How to Find Your Pad Style?

It may be our first time ever owning a home or a living space where we have the freedom to turn it into any style of our choosing. But how do we find our style? Here are a few ways to give you a head start on creating your style for your home. Warm and Comfortable Farmhouse country and rustic contemporary combine wood and metal furnishings with soft fabrics, warm throws, comfy pillows and plush rugs. Antique and copper finishes are a must! Luxurious and Glamorous Hollywood regency and hollywood glam combine smooth fabrics like velvet and satin with metallic and glass accents. Don’t be afraid to add real or faux fur to the motif. Strong and Sturdy Industrial and rustic combine distressed finishes with strong metal and wood furniture. If you really want to bring the style to new levels, add leather upholstery and exposed hardware furniture to the setting. Minimal and Spacious Mid-century modern and minimalist combine functional and sustainable furnishings with perfectly placed accents. Less is more. Most of the clutter is gone or hidden in seamless storage compartments. Eye-catching and Exposed Bohemian and eclectic combine a medley of materials, fabrics and accents creating a feast for the eyes. Cozy, comfortable and filled with surprises, this design style gives you room to play with a variety of accents and furnishings. Serene and airy Coastal combines pastel and neutral colors, light hues with wood, wicker and rattan furnishings. Don’t leave out the plush sofa and chair cushions with sheer chiffon curtains. Ornate and Traditional French Provincial and traditional combines feminine silhouettes with ornate furnishings. Floral and fauna pattern upholstery. Light finishes with dark accents and copper or brass metallics. Do any of these styles intrigue you? Your pad is worth it. Be good to your pad by finding your pad style!
1 day ago

Tips for the Ultra-Organized (or for those who want to be!)

Many of us like to slow down as the winter months approach. But this season, we are bringing our space into full gear with tips for the ultra-organized. Out with the old, in with the new! Plus, it feels good to declutter and give away our duplicates or the scarf we love but never wear to our friends, family members or a charitable organization! Declutter, Donate, Give as Gifts Lets start with the basics. Before we can get ultra-organized, we need to give away those items we never use or have too many of. We are talking kitchen appliances, clothing, shoes, home decor and even furniture! Minimalism is a lifestyle not just an interior design style. Take a look at what you have. Never used or worn? Give as gifts this season! If not, donate to charity. If you can’t put it to use, someone else will. It is time to start getting rid of those duplicates. I doubt you’ll need 6 types of dishware sets. The pottery you have wrapped in your closet but have no place for it? Wrap it up and give it away. Trust us, it feels good and you barely miss it once it is gone. Labels Now that we have the clutter out, we can start labeling what we have. This goes specifically for the kitchen. We can label our shelves, separating bread and grains from canned goods and packaged items. Tupperware, mason jars or even decorative containers for our spices, loose grains, rice and legumes. It won’t be difficult to find what you were looking for while cooking a homemade meal now! Seasonal Grab yourself vacuum sealed clothing storage bags or large storage containers for your off-season wear. This is just style-based but goes for the different seasons. Why have your favorite pair of shorts and tank top in your dresser or closet hanging around when it is snowing outside? These garment bags and garment containers are designed to fit underneath your bed or in tight spaces. They keep them from getting wrinkled, prevent moths from entering and stop wear and tear from occurring. Closets and Storage Louis Vuitton just came out with a sneaker storage box! Yes, a place to store all of your favorite pairs of sneakers and/or shoes. Easy to find and in one container. It may be pushing it for some, but for the ultra-organized this a dream come true! Sneaker storage boxes are one way. Other ways include, sectioning off your closet based on clothing uses. For example, work clothes versus casual clothes. A separate section for hats (yes, they still make hat boxes!) Even keeping the boxes your shoes come in is a handy way of keeping your favorite pair of heels or doc marten boots in good shape. Don’t underestimate the power of compartmentalization. Ceiling Shelves You can install ceiling shelves to put all your belongings up, instead of down. Ceiling shelves add scale and height to the space. They allow for more floor space and storage down below. If compartmentalized properly, they add visual aesthetic to your space instead of diminishing it. Keep the book on one shelf and the DVDs on another. Be sure what you place on the shelves is functional for the space they are in. For example, your living room with the TV and with the reading chair, makes the perfect spot for these specific items. Sectioning Even in mid-century modern homes, which oftentimes have open floor plans, there is a distinction from one room to the next. It can be as simple as changing the color of the walls, separating the dining room from the living room. However, you can also use blocking with furnishings or partitions to section off one room from the next room. A style change from one room to the next may take a bit more finesse. It is absolutely possible with the right decor and furniture! Now that you know some helpful tips to get ultra-organized, you can appreciate what you have even more! Don’t let anyone fool you, organization is an essential key towards success!
1 day ago

6 Modern White Pumpkin Displays For Thanksgiving

White pumpkin accents for Thanksgiving centerpieces and fall decor keep things clean, chic and simple for the holiday. Modern without being too minimal, contemporary without lacking cohesion and eye-catching without being ostentatious. Use these white pumpkin autumn accents for a present day spin on traditional fall design. Pop a few different sized white pumpkins combined with golden wheat in a brown wicker cornucopia. Arrange the same sized white pumpkins in a straight line along a wooden board. You can keep as is for a minimalist approach to this Thanksgiving centerpiece design or you can embellish your pumpkins with cranberries, foliage or one other colorful natural accent. Arrange various sizes of white pumpkins with cream hyacinth, white tealights in transparent glass candle holders and ash gray antlers. This autumn centerpiece has elements of rustic contemporary, shabby chic, southwestern, farmhouse country and minimalism style all rolled into one display. For this autumn centerpiece, the white pumpkins along with an eye-catching shimmering metallic pumpking are placed on silver plated pedestals. They are surrounded by taupe tali balls and shredded white confetti. This white pumpkin centerpiece display would shine in hollywood regency, shabby chic, rustic contemporary and farmhouse country homes. In this centerpiece design, the white pumpkins are placed (in no particular organized arrangement) in a wooden elongated box with dark metallic handles. The box is painted a neutral gray color accentuating the white of the pumpkins by creating a sharp contrast. A few tealights in glass candleholders are placed directly outside of the box to brighten up the space. This would make a beautiful Thanksgiving accent for a shabby chic, rustic contemporary or farmhouse country home. Minimal and modern. This centerpiece uses the sharp contrast of shape and color to accentuate each accent. 3 small white pumpkins, a textured pale yellow gourd, a large gray pumpkin and 3 dried branches in a round white vase, each natural element stands alone without disrupting the cohesion of the design. They are arranged simply atop a white round plate. Using fall home decor white pumpkins in your Thanksgiving centerpiece design will give you plenty of room to play with different combinations and variations. Neutral color palettes provide a simple starting point for versatility and creativity when creating a brand new modern fall accent for your living space.
1 day ago

6 Modern Kitchen Gifts for Women Who Love to Cook

Show the women in your life appreciation for their delicious cuisine and impeccable party hosting by getting them a gift that they can enjoy in the kitchen. From stocking stuffers to bigger gift items, you can get her something that she will love whenever she cooks or plans a party. Sleek, contemporary and functional – these 6 modern gifts are made for modern women who love to cook. Bridges Tea Towel This towel isn’t only made for handling your teapot, the Bridges Tea Towel can be used as a kitchen towel for drying dishes or cleaning up messes around the kitchen. It comes in 3 different modern designs to choose from. It is jacquard woven on 100% organic cotton. Bamboo Hors D’Oeuvres Plate (Set of 4) Made for hosting parties or adding appetizers to the mix before the main courses, these Bamboo Hors D’Oeuvres Plates are the perfect addition to her kitchen. They are made with a cut-out notch to hold stemware, raised edges for spillage, made from eco-friendly and reusable bamboo. They come in a set of 4 to keep the cheese plate separate from the meat plate. Saddle Sink Caddy This contemporary sink caddy easily pops onto the edge of her kitchen sink. The Saddle Sink Caddy design resembles iconic mid-century modern molded fiberglass chairs with its organic, seamless and functional style. They are made of flexible plastic and come in 3 different colors. Plus, they have holes at the bottom to ensure maximum drainage. Cork Coasters At first glance, these Cork Coasters look like beaded bracelets, but they are designed to protect the surfaces of her kitchen from hot pots and pans. They are a modern and unique take on the typical coaster. They can be hung when storing for extra drawer and counter space around the kitchen. Bali 10 Wine Rack An ultra-contemporary take on the wine rack, the Bali 10 Wine Rack is made of ribbon shaped bentwood. It holds up to 10 bottles of wine. Metal rods secure its visually unique design. Longboard Serving Tray Another great choice for anyone who enjoys hosting company or having parties. The Longboard Serving Tray comes with secure spaces to hold 1 wine bottle and 4 wine glasses. It is made of eco-friendly and durable bamboo. From stocking stuffers to holiday gifts, these sleek, chic and modern kitchen accessories will ensure her party is flawless and her kitchen looks as good as she does.
1 day ago

Chilli Garlic Prawn Risotto In Napoli Sauce

I am super excited to share a tried and tested, family favourite recipe today – Chilli Garlic Prawn Risotto In Napoli Sauce. After getting really addicted to a seafood risotto that kept popping up at my local café’s special winter menu a few years ago, I decided to try recreating that at home. But with my own twist of course – lighter, dairy-free and packed with more flavour. The slight dusting of parmesan is mainly for the benefit of the boys while we really love ours with just a drizzle of good olive oil.

Hot sizzling garlic prawns with a crusty sourdough are my favourite when the weather gets cold. And this Garlic Prawn Risotto is an ode to that dish. With saffron and chilli and all the herbs. And a secret sauce that makes this risotto absolutely vibrant, tangerine, acidic, creamy and luscious. My beautiful Napoli Sauce. When I cook this sauce and get my risotto going, I discover my inner Italian. The tantalizing aromas as I stir the risotto transport me to a little Italian trattoria by the sea and I dream of sun-kissed, salty holidays along the Italian coast.

Ideally a risotto would cook into creamy perfection with just a good stock. But my Garlic Prawn Risotto gets that extra oomph from this gorgeous Napoli sauce that I cook at least once a week and have waiting in my fridge for all my pasta and risotto needs. A Napoli sauce also known as Neopolitan or Napoletana sauce is the name given to tomato-based Italian sauces and can be found in most supermarkets and delis.

To me, a Napoli sauce is a rich, luscious, red tomato sauce slowly simmered with caramelized onions, oregano, basil and good aged balsamic vinegar to draw out that bright acidity. I like to use a good passata sauce as a base for my Napoli sauce and I have been using Val Verde passata sauce for many years now. It is made from 100% Italian tomatoes, has no additives and no added sugar. The Val Verde passata is the perfect rich tomato canvas for all my Italian creations.

This Chilli Garlic Prawn Risotto in Napoli Sauce is a dinner favourite in our home, especially on Friday nights when I have been to the fishmonger and come back with beautiful Australian tiger or yamba prawns. I use pre-cooked whole prawns (Australian Tiger or Yamba prawns are great!) and peel them before adding them to the risotto towards the very end. I cook all my risottos without cheese, adding a secret ingredient (nutritional yeast) to get that cheesy umami flavour instead. I also like to finish the dish with a drizzle of a good quality cold pressed extra virgin olive oil and just a touch of parmesan.

The risotto is a great entertaining recipe for when you have guests over and looks absolutely beautiful served on a platter. Try it because I know you will love it and I would love to hear your feedback in the comments and ratings below. Buon Appetito!



Author: Sneh
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 40 mins
Total Time: 50 minutes
Yield: 3-4
Category: Dinner, Mains, Winter
Cuisine: Italian, Seafood, Gluten Free

Print Recipe

A lighter, dairy free, prawn risotto packed with big juicy Italian flavours from homemade Napoli sauce. The classic chilli garlic prawns re-invented into the most delicious dinner party risotto recipe!


2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon red chilli flakes
1 leek, sliced and finely chopped (white only)
360g risotto (arborio)rice
¼ teaspoon saffron strands
150 ml white wine
1.25 litres vegetable stock
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 cup (250g) Napoli Sauce (see recipe box below this box for the sauce recipe)
500g cooked Tiger or Yamba prawns (heads removed and peeled with tail on)
1 teaspoon nutritional yeast
Sea salt flakes, to taste
Extra virgin olive oil, grated parmesan cheese (optional), fresh oregano and parsley – to serve


Heat olive oil in a large risotto or sauté pan on medium. Add garlic, chilli flakes and leek. Toss and cook for a few minutes until leek is soft and starting to caramelize.
Add rice and saffron. Toss and cook for a minute until the rice is glazed.
Add wine to deglaze the pan and mix well. As the wine starts drying, add a cup of vegetable stock and continue cooking. Reduce heat to medium low and keep stirring. When stock starts drying, add more and continue cooking until all the stock is used up (approximately 25 minutes).
Add parsley, Napoli sauce, prawns and yeast. Stir and continue cooking for a few more minutes until rice is just cooked and the risotto consistency is like a thick rice pudding. Remove from heat, cover and rest for 5 minutes.
Serve hot with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, fresh herbs and a dusting of parmesan (optional).

For a more decadent risotto, reduce stock to 1 litre, increase Napoli sauce to 1 and ½ cups and add ½ cup grated parmesan cheese to the risotto towards the tail end of cooking.
For a purely dairy-free risotto, skip the grated parmesan at the end.
For a vegetarian/vegan risotto, in step 4 instead of prawn – add crispy salt and pepper roasted cauliflower.

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Author: Sneh
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 30 mins
Total Time: 35 minutes
Yield: 2 1/2 cups
Category: Pantry, Sauce And Condiments
Cuisine: Italian, Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian

Print Recipe


2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 bay leaf
2 brown or Spanish onions, finely chopped
5 garlic cloves, minced
40ml white wine
700g Val Verde Passata
2 teaspoon sea salt flakes
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 tablespoon raw sugar
1 tablespoon aged balsamic vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper


Heat oil in a saucepan on medium heat. Add bay leaf, garlic and onion. Sauté for a few minutes until onion starts to soften. Reduce heat to low and cook for approximately 10 minutes until onion is soft and caramelized.
Increase heat to medium. Add wine to deglaze the pan. Add Val Verde Passata, salt, oregano, basil, sugar, vinegar and black pepper. Mix well.
Reduce heat to medium low and simmer uncovered for 25-30 minutes until the sauce turns a dark, rich shade. Remove from heat. Allow to cool completely. Store in an air-tight jar in the fridge for up to a week.

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Disclaimer – This post is sponsored by Val Verde. I have been using the Val Verde passata sauce for many years and love having it handy in my pantry to create my own beautiful pasta sauces.

The post Chilli Garlic Prawn Risotto In Napoli Sauce appeared first on Cook Republic.

Pink Italian Cream Soda

I was a child of the 80s – big hair and scrunchies, colourful plastic hoops, baggy jeans rolled up at the cuffs, Backstreet Boys (and later NSYNC), Archie comics and Italian cream sodas. In fact, the last two go pretty much hand in hand, something I realized after watching Riverdale on Netflix. Oh, it brought back so many memories of growing up!

Watching the first couple of seasons of Riverdale on Netflix has been a bit of a guilty pleasure for me – childhood nostalgia revisited every week. Little did I know when I was growing up that my favourite comic about a carrot-top goofball and his gang would be made into a dark and edgy television show. My favourite scenes from Riverdale are the ones shot at Pop Tate’s – a retro all American diner-style hangout for Archie and his gang. I love watching the actors slurp down their tall sodas and colourful ice cream floats while concocting plans to catch hooded monsters and thwart bad guys. So much, that I created a little cream soda of my own.

Traditionally, an Italian soda is made with flavoured syrup and sparkling water on ice. When you add a bit of cream, it becomes Italian Cream Soda and instantly more delicious. Might have even been the inspiration for all those tall cream sodas in American diners from Italian migrants.

My Italian Cream Soda is made with fresh homemade raspberry sauce and sparkling water made using my Sodastream Spirit machine. I also made it more flamboyant with fairy floss and fresh raspberries for garnish. When I was experimenting with the recipe, I found that the acidic raspberry sauce and the cream were a curdling disaster waiting to happen. After research and trial and error, I found that adding baking soda to the raspberry sauce stabilizes it and prevents it from curdling.

What it does create is a beautiful marbling effect in the drink when you mix it. For an even more sublime effect and drinking experience, use milk instead of cream. Also, make sure that your water is chilled when you make the bubbles in the Sodastream. This is a truly fun non-alcoholic treat for hot weekends in the sun! And the kids love it!

I love having the fresh raspberry cordial on hand. Often on hot afternoons, I like to spike my glass of sparkling water with a bit of the fresh raspberry cordial. It is absolutely refreshing. The bubbles and fruit are perfect together – with or without the cream. If you make this and love it, please leave me your feedback in the comment/rating below. And don’t forget to tag and share your creation with me on Instagram @cookrepublic #cookrepublic. I love seeing all that you cook and make from the blog! x



Author: Sneh
Prep Time: 20 mins
Total Time: 20 mins
Yield: 2
Category: Drink
Cuisine: Vegetarian, Gluten Free, Nut Free

Print Recipe


200g fresh or frozen raspberries
¼ cup (70g) raw sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
300ml chilled sparkling water
2 tablespoons pouring cream
whipped cream, fairy floss, fresh raspberries – to serve


Place raspberries, sugar and vanilla in a small heavy bottomed saucepan. Heat on medium-low and bring to a gentle boil. Remove from heat.
Add bicarbonate of soda and mix well. Allow to cool slightly. Strain into a glass jar and refrigerate until ready to use.
To serve, divide raspberry cordial equally between two 400ml capacity hurricane glasses (about 3 tablespoons cordial per glass). Top each glass with chilled sparkling water until 2/3rds full.
Spoon a tablespoon of cream in each glass. Top with whipped cream, fairy floss and raspberries. Serve immediately.

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Note – This post is sponsored by Sodastream. The recipe and video were specially created for Sodastream’s Spirit machines. It is a brand/product that I love and have been using for almost a decade. I believe that using Sodastream is not only fun but helps reduce plastic bottle usage and waste. All opinions and musings are my own.
The post Pink Italian Cream Soda appeared first on Cook Republic.

Apple Pie Cake

Life is too short and it is always a good time for a slice of cake. Especially if it is buttery, crumbly and smells and tastes like apple pie. An Apple Pie Cake! A robust, wholesome, brown cake topped with thin slices of tart apple kissed by spices and baked to golden perfection. I promise I’ll save you a slice!

I love apples in baking. I mean, what other fruit can even dream of coming close to everything that apples can achieve in the oven and out of it? Apple pie, apple crumble, apple muffins, apple cake, slow-cooked apple overnight oats, apple tart, apple strudel, baked apples, toffee apples!! I have stretched my affection for this fruit even further with apple jam and apple fritters. In fact, it was over an apple that Nick and I bonded all those many years ago.
And so with my love for apples and baking, I have created a beautiful apple pie cake that is dinner-party worthy. With a petite scoop of ice cream (my favourite is Pana’s Salted Caramel Ice Cream. Best ice cream ever!!). Or you could wrap it up in a nice linen tea towel, grab a thermos of hot tea and take it along on a long drive.

For those of you who have read my Instagram post about Nick’s cancer and know about the harrowing few months our little family has had, a slice of this cake was my companion while I waited to hear the outcome of Nick’s first surgery. It was the cake I baked again the following week when he went into surgery again and then the following week while he was still at the hospital coping with all the hard things that were going on. This cake got packed in lunch boxes and was often the only lunch I could manage as I shuttled between home and hospital.
What I am trying to say is that this cake, this wholesome and filling cake was like a warm hug when I needed it and it might have saved my life. I grow more fond of it as it grows staler because it gets crumblier and chewier and feels like it can weather anything if that makes sense. For friends in the northern hemisphere where apples are in season and the march towards Thanksgiving is on, this apple pie cake is the most perfect thing to bake. For us folks in the southern hemisphere, apples are still plenty (thanks to cold storage technology and weird weather patterns).
This means, wherever in the world you are, it is a good time to bake this gorgeous cake. I bake it in a wide shallow tart pan because it not only looks pretty sweet, it also creates a delicious crumbly crust. So go ahead and bake this, you won’t be disappointed.

If you bake this apple pie cake, don’t forget to leave me your feedback in the comments/ratings below. Please also tag me on Instagram with @cookrepublic #cookrepublic and share your apple pie cake pictures with me. Nothing makes me happier, than to see you cooking and baking from the blog. Bon appetit! x



Author: Sneh
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 35 mins
Total Time: 45 minutes
Yield: 10
Category: Baking, cake
Cuisine: Vegetarian

Print Recipe


180g spelt flour
60g desiccated coconut
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of sea salt flakes
180g rapadura sugar
4 organic eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla powder or extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
Zest of 1 large lemon
200g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 apple, cored, halved and thinly sliced
Extra butter and desiccated coconut for greasing
Cinnamon sugar for sprinkling
Icing sugar for dusting


Pre-heat oven to 180C (convection)/160C (fan-forced).
Place spelt flour, desiccated coconut, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Toss to combine.
Place rapadura sugar, eggs, vanilla, cinnamon, allspice and lemon zest in the bowl of an electric mixer and mix for a couple of minutes until light and fluffy. Add butter and mix briefly until well combined and smooth.
Add the dry mix to the wet mixture and mix gently by hand, using a wooden spoon until just combined.
Grease a 25-27cm fluted ceramic pie/flan dish with melted butter. Dust with desiccated coconut and tap and turn the pan to coat evenly. Shake off excess coconut.
Gently spoon the cake batter into the prepared pan. Arrange apple slices in a circular fashion starting from the outer edge, making sure the slices slightly overlap each other.
Dust the cake and apple slices with cinnamon sugar. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 35 minutes until browning and cooked through.
Remove from oven and cool slightly. Dust with icing sugar. Cut into wedges and serve with a dollop of vanilla ice cream.

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The post Apple Pie Cake appeared first on Cook Republic.

Bean Free Vegetarian Minestrone Soup

A solid classic Vegetarian Minestrone Soup recipe is the best thing to have in your weekly cooking schedule because it is not only cheap and super nourishing but full of fresh vibrant seasonal veggies. A delicious way to get a big serving of veggies into your diet. And this vegetarian minestrone soup might be the best meal prep recipe ever. You will definitely get 4-6 meals out of it.

Good vegetarian minestrone soup is defined by the neatly and finely diced vegetables. And therefore, I find cooking a minestrone soup almost therapeutical. You only need one of each vegetable variety that you are using and dice it to the best of your ability. Dicing the veggies into small pieces ensures a shorter cooking time and a really lovely eating experience.

Everything else that you will need for this rich tomato-based rustic soup is already in your pantry. This recipe that I am sharing with you today is a classic base minestrone soup recipe that can be used as a starting point for more elaborate bowls of minestrone. It is also bean-free and celery-free which makes it easier to digest and gentler on your stomach. So if you have gut issues or are living with an ostomy/stoma, this is a great soup to eat for all your nutritional needs.

There is definitely a science behind cooking things a certain way to get the best flavour and texture in your finished dish. And a vegetarian minestrone soup is the best example of that. You want to draw all the flavours of the veggies out while making sure you don’t overcook them. The soup’s base also has to be rich and creamy.

I always start by caramelizing finely chopped leek and minced garlic. Then I add my finely diced veggies in a particular order (hardest to softest with little intervals to allow for perfect cooking so that at the very end, they are all cooked to the same consistency). Hard veggies like potato and carrot go in first and cook for a while before adding veggies like zucchini. Finally, the diced tomatoes and all the herbs go in to create a rich ragu.

Once the tomatoes and veggies have had a chance to marry and develop in flavour, I then add the stock and pasta to let it all simmer to perfection. A small pasta like ditalini is ideal for this minestrone soup. Visually, it is the same size as the diced veggies and looks super pretty but also great to eat. Macaroni is more widely available and works really well too. I am always on the lookout for tiny pasta shapes at my local deli to make my minestrone soups more exciting every time. At the very end of the cooking cycle when the pasta is al dente, I add my fresh greens. It could be chopped spinach or Tuscan kale or Silverbeet along with finely chopped broccoli and fresh herbs like basil and parsley. These just need a minute or two in the hot soup to blanch and get that lovely deep green colour while all their nutrients are still intact.

Finish your soup with a generous sprinkling of parmesan and a dollop of good homemade pesto. Maybe you have a bottle of that really great cold pressed extra virgin olive oil that you bought on your trip to the wine country? Drizzle that too! Enjoy with or without a good pan-fried slice of crusty sourdough and feel the goodness of the veggies light you up from the inside. Buon Appetito!



Author: Sneh
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Yield: 4
Category: Soup, Dinner
Cuisine: Vegan, Vegetarian, Italian

Print Recipe


1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon dried garlic (or 1 garlic clove, minced)
1 leek, thinly sliced (white only)
1 medium potato, peeled and finely diced
1 large carrot, peeled and finely diced
1 medium zucchini, ends trimmed and finely diced
1 X 400g canned diced tomato
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 litre vegetable stock
1/2 cup small pasta (ditalini, tubetti or macaroni)
1 cup baby spinach leaves, chopped
1–2 florets broccoli, chopped
few sprigs of fresh parsley and basil leaves, finely chopped
salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper
parmesan, to sprinkle


Heat oil in a 4-litre cooking pot on medium. Add bay leaf, garlic and leek. Sauté for a couple of minutes until leek starts to caramelize.
Add potato and carrot. Mix well and cook for a few minutes until vegetables are glazed. Add zucchini and sauté for a couple of minutes.
Add tomato, balsamic vinegar, oregano and parsley. Mix well and cook for a couple of minutes.
Add the vegetable stock and pasta. Mix well and simmer (uncovered) for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are tender and pasta is al dente.
Add spinach, broccoli and chopped herbs. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 5 minutes until broccoli is tender.
Remove from heat. Serve with a sprinkling of parmesan.

For A Vegan Version – Skip the Parmesan cheese. Top with Cashew Cheese sprinkles.
For A Gluten-Free Version – Use gluten-free pasta instead of regular pasta.

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The post Bean Free Vegetarian Minestrone Soup appeared first on Cook Republic.

Style Combinations Hollywood Regency and Shabby Chic

The fabulous luxury of the 1930s film starlets draping themselves over velvet sofas and primping in gold trim mirrors is a sight to behold. Equally as memorable, is a fanned back wooden rocking chair as grandpa soundly falls asleep while the family snuggles beside a warm fireplace on their large and cozy sectional sofas. These two styles may seem like a slight mismatch to some. However, the combination of shimmer and muted, glamorous and rustic, urban and rural, can be beautifully combined in your living space.

Shabby Chic combined with Hollywood Regency

Sticking to one style for each room or for the whole house can make it easier to buy the right furnishings and decor for your home. However, playing by the rules of one interior design style can get tedious and let’s be honest, even a little dull.

Let’s combine forces!

Hollywood regency and shabby chic

You may think they don’t go hand in hand. Hollywood regency is all about the glitz and glam. Reflective mirrors, metallic finishes and velvet upholstery.

Hollywood Regency

Shabby chic on the other hand is all about the wicker, rattan, wood and distressed, worn finishes.

Shabby Chic

How do we combine these distant cousins of style?

Hollywood regency came to be in the 1930s. A little worn finish on these ornamental furnishings will fit nicely in with your shabby chic design. How? Think vintage!

Vintage vanity with elements of Hollywood regency and shabby chic

The shapes of the Hollywood regency furnishings can stay classic in their very eye-catching and ornamental design. Your shabby chic furniture can remain rustic and cozy. Keep in mind the color, shape and scale as you combine these two styles. If you want them to look brand new, there are other alternatives to try.

Hollywood Regency and Shabby Chic

Here are a few ways to effectively combine these styles. Different approaches work for different homes based on taste and preference.

Choose one style for the main furnishings and add the other style as accents. Choose similar shape, complementary color and cohesive materials to blend styles. Choose versatile furnishings for your larger pieces. Meaning, furniture that can pair nicely with practically anything! Fill in the details by choosing decor and accents in both styles.

Here are a few hollywood regency and shabby chic interior design examples for inspiration:

Combine an entirely wicker vanity and wicker round stool with glamorous accents such as crystal perfume bottles, a crystal base lamp with a fringe shade, a fluffy accent rug to be placed under the vanity. Combine a mirrored lingerie dresser with gold plated metallic trim with shabby chic accents. A rattan, bamboo or jute accent rug underneath, a light or teak wooden jewelry box and family photos in light or teak wooden frames atop of it. Perhaps even an amethyst geode or a banded agate accent as decor. Combine a velvet hollywood regency sofa in blush pink with a white sheepskin throw and a white wicker coffee table. Add a pair of mirror or glass side tables with brass metallic base and trim finish on each end of the sofa. Pair with an ornate light or medium wooden base lamp. A frosted opaque or transparent shade would work atop the wooden bases or a simple cotton shade would suffice.

Hollywood Regency and Shabby Chic

Together, these two styles make a powerful pair. Full of surprises and filled with familiarity. They will make both a luxurious and comfy combination.

Style Combinations Coastal and French Provincial

The ocean air blowing through sheer white curtains as you lay across a navy blue daybed. Your head resting against a canary yellow accent pillow. There is a painted white wooden coffee table in front of you and your favorite rattan accent chair with a detachable cushion placed beside you. The coastal design of your home is airy and serene.


Equally as memorable of a living space, a tall pastel blue armoire with white drawers, brass handles and ornate legs is directly across from you. You sit on your bed with its high wavy backrest and ornate frame. There is a matching dresser to the right and a matching chest to the left completing your French provincial bedroom set. A beautiful ornate rug with floral and fauna patterns rests at the foot of the bed.

French Provincial

Coastal and French provincial design may seem slightly different in style, but together they make a powerful pair.

Coastal and French Provincial Combination

Coastal and French provincial style can be combined to create a beautiful interior design. French provincial style appears regal. It is characterized by bold floral patterns, luxurious fabrics, ornate chandeliers and eye-catching forms.

French Provincial Living room

Coastal style appears homely. It is characterized by soft hues, solid colors, geometric forms and a combination of rustic materials and comfy fabrics.

Coastal Bedroom

To combine Coastal and French Provincial, there are a few ways to seamlessly bring them together.

Choose one style for the main furnishings and add the other style as accents. Choose similar shape, complementary color and cohesive materials to blend styles. Choose versatile furnishings for your larger pieces. Meaning, furniture that can pair with practically anything. Fill in the details by choosing decor and accents in both styles.

Here are a few coastal and provincial interior design examples for inspiration:

Combine a French provincial sofa with diamond tufted upholstery and an elegant backrest with solid colored accent pillows in light yellow, pastel blue or blush pink. Add a rectangular coffee table with a bottom shelf and X-base design. Pair with a large area rug with floral and fauna patterns. Place two square and painted wooden side tables on each end of the sofa with crystal base lamps. Combine a simple platform bed with a light wooden frame pair with ornate floral patterned bedding. Place a free standing tall lamp with a brass wire base and a round cotton white lamp shade in the corner of the bedroom. Add matching light wooden and rectangular chest and dresser. Place a mirror with an ornate frame above the dresser. Add white velvet cloths atop the furnishings

French provincial and Coastal style use similar colors throughout their design. This makes it a tad easier when blending these two together. Just be aware of the difference in materials and shapes of the furniture and home decor. This will give you more flexibility with a definable foundation to design from.

Is Location More Important than the Home You Buy?

You can have a large estate with everything you could ever want or need in the comfort of your home. But if the location you settle down in doesn’t meet your requirements, the investment you put into your new home may seem one sided.

After factoring in costs, value, property taxes, crime rates and other safety and financial concerns, consider the factors that could make or break where you choose to live. Sometimes, we often overlook these factors when the price is right or too good to be true. To ensure we make the right choice for ourselves and our families, it is helpful to consider the other benefits and possible setbacks to your new location.


If you work an hour away from your home, it may be worth it. However, review the traffic patterns in the area. If you are out the door at 7am but so is everyone else in the area, that hour could quickly turn into 2 hours or more. If you take public transportation to work, factor in the schedule and the amount of people boarding at that time. Noone wants to be packed like sardines or standing before or after a long day.


Are there any scenic locations in the area? A mountain view, a lake nearby, hiking trails, even a community park. Even if you can’t see it from your front or backyard, it’s good to know you have a place to clear your mind in nature. It is actually called nature therapy and research has shown it had benefits for both your mental and physical health.


Casually observe your neighbors and the surrounding homes in the community. The upkeep of their homes may not be as important as getting to know who they are. Communities of every kind have their fair share of habits, schedules and even personal problems. No one is perfect but you may not want the noisy neighbor next door staring through your sliding glass doors or the rebellious teenager down the street vandalising the street signs. It can be difficult to know this when you first settle into a new home. Conversations with people in town and sometimes the realtor will give you the scoop beforehand.


Explore the area. Take a drive around to see what stores and businesses are close by. Even a bike ride instead of driving will help you see the town from another perspective. If you have to drive 45 minutes to an hour to buy groceries every week or the nearest hospital is painstakingly far away, weigh your options. This is especially true if you have small children or seniors living with you.


Wildlife in the area can actually play a much larger role than you imagined possible. Deers can eat plants and crops and bears can be too close for comfort. Other insects and animals in the area such as mosquitos, scorpions, lizards, squirrels, birds, among many others can impact your home and yard if not accounted for beforehand.

Can you see yourself here for the long term?

Picture you and your family 5 to 10 years from now. Just because you take a mortgage on a home doesn’t mean you have to live there forever. However, uprooting from place to place every few years may not be your goal. If you are planning to start a family in the next couple of years, look at schools in the area as if your children were already born. If you ever had to switch jobs, be sure there are other options within practical commuting distance.

You may not be able to make every mark with flying colors. It is best to see what you can and cannot do without to live a comfortable and prosperous life in your new home!

7 Creepy Plants for Your Halloween Garden

It may not be the flesh eating plant from the movie Little Shop of Horrors, but you can creepify your exterior design with these scary plants for halloween or anytime of year!

1. The Devil’s Tooth

Devil’s Tooth

This “bleeding” blob looks like a creature straight from another planet. It is actually a woodland mushroom. When it is healthy, it oozes red liquid droplets as if it were dripping blood.

2. Shame Plant aka Humble Plant

Shame Plant or Humble Plant

For a little extra fun this Halloween, try adding the infamous shame plant to your garden. At first glance, there is nothing to be afraid of. However, upon touching the plant, it appears to shrivel up and die! It mysteriously retakes form only several minutes later. Definitely a trickster!

3. Brain Cactus

Brain Cacti

This creepy cacti resembles the fold and contours of a human brain. Although, from its distinctly green hue, it looks more like the brain of zombie. It grows low to the ground both indoors and outdoors.

4. Venus Flytrap

Venus Fly Trap

This carnivorous plant is the closest resemblance to the plant from Little Shop of Horrors. While it does not eat humans, it does have teeth-like needles that chomp down on insects, bugs and other tiny critters.

5. Cobra Plant

Cobra Plant

Another carnivorous plant that enjoys eating insects. The cobra plant resembles the heads of cobra snakes ready to pounce on their next meal.

6. Black Bat Flowers

Black Bat Flowers

These dark purple flowers resemble the wings of a bat with the long tentacles of an extraterrestrial creature. They are otherworldly.

7. Chinese Lanterns

Chinese Lanterns

These strange plants resemble tiny pumpkins when they start growing. As they mature, the orange shell decays and leaves behind a skeleton. The berries inside of them look like they are trapped inside of a ghostly cage.

Who needs decorations when you have carnivorous plants and jaw-dropping flowers around your home? Make your Halloween garden the creepiest in the neighborhood this year with these scary plants!

10 Easy Ways to Create Your Own Haunted House

If you celebrate Halloween chances are you have been to creepy haunted house in October. Some haunted houses have elaborate themes and live actors planted throughout to scare you when you least expect it. This year, you may want to create your own haunted house. There are a few easy ways to get you started!

1. Cover all of your furniture with “blood-stained” white sheets.

A really quick and easy solution to giving your house a spooky look is by covering the furnishings. It isn’t exactly scary walking into a modern home unless you have chocolate brown and navy blue upholstery in the same room! Yikes! Take white sheets and using a splatter technique with fake blood or even blood toned spray paint, make them look like a murder scene. Then cover all of your furnishings with the “blood stained” sheets.

2. Use creepy lighting around the house.

Lighting goes a long way especially in haunted house design. No one is scared in a well-lit room unless they are afraid of hospitals. Keep the lights dim. Use green, purple, red or orange lights or replace the lightbulbs with these colors for a spooky look. You can even opt for black lights for an illusory experience.

3. Fog or Smoke machines

Smoke machines make it difficult to see into the distance and sometimes directly in front of you. They add mystery and illusion to the space. Making the surroundings unclear and creating apprehension for what might be lurking around the corner!

4. Haunting Music

A scary soundtrack can really make a strong impact in a haunted house. You can even make your own with a low-toned voice, overlapping whispers or intermittent shrieks and screams. You can even find some vintage ambience oldies from the 1920s – 1940s softly playing in the background.

5. Mirrors

Trickery of the eye is one of the many creepy features of a good haunted house. By placing mirrors throughout the space you can angle them to confuse visitors or for visitors to see things from the corner of their eye. Be sure to cover the edges of the mirrors with black sheets or fabric if placed in a dark room.

6. Scary Surprises

Motion sensored decorations can mimic the unexpected actors often found in professional haunted houses. Place a motion sensored ghoul or talking witch directly around the corner from one room to the next. They will experience a spooky startle and even feel slight apprehension as they make their way into another room.

7. Stage a theme

Staging a theme isn’t necessary but it can make things easier. You can turn your haunted home into a murder scene with blood splatter and chalk outlines on the floor. Try a mental asylum with torture tools and bloody doctors equipment laying around. Even a witches chamber with a smokey cauldron in the center and glowing elixirs on shabby tables. It is your choice if you want to stage a theme or create a free form haunted house.

8. “STAY OUT” rooms

If you can’t turn every room in the house into a creepy theme, use the extra rooms as “stay out” rooms. Nothing takes the illusion away like venturing into a “normal” room in a haunted house. Be sure to lock the doors to the rooms that aren’t decorated. Add creepy lighting that can be seen from the door with a soundtrack playing in the room. You can even add caution tape or a sign that reads “STAY OUT.” They may try to enter the room, only to find something terrifying is happening on the other side.

9. Inviting Visitors

You may put time and effort into turning your space into a haunted home. If no one visits, than what is the point? Be sure to get the word out to family, friends and neighbors. Don’t forget to make a large sign reading “HAUNTED HOUSE” or “COME INSIDE IF YOU DARE” posted to the front of your house with an arrow pointing inside for trick-o-treaters. You want others to enjoy the scary scene you worked hard on! CAUTION: Always consider what is age appropriate too. You may want to wait until later in the evening for the older kids before inviting youngsters into your haunted house!

10. Be sure to get into character

The smiling face and friendly wave you usually give to neighbors won’t fly in a haunted house. Choose a creepy costume. Be sure to choose a character and costume that fits in with your staged theme, if you choose one. Don’t break character unless you have to!

Creating your very own haunted house is a fun way to celebrate the Halloween holiday. You can keep your home staged for one night only or for the entire month of October!

Top 6 Gothic Modern Furniture and Decor Mashup

The month of October calls for shoutouts to the top gothic modern furniture and decor for your home and office. Trust us, this blend of spooky and sleek is just what the dead doctor ordered for Halloween. The best part is, our top 6 picks will look good in a variety of settings for anytime of the year.

1. Gracie Velvet Wingback Chair

This absolutely stunning chair is upholstered in smooth velvet with a Beetlejuice black-n-white striped print and an elegant wingback form. The Gracie Velvet Wingback Chair combines gothic shape with contemporary upholstery.

2. Logan Velvet sofa

Logan Sofa

Smooth and soft velvet is fine to the touch and alluring to the eye. Straight out of a gothic romantic novel, the Logan Sofa is fully upholstered in velvet with classic button tufting and contemporary clean lines.

3. Phantom chairs

Phantom Stacking Armchair

Now you see them, now you don’t. Phantom Chairs are transparent with an ergonomic form, these chairs bring illusion to your interior design.

4. Le Corbusier La Chaise

Le Corbusier La Chaise

This chaise lounger, designed by famous mid-century modern designer, Le Corbusier, resembles a creepy patient chair found in a physician’s office. Although widely popular due its comfortable and modern design, the Le Corbusier La Chaise is perfect to lounge around on or to scare your friends when they come over!

5. String Pendant Lamp

String Pendant Lamp

This hanging pendant lamp resembles the dynamic birdnest of a dark raven. The String Pendant Lamp has a bold and chaotic pattern in a perfectly spherical shape. An exceptional blend of dark and light in one lamp.

6. Octopus Shelf Decor Figurine

Octopus Shelf Decor Figurine

This mysterious 8-legged creature has been turning over ships and scaring sea goers for centuries. The Octopus Shelf Decor Figurine adds a bright accent to your decor in cast iron with a pewter finish while remembering the dark beings that lurk in the depths of the ocean.

Our top 6 picks of gothic modern furniture and home decor blends the new with the old, the classic with the modern and the spooky with the serene.