Thursday, September 30, 2010

Baby Shower Photos

Hope you are all having a lovely week. Today, I finally sat down to download and browse through the photos I'd taken at my cousin's baby shower on the weekend. However, I found I didn't have as many good shots as I'd hoped I would. I seemed to have focused more on the guests than on the party details but I've managed to choose a few photos to share with you all to give you an idea of how the party looked.

My cousin really liked the decorations I had used at Grace's 1st birthday party so I re-used some of those and stuck to a similar style invitation. We also used the floral fabric centrepieces from the Pink Ribbon morning tea fundraiser I held last year. I made the cupcakes with polka dot flag toppers but apart from that, my Aunty and a few other guests made the remaining delicious dishes.

Here's the few photos I managed to scrape together...

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Guest Post At Pure And Noble

Image by Victoria Smith of sfgirlbybay

Pure and Noble is one of the blogs I read regularly and whose ideas and commentary I find inspiring – if you haven’t already, be sure to check it out for yourself. I really enjoy Brooke’s posts and find that I relate to and respect her views on life, and so when she asked me to write a guest post for her, I was very excited to say the least. Pop on over to Brooke’s awesome blog here to see my first guest post where I talk about 'Making Your House a Home’…

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Party Planning Tips

Image by Sarah Thompson of Style Me Gorgeous

Hope everyone is having a wonderful weekend. Ours is a long weekend here in Perth for the Queen’s Birthday and we’ve had lots of fun things keeping us busy. This morning I had my cousin’s baby shower which I organized the invitations and decorations for. I will share some photos of the morning tea in the next few days.

One of my favourite things about holding a party is the actual planning stage and gathering of ideas for decorations and invitations and all the small details. Today I thought I’d share my top five tips for planning a successful party, accompanied by some images from my favourite blogs about entertaining…

1. Have a colour scheme

Everything looks more cohesive and less busy when you stick to a few key colours or patterns. You don’t have to have everything matching but small decorative details like napkins, table runners, flowers, balloons or bunting look more pleasing to the eye when you stick to a ‘colour theme’ or style.

Image from I Am Baker

2. Balance the savoury and sweet dishes

When deciding on the types of food I am going to make for a party where finger food is being served, I try and aim for a balance. Usually I will have a few savoury dishes and a few sweet dishes. With savouries I try to have a few different choices such as sandwiches, something involving pastry like sausage rolls and something vegetarian such as quiches. For the sweets, I try and incorporate something with chocolate, something cake-y, something with cream and a platter of fruit.

Image by Sharnel of My Life My Loves

3. Make a sketch of your food table

Whether I have a dessert style ‘help yourself’ food table, or am placing the food in the middle of the table around which guests are seated, I always have a good idea of how I’d like the table to look and how things will be positioned. I usually make a brief sketch and try and have plates positioned at various heights using things like cupcake stands, cake stands and even boxes covered with decorative paper. I like food to be served on white dishes or ones only with a small pattern which compliments the colour or style I am focusing on.

Photo by Leo Patrone via Green Wedding Shoes

4. Encourage guests to mix

If you have a small number of guests seated around a table, make sure that things placed in the centre of the table aren’t too tall or an obstruction which will make conversation difficult. For parties with larger numbers, rather than having seats placed in one huge circle where guests can only talk to those on either side of them, I like leave clusters of chairs around smaller tables so that small groups can talk more easily.

Original photo by Anna of Around My Table found via Birthday Girl

5. Plan a timeline for yourself

I always have ‘to do lists’ for things to be organized before the party day itself as well as a more specific order of things to do on the actual day. I try to do as much as possible beforehand, especially when it comes to preparing food. Anything that can be made in advance and frozen is a lifesaver and food that can be cooked earlier and just reheated on the day is also perfect. Besides the food, things that can be done in the days before the party include ironing tablecloths, having platters and cutlery out ready, hanging any decorations (so long as they are safe from the elements) and positioning tables and chairs.

Hope you enjoyed my little list of party hints. Are there any tips you agree with or would you add something different to what I’ve suggested?

I’d love to hear your thoughts…

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Sunny Spring Morning

Growing up and living only a few minutes away from the beach, I was always a summer girl. However, last year when Grace was born, I was confined to the house more over the months following May and I found myself enjoying winter and its cosiness too. This year with all the bugs and colds that have seemed to follow us around over this colder period, I have really looked forward to and am enjoying Spring. Here in Perth we have beautiful sunny days forecast for the next week, perfect for spending time outdoors which is definitely where Grace prefers to play.

On Monday, my friend Lyndell and I took advantage of the warmer weather and took Grace to a nearby park to feed the ducks. Grace had a ball throwing pieces of bread to all the birds, although the two swans were being a bit too friendly and becoming a bit territorial with their little cygnets in tow.

These photos were all taken Lyndell - I always love seeing the moments she has captured…

Monday, September 20, 2010

Changing Focus

This week, I’ve decided I need to focus on all the special things in my life I have to be thankful for and to stop letting 'the case of my disappearing tastebuds’ consume all my energy and thoughts. When I spotted this print by Erin Jane Art Prints on Etsy today, it definitely ‘spoke to me’ and so I thought it would be perfect to share in this post.

On Friday, I went to my GP to explain my taste dilemma in the hope of her being able to ‘wave her magic wand’ and offer me a solution only for her to say I had her baffled and she’d need to ‘Google it’ which was exactly what I’d been doing for the past week myself!! She has given me a referral to an ear, nose and throat specialist who I cannot get in to see until a month’s time and over the weekend, things really started to get to me. I do have the sense to put things in perspective and realise there are plenty of people in the world worse off than me and that I should be grateful for all the good things that surround me, I’d just love for someone to give me a date as to when my taste will return, or to at least reassure me that things will eventually go back to normal and I’ll be able to enjoy food again. In the meantime, I’ve decided to start thinking positive thoughts and to focus on other things and so I promise I won’t blog about this predicament any more until my taste returns.

So now that all that negativity is off my chest, let’s get on with the rest of the week! What lovely things do you all have planned?

Image above available for purchase from Erin Jane Art Prints

Friday, September 17, 2010

Busy Week

Happy Friday! This week for us has been a combination of doctor’s appointments, coffees with friends, planning an upcoming baby shower and trying to keep up with the Blogging Your Way course I’m participating in (in addition to all the day to day things associated with running a household and looking after a toddler).

On Tuesday I met up in person with fellow Perth blogger Flick from Everyday Chick who I found so lovely to chat to and get to know a bit more (despite my cheeky Grace scaring off everyone else near us in the coffee shop – I was so embarrassed!) This afternoon I’ve got another doctor’s appointment as my taste still hasn’t returned after a week and a half now and it appears as though the antiobiotics I’ve just about finished have not worked. As for my blogging course, I’m so glad I decided to participate in it as I’ve enjoyed all the classes so far on ways to improve my blog, photography and even the confusing topic of copyright in blogging.

If I haven’t visited your blog as much lately, still haven’t written you a long overdue email or owe you a guest post, I’m really sorry and will try and contact you all soon. I just seem to have a few too many balls to juggle this week but hope to catch up on things over the weekend.

Tonight, is a usual quiet Friday night in for us so I’m hoping to make a dent in the huge pile of library books I currently have sitting beside my bed. In that pile are novels, cookbooks, interior design guides, books on creating a vegetable garden (more on that in a later post) and a few back issues of magazines. A beautiful sunny Spring day is forecast for Perth today so hopefully I’ll be able to sit outside and read a bit today too.

Hope you all have a lovely end to the week…

Monday, September 13, 2010

New Chicken Salad

Hope you’ve all had a wonderful weekend. Sorry for my unintended break from my blog. Daily life seems to have caught up with me and the Blogging Your Way course I’m currently participating in has stolen a bit of my already limited blogging time too.

Over the weekend, especially after watching Junior Masterchef last night, I’ve had a real desire to try out some new recipes. However, I’ve had one slight problem – since I had a virus a few weeks ago, my sense of taste seems to have disappeared! Despite feeling perfectly healthy, everything I eat tastes pretty much the same and for someone like me who enjoys cooking, this is really disheartening.

I took myself off to the doctor on the weekend and she gave me a course of antibiotics to try and get me back on track but in the meantime, I can barely tell the difference between a piece of chocolate and a salad sandwich. Even my beloved cups of tea are unsatisfying so I’m crossing everything that my taste returns soon.

Anyway, before my dilemma, I tried out a new Bill Granger recipe which was delicious so I thought I’d share it with you all. It was from his book 'Feed Me Now' and was a great way to use up some leftover cooked chicken.

Salad of Seared Chicken and Rice
(Serves 4)

300g basmati rice
2 x 180g boneless chicken breasts, skinned
1 tbs curry powder
5 tbs extra virgin olive oil
200g green beans, topped, tailed and halved
4 spring onions, finely sliced
1 celery stick, cut into batons
60g sultanas
4 tbspn lime juice
handful coriander leaves, chopped
1 green chilli, deseeded and very finely diced (optional)
1 tsp sea salt
2 tbs fried sliced Asian shallots (optional)

Cook the rice in boiling slated water until cooked. Rinse under cold water, drain well and the tip into a large bowl.

Slice the chicken into strips, place in bowl with curry powder and 2 tbs olive oil. Toss well to combine. Heat a frying pan over high heat and add chicken and cook, stirring, for about 5 mins or until cooked through. Let cool slightly.

Meanwhile blanch the beans in a pan of lightly salted boiling water for a minute or so until slightly crisp. Rinse under cold water and drain.

Add the beans to the rice with the spring onions, celery, sultanas, remaining olive oil, lime juice, coriander, chilli and salt. Stir to combine, then add the chicken and toss slightly.

Spoon the salad onto a warm platter or individual serving bowls and top with shallots, if using.

I followed Bill Granger’s note to adapt this recipe and used some shredded cooked chicken instead and simply mixed 3 tbsp olive oil, the curry powder and the juice (I used lemon) to pour over as a dressing.

Images sources: #1 #2

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Great Read: The Crafty Minx

A little while back I was reading through Kelly Doust's great book 'The Crafty Minx'. While it is a book filled with inspiring creative projects, the parts I liked even more were Kelly's introductions to each chapter of the book (which is arranged by season) in which she provides insight into how each season impacts upon homely life and how we can translate this in a practical sense into everyday living. The two quotes below stood out in particular to me...

"Homes should reflect the personality of their inhabitants and provide a space for them to be surrounded by pieces that 'speak' to them."

"To my mind there's nothing more stylish or comfortable than a home lovingly furnished with pieces that have been acquired over time. Trinkets picked up on foreign holidays, handmade anything, the occasional ultra-modern design piece saved up for and bought and items scoured from auction houses - all fleshed out with flea market finds and an affordable storage solution or two from Ikea."

These quotes sum up the type of feel I am gradually aiming to create in our own home. Here are some images from my inspiration folder that I believe truly demonstrate Kelly's definition of a 'home'.

For more of Kelly's inspiration, visit her blog here or see her own home here on Design Sponge.

Image sources: #1 and #4 #2 #3

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Father's Day

Father's Day in our household is never without a slight hint of saddness as Paul's Dad passed away five years ago and my Dad last year. So for us, we now focus on Paul and the wonderful Daddy he is to our little Grace. It is always such a joy to watch the two of them together and especially to see Grace's excitement when Paul gets home from work.

This morning, after giving Paul his gift, the three of us enjoyed a delicious breakfast at C15 Cafe and then went for a walk along the river. For the rest of the day, we've been outdoors gardening in the lovely Spring sunshine.

I hope you have all had lovely weekends celebrating and remembering the Dads in your lives.

Friday, September 3, 2010

My Creative Space

I've finally found a little project to keep my hands busy at night whilst curled up on the couch watching television. It's a little cross-stitch piece I'm making for Grace's room which I'll reveal more of when I'm finished.

As a young girl, I used to love doing cross stitch and long stitch embroidery. In fact, I think my Mum still has a framed long stitch piece of mine hanging in her hallway.

What craft projects have you been working on this week?

Visit Kootoyoo for more creative spaces...

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Day-Spa Treat

Yesterday, I finally used a gift voucher to a day-spa my sister had given me months ago for my birthday. I enjoyed a back, neck and shoulder massage after not having treated myself to one since I was pregnant with Grace. Needless to say I came away feeling very relaxed.

Whilst there, I also did my best to soak in the decor and tried to determine which elements of my tranquil surroundings I could recreate at my own house to give our bathroom a 'day-spa feel'. I came away feeling not only relaxed, but also inspired to add a few special little touches to our bathroom when I get a chance.

Have you ever been treated to a spot of day-spa style pampering?

Image #1 unknown