Τρίτη, Δεκεμβρίου 29, 2009

DIY Wall and Floor Stenciling

Yesterday I got this book by Ed Roth. You can also buy individual stencils from his site or get great video instructions on stenciling patterns on wall and floors on his blog here.

It includes 10 plastic, reusable stencil for floors, walls or even fabric. I loved the trellis designs for our bedroom or hallway and the circle designs for the nursery.

For now here is an inspiration of stenciled floors. Stenciling floors is a great way to freshen up cement floors or old hardwood. If only I had such a floor at home.


all images via Design Sponge 

Stenciling floors is simple and easy. Clean the floor well to get rid of dirt and oils. Apply the stencil with a dry brush using fabric paint ( it adheres better to wood and cement ). If you desire a high gloss finish you can apply a gloss sealer or leave it as is.  

 Domino mag had a feature on how to stencil floors

 photo via Apartment Therapy 

photo via Stencil Gallery 



Κυριακή, Δεκεμβρίου 27, 2009

Best French Onion Soup Recipe - Fast and Easy

I have attempted french onion soup 4 or 5 times. Every time I got a great soup but it was only after tasting and a lot of trial and error over the casserole. I have finally found what I consider the best, easy and fool-proof french onion soup recipe.

I have gotten several oohs and ahhhs with this soup and it always guarantees second and third helpings.

The recipe is hosted here and I have only made one change to the original recipe.

The secret to a good onion soup is to caramelize the onions well. Adding salt in the beginning is essential but I also add a teaspoon of brown sugar 10 minutes into the cooking of the onions. Good quality balsamic and organic broth is also essential ( better yet, make home made broth but organic is a good alternative).

I also use Italian Parmesan cheese if I do not have any Gruyere available.

Original recipe is for 4 people but I have found it to make adequate quantity for 7 -8.


 French Onion Soup Recipe


  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large red onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 large sweet onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 (48 fluid ounce) can chicken broth
  • 1 (14 ounce) can beef broth
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 sprigs fresh parsley
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 4 thick slices French or Italian bread
  • 8 slices Gruyere or Swiss cheese slices, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup shredded Asiago or mozzarella cheese, room temperature
  • 4 pinches paprika


  1. Melt butter in a large pot over medium-high heat. Stir in salt, red onions and sweet onions. Cook 35 minutes, stirring frequently, until onions are caramelized and almost syrupy.
  2. Mix chicken broth, beef broth, red wine and Worcestershire sauce into pot. Bundle the parsley, thyme, and bay leaf with twine and place in pot. Simmer over medium heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove and discard the herbs. Reduce the heat to low, mix in vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Cover and keep over low heat to stay hot while you prepare the bread.
  3. Preheat oven broiler. Arrange bread slices on a baking sheet and broil 3 minutes, turning once, until well toasted on both sides. Remove from heat; do not turn off broiler.
  4. Arrange 4 large oven safe bowls or crocks on a rimmed baking sheet. Fill each bowl 2/3 full with hot soup. Top each bowl with 1 slice toasted bread, 2 slice Gruyere cheese and 1/4 of the Asiago or mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle a little bit of paprika over the top of each one.
  5. Broil 5 minutes, or until bubbly and golden brown. As it softens, the cheese will cascade over the sides of the crock and form a beautifully melted crusty seal. Serve immediately! 

 A few tips on Tearless Onion Chopping.

  1. Use a very sharp knife when cutting.  You destroy fewer cells with a sharper blade, since the smaller blade edge touches (cutting) fewer cells.
  2. After cutting an onion in half, rinse each cut half under water, and run each slice under water if needed. This washes away the enzymes that produce the irritating gas, but may also wash away some of the flavor.
  3. Keep your face as far away as possible from the onion when chopping.
  4. Breath through your mouth rather than nose when chopping. You'll suck the gas in when inhaling but blow it away when exhaling. The gas is less likely to reach your eyes this way. ( Although I do tend to get a scratchy throat after doing this )
  5. Peel the onion and chill it in the refrigerator before slicing, or cook before slicing. Temperature affects the enzyme's ability to react.
  6. In the most extreme situations, wear goggles that completely cover your eyes.


    Odosketch addiction - on-line sketching

    You have to check out this on-line sketching application. It magically transforms your doodles to something amazing.

    You can also browse the artwork created with the app. From fantastic "How did they do that?" mini works of art, to simpler drawings that brings the kid inside you out to play.

    What is even more fun is that you can see the drawing as it was being made.


    Σάββατο, Δεκεμβρίου 26, 2009

    Τετάρτη, Δεκεμβρίου 23, 2009

    Free Wallpaper and Nursery Wall Art

    These wallpapers make great prints for framing and decorating the nursery. Just go here for my free wallpapers that have been posted so far. More to come soon!

    Freebie Lounge - Free Wallpaper Unicorn

    Click for the larger version. Enjoy!

    Freebie Lounge - Free Train Wallpaper

    Jut click for the large size.

    Nursery Decoration - Letters

    A cheap and easy way to decorate your nursery is with letters. You can find letters from online shops and ebay selling vintage wooden letters or even better yet, letters from old shop signs.

    HG ( Husband George ) found this S letter from a shop sign that was up for refurbishment and it was about to be thrown away. Scout for closing shops for a cheap alternative of having one made from a sign making shop.

    These are usually hollow, so they can be filled with fairy Christmas lights and double up as a soft night light for the room. If you don't want any light switches and dangerous cables, there are Christmas lights available that are battery operated. I have a set that lasted me a whole year with out a battery change.


    Τρίτη, Δεκεμβρίου 22, 2009

    DIY Nursery Frames

    You can get beautiful images with just using your keyboard. I found these, loony animals. Download fonts from here. At this site you can download almost any theme you like. From vintage ornaments, animals, doodles...anything. Install the fonts in your computer and then they are ready to be used via your keyboard. I use a photo editing program but the fun with this is that you can even use them in Word or similar text editors.


    Frames are  from a cheap 4 pack IKEA frames.

    Youer Than You - Dr. Seuss Nursery Ideas

    have a faint recollection of Dr. Seuss. He's not that big here but I can remember him from when I lived in Washington.

    I stumbled upon Dr. Seuss again in the web and a new mania overcame me and I HAD to have some Seuss in the nursery.

    I am not a fan of stickers, but these ones felt vintage and nostalgic like the old illustrations in the books. Serge loves them.



    And then there was this quote :

                    ' Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you.'

                 Printed the wall with plain ink and wooden rubber letter stamps.



    Here are some more Dr. Seuss Quotes :

    Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.

    The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.

    Today was good. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one.

    You know you're in love when you can't fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.

    Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.

    I like nonsense; it wakes up the brain cells.

    You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself, any direction you choose.

    Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So... get on your way.

    You're on your own, and you know what you know. And you will be the guy who'll decide where you'll go. Oh the places you'll go.

    Δευτέρα, Δεκεμβρίου 21, 2009

    Eco Toddler Mess Vacuum

    One thing I've learned these past few months : Babies love cheese toast. Even toothless babies can munch melted bread and cheese toasts in minutes.Add a few choppers later and its gourmet heaven for their palettes.

    There you go. Baby / Toddler Serge with his toast.
    The amount of bread crumbs that are scattered on the flour after his munching session is fascinating but too much for the clean-tidy freaks to bare. I'm on the other side of the spectrum. I enjoy a clean house but don't like to do it myself. So we have found the best solution.
    I present you Marco Pruni : The Eco Toddler Mess, Crumb Vacuum Cleaner Border Collie

    He always possitions himself correctly when the munching commences and gladly gobbles up any remaining food debris on the floor.

    So we are all happy and stress free. Highly recommended.


    Felt Heart Ornaments - Easy Project

    This year, our Christmas tree is all about hearts. Never planned it but soon I realized that I have been unintentionally collecting heart shaped ornaments.

    On one of those nights where you get a huge holiday urge to do something festive, I had a massive felt moment. Took out my felt stash ( which comprised of, well, 5 small pieces of felt ) and did an impromptu holiday ornament thing. I stitched away like mad for several hours, but never since then, hence my limited collection. I have a short attention span.

    Just thought it is a good idea to share as I am sure it can find much better executions than mine ( I'm a louse sticher by the way, no patience. You can see this in the images ).

    Just take the felt, cut the shapes, combine hearts with circles and letters or anything you can think of and then do some contrast stitching.

    Then stitch the ribbon, fill it up with anything foamy ( I used plain cotton balls I had for make up removal. Only thing foamy I had handy but it worked well). Stitch it closed and voila! instant festivity.