Thursday, June 30, 2011

How to Stencil a Wall

Stencils are simple to apply and instantly add character to a room. With a little time and consideration, this truly is an inexpensive decorating idea for your home.

Repositionable spray adhesive
Low-tack masking tape
Extra-large stencilling brush
Artists' acrylic paint

1. Lightly spray the back of the first stencil piece (our fern stencil had three parts) with adhesive so that it will adhere to the wall, leaving your hands free for painting. (the spray leaves no trace of glue behind and holds the stencil securely to your chosen surface, so that the chances pf the paint bleeding under the stencil is minimised). Stick the piece to the wall. Stick a small piece of tape under each of the two registration holes (so that you won't mark the wall) then use a pencil to draw a cross on each piece of tape. 

2. Take a small amount of paint on to the bristles of your brush (we used artists' acrylic paint, because it is water-based and dries quickly), then circle the brush on a paper towel to remove any excess and to spread paint evenly through the bristles. Using circling motions, apply the paint to the wall through the holes of the stencil, aiming to achieve consistent paint finish on the wall. Once you have painted the first piece, wait for the paint to dry then peel stencil away from the wall. Use tape marks to position the second piece of stencil, repeating tape process with the registration holes on that piece, then paint as before. Repeat with the third piece, then repeat process to make another two ferns.

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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Dinner in Minutes!

Bake scrambled eggs with broccoli, leftover pasta, and chicken for a hearty dish you can serve for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

1 cup broccoli florets
1 medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1-1/4 cups cooked penne or desired pasta
1 cup chopped cooked chicken
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
8 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In large oven-going skillet cook broccoli and onion in hot oil over medium heat 5 minutes or until tender. stir in penne, chicken, basil, and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and black pepper. 
2. Pour eggs over mixture in skillet. Cook over medium heat. As mixture sets, run a spatula around edge of skillet, lifting egg mixture so uncooked portion flows underneath. Continue cooking and lifting edges until egg mixture is almost set. Top with cheese. Bake 5 minutes or until set. Sprinkle with pepper. Makes 4 servings. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Expert Art Arranging Tips

Tired of boring bare walls, but don't know how to fill them? These expert tips tackle common art-arranging frustrations.

Don't pound a single nail before you do a little planning. Decide which pieces you want on the wall, then trace their shapes onto paper. Cut out the shapes and experiment with various placements. This small step will save your drywall from misplaced nail holes.

Start with a central, dominant image. Here, it's the silhouette potted peonies art. Radiate other pieces outward and upward around the central piece. Use artwork that hangs together well; look for similar colors, tones, and themes. Or try same-color frames to unite disparate pieces.

One of the best rules for arranging art is to throw out the rules! Who says art must be centered over a sofa, sideboard, or bed? Instead of centering, think balance. Here, a grouping of similar images on one side of the sofa balances the trio of industrial light fixtures on the other. Another idea: Extend your artwork over the edge of the sofa to visually expand your space.

Looking for a unique way to display art? Try taking it off the wall. Try peeks of art or photography on bookshelves, atop mantels, inside display armoires, or in unexpected spots, such as leaning against a chair back.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Napkin Bow


A perfect bow on each plate is a fun way to spiff up a plain-jane napkin. Spread a dinner napkin out, lying flat. Fold opposite sides in so they meet at the center. Then fold again at the center to form a narrow, ribbonlike shape. Next, fold short ends in so they meet at the center. Cinch in the middle with a ribbon in a co-ordinating color, and glue at back.

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Friday, June 24, 2011

Coffee Hotcakes With Poached Pear

Make the most of versatile pears this winter with this delicious recipe for coffee hotcakes with poached pear.

Ingredients (serves 4)
1 1/3 cups (200g) self-raising flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbs golden caster sugar or caster sugar
1 egg, separated
200g Greek yoghurt , plus extra to serve
200ml milk
20g unsalted butter, melted,
plus extra to brush
2 tbs coffee and chicory essence (from coffee aisle in supermarkets)
Icing sugar, to dust

Poached pears
100g caster sugar
1 cinnamon stick
2-3 beurre bosc pears
1/2 lemon

1. For the pears, place 3 cups (750ml) of water in a pan with sugar and cinnamon.
2. Stir over low heat until sugar dissolves, then turn heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 minutes. Peel the pears and rub exposed fl esh with the cut lemon. Place the pears in syrup and simmer for 15 minutes or until cooked through (this will depend on ripeness of the pears). Allow to cool in the liquid.
3. Sift the flour, soda and baking powder into a bowl and stir in the sugar. In a separate bowl, beat together the egg yolk, yoghurt, milk and melted butter.
4. Beat in the dry ingredients and coffee essence. Place the eggwhite in a separate bowl and whisk until soft peaks form. Fold into the batter.
5. Brush a non-stick frypan with melted butter and place over medium-high heat. Drop tablespoons of mixture in the pan 2-3cm apart and cook in batches for1-2 minutes until golden. Flip over and cook for a further minute until golden on other side. Transfer to a baking tray loosely covered with foil, and keep warm in a low oven while you make the remaining hotcakes.
6. Serve 2-3 hotcakes per person with some sliced pear and thick Greek yoghurt. Dust with some icing sugar.

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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Wallpaper Ideas

HomeLife have shown us the latest trends in wallpaper and how to decorate with this handy material, as well the latest in wall decals…

Create an environment that sings of rich textures and a sense of depth through clever layering of colour and pattern. Developing a scheme needn’t be expensive if you start with what you have and build upon it. Use your favourite piece of furniture as the starting point for ideas about the colours, shapes and styles you would like to combine.

Successful layering of patterns depends on balance. Too many contrasting designs looks chaotic; yet too much repetition creates an over-coordinated arrangement. Start with some elementary guidelines to simplify the process:
- Stripes and checks are an excellent starting point, especially when selecting your colour palette.
- Mix various widths of stripes for a coordinated base with a difference.
- Florals and complex patterns are easy to introduce as a complementary accent, such as framed fabric.
- To ensure patterns work together, select them at the same time.
- Balance patterns with strong pieces of furniture in a plain weave and colour.

Black and white wallpaper is very bold and can be a striking addition to a wall in your home. The less contrasting the colour is in the wallpaper pattern, the less obvious the pattern will be in the room. Cluster plain objects against the pattern - so they don't get lost.

A patterned wallpaper takes on a touch of luxury as flocking gives it a sense of texture and subtle depth. 'Monroe' wallcovering in Graphite, from the Rossini range by Wilman Interiors from Hoad Fabrics

Florence Broadhurst ‘Small Octagonal’ in Yellow, from Signature Prints

‘Garden Birds’ from Wall Candy Wallpaper

‘Verona’ in Pink Rose, from Karman Grech Designs

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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Matchbooks with Seeds


Matchbooks have become a go-to wedding favor, but Martha Stewart Weddings have given them a new feel. Give away something to remember in the form of a cheery, charming pack of forget-me-not seeds. Long after the big day, guests will watch the dainty blossoms spring to life.

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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Potato Topped Chicken Pie

Tuck into this hearty potato topped chicken pie from Taste and keep those winter blues away.

Preparation Time 30 minutes
Cooking Time 120 minutes

Ingredients (serves 4)
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 (about 1kg) chicken thigh fillets, cut into 3cm pieces
200g speck, cut into batons (see Notes)
12 pickling onions, peeled, trimmed
1 carrot, peeled, thickly sliced diagonally
2 celery sticks, trimmed, thickly sliced diagonally
200g button mushrooms
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/4 cup (60ml) brandy
40g butter
1/4 cup (40g) plain flour
1 cup (250ml) dry white wine
1 1/2 cups (375ml) chicken stock
3 sprigs thyme sprigs
2 dried bay leaves
4 (about 800g) pontiac potatoes, very thinly sliced
50g butter, melted, extra

1. Preheat oven to 160C. Heat the oil in a large flameproof casserole dish over medium-high heat. Add one-quarter of the chicken and cook, turning occasionally, for 5 minutes or until brown all over. Transfer to a bowl. Repeat in 3 more batches with remaining chicken.

2. Add the speck to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, or 2 minutes or until crisp. Transfer to the bowl. Add the onions, carrot, celery and mushrooms to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until lightly brown. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the brandy and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes or until brandy reduces by half. Return the chicken and speck to the pan with the butter and flour and cook, stirring, for 2-3 minutes or until well combined. Add the wine, chicken stock, thyme and bay leaves and bring to the boil. Remove from heat. Bake in preheated oven, covered, for 1 hour or until chicken is tender and sauce thickens slightly.

3. Increase oven to 200C. Combine the potato and extra butter in a large bowl. Season well with salt and fresh ground black pepper. Arrange potato slices evenly over the chicken mixture. Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until potato is tender and golden brown.

Speck is smoked bacon, before it is cut into rashers. It is found in the deli section of most supermarkets. Bacon rashers can be used as a substitute.

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Monday, June 20, 2011

Patchwork Headboard

Better Homes & Gardens have shown us how to make a modern patchwork-effect headboard using scraps of co-ordinating fabrics. 

1. To make the headboard, cut 8-inch squares from stiff florist's foam and 1/4-inch plywood. 
2. Cut 8-inch squares from quilt batting and place over foam squares. 
3. Glue all layers with Styroglue. 
4. Cut fabric into squares large enough to wrap the foam squares with at least a 1/2 -inch overlap on the back. 
5. Staple fabric to the back with a staple gun. Cut a piece of 1/4-inch plywood a few inches wider than your mattress on both sides. 
6. Line up the squares face down in your desired pattern and attach them to each other with heavy-duty tape. 
7. Top them with the plywood, and drill wood screws at 8-inch intervals to secure all the layers. 
8. Attach ring hooks to the back of the plywood to hang the headboard on the wall.

Friday, June 17, 2011

How to Treat a Sore Throat


Cinnamon and mint have long been utilised for their antiseptic and healing properties. With those cold winter nights and flu season ahead of us here is a simple rescue remedy for a sore throat…

2-4 slices of lemon
2cm piece of ginger, thinly sliced
A handful of mint sprigs
1-2 cinnamon sticks
Freshly boiled water
Teapot or boil-resistant jug
Honey, to taste

1. Infuse the lemon, mint, ginger, and cinnamon in boiling water for 5 minutes.
2. Pour into mug and add honey to sweeten and soothe the throat.

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Thursday, June 16, 2011

Baked Cheesecake With Roasted Rhubarb

Indulge this winter with this stunning baked cheesecake with roasted rhubarb…

Preparation Time 30 minutes
Cooking Time 80 minutes

Ingredients (serves 12)
250g pkt granita biscuits, coarsely broken
100g butternut biscuits, coarsely broken
200g butter, melted
500g cream cheese, softened
300g ctn sour cream
1/2 cup (100g) caster sugar
180g pkt white chocolate, chopped
2 eggs
2 teaspoons finely grated orange rind

Roasted rhubarb
2 bunches rhubarb
1 cup (200g) caster sugar
1/2 cup (125ml) water
1/2 cup (125ml) orange juice
1 vanilla bean, split
3 cardamom pods, bruised

1. Line the base of a 20cm (top measurement) springform pan with baking paper. Place the biscuits in the bowl of a food processor and process until finely crushed. Add the butter and process until well combined. Transfer mixture to the prepared pan and use a glass to press the crumb mixture firmly over the base and side of the pan. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes to set.
2. Meanwhile, to make the roasted rhubarb, preheat oven to 160C. Use a sharp knife to cut the rhubarb on the angle into 5cm lengths. Place in a roasting pan. Sprinkle the sugar over the rhubarb. Add the water, orange juice, vanilla bean and cardamom. Roast in preheated oven, gently turning once, for 20 minutes or until rhubarb is tender by still holds its shape. Remove from heat. Transfer the rhubarb to a bowl. Place the syrup in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook for 5-10 minutes or until syrup thickens. Drizzle over the rhubarb. Place in the fridge to cool completely.
3. Place the cream cheese, sour cream and sugar in the bowl of a food processor and process until mixture is smooth. Add the white chocolate, eggs and orange rind and process until just combined.
4. Place the prepared biscuit base on an oven tray. Pour the filling into the base. Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour or until just set. Turn off the oven and leave the cheesecake in the oven, with the door ajar, for 1 hour or until cooled completely. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge to chill.
5. Place the cheesecake on a serving plate. Top with rhubarb and any extra syrup. Serve immediately. 

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Winter Bedroom Ideas

Winter does not have to be the bleak season that we all dread. It's perhaps the best time to stay indoors and get creative. Warm up your home with this simple idea

Layering your bed with blankets and cushions is a simple, practical way to add warmth - black, grey and charcoal work well in neutral schemes.

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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Decorating with Natural Elements

Better Homes & Gardens have shown us how to decorate with natural elements. You don't only have to use flowers now bits of nature and nature-inspired objects can create and organic look in your home.

Recycle a collection of glass bottles into an eye-catching mantel display. Gather interesting greenery from outdoors and place each piece in a different jar. Stagger jars according to shape and height, then place a mirror behind the collection to reflect light.

Bring the garden inside by creating a mini tabletop terrarium beneath a pretty cloche. Here, a small glass cloche is also a practical way to protect potted plants from being knocked over.

For a garden-fresh display, assemble a collection of mismatched glassware, along with interesting flowers, greenery, and moss from a garden or floral shop. Arrange your natural finds inside the glassware and group together on a tabletop. Aim for an eclectic collection of natural finds in different heights, sizes, and textures.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Antipasto Pizza

The humble jar of traditional Italian-style tomato sauce can go a lot further than a bowl of pasta. It's Friday... pizza time!

Preparation Time 15 - 45 minutes
Cooking Time 15 minutes
Makes 2 pizzas

1/2 cup (125ml) tomato sugo (tomato sauce)
6 prosciutto slices, coarsely torn
4 marinated artichokes, quartered
100g char-grilled capsicum, thickly sliced
1/2 cup (85g) green olives
50g semi-dried tomatoes
8 bocconcini, coarsely torn
Baby rocket leaves, to serve

Pizza dough
3/4 cup (185ml) warm water
1 tsp dried yeast
1/2 tsp caster sugar
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
2 cups (300g) plain flour
1/2 tsp salt

1. To make dough, combine water, yeast and sugar in a jug. Set aside for 5 minutes or until foamy. Add oil and stir to combine. Combine flour and salt in a bowl. Add water mixture; use a round-bladed knife to mix until well combined. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside for 30 minutes or until dough rises by a third.

2. Preheat oven to 240°C. Divide dough into 2 even portions. Roll each to a 40cm round disc; place on 2 oven trays. Spread sugo over each base. Arrange prosciutto, artichokes, capsicum, olives and tomatoes over each pizza. Top with bocconcini. Bake in preheated oven, swapping trays halfway through cooking, for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through. Remove from oven. Top with rocket and serve. 

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Thursday, June 9, 2011

Paper Lantern Ideas

Paper can do more for a party than serve as your guests' napkins. Whether the sun sets before or during your party, these paper lantern ideas from Marths Stewart set a festive and fun atmosphere…

These lanterns hanging from bamboo poles are origami balloons, fashioned around battery-operated lights and finished with ribbons.
This modern take on lanterns updates the look of a boring table with chic stripes printed onto vellum and wrapped around straight-sided square glass vases.

The soft light of paper lanterns sets a romantic mood. Two bags, one fitted over the other to form a box. The lanterns, strung on electric Christmas-tree lights and hung along branches, are tied with ribbon and sway gently in the evening breeze.

The intricate patterns shining through these lanterns are courtesy of doilies glued inside. Place a grouping of the lanterns in different sizes on a dinner table for a beautiful, glowing display.

Paper lanterns don't need to have lights in them to signal an instant party feel. String them above the deck as a festive decoration instead.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Decorate With Paper

These whimsical paper roses adhered around the base of a simple white shade soften a geometric lamp and add a touch of charm. Sketch a circular swirl on drawing-weight paper (available at crafts stores). Cut to create a paper coil. Roll the paper tightly starting at the outside end of the coil. Release the coil slightly and hot-glue the end to retain the flower shape.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

DIY Album From kikki.K

Create a keepsake to cherish with a kikki.K DIY Album! 

Display your photos and memories in this gorgeous DIY Album. Features an embossed cover, ribbon closure and back pocket for storing bits and pieces. Use stickers and stamps to create a keepsake to be appreciated. We think it's the perfect gift or personal memento.

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Monday, June 6, 2011

Creamy Chicken Pot Pie

 Cook up a storm in your kitchen with this great Creamy Chicken Pot Pie recipe from Better Homes & Gardens

1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
2 cups frozen mixed vegetables (carrots, corn, green beans, peas), thawed, drained
1 tub (10 oz.) PHILADELPHIA Savory Garlic Cooking Creme
1 ready-to-use refrigerated pie crust (1/2 of 14.1-oz. pkg.) 

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees F
2. Cook and stir chicken in large nonstick skillet on medium heat 5 to 6 min. or until chicken is lightly browned. Add vegetables; cook 1 to 2 min. or until heated through. Stir in cooking creme; spoon into 9-inch pie plate.
3. Cover with crust; seal and flute edge. Cut several slits in crust. Place pie plate on baking sheet.
4. Bake 25 to 30 min. or until golden brown.
Substitute 2 cups chopped cooked ham for the chicken.

Friday, June 3, 2011

How To Punch Up Plain Pillows

Scoop up basic pillows in every shape, color, and size, and make them anything but ordinary with this fun idea from Better Homes & Gardens

Create your own stylised shapes such as leaves, flowers, or just plain circles for your pillows. Use patterned fabric for more interest. Draw and cut out shapes to use as patterns. Pin the patterns to fabric and cut out the shapes. Open one seam of the pillow and remove the pillow insert. Following the manufacturer's instructions, use fusible web to adhere your fabric shapes to the pillow front. Replace the insert and sew the pillow seam closed.

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Thursday, June 2, 2011

How to Make a Living Table Centrepiece

Bring nature to your table with this succulent centrepiece! The succulents used are called Houseleeks (otherwise known as Hen and chicks). The variety forms small rosette crowns in green, burgundy or both, too small for the garden but perfect for pots, or in this example, a table centrepiece!

What you will need 
Large rectangle tray (suitable for drilling)
Succulent potting mix
Houseleeks (Sempervivum sp.)

How to
1. Select a tray that will suit your outdoor table and mark out drainage holes to be drilled. Use an electric drill to make the drainage holes.
2. Fill with a succulent potting mix and a selection of very small succulents. We chose houseleeks (Sempervivum) due to their size and the fact they clump into a living mat.
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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Tomato, Bacon & Bocconcini Gnocchi Bake

Take pasta bake to the next level with this recipe from Taste for individual dishes of baked gnocchi. Serve straight away as a top-value family meal or simply freeze ahead for a quick weeknight dinner.

Preparation Time 20 minutes
Cooking Time  45 minutes

Ingredients (serves 6)
1 tbs olive oil
1 large brown onion, coarsely chopped
1-2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
4 short-cut bacon rashers, coarsely chopped
200g button mushrooms, thinly sliced
125ml (1/2 cup) white wine
400g can diced tomatoes
120g baby spinach leaves
500g pkt shelf-fresh gnocchi
200g bocconcini, drained, torn in half

1. Heat oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over medium heat. Cook the onion and garlic, stirring, for 1 minute. Add bacon and cook, stirring, for 3-4 minutes or until bacon is light golden. Add mushroom and cook for 3-4 minutes or until mushroom is soft.
2. Add the wine. Cook, scraping any bits from the base of the pan, for 3-4 minutes or until wine reduces by half. Stir in the tomato. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the spinach until it just wilts.
3. Preheat oven to 180°C. Cook the gnocchi in a large saucepan of salted boiling water following packet directions. Drain. Add to tomato mixture. Stir to combine.
4. Divide among six 330ml (1 1/3-cup) capacity ovenproof dishes. Top with the bocconcini. Place on a baking tray. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the bocconcini melts.

1. Make-ahead tips: To freeze: Divide the gnocchi mixture among freezerproof dishes and set aside to cool completely. Cover with 2 layers of plastic wrap. Freeze for up to 3 months. 
2. To thaw: Place in the fridge overnight.

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