Friday, February 26, 2010

Bring on " International Polar Bear Day"

I am super excited to bring you this holiday as polar bears are one of my favourite animals! February 27th is " International Polar Bear Day". A couple of little facts about these adorable teddy bears:

Polar bears range throughout the circumpolar north in areas where they can hunt seals at open leads. The five "polar bear nations" in which the bears are found include the Alaska, Canada, Russia, Denmark (Greenland), and Norway.

Polar bears are a potentially threatened species rather than an endangered one. Threats to the bears include pollution, poaching, and industrial disturbances. Hunting could become a threat if populations are not well managed.

You can "adopt" a polar bear (I have done this, it's a wonderful cause) at WWF. WWF also have this awesome website with a Polar Bear Tracker!

Ok, so now for a little DIY for tomorrow's holiday, I am attaching two downloads for a "make-your-own origami polar bear", this is very cool!

Happy Polar Bear Day!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Bring on St.Patrick's Day

I know that St. Patrick's Day is 3 weeks away, but I just love the idea of an Irish Coffee this evening, so I am sharing the recipe ahead of time! As far as I am concerned, you can never start celebrating too early!

Irish Coffee

1/2 oz Irish Whiskey

1 tsp Brown sugar

6 oz Hot coffee

Heavy Cream for top

Mix whiskey, coffee and sugar, gently spoon cold cream on top (do not mix).


Sunday, February 21, 2010

Bring on George Washington's Birthday and Cherry Pie!

February 22nd is George Washington's birthday! Ok, so we all know that George Washington was as the first president of the United States (from 1789 to 1797), but do you know the story of George and the Cherry Tree?

Ok, to cut (pardon the pun) a long story short, when George was six years old he was given a hatchet and one day he wandered about his garden and found a cherry tree. He tried the edge of his hatchet on the trunk of the tree and barked it so that it died. His father discovered what had happened to his favorite tree and demanded to know who had cut away the bark. As difficult as it was, George fessed up and said "I cannot tell a lie, father, you know I cannot tell a lie! I did cut it with my hatchet". The anger died out of his father's face, and he said: "My son, that you should not be afraid to tell the truth is more to me than a thousand trees! Yes, though they were blossomed with silver and had leaves of the purest gold!"

Ok, so I thought about posting some George Washington DIYs, but I absolutely LOVE all things cherry, so in the spirit of the Cherry Tree story I thought you'd all appreciate some food and some craft!

Cherry Blossom Craft

• Layer a sheet of dark pink paper atop light pink paper.

• Snip out a five-petal flower that's 2 to 4 inches in circumference. Once cut, reposition the dark pink daisy so the petals won't align with the light pink ones.

• Twist the center bottom of the flower, wrap with a 3-inch length of floral wire, and hot-glue onto a bare branch.

• Repeat, varying sizes of flowers so blossoms look realistic.

And also from my favourite website (, a recipe for Cherry Pie!!

Cherry Pie


Serves 10

2 pounds Bing cherries, pitted and halved

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons cornstarch

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

All-purpose flour, for rolling

1 large egg yolk, beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash

1 tablespoon turbinado or granulated sugar, for sprinkling

Basic Pie Dough for Sweet Cherry Pie (below)


Preheat oven to 400 degrees, with rack in lowest position. On a floured piece of parchment paper, roll one disk of dough to a 14-inch round. Wrap dough around rolling pin; unroll over a 9-inch pie plate. Gently fit into bottom and sides of plate (do not stretch dough). Using kitchen shears, trim dough to a 1-inch overhand all around. In a large bowl, combine cherries, granulated sugar, cornstarch, and lemon juice; toss until cherries are coated. Pour into prepared bottom crust.

On a floured piece of parchment paper, roll second disk of dough to a 14-inch round. Cut into eight 1 1/2-inch-wide strips; discard the shortest two. Weave strips over filling to form a lattice (see photo, page 28). Using kitchen shears, trim strips so they hang over rim by 1 inch. Tuck strips under rim of bottom crust; press to seal. Crimp with a fork all around the edge.

Using a pastry brush, lightly brush lattice with egg wash, and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.

Place pie on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until filling is bubbling rapidly all over, 60 to 70 minutes (tent with aluminum foil when crust starts to brown, about 40 minutes). Transfer pie to a wire rack, and let cool to room temperature, at least 3 hours.

Pie Dough


Makes 1 double crust

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for rolling

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water


In a food processor, combine flour, salt, and sugar; pulse briefly. Add butter; pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal, with a few pea-size pieces of butter remaining. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup ice water. Pulse until dough is crumbly but holds together when squeezed (if necessary, add up to 1/4 cup water, 1 tablespoon at a time). Do not over-mix.

Divide dough in half, and turn out onto two large pieces of plastic wrap. Fold plastic over each portion of dough; press to shape into two 3/4-inch-thick disks. Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour (and up to 3 days); dough can also be frozen up to 3 months (thaw before using).

On a floured piece of parchment paper, roll one disk of dough to a 14-inch round. Wrap dough around rolling pin; unroll over a 9-inch pie plate. Gently fit into bottom and sides of plate (do not stretch dough). Using kitchen shears, trim dough to a 1-inch overhang all around; refrigerate until ready to use. Reserve and refrigerate remaining disk of dough for top crust.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Shrove Tuesday, Pancake Day, Mardi Gras!

I totally forgot to post about Shrove Tuesday, which is today, February 16th. It's because of all the excitement from Valentines day (thank you to my fabulous husband for my amazing gifts!).

All Catholic and some Protestant countries traditionally call Shrove Tuesday (the day before Ash Wednesday) Fat Tuesday (or Mardi Gras in French). The name predated the Reformation and referred to the common Christian tradition of eating special rich foods before the fasting season of Lent.

Among Anglicans, Catholics, Lutherans and some protestant denominations, including ethnic British communities in Canada, this day is also known as "Pancake Tuesday", as it is customary to eat pancakes. In Australia today is referred to as Pancake Day and I remember eating pancakes at school on this day :)

Why pancakes? Well, pancakes and doughnuts are associated with the day preceding Lent because they were a way to use up rich foodstuffs such as eggs, milk, and sugar, before the fasting season of the 40 days of Lent. The liturgical fasting emphasized eating plainer food and refraining from food that would give pleasure: In many cultures, this means no meat, dairy, or eggs.

Thought I'd share with you my suggestion for a variation on the plain pancake tradition, one of my favourite dishes:

Ricotta Hotcakes with Honeycomb butter

1 1/3 cups ricotta cheese
3/4 cup milk
4 eggs, separated
1 cup plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
50g butter

To serve
honeycomb butter, sliced (below)
icing sugar for dusting

Honeycomb Butter
250g unsalted butter, softened
100g sugar honeycomb, crushed with a rolling pin
2 Tbs honey

Place ricotta, milk and egg yolks in a mixing bowl and mix to combine. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Add to the ricotta mixture and mix until just combined.
Place egg whites in a clean dry bowl and beat until stiff peaks form. Fold egg whites through batter in two batches, with a large metal spoon.
Lightly grease a large non-stick frying pan with a small portion of butter and drop 2 tablespoons of batter per hotcake into the pan (don't cook more than 3 per batch). Cook over a low to medium heat for 2 minutes, or until hotcakes have golden undersides. Turn hotcakes and cook on the other side until golden and cooked through. Transfer to a plate and quickly assemble the other ingredients.
Slice one banana lengthways onto a plate, stack three hotcakes on top with a slice of honeycomb butter. Dust with icing sugar.

Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. Shape into a log on plastic wrap, roll, seal and chill in a refrigerator for 2 hours.
Store any leftover honeycomb butter in the freezer


Bring on Chocolate Mint Day

This Friday February 19th is "National Chocolate Mint Day", which is one celebration I will definitely be a part of! Anything with chocolate as part of the celebration, you can count me in!

I am a huge fan of the traditional after-dinner mint, and mint chocolate-chip ice cream, so those will be on our dinner table. However, if you are looking to be a little more hands-on, why not make some mint-chocolate cupcakes? There is a wonderful online store called Vintage Bakeshop, which sells chocolate-mint cupcake mix

Of course you can always simply make a chocolate cupcake and top it with mint-buttercream (the recipe I have included here is from the Martha Stewart website)..enjoy!

Happy National Chocolate Mint Day!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Valentines Night Pillow Talk!

I hope your Valentines Day preparations are going well, we will be traveling for Valentines day so I'm trying to be creative with portable decorations. I saw this adorable set of pillow cases and thought that I would share them with you. What a gorgeous idea, and even though this is not a DIY, I thought you'd all appreciate it!

You can buy these great gifts HERE

Happy V-Day planning!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Valentines Day decorating (charger plates)

With only one week until Valentines day I thought I would share a simple idea with you. I know that charger plates (the fake plates that sit under your dinner plate for decoration), can be difficult to find and sometimes expensive, so here is an idea that may help in your Valentines decorating.

I discovered these wonderful "heart doilies" on Martha Stewart's website, and found them super simple to make. Just ensure you follow the instructions carefully and make sure that you look carefully at the pictures of how to fold the napkins, I had many "half" napkins because I folded them the wrong way. If after a few attempts you are still having trouble, please e-mail me and I'll send you photographs.

Place the completed doilies under your dinner plates, glasses, etc., for a sweet look! I tried out the decoration last night at a dinner party with our lovely friends, and they were a hit (photos above are of my table setting)! Thank you to my talented photographer husband for the great photos ( :)

Happy V-Day Decorating!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Bring on Plum Pudding Day

Unfortunately because I was unaware of this fabulous Holiday, our Plum Pudding for National Plum pudding Day on February 12th this year may not taste as good as those made a year in advance ( year...who is that organized? I say).

Seems like this delicious cake has not become too popular in the USA, so for those of you who don't know what it is, plum pudding is a steamed or boiled pudding. In the UK and Australia it is mainly served at holiday times. Interestingly, plum pudding has never contained plums!

Apparently during the Puritan reign in England, plum pudding was outlawed as "sinfully rich"....he he he. Traditionally in England and Australia, coins were (and still are) baked in the plum pudding and bring luck to the ones who find them (or bad luck in the case where you bight down and break your teeth on the coin)! Apparently it is also traditional for every one who lives in the house to simultaneously hold onto the wooden spoon to help stir the batter for the pudding, and make a wish!

Here is a recipe I found which has good reviews...get cooking, you only have one week!

Happy Plum Pudding Day!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Bring on "Kite Flying Day"

Who knew that February 8th was Kite Flying day? Kite flying is great fun, although I have to admit that I have not flown a kite since I was a child, the idea of a day dedicated to kite flying is exciting!

Ben Franklin was perhaps the most well known kite flyer. So as it has been told, he flew a kite in a thunderstorm and discovered electric charge. He got a kick out of flying kites! He he he! Apparently Kites were first used by the military in ancient China over 3,000 years ago (I have no idea what for, just giving you useless information to tell your friends and co-workers today!).

I understand that people who live in the north may not be interested in going out into the snow to fly a kite on Monday, but there is no excuse for all our Floridian and Aussie pals and gals!

I have a kite download for you so there are no excuses! (courtesy of Anthony's Kite workshop!)

"With tuppence for paper and strings, you can have your own set of wings".... Go fly a Kite!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Bring on Superbowl XLIV

Ok, so not everyone likes football, but from the people I have met over the last two years in the USA, Superbowl Sunday is kind of a big deal, so I am calling it a Holiday! In Australia the equivalent is the Aussie Rules Grand Final, which is held the last weekend in September. Just a FYI; in Australia we call American football Gridiron, thought I should tell all my Aussie friends that this is NOT what it is called in the USA, the gridiron, I believe, is the field on which they play football.

Last year my husband was at Super Bowl week photographing all the celebrities and football players and I probably went shopping. This year we will be together for Super Bowl XLIV, and although we're not planning our own party, for those of you who are, I have put up an inspirational photo of an amazing Super Bowl cake to make!

Happy Super Bowl Sunday!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Bring On Valentines Day!

Ahhh...Valentines Day, one of the favourite holidays of the year, a time for love and chocolate. If you are feeling very crafty then there are many fabulous DIY projects for young and old. In the USA Valentines day is a big deal, people give cards to their friends, family and to their special someone! In Australia it is a day intended for your significant other only, so this is a new experience for me!

I drink a lot of tea, so this project is one of my favourites (if I stop procrastinating I will try to make some for friends this year!).

Heart Shaped Tea Bags!

Cut two hearts out of red paper and use a metallic pen to write a short message on one of the hearts. Next, remove a tea-bag tag and, at the end of the string, affix two hearts, back-to-back, using double-sided tape or a stapler. Package bags to give as a present, or steep one in hot water and serve.

Happy VD preparations!

Happy Groundhog Day!

Groundhog Day is celebrated on February 2 in the US and Canada. According to folklore, if a groundhog (also called a woodchuck) emerges from its burrow on this day and fails to see its shadow, it will leave the burrow, signifying that winter will soon end. If on the other hand, the groundhog sees its shadow, the groundhog will supposedly retreat into its burrow, and winter will continue for six more weeks.

What a fabulous celebration, I love these crazy US/German traditions, such a wonderful thing to celebrate! It gets all the poor people who live in the north (that a buried under metres of snow), excited about the possibility of spring emerging early, wonderful idea!

The Image above is a wonderful download to cut out for your children (or co-workers), have fun! This download comes to you courtesy of Mrs. Jones' Kindergarten Room, look her up at:

Happy Groundhog day!