Breakfast Tray

crafted-breakfast-tray-a-real-treatAre 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.

Materials

1 photo frame (11 by 14 inches)
2 silver cabinet handles
Decorative paper (12 by 12 inches)
Sharp scissors
Power drill
Pencil
Method

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

Don’t throw away your leftover slate…use it for entertaining!

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.

 

Slate

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.

 

Ice Bowl

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.

 

Baskets

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.

 

Materials

  • 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.

Slate

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.

 

Ice Bowl

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.

Accessorizing Your Coffee Table

If your coffee table looks like mine, it’s probably full of magazines, coasters and a few television remotes. Does this sound familiar?

Coffee tables are a central part of living room décor.

Styling your coffee table is very easy and with a little planning you can have it looking in tip -top shape.

Here are a few ideas to help you get started:

Candles
These are probably one of the key elements to styling your coffee table. Use candles and candle holders in different shapes and sizes. This will give the table some interest and make it visually appealing. Use decorative containers for your candles and combine short and tall pillar candles with tall tapers.

Coffee Table Books
Not only do the coffee table books look great stacked on your table but they also add a pop of colour and texture to the table’s surface.

If you prefer a monochromatic look then choose two or three coffee table books that are all in one colour tone. Black and white or all cream would work nicely together for example.

If you prefer a pop of colour, try grouping a set of three fuchsia pink or lime green books and match the candle to the colour theme.

Flowers
Flower arrangements are an integral part of coffee table styling.

Flowers provide that very necessary texture and colour to the centre of your coffee table. They add a touch of nature to the table and bring life to the room. Choose a green succulent or live plant and place in a decorative pot. Be bold with your choice of flowers or plants.

Make a strong statement in the room with this accessory.

Trays
Often designers will use trays of different sizes and shapes to group all the table accessories together. It’s a great design element and really works to pull everything in one place. Look for silver or wood trays depending on the decorating theme of your room.

I love the mirror and copper trays on store shelves right now. Copper is a very hot décor trend at the moment and looks fantastic with shades of cream and white.

Decorative Accessories
Lastly, one of designers’ favourite items to dress a coffee table is the very important decorative accessory.

It may be a photo frame, a round glass ball or perhaps just a small sculpture. Choose an accessory that best matches the theme of your room. If you have a modern décor, then stick to modern accessories.

Country themed rooms would benefit from rustic style décor items and so on. Whatever you choose, be sure to keep the table as uncluttered as possible. Less is more when it comes to styling your coffee table.

*From Barb Lunter: NS News, Glacier Community Media

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

Beverage Ice Molds

I love simple ideas for entertaining outdoors.

Now that the weather has warmed, it’s great to host friends and family outside in the garden. When you combine good food and good company in a fabulously styled space you are guaranteed a great time. Here’s an idea to present some of your favorite cold beverages: Fruit ice molds.

The molds can be made the night before and displayed just before your guests arrive. For this idea you will require some two-litre plastic soda bottles, fresh fruit (such as cranberries, blueberries, and orange slices), and a fresh herb, such as rosemary.

Choose a bottled beverage that will not freeze when placed in the freezer.

Make sure the bottle will fit inside the two-litre plastic mold with enough space to place water and fruit. Once you have used your two-litre plastic bottles, wash them thoroughly and remove any labels. Cut the bottom portion off with sharp scissors leaving approximately 15 centimetres in length. Place your beverage bottle inside the two-litre bottom and add your fruit and herb pieces. Fill with water to the top. Place them into the deep freeze or your kitchen freezer overnight.

Just before serving, remove the plastic bottle with your scissors and place the ice bucket on a plate or round tray for display.

The mold should last for many hours and will keep your beverage cold.

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

Maintaining Your Barbecue Grates

maintaining-your-barbecue-over-the-summerAny 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

accessorizing-your-home-with-easeHave 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.

Barb Lunter is a freelance writer and stager with a passion for home decor, entertaining and floral design. barb@lunter.ca lunter.ca

 

Chalkboard Paint Projects

Painted Chalk board 02webChalkboard 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.

Memo board
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.

Menu planner
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

Easter01Easter Treats

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.

 

         Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 4 cups miniature marshmallows or 1 jar [7 oz] marshmallow crème
  • 6 cups Rice Krispies

 

         Microwave Directions:

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

 

Ingredients:

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]

 

Required:

Festive Ribbon

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

Lita Lane-St Patrick's day decorations  photo Mike Wakefield-Feb 20 2014St Patrick’s Day

Candy Dipped Pretzel Rod Treats

 

These quick and easy treats are delicious and will have all your little leprechauns coming back for more.

 

Ingredients:

Wilton’s Dark Green Candy Melts [12 oz/340 g]

Wilton’s White Candy Melts [12 oz/340 g]

Pretzel Rods

 

Required:

Festive Ribbon

Clear Lollipop Bags

 

Directions:

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.