Get inspired today: beautiful blogs

Hello everyone! Here’s a quick question for you on a Thursday morning. Where do you get inspiration from? Magazines, books, nature? My biggest source of inspiration has to be blogs. Oh my word, when I discovered blogs a few years ago, my life changed. Before the blog discovery, I used to tear inspiring images from magazines and paste into scrapbooks – these books were my inspiration source. I still have them and occasionally paste in them.

I’m a very visual person. Give me a beautiful picture to drool over and I’m happy. When you couple beautiful images with inspiring words – I’m sold! Blogs transport you to another world, a world where everything is pretty. Their words inspire you to action, to dream, to take risks. Ever since I started reading blogs, I’ve been wanting to start my own. I hope to one day grow my blog into an inspiring,pretty place – just like the ones I love.

I’ve been wanting to create a series highlighting the most inspiring blogs out there. Sharing is caring they say, and I’d like to share some of my favourite blogs with you. My aim is to share a blog once a week, it’s important to get inspiration as often as possible.

I’m kicking the series off with the blog that started it all. Whenever I browse for inspiration, this is my first stop! You may know her already, or own one of her books. Holly Becker, creator of the blog decor8is my hero. She has inspired me from the first day that I stumbled across her blog. Holly launched decor8 in January 2006, after 10 years in the corporate world. Her goal was to live a more creative life, write about topics that she felt passionate about and encourage others to do the same.

Her dream paid off, with now over a million page views per month! Not only has she founded one of the greatest design blogs, but she has authored two best-selling books Decorate: 1,000 Inspirational Ideas For Every Room In Your Home and Decorate Workshop: Design and Style Your Space in 8 Creative Steps, and she has founded a series of online workshops called Blogging Your Way, aimed at the new blogger who is looking for guidance, tips and tricks. (I really want to take part in that course!)

I love Holly’s approach to her blog. It’s fresh, truthfully written and totally identifiable. Her projects are inspiring and simple enough for anyone to give it a go. Her images, oh her images, are stunning. Light, colourful and playful, they are truly inspiring. Here’s an example of her photography.

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Beautiful no? I also like the fact that she has weekly contributors that bring another dimension of creativity to her blog. You can honestly find it all on decor8 – great design tips, crafty projects, blogging advice, yummy recipes and general awesomeness.

Do yourself a favour and visit her blog, you won’t be disappointed. You can thank me later.

Til’ then.

Pinterest inspiration – rainy Mondays and fresh starts

Good afternoon to you all.

It’s Monday! (I’m not sure if that exclamation mark reads excitement or dismay.) Ah, who am I kidding, we all know what it means.

At least my Monday has started off chilly and overcast with a promise of rain. Yes, I’m saying it’s a positive thing. I love waking up to the sound of rain, there’s nothing better! Truth: I’d rather stay in bed than go to work on said rainy morning, but you know what, I’m looking at this rainy Monday as a fresh start (oh ye, I’m going deep people).

Before I start on my tangent, here is some dreamy rain images for you to stare sleepily at (you can pretend it’s that spreadsheet – I won’t tell).

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Ok, are you feeling calm and peaceful now? Good. Let’s start with a question.

How important is another person’s happiness to you?

Let me rephrase. How do you treat people who come across your path?

Whether it’s someone you know and love – like a family member or friend, an employee or acquaintance – when you meet and interact, you form a human connection. You see and hear one another, you open yourself up for communication and sharing. You form a connection one way or another (whether intentional or not).

 

This connection can be deep, meaningful and loaded with history (as you would have with a family member or close friend). This connection can also be superficial (when meeting someone new or when interacting with an employee and having to keep within certain acceptable boundaries). Regardless of whether our interactions are deep or shallow, we all leave a mark on people’s lives. It could be a good mark, bad mark or no mark at all.

 

Now, back to my original question: how important is another person’s happiness to you? I ask this question because I’ve been thinking a lot lately about relationships and how respect, encouragement and support fit in to that.

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I’ve witnessed pretty sad occurrences over the past month. I have seen a lack of respect, a lack of genuine caring amongst people, and it makes me sad and angry. It has made me look within myself and made me question how I treat people I come across in my life.

I can speak truthfully and say that I tend to put my needs above others. I tend to live within a bubble, a “me” bubble where only I have issues and problems.  People must support me. I need all the encouragement I can get. Selfish? Yes.

Unfortunately, I tend to live in my own little world much of the time, and I forget to look around me, at all the people who need my encouragement and support. I’m sure a lot of us can relate to this (oh gosh I hope so. I don’t want to be the only selfish one out there). Life gets hectic. We all have a lot on our plates, goals to achieve and dreams to make come true.

There’s nothing wrong with that. If we don’t live for our dreams, who will? Of course we need to focus on our wants and needs. But I think  a lot of us (including me) can afford to take a little bit of time to step back, outside of our bubble, and look at the people we come across everyday with new-found respect and genuine care. Every person has a dream. We all have certain beliefs and values, things we find important. I believe all anybody wants is respect. Respect for who they are, their beliefs and their dreams.

I watch shows like Masterchef Australia and Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, and I ABSOLUTELY LOVE seeing the immediate transformation in people’s faces when they are encouraged, supported and given a chance to be true to themselves. It’s amazing what a little bit of respect, encouragement and patience can do for a person.

I believe that we are on this Earth for a reason. We are given a certain personality, gifts and talents for a reason. People come into our lives for a reason. We hold a lot of power as human beings. Our thoughts, actions and words can make or break the people around us. That’s a scary responsibility to have, but we all have it! I think we should use this power for good. I’m tired of seeing people being disrespected, put down and dreams dashed.

What are we without a good heart? God gave us a heart for a reason – to love, respect and encourage.

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You may be thinking “I don’t have time for this.” “People don’t care.” “They seem fine, they don’t need my help.”  I can tell you that no matter how confident or sure people may seem, they more than likely feel the same insecurities that we do, and experience the same injustice that we may experience. You’ll be surprised at how much we all have in common!

I know that I barely have time to pursue my goals and dreams, so how will I find the time to help others? We have to make the time. By helping others we will help ourselves too. We are not living on this earth in isolation. We can’t think and act in isolation. We need to react as a group of people, willing to care enough to make a change to people’s lives. Life is hard enough without the critics and haters always on our backs, don’t you agree? Offering respect, encouragement and support to others is what is needed!

Let’s think about this for a few days. Please share your thoughts! I’d love to hear what you have to say.

In my follow-up post, I’ll share some ideas on how I plan to implement this in my daily living.

 

‘Till then.

 

Behind the camera again and a taste of the tropics.

Don’t you just love a long weekend? It gives you time to do things you wouldn’t ordinarily have time for during the week. I decided to use the extra time to get behind my camera again. My subject was this delightful baked pudding, Lime and Coconut Delicious, created by Bill Granger.

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I came across this pudding via Samantha Linsell’s twitter page and drooled at her recreation of it on her blog Drizzle and Drip. Take a look at her blog, her images are absolutely gorgeous! Inspired, I decided to bake and photograph the pudding myself.

It was really simple to make, but a lot harder to photograph. I am used to taking photo’s of cupcakes that have a solid shape and look pretty from every angle. I didn’t realise how tricky it would be to shoot a baked pudding. Anyway, I tried my best. What do you think?

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What’s most important is that it was yummy to eat! A light, fluffy lime and coconut baked pudding with an almost custard-like base – who could say no to that? If you would like to try this pudding out, follow the recipe here, on Samantha’s blog. Don’t forget the cream!

 

Till’ next time.

A weekend of cupcakes

Hello friends. 

How is your week treating you? Aren’t you glad it’s Wednesday? I am…halfway through the week, wooo! Remember my post from last week where I mentioned I had to bake for two parties on the weekend? Well, I survived (clearly) and had a blast doing it!

 

My first baking project was for my cousin’s baby shower on the Saturday. In this post I shared that I would be making blue velvet cupcakes. I did make them (with a new velvet cupcake recipe) and generously topped them with a great cream cheese frosting.

The blue and white fondant discs (featured in the link above) finished them off nicely.

I know I said I’d post pictures of them… but I didn’t get a chance to take any. Sorry guys, you’ll have to use your imagination on this one.

Anyway, they seemed to be a big hit with the kids.

 

My second baking project was for my cousin’s baby’s 1st birthday party on the Sunday.

Being a little girl, I had to make it pink overload. I had an idea to create mini doughnuts as cupcake toppers. I bought a mini doughnut pan, followed the recipe on the packaging and proceeded to make the cutest little doughnuts ever!

Vanilla cupcakes with pink butter cream frosting were topped with the chocolate dipped, sprinkle laden doughnuts.

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I must say, these were my favourite! They were tasty and so pretty. I love when first time attempts work out well.

What do you think? How cute are these doughnuts? I like that they are baked and not fried. I’ll definitely be making them again.

 

Till’ then!

 

An experimentation with fondant.

Happy Tuesday everybody!

I am super excited for this coming weekend! I have two big parties on and I’m baking for both. The first party on Saturday is a baby shower for my cousin Bronwen. She is expecting a little boy very soon.

I’ve decided to make blue velvet cupcakes with fondant toppers. Running with the theme of the nursery (airplanes), I have created cupcake toppers in blue and white. What do you think? I have never worked with fondant before, but I found it quite easy (admittedly the toppers are very simple in design, but I didn’t want to go too crazy first time round).

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I’m also trying a new velvet cake recipe for the blue velvet cupcakes. I’ll post a pic of the completed cupcakes next week.

I’m also excited to show you the concept I have for the second party on Sunday. It’s my cousin’s daughter’s first birthday (expect lots of pink).

Till’ then…

 

Rockin’ cupcakes

Hello again!

I know, I know…  I’ve been missing a while… (ahem, more like abandoning my poor blog for a couple of weeks). Sorry guys, I’ll try my best to post more regularly (as much for your entertainment as for my sanity).

Life, or should I say work, has been insanely busy and will get even more crazy till the end of the year (eeek!). Not to worry though. I have a few baking projects coming up – which will hopefully balance out the work bit.

Speaking of baking projects, I completed one this past weekend. I baked my first bulk load of cupcakes in celebration of my father-in-law’s 50th birthday party (pictured below).

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The party theme was “rock ‘n roll” (colours being black and red with a touch of beige). What a rocking party it was! A live band played classic rock hits as well as modern songs from Mumford & Sons and Red Hot Chilli Peppers, amongst others. Despite the great music, the love and strong bond between everyone in the room was amazing, and is one definite positive of marrying into an Italian family.

 

Another positive of becoming part of an Italian family is sharing in their love of food. My darling sister-in-law and I provided the desserts. She baked a beautiful two-tiered chocolate cake, complete with fondant records and musical paper. I baked a whole bunch of red velvet cupcakes.

This was quite an interesting adventure. Firstly, I have never made over 60 cupcakes before. Halfway through mixing the batter, I realised that my dear Kenwood mixer could not handle that amount of batter. With said machine pathetically whirring and whining and batter overflowing, I (frustrated and red-faced), had to admit defeat, plonk batter in to the largest tupperware I could find and proceed to mix with an even smaller hand-held mixer (cue higher pitched whining).

 

Eventually, I managed to mix and bake 60 + cupcakes (this all took place on the Friday night). I made the icing on the Saturday morning. Smooth sailing? Not a chance! First of all, I bought the wrong sugar. Castor instead of icing sugar. Halfway through mixing the icing I realised this and in a panicked state rushed off to the shops.

Secondly, I ignored the mistake I had made the night before and decided to mix the whole quantity of icing in one shot. I don’t think I need to explain what happened…

 

Despite the mistakes, they turned out well. Wrapped in pretty black and red cupcake wrappers, they were topped with “rock ‘n roll” themed paper toppers and finished off with red sprinkles. They seemed to go down a treat – and that’s all that matters really. As long as my baking makes people smile, I’m happy.