Thanksgiving 2011

October 7th, 2011 | Comments »

Easy Fall Decorations for Outside

Use Fall Leaves to Decorate

You can decorate a broom or rake with a garland of brightly colored leaves to add color to your porch. Simply wrap the garland around the handle from top to bottom. Lean against your porch railing grouped with garden accessories for a festive look.

Look for Fall Harvest Items and Signage

Another easy fall decoration for outside is vintage signage reminiscent of a harvest festival found at a thrift shop or craft store. Choose signage in muted earth tones to complement any existing fall décor. If you have steps outside your home, create a pretty fall vignette with a cluster of pumpkins, citronella candles and a wicker crafting broom. Without steps, this idea can be created on a porch by placing pumpkins around the base of your outdoor chairs. Cluster a tiny arrangement of pine cones and fall leaves around a lamppost outside your door for a sophisticated fall touch. Purchasing a faux arrangement from a craft or discount store helps ensure your decoration endures the season without withering away.

Fall Crafts for Kids

This autumn, inspire children to incorporate seasonal symbols such as leaves, apples, pumpkins, and ghosts into their craft projects.

Leaf Alphabet
1. Collect leaves, avoiding ones with any mold or rot. Lay leaves flat between phone-book pages or layers of newspaper, then weight them with something heavy. Allow one to two weeks to fully flatten and dry. If you live in an area without many leaves (or want to enhance your collection), you can buy them online already pressed.

2. Arrange leaves on a page of heavy paper. Experiment with combinations of colors and shapes. If you are stumped by a letter of the alphabet, look in the dictionary for words to illustrate. Embellish leaves by cutting notches for parts like mouths, tails, and fins. From spare leaves, cut out details like eyes, wheels, hats, etc.

3. Glue leaves into place with glue stick or white glue (kids older than 12 can safely use rubber cement). Lay a clean sheet of paper on top of glued leaves and rub gently to smooth and flatten. Carefully remove the top sheet.

Pumpkin Bird Feeder

For a seasonal supplement to your regular bird feeder, cut a 3- to 5-pound pumpkin in half; scoop out, leaving a 1/2-inch thick wall. Cut a 1/2-inch-deep groove in the rim for pumpkin seeds. For perches, poke holes and insert twigs. To hang, knot two lengths of twine together in center; tack knot to feeder bottom. Fill with birdseed.


Spiced and Super-Juicy Roast Turkey

By Nigella Lawson, author of Feast

It’s the dish everyone loves most, so it’s important to do it right. This recipe from domestic goddess Nigella Lawson will ensure you get the perfect bird — without the hassle.

Prep:        20 minutes
Cook:        1 ¼ hours
Makes:        8 to 10 servings

You’ll need:
6 litres water, approx.
1 x 250g packet Maldon salt/125g table salt
3 tablespoons black peppercorns
1 bouquet garni
2 tablespoons white mustard seeds
200g caster sugar
2 onions, peeled and quartered
1 x 6cm piece of ginger, cut into 6 slices
1 cinnamon stick
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
4 cloves
2 tablespoons allspice berries
4 star anise
1 orange, quartered
4 tablespoons maple syrup
4 tablespoons runny honey
Stalks from a medium bunch of parsley, optional

For the basting:
75g butter or goose fat
3 tablespoons maple syrup

1. Put the water into your largest cooking pot or bucket/plastic bin and add all the other brine ingredients, stirring to dissolve the salt, sugar, syrup and honey. (Squeeze the juice of the orange quarters into the brine before you chuck the pieces in.)

2. Untie and remove any string or trussing from the turkey, shake it free, remove the giblets and put in the fridge, and add the bird to the liquid, topping up with more water if it is not completely submerged. Keep in a cold place, even outside, overnight or for up to a day or two before you cook it, remembering to take it out of its liquid and wipe dry with kitchen towel, a good 40 or 50 minutes before it has to go into the oven. Turkeys – indeed this is the case for all meat – should be at room temperature before being put in the preheated oven. If you’re at all concerned – the cold water in the brine will really chill this bird – then just cook the turkey for longer than its actual weight requires. I think it’s virtually impossible to dry this one out.

3. For the basting, melt the butter and syrup together slowly over a low heat. Paint the turkey with the glaze before roasting, and baste periodically throughout.

4. And as for the roasting time, just preheat the oven to gas mark 7/220°C and give the bird half an hour’s roasting at this relatively high temperature, then turn the over down to gas mark 4/180°C and continue cooking, turning the oven back up to gas mark 7/220°C for the last quarter of an hour if you want to give it a final, browning boost.

For a 4-5kg turkey, I’d reckon on about 2 – 2 ½ hours in total. But remember that ovens vary enormously, so just check by piercing the flesh between leg and body with a small sharp knife: when the juices run clear, the turkey’s cooked.

Just as it’s crucial to let the turkey come to room temperature before it goes in to the oven, so it’s important to let it stand out of the oven for a good 20 minutes before you actually carve it. Tent it with foil, and even longer won’t hurt it.

Turkey Cooking Times:

Weight of bird        Cooking Time
2/25kg/5lb            1 ½ hours
3.5kg/8lb            1 ¾ hours
4.5kg/10lb            2 hours
5.5kg/12lb            2 ½ hours
6.75kg/15lb            2 ¾ hours
7.5kg/17lb            3 hours
9kg/20lb            3 ½ hours
11.5kg/25lb            4 ½ hours

Swiss Chard Gratin

If you have a hard time knowing what to do with sometimes-bitter chard, this recipe is a stand-out way to serve it.

You’ll need:

1 potato (5 oz/150 g), peeled and quartered
2 tablespoons (30 mL) butter
¼  cup (60 mL) diced onion
1 clove garlic, minced
¼  cup (60 mL) all-purpose flour
11/4  cups (425 mL) milk
¼  teaspoon (1 mL) cayenne pepper
Pinch each salt and pepper
Pinch ground nutmeg
⅓ cup (75 mL) shredded Gruyère cheese
3 tablespoons (45 mL) grated Parmesan cheese
2 1/2  cups (625 mL) shredded Swiss chard

1. In small saucepan of boiling salted water, cook potato until tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Drain; let cool for 5 minutes. Thinly slice and overlap in greased 3-cup (750 mL) shallow gratin dish.

2. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, heat butter over medium heat; cook onion and garlic until softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in flour; cook for 1 minute. Whisking constantly, add milk, ¼  cup (125 mL) at a time. Whisk in cayenne, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Reduce heat to low; simmer, whisking occasionally, until thickened, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in Gruyère and Parmesan.

3. Pour ¼  cup (125 mL) sauce over potato. Top with Swiss chard, pressing to compact. Pour remaining sauce over top. Bake in 400°F (200°C) toaster oven or oven until bubbly and browned, 20 to 25 minutes.

A Love Affair With Paris

September 30th, 2011 | Comments »

Parisian Love (click this link to see Google’s Parisian Love)

Pleasure is Paris’s Raison d’Être; it is known for its famous buildings and works of art, its chic fashion scene and its modern literary, artistic, and intellectual ideals, and is a must for anyone wishing to experience the best of both contemporary and age old European culture.  Paris is named after a group of people called Parisii. They built a small village on an island in the middle of the Seine River about two thousand years ago. This island is called Ile de la Cite. It is where Notre Dame located. Today around eight million people live in the Paris area.

Paris is called the City of Lights. It is an international fashion centre and what stylish women are wearing in Paris will be worn by women all over the world. We all know that fashion influences home & decor, so when a woman in Paris chooses a beautiful rich red scarf to wear, in one way or another she’s influencing that red wall we’re putting in our dinning room or the red pillows we’re adding as an accent to our space.

Ernest Hemingway once said “Paris is a holiday, which always stays with you”. Taking the opportunity to visit Paris and experience it is something that will provide you inspirations to last a lifetime.  There’s something magical about the city that quickly forms this ever lasting love.

Shades and light in Paris are constantly in a unique game, at night and in the afternoon, at any time of the year. Light can fill a space small or large with the sun reaching its very depths, however it can quickly all disappear in a dense fog, creating for us a surprising medieval atmosphere.

We often see designers taking the influences of light and architecture and bringing them into the spaces their designing. There is never a loss for beauty when you’re dealing with the City of Love!  Find an image that inspires you and make it work. Take various tones, architectural influences & pops of colour to create you own love affair with Paris.

A Symphony of Blues

September 23rd, 2011 | Comments »

A symbol of constancy and truth; blue recedes like the far away sky.  It brings peace and tranquility to the spirit.  Blue can bring the promise of heaven and depth of sea.

Many cultures use blue as a protection against evil forces & as a healing colour. Viewing blue gives a calming effect, it can reduce blood pressure as well as can slow heart beat and respiration.

Dark blues carry the message of leadership & authority (why it’s often suggested to wear a blue suite to an interview or big meeting), while medium & grey blue appear sincere. Electric blues are active and playful while also being energizing and youthful.  Too much blue can be slightly depressing though..

When decorating with blue:

  • it’s recommended anywhere you’d prefer quiet & serenity
  • dark blue will work best in dens, home offices & libraries
  • warm blues are nicest in dens and family rooms
  • pale blues should be considered in bathrooms, as it is considered refreshing. However when using a pale blue it should be balanced with warm accents.

Blue is considered the most popular colour in the world from both men & women… and it looking around your home you probably will find a tone of the colour somewhere.  If not, give it time… it will appear somewhere!  Enjoy painting and remember, don’t be afraid of going BOLD & BRIGHT!