Thursday, April 24, 2014

Easy Fruit Tart Without Pastry

Easy Fruit Tart Without Pastry

Well who doesn't love a four day weekend? It's a good excuse to be with family and eat too much.  Thank goodness Easter comes but once a year then.

Part of my contribution to our very enjoyable family BBQ, was this Easy Fruit Tart Without Pastry.
It was not too sweet and beautifully moist and buttery.  Even if you are not a baker, this one is very simple because there is no fussing with pastry.  All that is required is some mixing, spooning into a flan tin and poking in some fruit. What could be easier?

Also on the menu was chilled cucumber and avocado soup with coconut chill crab.  It was simply divine and I think I garnered enough info from my sister in law, to try this in my own kitchen, some time soon.

My brother in law was instrumental in the opening and closing ceremony at the Athens games in 2004 and accordingly, resided in Greece for many months prior to that.  Suffice to say he loves to cook a bit of Greek cuisine and it is always fabulous. On our Easter menu this year, were these deep fried green olives and we also had Greek BBQ lamb and potatoes to go with the salads.  Of course by then, I was too far into the party to bother photographing it.

In between the cooking extravaganza, he took the younger cousins on joy rides throughout the neighbourhood.  Everyone needs an uncle Kev, don't they?  This kid loved it..........Me, not so much.

Another highlight for me was having the opportunity to roll, out my vintage plastic cake caddy, picked up for a song at the Red Cross shop.  Very handy for transporting cakes and now worth the fact it has been shunted around my bench top for 6 months, waiting to find a spot all of its own in the cupboard.

The other themes of our Easter weekend appeared to be bush walking and bike riding.  We have tried holidaying and even dining out in our own region at Easter and have always found it to be a complete bun fight. So we tend to do things that don't involve crowds during the Easter weekend.

Oh the serenity of walking along the valley floor.  This is the Lane Cove River Valley and is part of the Great North Walk, located at the end of the street, where I grew up.  It's all just 35 minutes from the Sydney CBD.  It is quite surreal and we are very lucky to have access to such beauty and peace, so close to the city. No doubt the developers will try and get their greedy hands on it, as they have recently done with the other end of my mum's street.  You can't fight city hall, but isn't it interesting that you are not allowed to cut down anything without council permission, but when they want to raze several hectares of bush land to create 25 million dollar plus blocks of land for sale, the developers seem to be able to do so with ease. 

Once was bushland......Tragic

We also picnicked on Scotland Island and ate way too much chocolate.

Someone has been desperate to get her hands on a onesy and thankfully the Easter Bunny put that one to bed this season.  Phew.

So without further ado, I give you the easiest and yummiest tart in my repertoire right now.

Easy Fruit Tart Without Pastry
150g or 2/3 cup butter
2/3 cup caster sugar
3 eggs
200g or 4/5 cup almond meal
1/3 cup self raising flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 plums, figs or apricots halved and deseeded
2 tablespoons almond flakes
olive oil spray
1 tablespoon red jam such as plum or raspberry

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F
Grease with olive oil spray and line the base of a 23 cm / 9 in flan tin, with a removable base, with baking paper 
Beat butter, sugar,eggs, almond meal, flour, vanilla extract in a bowl, until combined.
Spoon mixture evenly into greased tin.
Poke fruit evenly into the tart mixture.
Sprinkle with almond flakes.
Bake for 30-40 minutes.
Melt jam in a saucepan with 2 tablespoons of water, over a moderate heat.
Brush mixture over the warm tart to glaze.
Allow to cool in the tin for 15 minutes.
Gently remove tart from the tin by pushing up through the centre of the flan.
Leave base in place if it is too difficult to remove before serving.

Tip: Try this tart with any fruit similar to plums or pears

 For all my other easy sweet treats go here.

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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Sleeping Luxe

This post is brought to you by Sealy Posturepedic Exquisite

Living a healthy lifestyle begins here in the bedroom, with just the right amount of sleep.  Yes that elusive joy, which one totally takes for granted, when they are riding high on the beautiful sleep wave of youth. If only I knew then, it would not always be that way.

It's not until the sleeping skill eludes us, we realise a good nights sleep underpins the health and success of pretty well everything we do.  A skill I seemed to have had in abundance, in my single days, pre kids.  In those days, although there was the odd heart break, or work disaster, which meant I tossed and turned all night,  a good nights sleep generally came easily to me and I assumed it would always be so.  

Since my lovely little bundles of joy arrived, not only do I find it harder to sleep, but I have also lost the art of sleeping in.  These days, whilst they slumber well past 7am, I am wide eyed and ready to start the day at 5.30am, but not always feeling refreshed.

Considering a good nights sleep is vital to both our physical and emotional health, I take a few simple measures to assist me to relax, drift off and stay asleep.  Believe me, I take my sleep very seriously these days. I seem to grow horns, when I don't get enough.

I always find I am able to sleep better with a bit of luxury.  Clean fluffy sheets, a snugly comfortable bed  and a partner who does not snore, are all prerequisites for a good night sleep for me.

One of Mr Beach House's saving graces in the bedroom is, he rarely snores.  Unbelievable I know, but he really doesn't.  Sadly, I have to report that apparently, I do.  How do I know this?  Because he keeps telling me off course.  If only it wasn't by way of  a gentle elbow in the ribs from him, in the wee small hours, to inform me of the fact.  Alas, I know he is right, because I have also woken myself up on occasion, with a loud snort.  I like to think it was him, but he says not.  

So annoying when I am dreaming of something fabulous, but that is for another post.

Further to those essential elements nurturing sleep, I cannot discount the importance of a good quality mattress, as part of the mix. It's without doubt, an essential detail in helping to foster a rejuvenating night of quality zeds. If you've ever slept on an uncomfortable mattress, hello university share house, then you will know precisely what I mean.

I like my mattress soft and snugly, others like it firm.  Happily, Mr Beach House and I are on the same page, in this respect at least. One in five, is something to be celebrated, don't you think?.

The Sealy Posturepedic Exquisite is specially designed to bring a little luxury to your life, allowing you to relax and recover with its Rest coil system.  Rest Coil is a truly responsive support technology, helping to cradle each part of your body, whilst you sleep.  Sounds lovely doesn't it?

  I am not saying that you will never have to count sheep again with Sealy Posturepedic Exquisite.  God knows, we mothers can never be guaranteed of that, but if you are in the market for a luxurious mattress, to restore and relax a tired body, the exclusively designed and made in Australia Sealy Posturepedic Exquisite  is something to consider.  It is not just the default position in a mattress, but may just be, a priceless investment in achieving a restful slumber.  Something we all seek, with such devotion.

Sleep well Beach Dwellers.

Today I am linked up here

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

How to Make an Easy Lemonade Stand and A Paint Giveaway

This post is sponsored by White Knight Paint
How to Make an Easy Lemonade Stand : Part Two

This has been such a great project to complete.  A beaten up old drinks trolley had been in my possession for over a year, waiting to be transformed from ugly duckling to beautiful swan.  The reason it took so long, was that the thought of the work involved, daunted me.  I am not a lover of painting furniture, so it was not something I was chomping at the bit to accomplish.

The drinks trolley had rusty wheels into the bargain, so it sat in the too hard basket for a long time.

Enter a spray can, in the form of White Knight Squirts.  Had I known about this ingenious product a year ago, you may have seen this cute little transformation well before now.

Being the slacker that I am, I was also unaware that chalk board paint could be purchased in a spray can.  The spray cans just made the whole project so much easier and timely.  They dry to the touch in 15 minutes and because the effort to wow factor ratio was low, I also did a chalk board to match the drinks trolley.

From that to this.  Pretty good I think.  I am in love with the intensity of Lemon Yellow and think it is a perfect colour for a lemonade stand.

I went for a Machinery Grey wheel, as I think It looks fab against the bright yellow.  No more rust here.  You can see how I dealt with the rust on the wheels in part one of this project.

The littlest Beach House Brat was beside herself with glee, as she helped me style the lemonade stand.  She has certainly approved it for her sleep over birthday party, later in the year.

So if you are looking to complete some small household painting projects, give White Knight Paints a try.  The suite of products all worked really well and I loved the finish I got with the Crystal Clear Acrylic.  It should help to protect the paint into the future.

I am giving away some White Knight Paints.  If you would like to enter, you can do so here in the comments on this post, or on the other post I did about the preparation for this project, here.  If you have already entered this giveaway,  you can do so again here, for a bonus entry.

This is the same giveaway, as the one I began on 24 March 2014 and there will only be ONE winner.  I will consider the entries from both White Knight posts I have written and choose one winner only.

To validate your entry, you will need to:

Head over to the White Knights Paint website to check out the Squirts range of aerosol coloured paints. Click on the "show available colour range" near the top of  Squirts page. To validate your entry, leave me a comment below, letting me know which is your favourite colour from the Squirts range of paints and what household item you would paint, using the Squirts cans.

Giveaway Terms and Conditionns
This competition is open to Australian Residents only. 
This is a game of skill.  
You MUST enter the giveaway on this BLOG by leaving a comment here on this post about the lemonade stand, or on the White Knight painting preparation post here. 
You do not need to have a Blogger account.  Just sign in as anonymous and leave an email address.  

There is only one prize package and only one person will win it. The prize is as follows:

1x 500ml White Knight Rust Guard Metal Primer
1 x 300g White Knight Rust Guard All Purpose Primer
10 x 310g White Knight Squirts(Colours of your Choice, subject to availability)

This prize is not redeemable in cash.
This competition is open from 24 March 2014 until 2 May 2014 12pm Australian EST.
The winner will be announced on this blog,  Desire Empire Face Book and Desire Empire Twitter accounts and I will contact you, as long as you have left a valid means.  The winner will have 7 days to respond, otherwise the prize will be reassigned.
Good Luck. 

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Monday, April 14, 2014

Kidspot Voices of 2014 Top 100 and Some Hot Blogging Tips

I went back to school on the weekend, blogging school, that is.  You never stop learning in this game and it's always wonderful to get insights from the most successful bloggers, on how to do things better and grow.  Although they always seem to effortlessly execute wonderful content for their blogs, the key message from the A list, was that any success, is as a result of sheer hard work.  A bit like the old adage, 'the harder I work, the luckier I get'.

As part of the event launch, we gathered for a blogging masterclass at The school, in Rosebery, brainchild of creative genius, Megan Morton.  
After some light refreshments on arrival, we were treated to a beautifully styled school room in which to learn, replete with lovely vintage elements reminiscent of an old style education.  However, that was where the old fashioned elements of the lesson ended.  

With complimentary diaries at the ready, I took loads of notes.  Maybe that's old fashioned too, but it's the way I prefer to roll.

 It's incredible how there is always something to learn and how nothing stays the same for long in social media.  Another key message, is that social media is not a passing fad and the digital medium is ignored at your peril.

The blogging masterclass consisted of three informative and interesting panel sessions, which concluded in a Q &A with the audience.

First up was a great panel on Finessing Facebook.  

The panel consisted of Yianni Konstantopoulos: Social@ogilvy
Katrina Springer: The Organised Housewife
Jaclyn Carlson: The Blog Society

Facebook is a social media platform I really enjoy engaging in, but Facebook has recently changed the algorithm yet again, such that only up to 1% of your followers will see your business page feed, unless you pay to promote it.  

Hot Tips to increase your organic reach: 

  • Upload your photos as an album to Facebook for a greater reach.
  • Facebook prefers rectangular shots
  • Facebook prefers short links.
  • 80/20 rule. ie. 20% should be your stuff, 80% should be inspiration or sharing others' stuff.
  • Know when the engaged portion of your community is on Facebook, otherwise you are talking to no one. If you can schedule your posts to fit these times, do it.  
  • Sharing and commenting increases your reach. Get organised in a group and do this mutually with others.
  • Make it easy for readers to follow you by giving them the option to follow you on all platforms at the bottom of each post on your blog.
  • Use Facebook Apps to direct followers to your other social media platforms.  I so need to do this.

Next was the dynamic duo Mrs Woog and Baby Mac.  They are a great double act and had us all in stitches.

Hot tips:  
  • Say "yes" to everything in terms of off blog exposure, even if it scares the hell out of you, because it may be a break through moment in terms of driving traffic.
  • Always give your readers something.  Don't just make it about you.  They need to go away with something, like useful tips, a recipe, or having enjoyed your pretty images or opinion.

And their most popular posts ever: 

Mrs Woog's: How to make Tuna Mornay from the Servo.

Mrs Mac's: How to Make a Pepper Pig birthday Cake.  According to Mrs Mac, it "wasn't a great cake", but it's very popular all the same.  I just goggled the cake, as research for this post and I think any kid would be very pleased with a cake like that.

With these 2 girls, I think it's all in the delivery and it's always pretty entertaining.

Next up was a forum on Inspiration in Innovation

Luisa Brimble: Alphabet Family Journal
Lisa Tilse: The Red Thread
Sneh Roy: Cook Rebublic

This was a fabulous discussion from some true creatives.

Hot Tips:  
  • It's easier to create your own content than copy others, because it's so much easier to be yourself, than someone else.
  • Be a COP, Consistent, Original and Persistent.  Kind of like I always say. "Just keep going."  Because you don't know what's around the corner.
  • Bite off more than you can chew, because you may be able to chew more than you thought. ( from Pip Lincoln facilitator)
  • Grasp every opportunity you get, because it may never be presented to you again.
  • When Sneh was asked, "How did you know you could do it?" On the subject of triple testing recipes, cooking, styling and shooting her cookbook in 40 days.  Sneh answered, "Because I wanted to do it."

After school, it was off to the launch party, held at Studio Luxe in Darlinghust.

I was honoured to be included in the top 40 list in the Beauty and Lifestyle bloggers category.
The competition is split into 3 categories, the other two are Personal and Parenting (30) and Food and Wellbeing (30).

Now from that list of 100, a total of five bloggers will be chosen from each category, to proceed further in the competition.

Here's the judging criteria 

I am so glad it's not a popularity contest, as I have never been good at begging for votes.

At the party, I made sure I met lots of  people I had never said hello to before.  These types of events are a great way to meet newer bloggers, who are often doing things very well. It's a great to move out of your comfort zone and find out new things.

The stand out new talent for me, was Jane, I was very impressed with her blog Emerald and Ella.  Jane is doing beautiful things over in her space.  She has a beautiful foodie blog, with some stunning content and innovative recipes.

I also met Gordo for the first time.  He is the husband of the charming Cybele.  Together they produce a lovely blog called Blah Blah Magazine, with lots of great home hints and tutorials on making natural household cleaning and beauty products and also loads of home style ideas and recipes.

Another one to watch, is fellow Kidspot finalist Basmah from Lacee & Lattes.  Basmah is an 18 year old journalism student, who has only been blogging since December 2013.  After being told she "would never amount to anything",  Basmah is pursuing her dream to become a beauty journalist.  Good on her.

If you pop over to any of the lovely blogs  I have mentioned here to say hi, let them know I sent you.

Have a great week Beach Dwellers.

It's school holidays here so things will be hectic.

If you would like Desire Empire posts to come straight to your inbox every ten days or so, you can sign up here for my Newsletter.

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Today I am linked up here
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Friday, April 11, 2014

A Cute Beach Cottage

Located in the golden triangle at Newport Beach, this cute beach cottage would set me up very well.  A few minutes walk to the beach and the hub of Newport's lovely restaurants and retail precinct, this would be a great place to live.  With spacious rooms and a big backyard, this one is perfect for families, or the holiday house market.  The open plan kitchen is gorgeous and I really like the exterior of this one, giving it great street appeal.  Here are are details and a floor plan.

Have a great weekend Beach Dwellers

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Today I am linked up here
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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

How to Style a Rustic Coastal Outdoor Space

How to Style a Rustic Coastal Outdoor Space

Morning Beach Dwellers

I do love me a blank canvas, with which to play.  After harnessing the power of love that is Mr Beach House with a broom and hose in his hand, I was left with this lovely outdoor space to put back together last weekend.  Oh the joy of a clean outdoor room, scrubbed to within an inch of its life.

No candle stick, vase, shell or vintage wooden box was left unwashed.  To say it calmed my mind and soul, would be an understatement.

I do love using natural elements such as fallen palm debris, rustic baskets and boxes and of course no room is complete without something alive in it.  The odd succulent and some panda bamboo fit the bill there.

Also I love some herbage right outside my kitchen.  The smell of basil is supposed to keep the bugs away too. Comes in handy living with a husband, who was born in a tent.  I am covered in mozzie bites to prove that.  I told him he will be sorry when I go down with some serious vector borne disease and he no longer has a slave, willing and able to help him.  Alas, he still leaves the door swinging in the wind.  

I just reread that paragraph to my son.  
His comment.  "That's a bit harsh mum."  There is no winning in this house.
I guess with the state of this outdoor space, you would think Mr Beach House is more the slave in this relationship. Not true.  Not even when you consider he goes into the factory, to build boats six days a week.  I have never known anyone to bound out of bed in the morning so willingly to get to work.  He absolutely loves it.  A fact for which we are both very grateful and something which has taught me, that a career should really be forged out of passion, rather than chasing the money, but I digress.

All in all, this is a great spot for a little afternoon vino and a place to relax alone or with friends and now it is clean, I am no longer embarrassed to entertain them here.

You will find more of my coastal styling projects here.

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Monday, April 7, 2014

Easy Green Prawn Curry Recipe and A Great Weekend

Easy Green Prawn Curry

This easy green prawn curry is a family favoutire  and with only 6 ingredients, is a good one to add to your repertoire.
Eaten by candle light, it's even better.  A lovely supportive blogging friend Dee, from The Old Fat Hen blog makes these beautiful little soy wax candles for sale and she sent me two, to try out.  With lovely combinations like Coconut and Lime and Basil, Lime and Mandarin, their fragrance is gorgeous.

In other news, we also found ourselves at yet another sailing function on Saturday night. It must be the end of the season.  Little fibro sailing clubs run by mum and dad volunteers and dotted around the waterways of Sydney, are a microcosm of Aussie culture and I do enjoy being social with lovely down to earth sporty types.  I was very impressed by these sailing cookies, served up with tea and coffee, at the conclusion of the event.

 I decided to give the Littlest Beach House Brat's christening dress a run for the evening.  She remains without religion, but that is no reason to let this gorgeous dress sit in the wardrobe unchristened itself.  I bought it last Spring in the hope of motivating myself to organise a Christening for her, but that is yet to happen.  Her brother was moved in to religion at 4 months old.  I organised it before he was born and before I had any idea of what having a child actually meant, in terms of sleepless nights and sheer exhaustion.  I have had a few set backs in organising the same for this girl, but we will get there eventually, it may just not be in this dress.

I also got a bit of White Knight Yellow on the drinks trolley as well.  It's a long way from finished, so I just hope the weather fines up, so it can become a lemonade stand next weekend.

And I had a result in getting Mr Beach House to help me with some of the cleaning, now Ray the cleaner, has retired.  What started as a window cleaning exercise, ended up as a house washing extravaganza.  And all on our 14 year anniversary of meeting each other.  It was truly good for our marriage, as I felt listened to and supported and as a bonus, I now have a very clean house, at least on the outside anyway.

Check out those cobwebs on the end of the broom. They matched the bird poo and sea spray beautifully.
I told Mr Beach House we are not stopping there.  There are gutters and Venetian blinds which need cleaning.  Gardening and painting issues, but it was a start and it is amazing how a small project achieved, can lift the spirits.

Good food,  a clean house and a bit of social interaction.  It doesn't take much, to have a great weekend.

Easy Green Prawn Curry
serves 2

1 tablespoon of peanut oil
1 heaped tablespoon good quality green curry paste
1/2 punnet of cherry tomatoes halved
1 cup coconut cream
1 tablespoon fish sauce
Good handful of coriander/cilantro chopped
16 green prawns peeled with tails left in tact

Heat oil over a medium heat, in a fry pan or saucepan which can be covered. 
Add green curry paste and stir.
Fry for a few minutes until fragrant
Add tomatoes, coconut cream and fish sauce. Cover pan for 3 minutes, to allow tomatoes to cook through.
Add prawns and allow to turn pink.
Toss through coriander and serve with jasmine rice.

Sourced and amended from Northern Beaches Cooks.  I posted this terrific recipe early in my blogging career, so this is for those who like easy delicious cooking, but never saw it then.

You can find more healthy recipes here.

If you would like Desire Empire posts to come straight to your inbox every ten days or so, you can sign up here for my Newsletter.

Have a great week Beach Dwellers.

Today I am linked up here
Metamorphosis Monday
Wow Us Wednesday
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