delicious roasted tomato soup... with feta and basil

This is my favourite soup at the moment, perfect for chilly days and cool nights.  Packed with vitamin C to fight off winter colds and easy to prepare, this is sure to be your family's favourite too.  

- 1 block feta
- 3kg fresh tomatoes
- 2 large onions
- a handful of thyme, marjoram & basil 
- bunch of Italian parsley
- olive oil & balsamic vinegar

To make:
1 - Peel & chop onions roughly, chop tomatoes into large chunks & place in large roasting dish
2 - Drizzle with a few tablespoons of olive oil and a splash of balsamic vinegar
3 - Add handful of fresh thyme, marjoram & basil, and season with salt and pepper
4 - Roast in a medium oven (175 C) for a few hours until tomatoes are well cooked and starting to caramelise
5 - Pour tomato mix into a large soup pot and blend with a hand mixer.  I used my All-in-One which was fab as usual.
6 - Season to taste

To serve:
1 - Chop a large bunch of Italian parsley
2 - Crumble a block of feta
3 - Serve feta and parsley in bowls so that people can add to taste.

I always loved tomato soup but the feta and parsley, something I learned from the lovely B (she knows who she is), takes this soup to a new level.

I recently made this soup for a casual dinner with friends and was amazed that all the ingredients, plus a lovely sourdough and a huge bowl of new season strawberries cost less than $30.  Amazing to be able to serve such a delicious meal to six people for $5 a head.  So no excuses, put the ingredients on your shopping list this week, cook and enjoy.  

vignettes and other changes at home

Have been enjoying moving things around, having a bit of a tidy and declutter as I go along.  Its amazing how bits and pieces start collecting around the home.  I resorted into colour and packed quite a few things away for a while.  Its made me think of so many projects I want to do, a little hard with a busy 2 year old at your feet, but we will get there bit by bit.  
Moved the candles from inside to outside for a while.  They melt in the summer heat so winter is a good time to enjoy them outside for a while.  I am really enjoying how this area looks at the moment with the new black covers and mix of cushions.  These couches get a lot of winter sun so we use them a lot.
It is the perfect place to enjoy a cup of coffee on a sunny winters morning, and fabulous for midday snoozes.
Now the cushions are all fixed I am planning a low hanging solar powered lantern for the corner between the day beds.  Its in my head but we will have to see if it works out.  So many projects I want to try!  Watch this space.

Hollywood regency inspired bathroom

This bathroom by Tim Clark Design was love at first sight.  Love the mirrors, love the Hollywood regency style vanity, love the soft brushed silvery accents, love the soft grey colour scheme.  That's a lot of love.  If I had known I could have bought these vanities myself my master bathroom would look a little different.  Thought I would share my find just in case any of you have longed for a bathroom like this too.

Maybe in my next home.

| Bathroom from Country Living  |  Bristol vanities by J. Tribble  |  Mirrors from Zohi Interiors |


Still loving all things mint, maybe its because the garden is looking so dull this midwinter and I am dreaming of fresh green spring leaves already

Simple entrance area for small alcove, Fern botanical print

Mint bathroom accessories from Freedom, mint tea towel calender

So many minty things to share.  I couldn't even get them all in this post.  Enjoy!

play stove diy first kreg jig project

Ever dreamed of working with wood but been to scared to give it a try?  Yep me too, but not any more!  Put the Kreg pocket hole jig on your wish list and join me in a home diy wood work revolution!  If I can do it you can too!  How amazing is my first ever woodwork project (below)!!!

I have always liked the idea of woodwork but been to intimidated to try it.  The big saws frighten me, so does the need to drill perfectly straight, and I don't have the tools or skills for biscuit joins.  So when I saw my first Kreg pocket hole diy it seemed far to good to be true.  I watched more tutorials, and more, and more.  One diy project later I can confirm this little jig is as good as they say and should be your next diy tool acquisition.  I used a Kreg K4 Master System, you can buy your own one at Carba-Tec®, either online or in store.

I decided a play stove was the perfect first project, small enough to get done fairly quickly, big enough to really test the jig, and the finish doesn't have to be perfect.  I am delighted with the results, and so is Miss J.  After testing the jig on left over pieces for a while I put the stove carcass together in about an hour.  The square door frame took me about half an hour.  In fact painting and hanging the door took much longer than building the stove.  It was easy, yes easy!  There are a few finishes I would like to improve on, but I doubt you can spot them.  If you want to make one just like mine read on below.  Otherwise hop onto the Kreg website and see what else you could make.  Next up for me is a low bookshelf for the lounge, and benches for our table. perhaps a day bed for the playroom, I have big plans for my little Kreg jig.

What does the pocket drill do:
The genius of this jig is it allows you to join two pieces of wood easily and quickly, while achieving good strength and hiding your joins.  Briefly, to join pieces A and B, clamp piece A in the jig and drill pocket holes using the drill guide holes.  Line up A & B where you want to join them, put the screw in the pocket hole, and screw into place.  The drill guide & pocket make sure that drilling & screwing is perfectly straight every time.

Step 1:
Take cutting list to the hardware and get them to cut the pieces you need for your project.  I used laminated pine because it looked clean and straight and was very reasonably priced.  To get a good finish all edges must be as straight as possible, so tell the cutting person you are using a pocket hole and need a very straight finish.  My local Bunnings was very helpful when I explained what I was doing.

Step 2: 
Mark up the position of the pocket holes.  Kreg recommends the first pocket hole is 5cm from the edge, then every 15cm after that.  To make them less visible I have planned my pocket holes to be on the inside of the box sides and the bottom of the base & top.  
I found is easiest to balance the pieces together and then mark the position of the holes. 
Step 3:
Clamp pieces into the jig and drill the pocket holes where you have marked. Make sure the wood is sitting flush with the base of the jig so that the wood and holes are straight.
Step 4:  
Assemble the pieces and join with the pocket screws.  Line up two pieces as you want them joined, put the screw in the pocket hole and drill to join the two pieces.  Because the screw sits in the pocket and the driver bit is extra long the drill goes exactly where you want it too, you don't have to worry about drilling straight.  Once you feel the drill catch on the tightened screw you are done.

This is the trickiest bit as you need to hold the pieces together as straight as possible while you are tightening the screws.  Use clamps to hold the pieces stable if you have them.  It also helps to push the pieces up against a straight edge.  I found that as I drove the screw into the wood the two pieces pulled out of position just a little.  Sometimes I was able to fix this when I did the next screw, and sometimes I had to sand out the difference.  I am sure that practice will help make this better.

Does it sound easy?  Yes?  That's because it was.  An hour and a half of happy tinkering later my carcass was done!  
Once the carcass is complete simply paint, hang door, attach casters & door knobs for decoration.  
For a great demo of the how the Kreg jig works in detail have a look at this post by DIY Diva.  I was planning to show you how here but this post got to long.

It could not be easier.  Watch this space!!!  I am heading to the hardware soon for my next venture into Kreg diy territory.  Go and check them out yourself online or in store at your local Carba-Tec®

PS this post was not sponsored, all opinions are entirely my own.  

home office inspiration

We may not need a formal dining room in our modern homes but we all need a home office.  How gorgeous would it be to work in these beautiful spaces every day.
Love the placement of this desk in the middle of the room facing out, a very luxurious use of space.
I am not a huge fan of the ghost chairs, mainly because they have been used everywhere, but they would look good in an office space like this. 

 I love everything about this office space and the antique Chinese chair I found to go with it.  I saw a pair of these come up at auction of few weeks ago but didn't have any clue what to do with them at the time.  The desk looks like it could be an auction find too, ugly but good ugly.

These spaces would certainly make paying the bills slightly sweeter.  Which is your favourite?

|  Aerin Lauder home on DesignRulz  |  Marie Olssen Nylander House on StyleKoo  | Ghost Chairs  |  Marie Olssen Nylander House on StyleKoo  |  Antique Chinese Chairs  |

My You Tube debut...Top Tips for making a beautiful home with Every Mama Knows

This is a super exciting announcement!  I have made my You Tube debut with the lovely ladies of Every Mama Knows!  They like this little blog and wanted to interview me on my top tips for creating a beautiful home.  Very exciting and not just a little flattering.  
Every Mama Knows is all about connecting people, especially mama's, through all the things they know.   They say it best "Sharing Mum-tested tips, inspiration and product recommendations. Because we know Mums trust other Mums. Simple."  

It was such fun, we brainstormed, we wrote scripts, we filmed, drank coffee and ate cake.   
I am far more comfortable in front of the screen than on it and I was very nervous about it all seeming a bit forced and contrived, but these mama's know their business and the result is very natural and very me.  Go on, watch it yourself and let me know what you think.

So what are my top tips to make your house into a beautiful home?

1  -  If I could add one thing it would be cut flowers
2  -  If I could take one thing away it would be clutter (invest in storage)
3  -  Put art or photographs on your walls
4  -  Keep it personal, your home must be meaningful to you
5  -  Buy things you love, they always seem to go together in the end

I can tick being a on film off the bucket list, although it was such fun that I hope I get the chance to do it again.  Thanks for making it happen Michelle, Caro, Suzannah and Joel!

Pop along to the Every Mama Knows facebook page and see what they are sharing today.  And feel free to share your top tips and recommendations with them too, that's what this is all about.