Are you looking for a nice hostess gift or perhaps know of someone who will be celebrating a birthday soon?
This gift idea may fit the bill and is very budget-friendly.
A simple photo frame can be transformed into the prettiest breakfast tray in minutes. Materials for this idea may be purchased at local craft or hardware stores.
1 photo frame (11 by 14 inches)
2 silver cabinet handles
Decorative paper (12 by 12 inches)
These little trays can be made in many different sizes. I prefer the 11- by 14-inch size for its ability to accommodate a few table items and perhaps a small book or iPad. They can also be assembled using photographs or other visual material you may want to use to personalize the tray to the recipient.
Remove the plastic wrapping from the frame and wipe the glass and outside edges with a soft cloth.
Unbend the small wire clips on the back of the frame and remove the cardboard backing, papers and glass plate. Clean the glass plate with a glass cleaner if necessary. Set aside.
Place the handles on each side of the frame where you would like them to be. Mark the small drill holes with a pencil and set them aside. Using your power drill, carefully drill two holes on each side of the frame. Attach your silver cabinet handles with the included screws. Be sure these handles are strongly attached.
Measure your decorative paper to fit the inside of the plate. In most cases you will require two sheets of paper to fill the entire glass plate. Carefully measure and cut the paper making sure to match patterns if necessary. If you are using photographs then you will need to have a background page to apply them.
Replace the glass plate and the cardboard backing. Bend over the wire supports.
These little trays are quite sturdy however they are not meant for heavy items.
Barb Lunter is a freelance writer with a passion for home decor, entertaining and floral design. She also runs Blu Dog Staging & Redesign. bludogstagingandredesign.com
Clever Serving Ideas: Slate for Cheese Tray
Theme parties are becoming more popular these days. Traditional dinner parties are falling by the way side in place of more trendy cheese parties and cocktail affairs. The evening’s fare is often served on unique and clever serving pieces replacing the more traditional style platters. You have probably seen some of these pretty serving ideas at catered affairs and believe it or not you can duplicate these ideas at home.
Have you just finished a renovation or know someone who has? The square pieces of slate are wonderful serving pieces for cheese. The rustic surface is perfect for highlighting the different choices of cheese and you can write the name of the cheese directly on the slate with chalk. Use assorted slate pieces and mix them up for variety.
Autumn Serving Tray
I love this idea for its versatility. You may have tried the plexiglass placemats with the wrapping paper for a dinner party. For this idea you can use the same plexiglass pieces or go to a glass shop and have some square glass pieces cut. Select some of the pretty fall leaves that are currently everywhere ranging from the large maple leaves to the pretty oak you see by the road. Clean the leaves and let them dry for a week or so. Once dried, simply place the leaves under the plexiglass sheet and place your food on top. If you wish to move the platter around, use two sheets of plexiglass and place the leaves between the two sheets. Secure with invisible tape on the four corners.
This is a great idea for serving fresh fruit or a salad. You will need two bowls: one 8″ in diameter and one 6″ in diameter. Place a layer of ice cubes inside the 8″ bowl and set the 6″ bowl inside to fit. Fill the perimeter of the bowl with water and add fresh roses, leaves or any other greenery you may like to display. Place the bowls in the freezer for 24 hours. When ready to serve, simply put the frozen bowl in warm water for a few seconds to loosen the molds. Display the ice bowl on top of a tray that will collect the water during the evening and fill with fresh fruit.
One should never underestimate the practicality of a basket. I always search for large, flat baskets that are wonderful to serve bread, cheese and salads. Look for ones with thick wicker and no handles. The handles only serve to get in the way of retrieving the food items.
Clever Serving Ideas: Acrylic Serving Tray
We all have an inventive friend. Someone who inspires us with their entertaining ideas and unique ways of presenting the evenings’ meal. Recently I came upon a wonderful way to serve appetizers at a party. The materials required to assemble this idea are simple and the process is very easy. Choose between a real plate of glass or Plexiglas for your look.
- 1 wood or acrylic-serving tray (with a slight depth of ½” to 1”)
- *Look for these simple trays at Dollar Stores and Department Stores
- 1 custom cut piece of glass or Plexiglas (to fit on top of the tray or on the inside edge)
- Flowers, cinnamon sticks or other display materials
Clean the inside of the tray and place your display materials. Wash the glass plate with soap and water and place on top of the tray. Display your food on top.
Have you just completed a recent renovation? If so, you may have some leftover pieces of slate. These pieces are wonderful for serving pieces of cheese and fruit. The rustic surface is perfect for highlighting the different choices you are serving and for added effect you can write the names of the cheese directly on the slate with chalk. Use assorted slate pieces and mix them up for variety. This is a great idea for a wine and cheese party.
This is an old idea but a good one. It’s wonderful for serving fresh fruit or salad. You will require two bowls: one 8” in diameter and one that is 6” in diameter. Place a layer of ice cubes inside the 8” bowl and set the 6” bowl inside to fit. Fill the perimeter of the bowl with water and add fresh flowers or leaves. Place the bowls in the freezer for 24 hours. When ready to serve, simply put the frozen bowl in warm water for a few seconds to loosen the molds. Display the ice bowl on top of a tray that will collect the water during the evening and fill with fresh fruit.
Always look for creative containers when you are out and about. Baskets, garden pots and concrete urns are just a few examples of ideas that will have you thinking “outside the box” when it comes to presenting food at your next party.
Maintaining Your Barbecue Grates
Any good chef would agree that a great charbroiled steak is only as good as the barbecue used to prepare it.
Keeping your barbecue grates in good condition is an important factor to keep in mind when maintaining your barbecue over the summer months.
To keep your barbecue grates in good shape you may want to follow a few important tips from the experts.
Firstly, it’s important to attend to dirty grates immediately after use. Remove all cooked food and shut the lid. Bring the barbecue temperature up to high (if you have a gas version) and let it sit for 10-15 minutes. Shut the gas off at this point and let the grates cool. Using a metal-bristled brush, scrub off any remaining food residue.
Preheating your barbecue before use is a key factor. You will find if you preheat your barbecue before setting food on it, the food will slide off the grates easier than if you place food on cold grates.
Use a good quality oil to give your grates a rub before each use. This will prevent food from sticking and allow for easier cleaning afterwards.
It is also recommended to give your barbecue a good, deep cleansing once a year. There are many barbecue cleaning companies here in Vancouver that specialize in cleaning your barbecue to the point where it looks brand new – definitely worth the expense.
Personally, I prefer the eco-friendly barbecue cleaning companies that use a steam cleaning process rather than chemicals. Harsh chemicals are avoided during the cleaning process and any possibility of leftover chemicals that may linger and end up in your food is eliminated.
It is also recommended to remove the tray under the gas grill and clean it of any drippings and grease after each use. Use a plastic scraper over a garbage can to scrape away any leftover residue.
Remember to clean the outside of your barbecue. For stainless steel gas barbecues it is recommended to use a paper towel and a stainless steel cleaner to clean the outside lid and surrounding areas. Afterward, use a microfibre cloth to buff the grain for best results.
Accessorizing Made Easy
Have you ever walked into a room and had the feeling like something was off or missing?
Perhaps it was lacking in warmth or ambience in some way?
Well, it could very well be that the room was not accessorized properly. Accessorizing your home is important when you are decorating. Think of accessories in your home as you would jewelry with an outfit. Each accessory adds a touch of colour and texture to the space.
Many people are perplexed regarding how to tackle accessorizing their home. It really is the last decorating layer for a room and if done properly can dramatically change the appearance of the room.
If you are in fall decorating mode, here are a few tips from the pros on how to begin accessorizing your home.
You may be asking what kind of accessories should I be looking for? Well it really depends on what kind of surface you are working with. Small coffee tables, console tables and side tables are three examples of areas that are common for accessorizing. Look for items such as hardcover books, photographs, candles, vases and other containers. Also, flowers and plants, trays, and sculptures are other examples of great accessories. For walls, look for interesting mirrors and artwork that will balance the visual height of your display. And don’t forget the floor. Rugs are invaluable in adding warmth and colour to a room.
One of the most common mistakes homeowners make is to spread too many smaller items throughout the room. It is best to stick to fewer larger items than too many smaller ones. Remember to work in odd numbers such as threes and fives. For small tables and consoles stick to three items rather than two smaller ones. Work in groups rather than individual items. Combine photos and objects in groups of three or five in assorted sizes.
If you have room for a long table behind your couch, accessorize it with a nice lamp to add light in the room. Add a few photo frames and perhaps a potted plant.
Entrances look wonderful with small tables accessorized with a mirror, key tray and perhaps a small lamp.
Coffee tables usually require accessories with height. Tall candlesticks and sculptures work well here as well as a stack of hardcover books. Add a flower arrangement to bring some greenery into the room and perhaps a vase.
Bookshelves are probably the most challenging to accessorize. Hardcover books should be nestled in with other small items such as plants and photo frames. It’s important not to have too many books and over-clutter the shelves. I like to add some reflective surfaces when accessorizing a bookshelf. Shiny vases and bowls are wonderful when combined with flat surface objects to provide texture to the bookshelf.
And remember to change up your throw cushions on your couch. Flat, worn cushions make the room feel tired.
Try switching up your summer cushions with some new fall colours of the season.
Chalkboard Paint Projects
Chalkboard paint is probably one of the most useful products in the do-it-yourself world.
You’ve seen it in traditional classrooms, restaurants and used for memo boards. It’s now available in many different colours, useful for a variety of craft projects.
I love the fact that it dries very quickly and can be used within a very short time after application. It’s durable, washable and very child-friendly.
The following are some ideas for quick and easy projects for the home incorporating this versatile product. Remember to not limit yourself to traditional black. Try some of the new shades for bright and colourful designs. And for best results, allow the painted area to cure for two to three days.
Herb planters and markers
Small terra cotta pots work beautifully for this idea. You can find them in nurseries and craft stores. Clean them of any dirt or debris. Apply a small amount of chalkboard paint to the front side of the planter. Using a stencil or painters tape is a good idea.
Let them dry and then write the name of the herb on the front with chalk. This works well for large and small planters. When the season is over simply remove the name of the herb with a soft, damp cloth.
Herb markers can be made using chalk paint as well. I like the large, wooden Popsicle stick markers that you can find at nurseries. Dip one end into the chalkboard paint and let it dry. Add the herb’s name with chalk.
If you have a favourite frame or serving tray you can easily transform it into a chalk memo board. Plastic surfaces should be primed ahead of time and shiny metal surfaces should be lightly sanded before applying the chalkboard paint.
Inside a cupboard
If you have a craft room or an office with a cupboard door that you don’t mind using as a memo board then this idea is for you. I’ve done this before on the inside panel of a kitchen cupboard door to use for a grocery list.
Prep the surface ahead of time by sanding or applying a good primer if necessary. Most wood surfaces should take the chalkboard paint without priming but if you’re unsure, ask your paint professional beforehand. Measure off the space you desire on the inside of your cupboard with painters tape and then apply the chalkboard paint. Let dry.
I love this idea for evening gatherings. An ordinary serving tray can be transformed into a lovely menu planner to display in the corner of your kitchen during a dinner party. Write your evening’s menu with chalk and reuse the tray for future dinner parties.
Storage tub labels
This is one of my favourite uses for chalkboard paint. Large Rubbermaid storage tubs work wonderfully for this idea.
Tape off the area you would like to paint. Apply the chalkboard paint to the small area on the front of the tub and let it dry.
Once the paint is dry, label the contents with chalk and place in your storage room.
The beauty of this idea is you can constantly change the contents of the tub and relabel it each time.
Barb Lunter is a Professional Stager, freelance writer with a passion for home decor, entertaining and floral design. lunter.ca
Easter Treats…by Lita Lane
by: Lita Lane
I’m a big fan of candy melts and the many ways that you can use them – the design possibilities are limitless. This Easter I took a typical treat, the Rice Krispies square and decided to transform it into my guest favour for our Annual Family Easter Egg Hunt.
First step: Prepare a batch of Rice Krispies squares.
- 3 tablespoons butter or margarine
- 4 cups miniature marshmallows or 1 jar [7 oz] marshmallow crème
- 6 cups Rice Krispies
In a microwave-safe bowl, heat the butter and marshmallows on high for three minutes, stirring after two minutes. Continue to stir until smooth. Add the Rice Krispies cereal and stir ingredients until evenly mixed. With a buttered spatula or wax paper, evenly press the mixture into a 13″x 9″x 2″ pan coated with cooking spray. Allow the mixture to cool before cutting into squares.
Second step: The candy coating
Cake Pop plastic sticks or Lollipop sticks [4 in/10 cm]
Wilton’s Pink Candy Melts [12 oz/340 g]
Rice Krispies Treats [cut into squares]
Clear Lollipop Bags
Melt the candy melts in a microwave-safe bowl for one minute, remove and stir, and microwave for another 30 seconds until melted. Insert a cake pop or lollipop stick into the side centre of each Rice Krispies square; dip each into the melted candy, tapping off the excess. Place them, standing up, on the cookie tray, and cool in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes. Once the candy has hardened, place the candy coated treat in a clear cellophane lollipop bag and finish it with a seasonal decorative piece of ribbon. For this instance, I purchased some candy embellishments. I used a drop of the melted candy to glue them onto the outside of the treat for a wonderful effect.
St. Patrick's Day Candy Dipped Pretzel Rods….by Lita Lane
These quick and easy treats are delicious and will have all your little leprechauns coming back for more.
Wilton’s Dark Green Candy Melts [12 oz/340 g]
Wilton’s White Candy Melts [12 oz/340 g]
Clear Lollipop Bags
1. Place the pretzel rods on a cookie tray and put in the freezer for about five minutes.
2. While the pretzel rods are in the freezer, melt the dark green candy melts in a microwave safe bowl for one minute, stir, then microwave for another 30 seconds until melted.
3. Pour the melted candy into a container that is tall and narrow to ensure that at least 2/3 of the pretzel will get coated.
4. Remove the pretzel rods from the freezer; dip each in the melted candy, tapping the excess off.
5. While the dark green candy is setting, use the same method to prepare the white candy melts.
6. After the dark green icing has set, pour the white into a squeeze bottle. Use a sweeping motion to drizzle it onto the green part of the pretzel rods.
7. Allow the candy to harden, place the candy-coated pretzel in a clear cellophane lollipop bag and tie it with a seasonal piece of ribbon or candy bag topper.
Button Earring Holder
Now that the holidays are behind us, it may be a good time to finally clean out that pantry or clothes drawer you have been putting off for months.
You may want to organize the garage or perhaps take toll of areas of the home that require deep cleaning.
Organizing doesn’t always have to pertain to the home. For example, when we travel it’s nice to have things properly arranged and set out in a manner that makes it easy for us to find items while we are away.
Here are a few tips and tricks that may help you around the home and when you travel.
This is a great idea. A friend of mine suggested this trick to me when I only wanted to take a few pairs of earrings on a holiday.
It’s a great way to keep a set of earrings together on your next trip.
Next time you purchase a clothing garment that comes with the extra button attached, be sure to keep it in a box for this idea.
Simply fasten your pierced earrings through the buttonholes and place in your travel jewelry box.
This is also great for your jewelry holder at home.
Another great tip for travelling with your jewelry is to use hard eyeglass cases. These are great for storing and packing your bracelets, earrings and necklaces.
Insulated lunch bags
I love it when you can repurpose things. If you have a stack of kid’s insulated lunch bags in your pantry then you can use them for toiletry kits. This is a great idea for those messy items like toothpaste, hair gels and shampoos that tend to leak over your other toiletry items in your kit. Separate the leak-prone items into the lunch bag and you are set.
Ribbons are probably the most annoying things to try to keep organized. One of the best ways I have seen to store these spools is to use the inexpensive, plastic storage containers you can find in dollar stores. Look for the ones with the holes in the sides.
Place your ribbon spools inside the plastic container and pull the loose end through the holes. The box will keep the ribbons all in order and you are able to pull whatever amount of ribbon you require with ease.
Ice cube trays
Use ice cube trays as organizers in your office. They are fantastic for paper clips, staples, thumbtacks and other small items. Not only will they keep all these items separate, they will make it easy to reach for what you need at any time.
– See more at: http://www.nsnews.com/living/time-is-now-to-get-organized-1.797589#sthash.0ZDJcfOb.dpuf
*New!….Organizing Your Pantry…by Lita Lane
If you’re lucky enough to have a walk-in pantry, planning it will seem like a daunting task but once you figure out a system that will work for you it’s going to save you countless minutes trying to find specific foods when you need it. So let’s get started because not only will you have a well organized pantry you will have one that looks fabulous, it will be neat and tidy and you will discover you have more space than you originally thought.
Firstly if you begin the task with a “blank canvas” you will be able to envisage and plan the space much better so I would suggest that you empty the whole pantry of its contents.
Next I recommend you separate your food groups i.e. cereals, cookies/crackers, soups, canned goods, water, drinks, dog/cat foods, honeys/syrups/jams, pickled items, savory condiments, rice/pasta, flour/sugar/dry goods, coffee/tea, oils/vinegars, baking supplies, foil/wrap/bags. Additionally, if you have some additional space place all your small appliances and platters in the pantry: rice cooker, blender, food processor, ice cream maker, slow cooker, electric skillet.
Now, this is where I use my labeler. I have small children, grown ones and some that just act like it, either way they periodically enjoy raiding the pantry, so I’ve found if it’s labeled not only does everyone knows where it goes they know where to find it. Also, when planning mine I established that I would need to purchase a few extra shelves so that I wasn’t wasting my vertical shelf space. For instance platters, if they’re stacked on top of each other you’re more likely to use the top one rather than dig to the bottom of the pile, so if they are each on their separate shelf you literally have them at your finger tips.
Okay, now we’re ready to start putting items back, remember you’ve separated the foods into groups so I suggest you start with the items that are used most frequently such as cereals and because it’s utilized several times during the week it should be placed on a central shelf – group your cereals tallest to shortest and whenever possible show the name of the product on the exposed side panel. Label the shelf “cereals” or “breakfast foods”. Carry on filling the central shelves in the pantry with the categories most commonly used, next you might do “pasta and rice”, then “dry goods” when sorting out dry goods please invest in some air tight containers all identical for uniformity and ease of stacking or storing.
You’ll see from the pictures I use low baskets for the majority of my shelves, I’ve done this for two reasons, tidiness and so that I can slide the tray out whenever necessary. Additionally, I put each small appliance in their own tray and shelf and again LABEL the shelf so that when you’re done using the appliance that empty space in your pantry is waiting for the item to be returned.
Anyway, you’ve got the idea now, have fun with it and know when you’re done, you will be delighted!