3 quick things

You guys, I want to introduce you to a new, and VERY much loved member of our family…

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I have researched and pondered this purchase for years….and now the time has come. My Mum had an electrolux rechargeable vac, and I know a few other friends who had them and they worked fine…until they didn’t. I decided to go with the Dyson because I have a Dyson vac that gets FLOGGED around here and doesn’t skip a beat 4 years later. I am in LOVE. LOVE I tell you. Rob is rolling his eyes because apparently his fears of me not being able to stop with the swiffer have proved true. To him I say: Just let me and my swiffer be happy. I was feeling out of control with the housework and now? IN CONTROL. A quick 3 min vac of the key areas without dragging the whole vac out makes me feel like I have ALL the house sorted. I’m so happy, it’s true. Happiness in the shape of a stand up rechargeable vacuum. Doesn’t take much these days…

So I (and a small group of mates) are organising our village ball which is on very soon. It’s funny because I have so much stuff on and organising a sit down black tie fundraiser for 130 people seemed like a good idea at the time (you can have a look at what we did last year and the year before). ANYWAY. It’s a loose Wonderland theme. LOOSE. And we have little to no budget and we have to turn our little hall into a WONDERLAND. Hit me up with any creative (we are thinking more of an enchanted forest wonderland than flamingos and croquet sticks and oversized cards) suggestions you clever people. I know you have it in you…I do! Help out a stressed sister…oh also! I think I will be making canapés for 130 people (say 3 per person) what’s a good suggestion that is EASY?

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And because there isn’t enough OTHER stuff I am heading away for work all next week. It’s going to be a good week with my agency catching up with everyone, doing some planning and working and seeing some of QLD (last year we were lucky enough to go to the Whitsundays). But because of this, it means that I basically have to be ready for our trip IN A FEW DAYS TIME. I get back from QLD Thurs next week, then it’s straight into ball bump in, Ball, clean up and then drive to Sydney to fly out early the next week.

I’m not ready. I’m not ready. I’m not ready.

So, that’s why  I am a little, shall we say, tense at the moment. But it’s OK – such a good light at the end of this ever shortening tunnel. But right now I need from you:

  1. Decorating suggestions that are amazing and life changing and never seen before and FREE
  2. Canape suggestions that can be whipped up by me sometime on the day of the ball for 300 people
  3. How to clone myself
  4. A little love for my new stick vacuum. Phwoooooar right?


  1. Lisa Ferris says

    I hear you about the new Dyson, mine is 2 weeks old & it’s love! Perfect for around my fire & as you say the quick touch up!
    I’m no help sorry with canapés & ball decorations, not my forte…
    Lisa xx

  2. Josephine says

    Yo! High fives for spanky new vacuum! ‘I see you…’
    Decorating ideas? Only got one off the top of my head – get the girls involved in looking for pine cones, spray paint those suckers white, silver and gold, hang them up around the hall dangling from string? There must be a fair few fallen branches lying around the highlands – look for sturdy ones and hang the pine cone decorations from that? Just a thought… may the force be with you.
    Canapes: my only thought is to let the freezer be your best friend and make things, like middle eastern flavoured meatballs, in advance, reheat them on the day? Not sure what your operating parameters are, but that’s what I’d be doing if it were in my hands. My favourite meatball combos are lemony lamb and feta, and turkey with pomegranate molasses and mixed spice with pistachios or pine nuts.

    GOOD LUCK!!!

  3. Busy Busy! My tip for canapés isn’t fancy but tasty pizza scrolls. Sheet puff pastry, spread pizza sauce/tomato paste (but with herbs) little sprinkle bacon pieces and grated cheese onto 1/5th say of the pastry, roll up. Slice into thin rolls, makes about 10-12 per sheet of puff pastry. Bake in pre-heated oven for about 15-20mins. They can be frozen again and heated up on the night. They are tre delicious. And for 2 packets of puff pastry you’d feed them all.

  4. Hi Beth…..i have the dyson stick too, just did a quick run over with it. A yummy canapé….. Chop up cooked prawns (really small), mix some minced garlic, chopped dill (or buy it in the tube, even easier) with whole egg mayo, throw in the prawns and serve in a little canapé cup or tiny little toast thingy, always a winner. Can never go past the deep fried samosas either! I am feeling stressed just thinking about all you have to do. You will have fun next week though!!!!!

  5. I am desperately lusting after a robot vac. What’s not to like? ‘Someone’ else does the vacuuming for you.

    • Oooh I have been looking at those too – Chantelle from Fat Mum Slim adores her…I’d love to give one a go!

    • High five!

    • Simone P says

      I have a Russell Hobbs Robovac that I use as a set and forget when I go to work to scoot around and pick up the fluff and dog hair. I love it, it doesn’t do a deep down clean like a Dyson but to keep it clean between big vacs on the weekend it more than does it job. I’ve heard people complain that they try and mount objects like cat bowls etc but I don’t have that issue and when “Russell” is getting flat he takes himself back to his docking station

  6. Oooh and one decorating idea. Get some old jam jars – I like Bonne Maman – and make little terrariums. So easy. Few little stones. Sand. Soil and some succulents or moss. Chuck in some tiny mini creatures and you’re done.

  7. Dyson.. do not get me started.. LURVE.. like deeply..

  8. Am hella jelly about the Dyson. Both of them.

    You can’t go past a crostini with something slapped on it… proscuitto & fennel? Nothing too wet so you can make it ahead and leave it sit.

    Soup shots are also awesome with a little toast triangle perched on top. You can buy 60ml shot glasses on ebay… they’re not cheap but soup is. 🙂

    I like the chocolate table runner in this pic. http://www.pinterest.com/pin/342273640400011605/

    Good luck!

  9. My Dyson stick vacuum was a game changer for me too! I’m no domestic goddess, but with my dyson, I’m a little bit closer to sanity 🙂

    I love the mini terrarium idea from a previous commenter – and tea lights in jars with a bit of greenery (is there any ivy or other creeper still around your neck of the woods? laid along tables is a cheep, easy table decoration idea. Raid the kids toy boxes for plastic animals for that whole ‘woodland’ theme. Oh, and fairy lights always great a bit of magic 🙂

    I know that you live in a community of wonderful cooks who use delicious local fresh produce to create gastronomic delights, but when time is really tight, and the stress levels are reaching untenable levels, I’ve found IKEA meatballs teamed with a yummy home made dipping sauce is a good canapé solution. Shot glasses of gazpacho is also an easy option… you can buy plastic shot glasses for not much money – or rent the classier glass versions from your local bottle shop 🙂

    Have fun!

  10. We have THE HAIRIEST, SHEDDINGEST, BIG golden retriever, and the big major Dyson pet hair vac. It’s great but heavy, heavy. I love it but am edging up on blowing the dollars on the Dyson stick vac. We have a Shark one now that’s really convenient for everyday pickup of hair and Cockatiel feathers, but I think the Dyson stick vac would do a better job. A little pricey, though. I have to chew on these things a while before I heave-to and spend the bucks.

    Ina Garten made great do-ahead crostini with baguette slices, feta spread, and cherry tomatoes. http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/tomato-crostini-with-whipped-feta-recipe.html Just a suggestion.

    You surely get the most out of life, Beth! I love your blog.

  11. A little wooden stick with a baby boconcini ball, cherry tomato & basil leaves?

  12. Loving the vac. I am truly of the belief that instead of issuing you with approx 1000 sheets of “useful information” when you have a baby, they should just give you a handheld or stick vac when you leave the hospital. Far more useful than all that info you never get time to read!

  13. Beth, I am lusting for one of those Dyson vacs too. As for canapes, if you can rope in the kids, mine like to make little tricolore sticks for parties – toothpicks with baby bocconcini, basil leaf, half a cherry tomato. Hard to go wrong, even for little fingers, loved by all. Happy country balling! (Might have come out wrong.)

    • Ha – I quite like the sound of that!! As for the Dyson. DO IT. That bastard will pay for itself the amount of times you will use it. Not to mention the HAPPINESS it will bring you!!

  14. I made 100+ little tomato tarts for a niece’s 21st last year, banged them out a day before, its a Marie Claire recipe, puff pastry circles, sundried (they said sunkissed, how sweet) tomatoes on top, in oven at 200 for 10-12 mins, on the night, pop some onion jam (Fountain, Always Fresh brand, whatever) and sprinkle with parmesan chees. Big hit

  15. I love the idea of stick vac, will investigate, also Choice rec a handy steamer thingy that I got for all the teen dau clothes that just need a steam, hang out etc it’s a Kambrook Swift Steam Garment Steamer KSS20 $50

  16. dude, the dyson stick vacuum is the only thing that gets dragged around our house…mainly cos it is that darn GOOD. i luff it.
    get on this for EASY canapes : http://food.ninemsn.com.au/recipes/iplum/8347415/baked-brie-with-sticky-plum-sauce – i trot these babies out each and every time i need something a little bit show pony. they are drop dead easy and drop dead delicious!!
    decos hey – i’m feeling glitter has to be involved…how bout these: http://www.marthastewart.com/276346/how-to-make-a-snow-globe/@center/1009041/christmas-crafts-projects. i feel strongly that martha can do no wrong in the cheap and easy deco space.

  17. I’m lusting after a Dyson stick vac too! Think it would improve my sanity also with my polished porcelain tiles which are truly a bitch to keep clean with two kids. I’m looking at the DC35 Digital slim…just saving the $$ for it!

  18. Dyson – I need one.

    Canapés – one vego, one hot, one cold. A stick item (chicken satay, garlic prawn, tomato/basil) a toast/canapé tart case (salmon mousse piped in with a teeny lemon triangle and dill, caramelised onion and Persian fetta) and perhaps a cucumber cup – filled with Thai beef salad or a tuna tartare.

    Decorations – glitter – Base Warehouse McEvoy Street and Bowden Street Alexandria. They sell it in bulk bags. They also have many, many skewers/shot glasses and a million other party items!!!

    Tea lights – make sure you go the 8 hour ones. Nothing sadder than tea lights dying out at 9.30 at night!!!

    Gosh I want to help organise the ball!

  19. Cheat ! Get the canapés catered!! We won’t tell anyone!

    • We were going too but they were going to cost a FORTUNE and I stupidly thought…I can do it for free. Except now I have to, you know, DO IT…

  20. Decorating idea – I went to a wedding that hung large branches (no leaves) rom the ceiling and draped fairy lights on them. Beautiful, (and half-free).

    Feel free to diss, or adjust to tyour needs as necessary.

  21. Busy times! You can do it.

    Decorating ideas – bust out the white Christmas lights, twinkly lights are always ace. Then bust out the handsaw and rubbish bags get some nature in that room. Branches, autumn leaves, potted trees from people’s verandahs. Will the local nursery get on board for charity? Centrepieces from the forest floor and minimal colour from cut flowers.

  22. Lisa Mckenzie says

    Love my Dyson vac would love a little rechargeable one too ,but since I have gone through about 15 vacs since we got married. I kill them dead,vacuum cleaners do not like me!
    For your ball make an enchanted forest in the hall you’d just need 12 million potted plants and for the canapés make your baby quiches or fancy sausage rolls,good luck I’m not much help Beth!

  23. It is my fave appliance I own. Seriously the best way to get kids to do housework! 😉

  24. Hi Beth,

    My daughters year 7 graduation was had a mad hatter theme. I did the tickets and can email you a file of them. You can download a alice in wonderland font. They hired props (there was a budget) of giant mushrooms and a massive red carpet that was rolled into the hall. There were cup cake towers of lollies and drinks with “drink me” labels on them and “eat me” signs on the edibles. The hosts dressed up as the mad hatter and white rabbit. Hopefully that gives some sort of inspiration.


  25. Hey Beth, just ordered my new Dyson (barrel, not stick) and am tres excited! As for decorating ideas, I’m a bit useless there but how about collecting jam jars, whacking on a bit of glass paint & then bunging in a tea light for a bit of mood lighting? As for canapé ideas you could knock up a few batches of sausage rolls which freeze really well then on the day stick them straight into a really hot oven to get the pastry flakey again. If you have vegos you could do a couple of batches with like a salmon pattie mix in the middle rather than the sausage mix. Another good freezer to table recipe is my pork and chicken meatballs with apricot and macadamia nut. They reheat particularly well. Let me know if you want the recipe. Good luck!

  26. Candles, candles, candles!!! I’ve been collecting old jars of all sizes for years and soaking off the labels. They look amazing dotted around rooms in little groups with tealight candles in them, particular if you use heaps of them. Easy, cheap but VERY effective! You can also put the jars and candles into brown paper bags, roll down the sides of the bags a bit and light them – this might suit your theme better too!

    Food – tiny little smoked salmon on herb frittatas (Donna Hay – Instant Entertaining). I’ve made these several times and they look gorgeous and taste yummo!!

  27. Catriona Smith says

    Canapes = smoked salmon on discs of lebanese cucumber WITH a few sprinkles of nigella seeds. They resemble black sesame seeds. They look and taste a.mazing. Easy to prepare and easy to eat. Also, cost effective.

    Floral ideas: http://instagram.com/sticksandwicksfloraldesign

    Go well! Nothing like a busy person to get.stuff.done!

    • I do love that saying…I’d not heard it before a few weeks ago when someone said it to me. SO true! Those canapés sound fab!

  28. Get a hold of everyone’s Christmas trees (obviously only works with the plastic kind, at this time of year) and make a magical forest indoors x

  29. Whilst not a true canapé we always do ocean trout gravlax as a starter- as it can be prepared ahead, on the day it needs wiping down and slicing. Served with fresh rye bread sliced thinly and some drained yoghurt (overnight in a bowl lined with muslin- mix a bit of salt into it) flavoured with horseradish (masters food jar stuff is totally fine). Always a winner.

  30. We got a Dyson last week. LIFE CHANGING! I cannot stop marvelling at the amount of filth it picks up (perhaps I should be disgusted?!)….
    My husband also, can’t believe I am so in love with a vacuum… “It’s only a vacuum!”

  31. Busy, busy, busy! Your new stick vacuum is very loveable though.

    Decorations: fairy lights + candles everywhere! Flowers. Glass jars (decorated with glitter or washi tape or not) tea light inside, wire to make something to hang it with and hang with fishing line. Sticks and twigs (with glass jar candles hanging or fairy lights threaded through) to make a centre piece – put all in a large vase. I’ll email you a picture. Paper bunting or ribbon lengths tied on a longer length of ribbon.

    Canapes: chicken meatballs with a nice dipping sauce, blinis with smoked salmon, cream cheese + chives for garnish. At a friends engagement party recently they served pork + fennel sausage rolls, pastry cups filled with caramelised onion + goats cheese which I think could be easily replicated. Mini quiches always go down a treat and are easy in bulk.

    Good luck Beth! You can do it!

  32. Beth I cannot in any way assist with decorations that are life changing or never seen. If however you would like about 100 round paper lanterns (left over from my 40th last month) I can help.

    Canapés – I am in love with those cherry tomato and basil mini pikelets. I’ve put them out 3 times this year to rave reviews. (Add plenty of salt and pepper to batter to get the flavour in.


    Also love love love these – so simple but divine.

  33. Michelle says

    For table decorating you can make table runners by dry ironing two pieces of waxed paper together – am opaque look results and put “stuff” in between prior to ironing. Leaves, streamers ribbon messages dried flowers confetti – pretty effective and cheap

  34. Dyson.
    The Vacuum.

  35. I was at a Alice in Wonderland themed party on the weekend, it was such a fun theme. I was totally impressed with the table runner, a strip of astro turf down the middle of the table, sprinkled with fake flowers. They also did the eat me, drink me labels, totally cute.

  36. Not sure if its been suggested, and if you were after table décor or for the hall greater. But one event recently had a very clever idea. Got chainsaw and found heaps of old dead branches (big ones!) trimmed to say 6-8 ft long, then rounded up a heap of old drums, and shoved in drum with rocks as weights. (say two branches per drum) Add hessian and fairy lights to the branches and it looked marvellous!

    You cannot go past the use of copious amounts of fairy lights for any hall function – overhead lights turned right now, fairy lights everywhere, and perhaps some candle light as well.

  37. We recently had a mad hatters birthday party for my eldest daughter. We used enlarged photocopies of playing cards for placemats and you can also make the oversize cards into bunting to drape. Also found that anything red or red polka dot as an accent colour really helped the wonderland theme. Another cheap idea is to use coat hanger wire and shape it into hearts ( queen of hearts) , rabbit outline or even just plain circles and then wrap the wire with ivy or similar. Suspended with fishing line and in groups at staggered drop length, it’s really effective. Good luck.

  38. I know I’m late to the party BUT after reading this post over a year ago I am finally the proud owner of a beautiful purple Dyson swiffer. It’s love I tell you 🙂

  39. What model is your dyson stick thingy?There are so many of them but I want one that will last!


  1. […] I don’t know what is. And it was #onething off my list. Now I just do my daily swift with my Dyson stick thingy and I feel like I am all over my cleaning. If your #onething is to get one of those […]

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