Saturday, December 10, 2011

Happy Holiday decorating (& cooking)

In one week we will be getting ready for our Christmas vacation. We are going home to Australia to spend Christmas with my parents, we are super excited! Even though we will be away for Christmas, I still got into the Christmas spirit and decorated the house. This year's colors were red and white again, inspired by the Mrs and Mr Clause ornaments we got at IKEA and this fantastic image I found on the web

We actually have many red and silver/white ornaments so the task of decorating the tree was relatively easy.
We collect ornaments on our travels, like this cute one we got in Wroclaw, Poland.
Since each ornament has sentimental value, I still hang them all on the tree, but the ones that don't match the color scheme are hung at the back of the tree. There were few that don't fit the color scheme, I think that subconsciously my whole life I have been buying red and white ornaments! Even my mum buys me red or white decorations, like this gorgeous Christmas reindeer :)
The acorns in front of him are from Thanksgiving decorating, which I totally forgot to write about with all the crazy traveling we did this past two months. The acorns are from Lake Arrowhead in California, and inspired my Thanksgiving theme this year, but I guess I can leave that post until 2012 :)

I was impressed with IKEA's Christmas decorations again, boy I wish I could work for them designing Christmas decorations (hint hint anyone from IKEA corporate who may come across my blog!). My husband was so lovely suggesting we buy the decorations, even though he knows how many we already have! I settled on Mr and Mrs Clause glass ornaments
As well as an advent calendar in the shape of Santa Clause!!!!! I love this!
We put two yummy chocolates in each little box (one for me and one for my husband!), and I feel like a kid as we get excited every day when we get to open them...24 days of chocolate is fantastic :)

I saw a post last year, I think it might have been on Martha Stewart's website, with a fireplace decoration that had wooden letters that spelled out "Christmas". Inspired by this I went to Michael's and bought some white wooden letters for the top of the DVD cabinet
The apothecary jar between the "N" and "O" is filled with the acorns from Lake Arrowhead as well as with artificial cranberries from PotteryBarn, available at this LINK. I also hung my 2010 Swarovski Crystal star ornament on the jar
You can get the 2012 ornament online at Swarovski Crystal, use this LINK.I am thinking of collecting these annually :) Maybe if I leave Santa a key to our door he'll come by over Christmas and drop one off :)
Ok, so now onto the cooking portion of the post! I have not started the cookies yet (that's Sunday's project), but I have finished the cranberry sauce for the Christmas turkey. First wash and sort your cranberries to remove any soft ones. My fabulous husband did this part and said that you can feel the soft ones easily with your hands as you wash the cranberries (which are otherwise hard). Once you have washed them, place them in a saucepan with the following ratios:
4 cups of cranberries to 1.5 cups of water and 2 cups of sugar
Stir in the sugar, turn the heat to 3/4 maximum and bring the mixture to a boil. We also added two cinnamon sticks and one real vanilla bean to give the sauce a great flavour :) Daniel says you have to split the vanilla bean to allow the seeds to come out and the flavour to develop
Monitor the heat so that the mixture does not boil over, then let it keep simmering until all of the cranberries have popped (this took about 20 minutes on our stove, but this will very depending on your heat source). The mixture should now look something like this:
Now for the canning. You can buy canning kits, this is a good idea if you think of this ahead of time. I, of course, didn't have enough time to buy jars so I decided to sterilize some I already had. For this you need to take the open jars, and their lids, and immerse them in hot water. Bring the water to the boil and sterilize them for about 30 minutes.
Once the jars are ready, remove them with a pair of tongs and add the hot cranberry sauce mixture to the jars
Wipe off any excess sauce with a clean paper towel. Take the lid out of the boiling water and cool down in cold water before screwing it onto the jar. Once I completed this for all my jars I placed them ack into the boiling water for another 30 minutes.
The jars were then removed and cooled. Once the jars are cool the lids will pop-down, and you know you have a good seal. If this does not happen I would re-sterilize and repeat the procedure perhaps.I placed the jars in the refrigerator for a day before beginning the labeling. I made some labels in PowerPoint (email me if you want the files, the circles are 2 inches in diameter)
I also made labels with an expiry date so let me know if you want these also.I used regular glue to stick the labels to the front of the jars
To hide the jar lids and make everything look pretty I just used white crepe paper which has sparkles on it to make it look Christmas-y. Place either a ribbon or a clear elastic band around the jar lid to hold the paper in place.
Cut away the excess paper evenly all the way around the jar. Finally, glue to "use-by" label to the jar lid
Add a ribbon if you like, and your sauce is ready for gifting, or for the Christmas table!
Happy Holiday decorating, I hope you were inspired :)

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Happy Halloween

One week until Halloween, I cannot believe how fast the year has gone. It has been a busy and exciting year. These days it seems I rarely get the chance to sit and write anything, so I thought I would share some of my Halloween decorating with you. I am very much in the Halloween and fall mood since we spent a week in Boston last week. We traveled to Cape Cod and the fall decoration on those beautiful homes was inspirational.

My favorite Cape Cod city was Chatham. What a dreamy place (since houses are a few million each, it will definitely be a dream!)!. We arrived into Chatham in the early afternoon and were greeted by the cutest church, with a pumpkin patch out the front :)
We spent the entire weekend in love with every city we visited..I'm already planning to go for a longer vacation there some time next year :) The fall leaves were not at their peak, I read an article in a newspaper in Providence which said the colors are delayed this year due to the unseasonal warm weather. I hope the leaves in Central Park have peaked as we will be in New York next week and that is always a highlight of the trip to New York in the fall.

I haven't done a lot of decorating as we will be in New York most of next week, but I brought out my favorite white pumpkin which I got from a talented lady on ETSY who made it for me with a custom "BOO" (you can also have your name carved into the pumpkin if you prefer).

The Mint Julep cups are now filled with pine cones instead of my spring-look green decorations, and the cranberry candles fill the house with the smell of Autumn!
My mum sent me this amazing paper decoration that her friend makes,

and I teamed it with my Martha Stewart spider garland to give it that Halloween feel. If you want one of these, you can buy them on Amazon (HERE)

Happy Hallo-week decorating :)

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Bring on Easter!

Happy April, it's again been a long time between posts for me, something about being busy :)

With one week until my parents arrive, I have been busy cleaning and decorating the house for their visit, and since it is almost Easter, the house is full of eggs and bunnies! I'm leaving the Easter egg painting until my parents are here as we have always traditionally done this together, so I will post about that later. For now I thought I would share how I have decorated our apartment, and where I got all of my decoration pieces.

I was super excited when I opened my Easter decorating box and found my Robins Eggs, they came from Pottery Barn (click here for link). I adore these, and saw that Pottery Barn has them again this year, probably because they are so pretty.

On our door we have a green wreath that hangs there all year round and is decorated for every season and holiday (I have an obsession with wreaths). This past year I was super excited when my mum sent me an awesome egg-string garland (thanks mum). I simply tied it in front of the wreath (which came from Pottery Barn).

Going to Pottery Barn is always dangerous for our bank account, I adore that store! I went in a month ago and could not resist this set of Easter eggs that spell out "Happy Easter" Click here for link. I guess you should put them all in a row, but I split up my "Happy" and "Easter" so I could have them in different parts of our apartment.

I think they look great hanging on the "Pussy Willow" branches. I always have these branches in my vases at home, they are much more appropriate at Easter time of course, when I dress them up with hanging Easter eggs.

The sequined bunnies on the shelf make up what I call my "Disco Easter" corner. They are from another favourite store of ours, West Elm (click here for link). When I saw them earlier this they were on sale, that's why we have five :)

West Elm also had a set of Easter plates with great Easter designs on them, I am not sure if they still have these, as I got these earlier in the year!

The dining table in our apartment always gets a whole bunch of stuff I love placed on it, so we always have trouble finding room for poor husband! Well, this year is no different, here's what I created:

The bunnies under the glass domes I bought online from Lillian Vernon (click here for link). I am not sure where I bought the domes, but many home decor stores have them.

Recently I have also become very obsessed with mint julep cups, not for drinking, but for decoration. If you want a recipe for mint julep, Martha has one that looks great, click here for the link. The cups are simply beautiful, so I had to have some, and found these great cups on Beau Coup (click here for link). I also got some wooden eggs on ETSY, and painted them green, then put it all together with white shredded paper for a cute table decoration.

That's pretty much it, except one thing...our wall decorations are not immune from my egg decorating either!

Hope you got some inspiration for your decorating! I have to say that for our house, Easter just isn't Easter without chocolate bunnies and eggs (and these adorable carrots from Lindt Chocolates)...yum! These are available at most large chain grocery stores if you want some :)

Happy Easter decorating!!

Friday, February 11, 2011

It's almost V-Day!

Image from the US Cranberries website

Hello dear friends, I know have been away for some time, but I am so glad to be back! Happy 2011, hope the year is off to a great start for you all. It's been an amazing year so far for us, I cannot wait to see what the rest of 2011 holds!! As I think about my Valentine (my lovely husband Daniel) I want to say a huge congratulations to him on opening up his photography studio this past month, exciting times and much success!!

I'm sure you're all aware of what holiday is coming up in 3 could you possibly miss all of the red and pink heart decorations :) This year I thought I would seek out unusual V-Day decorations and gift ideas, inspired by a link sent to me by my dear friend Arna Banana (thanks AB!). Arna recently sent me a link to a fantastic idea...if you want to give someone your heart this V-Day, you can literally do so...well, A HEART, not specifically yours...check out this fabulous "Anatomical Heart"cake gift idea at "Lily Vanilli Cake Fight".

I recently found out...thanks Honey...that in the USA people don't say "Love Heart" to identify the graphical representation that we all recognize as being a heart..apparently the Americans simply use "Heart". My husband laughs when I say "Love Heart", but I just can't help it! We Australians like to distinguish what type of heart we are talking do you know which one it is if you just say "Heart"? Anyways, since receiving Arna's email I thought I would stick with the "Anatomical Heart" theme for this year's V-Day!

There are many cool V-Day cards with this theme that I found. Being a huge fan of pop-up cards, this is one of my favourites:

You can buy it on ETSY from "tracyhong"....very cool!

Ok, so who doesn't need a million bags??? And who wouldn't want their own anatomical heart tote bag to carry around on V-Day? Well, if you want one, then Zazzle has the perfect gift for you...I think this is pretty fun!

ETSY is one of my favourite sites EVER! I browse that site more often than I care to admit, but they really have some fantastic stuff, and most of the time it will be a one-off original, and who doesn't love that? Here are some of my favourite items for this theme from ETSY:

Crochet heart anyone? This cute gift idea comes from "AnOptimisticCynic", she has some fantastic stuff, check out her shop if you have a strange sense of humour like me :)

I really like this beautiful hand blown miniature "Heart in a Jar" necklace from "kivaford"

For those who may need an outfit for that special evening, how about a "skeleton beating heart" dress from "repurposefulpunk"?

Now, not everyone cal pull-off that dress (or wants to), so if your Valentine is a little more conservative, perhaps a "patchwork heart pincushion" from "amazingowl" is more to your taste?

And for those with a sweet tooth, "Think Geek" (another favourite site of mine!) has some delicious looking anatomical heart candy for you!

Happy V-Day everyone <3