Monday, May 31, 2010

Shepherd's Pie

This yummy winter recipe from Better Homes & Gardens is a traditional favourite with lamb mince layered with mashed potato.

Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 1 hour 15 Minutes
Serves: 4

• 1kg washed potatoes, peeled
• 2 tsp fine salt
• 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
• 1 white onion, peeled, diced
• 2 carrots, peeled, finely diced
• 1 celery stick, finely diced
• 12 button mushrooms, sliced
• Salt and pepper
• 1 Tbsp plain flour
• 600g lamb mince
• 2 Tbsp tomato paste
• 1 cup chicken stock
• 1 cup white wine
• 2 Tbsp gravy powder
• ½ bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves chopped
• 300ml thickened cream, heated
• 100g unsalted butter
• 1 cup grated cheddar cheese

1. Preheat oven to 180ºC. Put potatoes and salt in a large pan and cover with cold water by 10cm. Cook over a high heat for 30 minutes or until soft.

2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large pan over a high heat, add vegetables, then stir-fry for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, then stir-fry for a further 5 minutes. Sprinkle flour over top and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

3. Add mince, stirring well to break up any lumps, then cook, stirring regularly, for 5 minutes. Stir in tomato paste, stock and wine, then bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 5 minutes. Whisk in gravy powder and parsley. Transfer mixture to a large, ovenproof pan or dish.

4. Drain potatoes and mash well. Beat in cream and butter until smooth and season with salt and pepper. Evenly spoon potato over lamb mixture, then bake for 30 minutes. Sprinkle over cheese and bake for 15 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Cherry Blossom Tutorial

Fresh cherry blossoms are the quintessential sign of spring, but they only bloom for a few short weeks. If you love the look for your wedding day or for decorating your home, but the timing's all wrong, these paper versions by Martha Stewart are an excellent substitute. They're so easy and fun to make, and branches of the blossoms are only the half of it: use single blooms to embellish favor bags or a scattering of blossoms on side tables to bring their ephemeral beauty to your celebration any time of year. Here are the instructions, from the Martha  Stewart Weddings blog:

To Make, you'll need Glassine or Vellum papers in shades of pink and coral cut into 3 1/2 and 4 1/2 inch squares, scissors, a utility knife, and 1/4

What you need:
• Glassine or Vellum papers in shades of pink and coral cut into 3 1/2 and 4 1/2 inch squares
• Scissors
• Utility knife
• 1/4" hole punch

Fold square into a cone following these steps: Fold in half from bottom to top.

• Fold square into a cone following these steps: Fold in half from bottom to top.

Fold left side in at an angle, about 45 degrees from bottom edge.

• Fold left side in at an angle, about 45 degrees from bottom edge.

Fold bottom right corner up.

• Fold bottom right corner up.

Fold top left corner down.

• Fold top left corner down.

Use scissors to make four angled cuts to remove the top of the cone as shown. With a utility knife, cut a small rectangular sliver on each side of the cone. Attach to branches with hot glue. To decorate favor bags, fold the top of the bag over twice and punch a hole in one folded corner. Push colored brad through flower, then hole in the bag to fasten.

• Use scissors to make four angled cuts to remove the top of the cone as shown. With a utility knife, cut a small rectangular sliver on each side of the cone. Attach to branches with hot glue. To decorate favor bags, fold the top of the bag over twice and punch a hole in one folded corner. Push colored brad through flower, then hole in the bag to fasten.

Visit Martha Stewart for more crafty ideas!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Modern Cushions for Your Home

Throw cushions are an easy way to transform your living space by adding colour and texture. Fabric designer Amy Butler shares with Better Homes & Garden her secrets to making these amazing pillows in her bold fabrics.

What You Need:
• Muslin for pillow forms
• Fiberfill
• Pillow fabric
• Thread
• Cover button forms
• Tassel trim
• Needle or sewing machine
• Contrasting fabric
• Straight pins

Download the Patterns:
Modified Square Pillow
Hexagon Pillow

How to Make It:

For the pillow forms: Because there are no ready-made pillow forms available for these shapes, you'll need to make forms out of muslin and fiberfill to fit inside your pillow covers. Once you complete the pillow tops, you can use the shape for your pillow-form pattern. Designer Jonathon Bennett recommends making your pillow forms 2 inches larger than your pillow covers. This will help the filling reach all the way into the sharp corners of the pillow cover.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Petite Cupcakes by Lindt

The desserts at Lindt Cafes are always irresistibly delicious and impeccably presented... now you can make your own Petite Cupcakes... 

Cupcake Ingredients:
• 170g butter, unsalted
• 260g Lindt Excellence 50%
• 80g castor sugar
• 4 each eggs, separated
• 114g plain flour
• ¼ tsp baking powder
• ½ tsp cream of tartar

Frosting Ingredients:
 • 330g Lindt Excellence 50%
• 20 g cocoa powder
• 45ml milk or Frangelico
• 340g butter, unsalted at room temperature

Cupcake Instructions:

• Line muffin tray with paper cups.
• Melt chocolate and butter by placing into a bowl sitting over a saucepan of barely simmering water. Make sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water as that might burn the chocolate.
• Stir chocolate every once and a while then. set aside to cool once melted.
• In a mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks and the sugar until light and pale.
• Next, whisk the egg whites in an electric mixer until they form soft peaks. Add the cream of tartar which helps create a stiffer egg white and continue to whisk until stiff.
• Gently mix the cooled chocolate mixture into the egg yolks and sugar mixture.
• Sift in the flour and baking powder and gently fold into the chocolate mixture.
• Carefully fold in the egg whites and divide mixture into baking cups. Fill approximately 3/4 full. Best use a piping bag or an ice cream scoop to do this.
• Place in the oven at 165°C and bake for approximately 25 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
• Take out and place on a cooling rack.

Frosting Instructions:
• Melt the chocolate - see Lindt's instructions for melting chocolate.
• Mix the cocoa powder with milk or Frangelico and make a smooth paste. Best add liquid little by little to avoid lumps.
• Place butter in the bowl of your electric mixer with a paddle attachment. Whip up until light and fluffy.
• Mix in the cocoa powder mixture and the melted chocolate.
• Whip again and scrape down sides.
• Work with the frosting at room temperature.

Finishing the cupcakes:
•Place the frosting in a piping bag with a star nozzle and pipe a large rosette on each cup cake.
•Drizzle with some chocolate sauce and garnish with chocolate curls or other.
•These are best enjoyed on the same day but can keep in an airtight container.

 • For an extra chocolaty frosting use the ganache recipe - make the day before and leave out at room temperature for a delectable, silky chocolate spread.

Visit Lindt for more recipes.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Perfect Bows...

Ribbons and bows can provide the perfect finish to your invitations, cards and gifts - but only if you know how to tie them like a professional! The following video by Monicas Passions shows how to tie several types of bows, all of which will make your stationery look stunning! 

Monday, May 24, 2010

Make a Birdbath

Creating a natural-looking birdbath in your garden is a simple way to add a water-feature and attract birds. This ground-level DIY birdabath tutorial is from the Better Homes and Gardens website.

A ground-level basin mimics natural water sources and makes your garden more attractive to birds. Place the basin near a tree to give birds a quick getaway in case predators attack and at least 15 feet from shrubs and tallperennials to prevent hiding spots for ambushers.

• Sand
• Spray bottle filled with water
• Waterproof work gloves
• Dust mask
• 50-pound bag quick-setting concrete
• 5-gallon bucket
• Water
• Wheelbarrow
• Hoe
• Small decorative objects
• Sheet plastic

Step 1
Start by gathering your materials and excavating a 15x6-inch bowl-shape hole that will serve as the mold for yourbirdbath. Cover the excavation with a 1-inch-deep layer of moist sand. Shape a flat area in the bottom of the mold so your completed basin will be stable. Spray the sand with water to keep it moist, and pat it smooth.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Ribbons Galore...

Whether you are doing a craft project for around the home or creating stationery for a special event, you want interesting and quality products. Unique and beautiful ribbons can be especially hard to source, which is why we are so excited to have found Ribbons Galore - an online store dedicated to ribbons, ribbons and more ribbons!

Ribbons Galore are committed to offering high quality ribbons and trims sourced from mills throughout Europe, North America and Asia.

They have a focus on fresh, funky and fun ribbon designs, in bright, colourful ranges. The ranges include grosgrain ribbons, satin ribbons, woven ribbons including gingham and striped ribbons, polka dot ribbons and a large range of the funky rack rack (or ric rac) braid.

Ribbons Galore aim to meet your crafting, packaging and decorating needs. If your passion is sewing, dress making, embroidery, quilting, scrapbooking, cardmaking or paprcrafts, we're sure you'll find a ribbon to add a special touch to your latest project. Dress up your gifts with a ribbon and a bow. Add a splash of colour to your latest home decorating project with some ribbons and trims. Look out for the special release seasonal ribbons throughout the year.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Decorative Pegs

Shantaie Fowler at Inking Pink has created these gorgeous decorative clothes pegs! We think they are too beautiful to be used for hanging the washing, but there are a multitude of other uses for them! If you are planning your wedding, engagement party, bridal shower or other special event you can definitely put these pegs to work! The pegs can be used to hold table numbers in place, or to accentuate place names or menus. Or add to bomboniere and favours for a little flair. You could even write each guests name on the peg before laquering! The pegs are very simple to make and the results are stunning! Simply choose paper to match the theme of your event!

What you need: 
• Wooden clothespins 
• Designer Series Paper 
• Paintbrush 
• Liquid laminate.

• To get started measure the surface of your clothespin and cut paper to size.

• Use the paintbrush to apply liquid laminate to pin and paper. Apply several layers to create a waterproof seal.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Fabric Bridal Invitations

If you want to hand-craft invitations for your wedding, bridal shower, baby shower or even just a dinner party, then this DIY tutorial is for you! These sweet invites from The Wedding Chicks are easy to make and look stunning!

What you need:
1. Fabric with a large graphic that can you easily cut out. A great place to find fabric is over at Etsy.
2. A Glue stick. We used Elmer’s Glue Stick
3. A pair of scissors that can cut fabric with ease.
4. A7 flat cards made from cover weight paper.

1. Design your card in any word editing program, simply make sure you justify everything to the right. All of the fonts on this particular invitation are free fonts from On a side note this is such a great resource to finding free fonts for all of your wedding needs. Print out the card.

2. Cut out the large graphic from the gorgeous piece of fabric you selected.

3. Every so gently rub the Elmer’s Glue to the back of the applique and gently place on invitation.

4. Voilà you are instantaneously transformed into a little Martha Stewart.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Neighbourhood Garland Tutorial

We found this tutorial for a Neighbourhood Garland on Laura Bray's Katydiddys blog. The Neighbourhood Garland is a great way to decorate a child's room or as decorations for a house-warming party. It's very easy to personalise by mixing and matching fabrics to suit.


Heavyweight interfacing
Fabric scraps
Fabric pen
Embroidery thread & needle


1. Cut house shapes from interfacing. I cut short and tall house shapes. The small houses measure 2"x 2" and the tall houses are 1.75"x 3.5" You can make them whatever size or shape you want, but make sure you cute one solid house shape. Don't separate the roof from the base.

2. Lay fabric scraps onto the front and back of your interfacing. I used solid fabric to cover the back of the houses and different contrasting fabrics to accentuate the roof portion on the front. Leave some fabric overlap around the house shape.

3. Fuse the fabric to the interfacing according to manufacturer directions. Trim excess fabric off.

4. Using a fabric pen, draw windows and doors onto your little houses.

5. Thread your embroidery needle and knot one end of your thread. Sew your first house onto the thread by pushing your needle through the front of you house. Keep to one side where the roof meets the house. Bring the needle up through the other side of the house, straight across. Create a knot next to hold the house in place. Move a few inches down your thread, tie off another knot and slide your next house onto the embroidered thread.

6. It's ready to hang.

Visit Laura Bray's Katydiddys Blog.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Craft Lovers Retreats

If you’re looking for some extra inspiration, want to pick up new techniques, practise your skills and meet other like-minded crafters, why not try a crafting retreat?

There’s Bengeo Retreat, near Deloraine in Tasmania. Set in 110 acres of farmland with views to the mountains, the gorgeous property hosts a beautiful cottage which is available as accommodation and a separate craft studio, as well as lush gardens where you can sit and soak up the sunshine while working on your latest project.

Or, there’s plenty of time to book in for the NSW Galong Patchwork Weekend, organised by the Galong Crafters. Held at the impressive local monastery, there’ll be six talented tutors plus a quilt show to entertain you.

For full details on these events, plus others in your area, head to CraftLovers Retreats.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Crocheted Produce Bag

We discovered this stylish and eco-friendly Crocheted Produce Bag on the Oh The Cuteness blog - perfect for bringing home fresh produce from Growers and Farmers Markets!

• 1 skein Lion Brand Organic Cotton Yarn (#680), or similar worsted weight yarn
• Size I-9 Crochet Hook
• Little scrap of fabric (optional)

• Rnd 1: Begin with an adjustable loop, and crochet 12 double crochet (dc) into the loop and pull tight.

• Rnd 2: *Chain 7, skip 1 dc and slip stitch in next dc.* Repeat around. It should look like a little flower:

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Smoked Salmon and Avocado Baguette

We are always on the lookout for lunch recipes that are easy to make, but also look and taste like Cafe food! We have found the perfect DIY Cafe-Style lunch with this Smoked Salmon and Avocado Baguette from Yahoo 7 Food... Enjoy!


1 x 40cm baguette
1/3 cup olive paste
2 handfuls (approx 20g) baby English spinach leaves
1 avocado, sliced
3/4 cup roasted tomatoes
250g sliced smoked salmon
basil leaves, to garnish


1. Slice the baguette lengthways down the centre. Hollow out the baguette using your fingers.

2. Fill Baguette: spread the olive paste over the bread, layer the spinach leaves, avocado, tomatoes, smoked salmon and garnish with basil leaves.

3. Cut the baguette in half, tie each end with a paper napkin and serve.

Visit Yahoo 7 Food for more yummy recipes.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Funky Felt Jewellery

We found this tutorial for Funky Felt Jewellery on the Better Homes and Gardens site. Felt jewellery is a great way to brighten up your wardrobe...

What you need:

• Assorted colors of wool roving (1 ounce makes about 30 beads)
• Liquid hand or dish soap
• 12-18" long clear elastic .7-mm bead-and-jewelry cord (stringing beads)
• Purchased metal beads (spacers between wool beads)
• Long doll-maker's needle or long sharp needle with large eye

Finished beads: 3/4" diameter


Step 1 Pull a small piece of wool from one or more colors of roving.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Sunshine Dress Tutorial

We found this tutorial for a gorgeous
Sunshine Dress at A Lemon Squeezy Home blog. Choose your daughter's favourite colours to make a dress she will love! Although this is a Spring/Summer dress and we are now heading into Winter, you can still use this in the cooler months - simply add a skivvy and tights underneath!


This dress tutorial is for a size 18 month – 2T. I will include a few tips on adjusting the size at the very end. There are no buttons or zippers on the back. The button you see at the neckline holds that side together. I can get this dress on and off my little B without any problems. The dress takes about 2-3 hours to make. So although it is easy, it does take some time.

What You Need:

• Four pieces of fabric cut using Pattern A (downloadable pattern piece HERE). Cut two lining, two outer fabric. (So one outer, one lining for piece 1, and one outer, one lining for piece 2)
• Four pieces of fabric cut using pattern B (downloadable pattern piece HERE). Cut two outer and 2 lining, for around neck
• Two 18.25” x 12” pieces of patterned fabric for the bottom portion. OR, one rectangle piece measuring (I used the two 18.25” pieces because I wanted the patterns to be symmetrical)
• One 36” x 12” piece fabric for lining
• Two 12” x 3” pieces fabric for middle triangle (can be plain like I did, or coordinating fabric)
• Two 60” x 2.5” strips knit for ruffles
• Four 2” x 18” pieces of fabric for ties (two pattern, two lining)

*Please note that all seam allowances are 1/4” (in case I forgot to put it somewhere)*


Step 1: Start by sewing the two 18.25” pieces together just along one side. Then sew 1/4” seam around 3 sides (leaving the top long side open) with the outer and lining fabric right sides together.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Fridge Magnet Tutorial

We found this great tutorial for Fridge Magnets on the Snickerdoodle Creations blog. This is a fun and easy project. It's great to do with children - and they will love to use the magnets afterwards to hand their own special creations on the fridge... 

You will need:

• A needle and thread 

• Magnets Cotton 
• Fabric Scraps
• A Marker
• A CD or DVD (to trace around) 
• A pair of Scissors Some polyfibre fill
• A hot glue gun 
• Some plastic milk bottle lids


• Take the CD/DVD and place it on your fabric. Trace around it with your marker:

Friday, May 7, 2010

Forever Flowers for Mother's Day

Flowers are a traditional gift for Mother's Day, so why not hand craft some flowers that your Mum can keep forever? We found this great tutorial for "Forever Flowers" on the Happy Together blog.

If you or someone you know loves flowers, why not give them some that will last forever? (Or close enough to forever :) You can make a whole bunch, or just a few.

Here is what you will need:
-Fake flowers (maybe you have some old arrangements somewhere or found some at a thrift store? Have none at all? Well the dollar store is chuck full of fake flowers!).
-Paint (I used spray paint and acrylic paint. Read further down on my experience with these)
-Scrap fabrics (I used mostly quilting cottons and tulle. If you don't have many scraps, I highly recommend looking on Etsy for scrap packs. I bought a pack from Thomas Park Gifts and those were pretty much what I used for this whole thing. They shipped them super fast too!
-Buttons (optional)
-Glue (to glue on buttons; I used a hot glue gun)
-Spray Starch
-Wire Cutters
-Writing utensil (I used a pen)
-Mod Podge

Take the flowers you want

and cut them apart if you like.

Then pull them apart! I seperated them by flowers, leaves, and stems.

For the Flowers:

Take your scrap fabrics and flowers. Take each petal and trace it on the back of fabric.

Then cut them out. I kept mine together. I also didn't do every single petal on my flowers because I felt that would be too much and you wouldn't see the fabric as well. I also cut out circles of tulle to add into some randomly.

Lay out the petals on the floor and spray them with starch. This will allow them to not look flimsy. This really helps them out a lot!

Then, clip a little slit right in the middle of each petal so it can fit over the stem later on.

You can also paint flowers. I first sprayed these with spray paint for a good base coat. I found that the paint comes off easily from the stems and had to repaint them with acrylic paint. After everything was painted how I wanted it, I painted on a coat of Mod Podge.

For the stems:

Again, I spray painted these first, but had to touch up with acrylic paint as the spray paint flaked bad. Once dry, I painted on a layer of Mod Podge.

For the Leaves:

Same as the stems. But, I also painted some various things on them. I did stripes, polka dots, squiggles, etc. I was going for a whimsical feel.

Putting it all Together:

Just put them together how you took them apart. Make sure you use all those extra plastic pieces that give the flowers an extra poof when underneath them. Mine were leaves first

then the bottom piece and so on....

You can ever add a button in the middle

instead of what it came with if you like.

And yes, I also painted the vases. I have quite a few, so I took to spray painting them as well then coating them with acrylic paint. I then finished them off with a sealer (you can use mod podge).

Now, how cute are these? I'm thinking of even making something similar for a hair piece or a pin. Have fun! Make them your own! If you do make some, feel free to add them to the flickr group to share.

For more great Tutorials visit Happy Together