Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Racing To Try a Recipe

Have you ever seen a photo of a dish that you couldn't wait to try?
Something that captured your eye so quickly, and your imagination so completely that within hours you found yourself in the kitchen whipping up a storm??

I did. Yesterday.

You see it was my husband's birthday. I'd already decided to roast a chicken for dinner and was at the supermarket in search of potatoes. And pumpkin. And green vegetables. 

My kitchen is suffering from a vegetable drought at the moment. But having almost exhausted my frozen vege supply and collection of macaroni cheese, cheese on toast and homemade burgers - i needed to restock. If I was going to pull off a baked birthday dinner to be proud of, I couldn't put off food shopping any longer.

On entering the fray, I spied some piles of the free supermarket magazine. I grabbed one with an appreciative glance at the photo on the front. Yum. I love it when food is linked with seasonal inspiration. My Autumn Style story on Houzz included food ideas, but now I'd probably need to revise it with dessert options!

As I headed towards the broccoli, my multi-tasking mind was spinning: Oh crap. Wait a minute. What am I doing for dessert? Uh Oh, hadn't thought of anything. Did I want to make a birthday cake? Not really. Don't have a great success rate with cakes. Why did I already make a lemon pudding three days ago? Can't very well make another one and call it a special birthday treat! Hmm, this pavlova looks amazing and I have had success with meringue of late. Is this something I could pull off? Maybe. What page is it on?

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So as I filled a bag with broccoli one-handed (not easy, I can tell you), I flicked through the pages to the Chocolate Meringue and Poached Pears with Caramel Sauce Recipe. Scanning the ingredients made the decision easy. The only extra things I needed to whip up this pavlova perfection were 4 buerre bosc pears and cream. Everything else I already had in the cupboard and fridge, and in my mind, it was already half done. Click here for the Recipe.

I had to race home as the pavlova needed to cook for 1.5 hours, and afterwards sit in a closed oven for at least 2 hours. Ideally, the rest of the recipe, the poached pears and caramel sauce, could also be pre-prepared, meaning that I'd have extra time (needed) to wrap the dvds I'd just bought and write on the card + prepare the veges and set the table. Oh you know, along with feeding the kids afternoon tea, helping with homework and cleaning up the whole house at the same time. Easy.

And amazingly it did prove to be well, not quite easy, but achievable. The meringue actually worked. The pavlova didn't flop (happened before, lots of times). The pears came up beautifully, almost toffee like. Possibly more toffee like than I'd intended due to forgetting about them on the stove and taking a long time getting Arch out of the bath and in to pjs… And yes, I over whipped the cream. I had to use a bright filter to stop it looking buttery yellow, which it was. The caramel sauce was fabulous. I halved the amount because these recipes always seem to produce way too much! Doh! Why did I let myself halve the amount?????

So here is the finished product via my instagram worthy shot:



What do you think?
It was delicious. Even fine if you tactfully ignore the sort of burnt spots on the pears. The Birthday Boy declared it was his new favourite!! WIN!

Here's a shot with bad light and sparklers!


So this recipe is definitely going in to my unruly but trusty folder of go-to desserts suitable for celebrations and a definite Autumn (or anytime) inspiration!!

What are your favourite celebration dessert dishes? Have you ever made something impulsively based on a photograph? I'd love to know..

* Please Note: It's not my normal practice to endorse certain supermarkets and I'm not intending to do that here either. I don't discriminate when it comes to the FREE handout magazines that our major supermarkets produce, mainly because they are FREE. As a magazine addict from way back, heck, if a glossy mag is free, I'll generally take it!  The supermarket mags have really stepped up in terms of photo quality and their easy cookable recipes are generally yum. They can also be a welcome relief from the more high-brow ingredients and dishes contained in many food mags you have to pay for. Although I love those ones too!

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Cinderella

Disney’s latest version of Cinderella is currently in pre-release/release and I am bursting with excitement and anticipation fit to bust! For those of us who grew up with this magical tale (I was addicted to a British cassette version - with the most wonderful voices and songs - and a pop-up book where the blue sparkly ball dress kept me mesmerised for hours!) there is a fairy tale streak inside of us that naturally draws us to crystal slippers, gilt mirrors and all things enchanted. 
Not everyone gets it. That's fine. Just don't try and dampen our sparkle over this. 
We love all things to do with Cinderella. The End.


Click here for the trailer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20DF6U1HcGQ
Except that it's not the end. It's only the beginning! 
So many things to talk about, it's hard to know where to start. I've watched the trailer so many times. It's wonderful. If you haven't seen it yet, stop right now and click on the link above. That's a Royal Command.

Initial thoughts (it's a sort of question + answer format, where I've answered my own questions!): 
  • Do we need another version of this story? Yes we do. Enough said.
  • Does the movie look amazing, romantic and thrilling? Yes it does!
  • Is Cate Blanchett ("our Cate" as we refer to her in Oz) really ready to play the Evil Stepmother? Oh yes, she really is that scary! 
  • Was making Helena Bonham Carter the Fairy Godmother an inspired move? I thought she would always be Bellatrix Lestrange to me, but she can turn her wand to anything (evil or good) and frankly I'd rather have her good than evil. She was too darn scary in Potter!
  • What's that great song? My Blood by Ellie Goulding is the song played during the trailer - it sounds perfect.
  • Can we get decorating (and fashion) ideas from the sets of this movie? OH YES WE CAN!!!
So, as I bite my nails in anticipation, here's a few decorating ideas to get my mind off the fact that I haven't seen the movie yet...

How to Rock the Fairy Tale Vibe 

at Your Castle Home (Part 1)

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Want to turn your room into a fairy tale scene? One of my favourite Pinterest boards is Today Was a Fairytale. Have a look for some fairytale inspiration..but in the meantime:

Romantic Colours and Fabrics: Rose pinks, royal blues, regal purples and plush magentas with splashes of gold and silver - and preferably a mix of more than one to add layers of richness. Brocades, velvets, quilted and pin tucked, it sounds fussy but it doesn't have to be. Even some of the geometric prints of recent seasons could be worked in to the mix. This diamond embroidered cushion is $25 from Target.

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Use a mix of vintage, thrifted and store-bought pillows and bedding to make your bed a dreamy wonderland. An eclectic look seems to suit the fairy tale vibe more than a generic (dare I say, Disney?) style of print where everything is maybe a little too sugar sweet. This mix of cushions (most from Room Seven) will have a long life, basically because if my girls ever get sick of them, I'm putting them on my bed!



Then, if one was to go slightly over the top, there's always this lovely bed..


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Gilt Mirrors: "Mirror Mirror on the Wall, who is the fairest one of all?" Has there ever been a more ominous question asked in a fairy tale? Leaving all things ominous aside, large gilt ornately framed mirrors add instant castle-vibe to any room, it might be just what your room is lacking - the kingdom touch! 

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If you want to read a truly hilarious tale about a woman far more obsessed with "Kingdom Mirrors" than I, read the blog of Victoria Elizabeth Barnes. She is hysterical.

The gold mirror I hung in the girls' room is not overly ornate, but I loved its rounded shape and oversized feel in the room. 


Display Your Finery: Do you own a tiara? Don't laugh. Some of my friends do, and I've certainly toyed with the idea of wearing one on the school run. Whether it's past wedding finery, or for a ball your Step Mother allowed you to attend - sparkly crowns, necklaces, rings and bracelets are too fine to be hidden away in the bottom of your undies drawer. Here's some whimsical ways to put your gorgeous gems out on show.

This is an Art Nouveau Goddess Cabinet. Enough said.


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I love the idea of displaying and storing jewellery in a vintage suitcase. It can be a real feature of your room or dressing area, and is also able to be placed on top of a cupboard or under the bed if you needed to put it away.


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Shoes: Sadly, high heels are in the same league as tiaras when it comes to suitable attire for the school run. But it's hard to think of Cinderella without focussing on the total amazingness (!) of the glass/crystal slipper!

So I looked for some fantastical examples of shoes that might fit the bill, and gorgeous ways to display shoes too. This room just gleams, and the shoes look so pretty in their glass fronted cabinet. If only I had room for this!!! Why? Why??? 


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Yes, I think we can all agree that this person owns way too many shoes. But I'm loving the glamorous chair so perfectly placed for putting them on, don't you? Again, there's the space issue..

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So enough with the lack of room already. Let's just focus on the sparkle. Because there's some serious sparkle going on here.

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Or with these by Givenchy

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Or these…May have to revise current foot ware choices for the school run. Suddenly feeling totally disillusioned with my new patent leather black birkenstocks…. Even these sandals are looking like a better option, although not so much for Autumn/Winter...

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So stay tuned for Rocking the FairyTale Vibe Part 2 - there is SO MUCH MORE to discuss…

Tell me, are you planning on seeing Cinderella at the movies?

What is your favourite fairy tale?

If you are going to rock the fairy tale vibe, just a little, will you do it through decor or fashion?

Friday, 13 March 2015

Copper Crush


I didn't think anything could ever shake my total commitment to mercury glass. I place it in the same category as certain John Farnham albums, and my sparkly Christian Dior tights from the early 1990s. Some things surpass the ravages of time and trend. And I'd like to think that my decorating style is anything but fickle. But there I was, suddenly madly pinning pics to my new HOUZZ IdeaBook and Pinterest board: COPPER CRUSH. So it must be a thing...

Alarmingly, my treasured collection of polished nickel, antiqued silver, and blackened shiny mirrors, frames, lamp stands and tea light glasses of every shape and size felt like they were starting to lose a tiny bit of their lustre.

I even found myself studying a footed bowl on my sideboard, and wondering why I'd left something so christmassy out when I found I was liking my battered copper heart cake tin just that little bit more. It is March after all. Autumn has arrived.  Yes, that's right, it's Autumn - season of fiery colours and rich flaming tones (no silver in sight!)  - I've always found the season totally inspiring, and it seems right that COPPER should be everywhere..

I am almost old enough to remember (gulp) the last big moment that copper had in the 1970s, because in my parent's home at the time, was a large copper domed light fitting (on a spring - ooh if only we had it now!) over the dining table, and a large copper range hood over our open fire place (apparently terrible for keeping the heat in the room, but looked mighty fine).

So what is it about the gleaming warmth of this soft metal that is so beguiling? I think it's the gleaming warmth. It has pink tones that resonate with the autumn palette and i just can't stop thinking of how rosy and satisfying it is in so many of it's guises, whether in decor, fashion, homewares, even cars! Really, I'm not a car person - but have spent a ridiculous amount of time thinking about whether buying a 2014 Range Rover Evoque in copper would be a foolish (hypothetical) move were the copper crush to dissipate any time within the next 15 years (which is about how long we keep our cars…); or wondering who's been brave enough to buy the copper coloured kitchenaid mixer? A lifetime purchase if ever there was one! So are the proud owners nervous that they fell for a passing fad and should have stuck with pistachio or candy apple red?

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ONe of my favourite ebay buy art deco light fittings needed a tiny bit of restoration when we installed it in our tv room. Copper paint was the obvious answer, and I am just casting my eyes over the rest of the house to see what else might benefit from a quick spray of copper paint!

In the meantime, here's a few of my favourite ways to add a touch of copper to your decor. See if you don't start falling for it big time too!

POSTER ART:

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LAMPS: Freedom Australia has some great ones, in a mix of mainly industrial styles.



Light fittings remain one of the places copper can really take centre stage, bringing a rosy gleam to your living areas in a way not many other metallics could.

THIS KITCHEN:

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OR THIS ONE:

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THESE LIGHT FITTINGS:

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And for those of us not confident we can afford a full set of Downton Abbey-worthy copper saucepans, there's always the measuring cups for $29 from West Elm:

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Freedom Australia also has a great range of copper accessories, for bathroom, kitchen and living areas. The wire baskets are particularly fantastic for holding everything from magazines, to linen to fruit. And then there were these copper topped pump pack jars - kitchen or bathroom? Perfect.


And because I now wear copper-coloured glasses, these gorgeous girl's denim overalls jumped out at me in Target - with copper hardware! $25! Sizes 1-7. Feeling slightly irate that no one in my immediate family now qualifies..


So what do you have in copper? What would you like to have? Do share...

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Inspiring Women (in books)

In honour of International Women's Day (March 8) I'm listing some of the books that have inspired me over the years - by women and about women.
If I have the gumption I may even be able to give you reasons that explain my choices.


Caddie Woodlawn - pioneering girl with lots of spunk
Little House on the Prairie - Laura Ingalls Wilder - the Christmas they were snowed in and knew there would be no gifts. Then Mr Edwards (?) fought his way through the snow to their cabin and gave them an orange each. Think it taught me about appreciating small things.
Little Women - by Louisa May Alcott - loved Jo and Beth, was never sure which one I wanted to be, which explains a lot about me.
The Hiding Place - Corrie Ten Boom - yes there is real evil in the world. Can it win ultimately? Not when trusting in God and the power of forgiveness overrules.
The Road to Coorain and True North by Jill Kerr Conway - loved the trajectory of her Australian childhood and identity. Loved even more her bravery and comittment to achieving her intellectual potential and happiness.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte - from the red room through to her running away from her thwarted marriage to returning to love Mr Rochester on her own terms. I will love Jane forever.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen - lizziebennett gives one hope that girls can still have brains, be outspoken and fall in love with someone who appreciates them for all of that (oh and he must be dashing).
Esther - the Bible - courageous and determined, faithful and wise. Esther captured my imagination and heart from an early age. Hence have always believed that God uses women as an integral part of his saving plan.
My Brilliant Career - Miles Franklin - Australian feisty heroine not afraid to be different and find her own way in the world.
Maya Angelou - God gives women the inner strength to rise above their circumstances, the expectations of others, even of their own fears to have a not perfect but rich and wondrous life.
Rose Scott - discovered her in my uni days and couldn't believe in 13 years of schooling I had never heard of this great political warrior and tireless advocate for the rights and welfare of women. Seriously NSW education dept? This is not okay!
Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery - who doesn't want to be Anne? To know your own voice and heart is a precious thing. To be strong enough not to be poisoned by bitterness. To take joy in the beauty of nature and to make the everyday special. 
Seven Little Australians - Ethel Turner - I may never get over the death of Judy. Just saying.

... There's plenty more but I don't want to bore you with just my choices.

Tell me what books have inspired you?! I'd love to know..