to refer to the site supervisor and say “we need to get this sorted out” now of course the person that sorts that out will be me or the hubby. It is these thoughts that are already keeping me awake at night and we haven’t even broken ground.

We will next week undertake our owner builders course and license and things will move fairly quickly from there. This is not something I would recommend to anyone who hasn’t at least built one house before and know what they are in for, building is one of the most stressful things that you can do in your life (more so than moving house) so you need to have a bit more than a basic understanding of home building.

It is also important to be aware warranty issues, this will vary state by state but just as you get a new home warranty with a building company the same also applies to owner builders who then become responsible for the home warranty for a period of time even after the house is sold, but again this is something that varies state by state but you need to be aware of it.

To make life even more interesting we are using a new product from FBM Corp that has great thermal properties,is a new green technology product and has a very fast construction time. These prefabricated panels will allow construction of the house to lock up stage to happen very quickly.

We have previously built twice using double brick construction that is favoured here in Western Australia but this product ticked all the boxes for us in terms of build time, environmental impact and cost (around 30% less than normal brick construction) so that part I am particularly excited about.

So as we go on I will keep you all posted and try not to bore you all with the details, as soon as there is the opportunity for photos I will post them for you to see.

Would love to hear about anyone else’s building experiences good or bad so feel free to have a chat or vent depending on your how your building venture went.

Madge

The Outdoor Chandelier

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outdoor lightingoutdoor umbrella chandelier

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We still have a couple of months of warmer weather here in Australia and this idea for an outdoor chandelier is perfectly suited to our love of outdoor living. All that is required is an outdoor umbrella and a table setting with a hole in the table top to hold the umbrella upright. This idea could also be easily adapted to hang around the perimeter of  an alfresco area, large tree or from a balcony, just make sure you properly secure them to whatever they are hanging from.

There are now real wax flameless candles that are available in Australia that are perfect for this type of outdoor setting and the fact that cant be blown out by a breeze and are completely safe makes them a great option. But if you are using real candles as shown in the pictures please use caution.

D.I.Y. Lanterns

marthastewart.comCollect a dozen glass jars or votive holders in different sizes, each with a wide top or a rim (as on jelly jars). Wrap wire around each top, and twist to secure. Bend another piece of wire into a loop, and attach as a handle. Cut varying lengths of chain, and attach a small S hook to the top of each. Slip hook over a spoke of your patio umbrella, and secure hook with adhesive putty. Attach another S hook to the bottom of each chain, and use it to hang the lantern.

TIP – Make it truly unique by using coloured glass jars or votive holders. If you cant fins any paint some regular glass jars with some coloured glass paint.

Sources- marthastewart.com, Pinterest