Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Carrot Cake Recipe

Hope everyone is enjoying their Wednesday. I haven't shared any recipes in a while so today I thought I'd do just that.

The other day I decided to make a carrot cake using a new recipe my Aunty had shared with me. It was only once it had been in the oven for several minutes that I discovered I'd used self raising flour instead of plain flour - oops!

Luckily, once I'd trimmed off the excess cake which had 'grown' over and above the edge of the cake tin, it didn't make a difference at all to the taste or appearance. Here is the recipe for anyone who'd like to give it a go...

Carrot Cake


3 eggs
1 cup white sugar
¾ cup cooking oil
1⅓ cups plain flour
½ tsp salt
1⅓ tsp bicarb soda
1⅓ tsp cinnamon
1⅓ tsp baking powder
2 cups grated carrot
½ cup walnuts (optional)
1 tsp vanilla

Cream Cheese Frosting:

125g cream cheese
1 tsp butter
2 cups icing sugar (sifted)
2 tsp lemon juice

Grease a square 20cm cake tin (I actually used a slice tin) and preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan-forced). Beat eggs and sugar until frothy. Add oil, stir in sifted dry ingredients and lastly fold in carrot and vanilla. Bake for approx. 1 hour (I found the time to be slightly less). When cool ice with cream cheese icing and sprinkle chopped walnuts on top.

Also, before it's too late, head over to my friend Janette's store at My Sweet Prints where there are still a few hours left of her amazing sale. She has some truly wonderful prints at 40% off...

Monday, June 28, 2010

Lounge Room Help

Hope you’re having a great Monday and that your weekend was a wonderful one. Ours was occupied with a bit of heater shopping (more on that later in the week), a visit to Bunnings and a stop by my sister’s new house which she has just moved into.

Today I need some help from you all. We have been kindly offered a piano for our home if we’d like it. While I myself probably wouldn’t have the time to make use of it and while I’m a big believer in the whole “have nothing in your home you know not to be useful or beautiful,” we’re thinking it might be a good piece to have around for Grace when she's older.

My dilemma is where to put it. We’ve come to the conclusion that our lounge is the only room where it could possibly fit and the place where the new buffet we bought is probably the only option which means a bit of rearranging of furniture. I’ve placed a big box covered in a dark coloured sheet in the spot we’re thinking of to try and get a picture of what it would be like with a piano in that spot.

Do you think moving the buffet to the dining area looks too cramped? It definitely makes it darker (something I am really trying to avoid) so I’m thinking I could possibly make slipcovers in a light coloured fabric for the dining chairs to brighten up the space (I’ve wrapped some white fabric around one to try and picture this). The newspaper pinned to the wall is my ‘imaginary artwork’. I’d really appreciate any opinions. The first above are of our lounge how it was and the ones below are my ‘mock piano set-up’ and a photo of the piano itself. Any suggestions would be very much appreciated... (and please ignore the ugly carpet and blinds as these are next on our 'hit list')...

Friday, June 25, 2010

Winter Touches

Hope you are all enjoying your Friday and are all set for the weekend. Tomorrow, we are going hunting for a new inbuilt gas heater. It’s been really chilly here at night and early in the mornings and I am desperate to get our new heater sorted out ASAP before winter really sets in!

Recently, I’ve been on the hunt for a nice winter throw for our living room couches. I’m picturing something in a chunky, knitted style that is cosy and warm to curl up under at night. I’ve seen some lovely ones at Country Road but I’m not sure I want to spend that much. If I could knit, I’d give making one a go myself.

I was reading something the other day that talked about how in countries where the shift in seasons is more pronounced, people make quite significant changes to their interiors to reflect this. Aside from the obvious cranking up of the heater or lighting of a wood fire, do you have anything you specifically do or change in your home when the cooler winter weather arrives?

Image sources: #1 #2 unknown

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Organizing Recipes

After recently seeing my sister-in-law's and my best friend's great new kikki-K recipe folders, it got me thinking about the system I use to organize my recipes.

In addition to my recipe books, I used to use a card system and had a massive disorganized pile of other recipes torn from magazines or scribbled on bits of notepaper. It was impossible to put my finger on anything in my bundle of tear outs and I couldn’t include any pictures on my index cards.

Nowadays, I use display folders for my ‘tried and tested’ recipes (those ones that you can easily tear the plastic sleeve out of and push back in place). Each folder contains a different type of food (pasta, meat, desserts etc). These recipes are ones others have written out and passed on to me, that I've torn out from the newspaper or magazines or that I've printed off the Internet (I get a lot of recipes from the Taste website). I have made all the recipes before and they have ‘passed the test’, meaning they are ones I would make again.

As for the pile of torn out recipes I used to have, they are now organized in a ring-binder file in plastic sleeves. If I decide to try out a new salad for example, I can simply empty out the sleeve marked ‘salads’ and pick one to cook. If it ends up being a winner, I transfer it to the appropriate display folder, otherwise it ends up in the bin.

How do you organize your recipes? Do you have a folder or a card system or some other method you like?

Image sources: #1 unknown #2 #3

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Q + A

This week, the lovely Mirela of Melli’s Designs tagged me to play along with a fun little game where I am to give my answers to the following questions. Here goes...

1. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
I’ve always thought it would be nice to experience Parisian life. It would be lovely to spend my days wandering through the streets, stopping in all the quaint little shops and enjoying delicious treats in the cafes.

2. What is your favourite band?
I like listening to a little bit of everything. However, my favourite music to listen to is anything by Norah Jones.

3. If you could be someone else for a day, who would it be?
I’ve always admired Donna Hay – I think it would be fun to work on all the many projects she is a part of (and sampling all those delicious recipes wouldn’t hurt either!!)

4. Concert or Broadway show?
I’d pick a Broadway show – I love seeing a production come together on stage.

5. Theme song for your life?
Tricky question – I was trying to think of something about happiness - maybe Happy Days??

6. Would you choose a fancy dinner at a nice restaurant or a picnic in the park?
I’d pick dinner at a nice restaurant. However, I prefer a café or one that isn’t too fancy.

7. Favourite place to shop?
I love buying things on Etsy – I always get so excited when a little parcel arrives.

8. Favourite movie?
Definitely The Notebook (I sob like a baby every time I watch it). I also love Dirty Dancing, Notting Hill, The Holiday, Amelie and Moulin Rouge.

I'd like to tag the following bloggers for this game. There’s no pressure whatsoever to join in but I’d love to read your take on the questions above...

Nicole at Bubby Makes Three
Catherine at Little Glowing Lights
Katrina at Katrina Chambers
Anna at Cornflake
Sophie at The Littlest Things

While I’m on the topic of blog games and awards, a few weeks ago, I had been given the Happy 101 award here by two lovely bloggers and since then, I have also received it from Catherine at A Time To Create. I won’t repeat my list of things that make me happy but you can see what I had previously written here. Thank you Catherine for passing this on to me.

Also, Michelle at Paper Tree Design had passed on the Versatile Blogger Award to me. For this award I was to write 7 things you may not know about me and to pass it on to fellow bloggers. I won’t bore you with more facts about myself today, but I would like to pass this award on to…

1. Abby at Two Little Dicky Birds
2. Christine at Sunshine and Lollypops
3. Maja at Bella, Beach and the Bush
4. Megan at Somewhere Along A Winding Path
5. Shawna at Poppies and Sunshine

Please visit these lovely blogs and say hi if you’re not already familiar with them …

Images sources: #1 #2 #3 #4

Monday, June 21, 2010

My Sweet Prints Bedtime Bus Roll

Hope you have all had wonderful weekends. Ours was a mixture of shopping, morning and afternoon teas and jobs around the house.

Today I wanted to share with you one of my latest purchases for our house, a Bedtime Bus Roll from the lovely Janette of My Sweet Prints. Last week I found a rimless frame which fits my new print perfectly and I really love finally seeing it up on our wall. It's displayed outside the main bathroom, in between Grace's room and our spare room and I am so very pleased with it.

Janette has more wonderful prints for sale, many of which can be customized and would make wonderful gifts and she is one of the loveliest bloggers I know. Be sure to check out her work here if you haven't already.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Priceless Beauty Products

Don't you hate it it when a product you love suddenly becomes discontinued? I have specific hair products I have found work well with my curls, so when I went to buy one such product the other day, I was disappointed to find that it appears to no longer be made. Luckily, I have since found a Priceline store with a small bundle left, so I snapped up three tubes to store away.

This got me thinking, which beauty product would you be lost without if you found it was no longer available?

Image above from here

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Inklore Etsy Store

Last week, I entered a giveaway on Bloesem Kids and to my surprise, I was the lucky winner. Samantha of Inklore has kindly let me choose an item from her Etsy store and seeing as the cute cushion above was in my wishlist folder, I’ve asked for one of those.

I can’t wait to receive my prize as this cushion will be perfect for the living room spruce up I am currently undertaking (more on that in a later post).

Check out the Inklore Etsy store here for yourself as there are some lovely hand printed homewares and accessories to choose from, many of which use gorgeous linen fabric of which I have grown very fond of lately. Samantha's blog Good Measure has also become one of my favourites to stop by and is full of lots of wonderful ideas for adding little extras to your everyday life. I love this comment on her 'About' page:

"When I'm not blogging, designing, or printing I enjoy all of the small pleasures of life: warm bread, fresh basil from the garden, a finished project, something pretty for my home, clean sheets, a good hearty laugh, or a cup of tea and good book".

Be sure to stop by and say hi from me.

Thanks again for the generous prize Samantha!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Totally Confused

Hope you have all enjoyed the weekend and are having a great start to the week. Our weekend was a lovely one which saw us order our new carpet, enjoy a lovely breakfast at Beaches Cafe in East Fremantle followed by a wander around the E Shed Markets and then potter around the house.

The gas heater man has just been to assess our living room space and totally upended what we had envisaged. It looks like the inbuilt log-fire look gas heater I had my heart set on (in a style similar to this one) is not possible unless we build out and re-plaster the section of wall where our heater is currently situated by another 300mm. My worry with this is that it will make the space appear smaller (although some low line cabinets on either side could look nice).

His only other suggestion was to put a free standing gas heater (a pot belly style looking one) in the corner where the television is. This would mean relocating the TV and at the moment, I like the fact that it is hidden from view when you first enter the living room. I don't really want a huge screen to be the first thing your eye is drawn to in this area.

It's quite ironic that we now need to rethink this space, as only last week Paul and I were discussing how we need a new lighter coloured rug and should get rid of the big coffee table so Grace would have a space to sprawl out with all her toys. Now, this unexpected heater dilema has meant we will definitely have to reconsider our living area.

I am so confused now and think I need to spend a bit of time picturing different options and thinking about how things can be changed around in our living room. I would really appreciate any of your suggestions for re-working this room as I know you all have such great decorating ideas and will think of some different options to me. Please let me know what you would do if this were your space even if it means new cabinetry or a new wall (keeping in mind the couches, television and speakers must stay in the room)...

Friday, June 11, 2010

Heating Help

Just when the early mornings and evenings have begun to get really chilly here and just when I had only yesterday thought that I should get a small electric heater to keep me warm in the study, our big living room gas heater stopped working last night.

As much as our heater was old and had been seen to by a repairman nearly every year, it did a great job of keeping our open plan living area warm and cosy so I'm keen to find a replacement that is equally efficient. We're after a built in heater with a log fire look, one with manual heat settings rather than solely a thermostat so I can keep it on as long as I like and as warm as like without it cutting off and on. Does anyone have any advice on features I should be looking for or brands you would recommend?

In the meantime, I'll be trying to keep warm this weekend with lots of layers and a cosy blanket along with plenty of hot drinks like the one above. Hope you all have a fabulous weekend and enjoy whichever weather you are experiencing in your corner of the world.

Image above from Haust

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A Very Fine House Feature

Today, our kitchen renovation is being featured as the Wednesday Walk-Through on the wonderful blog A Very Fine House. I really enjoy following Katrina and Julie-Ann's blog so if you haven't already, head on over for lots of great posts with ideas and inspiration for all things homely...

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Simple Cooking Week

Today is the start of a new week for me following our long weekend. The three of us headed to our uncle’s holiday house for a relaxing weekend away which didn’t quite go to plan as Grace was really unsettled both nights which I put down to a combination of teething and being away from her familiar surroundings. However, it was still nice to get away for a few days to somewhere quiet and peaceful.

This week, I’ve decided to have a little break from some of my homely duties and am going to have a week of ‘simple cooking’. As much as I love cooking, I’ve found recently that the time between four and six is always spent preparing meals for either us or Grace. This week, we are going to have either meals that I have recently made extra of and frozen (such as soups, casseroles and pasta sauces) or meals that can be made with little preparation time. I have a whole week’s worth of meals frozen for Grace too.

What are your stand-by meals for times when you really don’t feel like cooking?

Source of image above unknown

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Long Weekend

Today is the start of a long weekend here in Western Australia so I’m going to leave you with the lovely image above and sign off for a few days. Hope you all enjoy your weekend and I’ll see you back here next week to share what I've been up to...

Image from here

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Ikea Stools Finally Painted

Hope everyone is having a lovely week. Our days of sunshine have continued although I just heard on the radio that from tomorrow onwards, cloudy skies are forecast.

I finally got around to painting those Ikea stools I had bought a little while back (see here for the before shots). Thanks to all your advice, I gave them a light sand, a coat of primer and then two coats of paint (a Taubmans colour called Aqua Chintz).

I was happy with them when I was painting away in the shed, but once they were in our bedroom, I thought they may have been a little too bright and that perhaps I should have gone with the Turquoise Frost sample I had looked at. The photo above makes them look blue but in real life they're actually more of an icy green / aqua shade. However, the colour is really starting to grow on me so I think I'll leave them for a little while and see what they're like once we get our new white skirting boards and replace the carpet.

At least I can finally cross an item off my long list of decorating projects!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Sunny Autumn Day

I’ve just baked a yummy Citrus Coconut Cake for afternoon tea as my sister-in-law and my nephews are coming over today for a visit. I actually made one of these cakes on the weekend but it was so delicious, Paul and I devoured it within a few days. I love anything with cream cheese frosting.

Today in Perth it’s another glorious sunny autumn day. Although I would like some rain for the new herbs I’ve planted, I’m not complaining as Grace and I were able to take Asha for a nice big walk in the sunshine this morning and I’ve managed to do all our washing.

The beautiful flowering bush above is the view I have been enjoying from our back windows these recent weeks. This camellia was already here when we bought our house and every year puts on this magnificent display.

On a side note, Grace’s party was featured here on Illume Design Blog yesterday. Louise did a great job putting some photos together and writing about some of the things we had at Grace’s party. I always enjoy Louise’s posts so if you haven’t already, pop over and check out her great blog.