Halloween Spiced Pumpkin Donut Spiders Nests

Halloween Spiced Pumpkin Donut Spiders Nests

All right ladies and gentlemen, hold onto your witches hats as I present to you my super spooky spiced pumpkin flavoured Spiders Nests! Baked donuts seem to be all the rage at the moment and my mum is producing some pretty delicious ones out of her kitchen… so I have decided to jump on board, get creative, experiment and create my very own Halloween themed baked donuts.These are the perfect show stopping treat for any spooky celebration!
Spiced Pumpkin is not a very common flavour in Australia, but seems to be dominating my Instagram and Pinterest news feeds thanks to all of my American friends! I have developed this recipe with a subtle spiced pumpkin flavour that gives the donuts a brilliantly vibrant, perfectly halloween orange colour! Then to top things off a caramel glaze onto to really compliment and sweeten the spiced pumpkin donut.

Halloween Spiced Pumpkin Donut Spiders Nests
For this recipe I knew I wanted to develop a pumpkiney delight…. but if you are like me and live in Australia, getting your hands on tinned pumpkin is unfortunately not such an easy task. For this recipe I followed the queen of all thing butter, baking and blogging: Ree Drummond’s “The Pioneer Woman” Pumpkin Puree.. if you are lucky enough to grab some canned stuff, then by all means go ahead and use it!

Halloween Spiced Pumpkin Donut Spiders NestsAlso I completely understand that I am always up for a challenge, however if all of this pumpkin and spices are too much for you… a simple packet cake will also do the trick! Chocolate mud cake or a basic vanilla with caramel glaze would be just as good! Baked donuts are all the rage at the moment, so there are plenty of donut pans around… I piked mine up from good old Big W!

For my cute little chocolate spiders I melted some good quality dark chocolate and popped it into a piping bag with just the very tip cut off. To make things easier I took the time to draw some spider patterns on the underside of my baking paper, that way all I had to do was follow the lines! Give them a good amount of time to set and firm up before trying to remove them from the baking paper.

Halloween Spiced Pumpkin Donut Spiders Nests

How cute are they!!….. don’t look too close, I haven’t followed the lines very well!

Halloween Spiced Pumpkin Donut Spiders Nests

It is always fun to jump into the kitchen and push my boundaries… I must admit I had a few goes at this recipe before I was happy with it! Working with the spice pumpkin was very different as well as being new at baked donuts. It is an honour and my greatest happiness to develop and share with you all my recipes and I hope you enjoy. Let me know below in the comments your thoughts on my latest creation.

Have a beautifully “spooky” weekend everyone.

Much love,

xxx Holly

Spiced Pumpkin Donut Spiders Nests

  • Servings: 12 Donuts
  • Time: 1 hr prep 20 cooking
  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Print

Halloween Spiced Pumpkin Donut Spiders Nests


Spice Pumpkin Donuts:

  • 1 1/2 cups plain flour
  • 1 tsp Baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  •  1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree *see notes*
  • 2 Tbs butter melted
  • 1/4 cup butter milk

Caramel Icing:

  • 1 CupBrown Sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 Tbs Butter
  • 1 1/2 cups icing sugar (powdered sugar)
  • 2 Tbs Milk

Spiders Nest Decoration:

  • 100g Dark Chocolate
  • 1 packet of Persian Fairy Floss


  1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Prepare 2 donut pans by well greasing all donut holes with butter or canola spray
  2. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and all spices into the bowl of an electric mixer
  3. Add sugar, egg, pumpkin, melted butter and buttermilk
  4. Mix on medium speed until all ingredients are combined
  5. Spoon into prepared donut baking pans and bake for 9-10 minutes
  6. Remove from pan  and place on a wire wrack to cool
  7. For the Caramel Icing: In a medium saucepan, bring sugar, and water to a boil over medium
  8. Remove from heat and add chopped  butter, stirring to incorporate.
  9. Whisk in milk and icing sugar until smooth- mixture should be a thick yummy icing.
  10. Top each donut with Persian fairy floss and chocolate spiders (See notes above for instructions on chocolate spiders)

* For this recipe I knew I wanted to develop a pumpkiney delight…. but if you are like me and live in Australia, getting your hands on tinned pumpkin is unfortunately not such an easy task. For this recipe I followed the queen of all thing butter, baking and blogging: Ree Drummond’s “The Pioneer Woman” Pumpkin Puree.. if you are lucky enough to grab some canned stuff, then by all means go ahead and use it!

Hand Painted Birthday Wrapping

Birthday Wrapping Hand Painted

I know I have said it before.. but let me tell you again… I LOVE BIRTHDAYS!

Tomorrow is my big brothers birthday and I love to make things special for him. I have a passion and real talent for gift giving , it is something that I take great pride in!… from the thought out personalised present right down to the detail in the wrapping, ribbon and hand made card (it is something I get from my Mumma). My brother is also a pretty good gift giver and even better at creatively wrapping gifts so the pressure is always on to impress him.

To be perfectly honest this project came about out of pure laziness. It is drizzling with rain out side and I was procrastinating walking up to the shops to purchase some wrapping paper. I also hate how expensive and often boring wrapping paper can be. So I was inspired to grab out my watercolours and art paper and have a muck around with making some personalised, hand painted wrapping paper. I must say I am extremely happy with the results! I don’t know why I have not thought of this earlier.

Birthday Wrapping Hand Painted

Birthday Wrapping Hand Painted

Well what do you think? What a simple and cheap project that looks brilliant right? I am so excited to give this pretty little present to my brother tomorrow for him to open!! Yay to birthdays..

I am going to get busy  working on some christmas designed wrapping paper and share with you all soon!

Hope you are all having a beautiful Wednesday!

Lots of love

xxx Holly

The Australian Desert

“The Sunburnt Country”

Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park

This post is not promoting anything, its not teaching you how to cook something, its not even really a story… it purely is just a reflection on my time exploring the Australian red desert.

It’s known as the place where you explore in your “later years”. The place that gathers grey nomads form afar, with their camper vans, decked head to toe in Kathmandu gear, traveling roughly 20km under the recommended speed limit and dodging the indigenous population at all cost…. This was my previous ignorant opinion of Central Australia. Like many others my age the concept of travel and “discovering the world” has previously had absolutely nothing to do with Australia. The furthest corners of the earth has been where I have had my eyes set on.. Saving every penny to purchase the dearest ticket, to shoot myself into the sky and sit cramped up for stupidly long periods of time… all for the excitement of exploration. New experiences, new insights to spirituality, new beautiful things to photography and more importantly new and interesting things to eat. I am talking any country that reflects nothing of my own culture.. France, Spain, Greece, Vietnam,… for gosh sake I even wanted to go to India this year! Anything to submerge myself somewhere as far from my reality as possible.

I, like so many other Australians have always said “I would like to see Uluru.. some day.. it’s on the to do list”. Well we all know that “some day” is not a day of the week, so I was very happy and extremely blessed to be given the opportunity to travel with my family on a discovery to the unknown Australian desert.

To be perfectly honest, before leaving I was looking forward to spending time with family, and mildly excited to see this giant rock that school so frequently banged on about, but to say I was extremely excited would very much be a lie. Maybe this was partly the reason I was so over come and impacted by what I discovered in the centre of Australia.

So what did I discover you ask?…. where do I start. I guess I feel that I found the true essence of Australia, the heart of this beautiful country that I call home. Growing up on the east coast of Australia I have a wonderful appreciation for Australia’s magnificent beaches and city life. I have snorkelled The Great Barrier Reef and been fortunate enough to travel a little to realise that Australia really has the most beautiful beaches in the world, (minus the sharks and lots of deadly stingy things!!).. but like many other countries to discover there are beaches and cities alike nearly everywhere you go. My father has a fantastic habit when he travels to compare wherever we are to a familiar place, suburb or location from home.. and often he is bang on.. “this is like the Darling Harbour of Vancouver” or “this is like the Newtown of New York”. Central Australia however is NOT somewhere you can compare to anywhere.. it truly is like a different world, almost like you have arrived on another planet.

Uluru-Kata Tjuta National ParkThe first thing that you very quickly notice when arriving in the Australian Desert is the magnificent colour. I have grown up reciting the famous line from Dorothea Mackellar’s poem “My Country”…. I love a sunburnt country, A land of sweeping plains. never has this had any relevance to me until I took a drive from Alice Springs to Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. The brilliant “sunburnt” red ( it really is the only way to describe it) of the sand contrasting with he vibrant blue sky is simply breathtaking. I was prepared with my beloved digital SLR camera to take a few great family shots on the trip, however became so mesmerised with how my camera was capturing the unbelievable colour of the landscape that I ended up taking over 600 shots within 5 days.. One very happy photographer.

Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park

Now the landscape is going to impress anyone alike, however the culture and spirituality in central Australia is what really knocked me for a six! From the moment I saw Uluru I got goose bumps. It is larger, more detailed, redder and certainly more impressive than anything I ever imagined. There sitting in the barren flat desert landscape is this 348 m tall sandstone formation (that is my very logical description of it). My first encounter of Uluru was at afternoon sunset drinks with the family, where the whole time I kept saying it looked like the back drop from a movie set that would be rolled away when our scene was finished.  I drove around Uluru, I rode a bike around Uluru, I walk up to it, viewed it at sunrise and viewed it at sunset.. the whole time all I could think was… HOW! How on earth has this beautiful rock formation come to be here, smack bang in the centre of Australia, 1000’s of years old. Taking the Uluṟu-Kata Tjuṯa National Park spiritual walk gave me a very open and different answer to my “how”. It wasn’t the scientific explanation, or the explanation from the time of white settlement but rather a snap shot into our indigenous ancestors incredible dream time stories, love and knowledge of this remarkable landmark. The respect and history for this powerfully beautiful rock from the Aboriginal culture is something that really resonated with me.

Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park

Now the issue that nearly everyone talks about when visiting Uluru and the most asked question for me when I returned was “Yeah but did you climb it!!”. Firstly when I initially saw the rope that you cling to for dear life to scale the side of Uluru, I thought you would bloody need rocks in your head to even think about it.. but after taking in spiritually everything Uluru had to offer and speaking with the local aboriginal cultural guide it quickly became very clear to me.. for the life of me I could not find one reason to or ever understand why anyone would be so disrespectful to walk, climb or even touch such a beautiful sacred and precious formation. There are so many stories to learn that I will not share with you in the hope that you will go and listen and learn and take it all in for yourself one day.. 

Central Australia is now high on my priorities to return to for some more new experiences, new insights to spirituality, new beautiful things to photography and more importantly new and interesting things to eat. It is funny how I thought these things were only possible to discover far away from home.. but now know they are in my very own back yard.

Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park

To finish this post I thought I would leave you with some more words from Dorothea Mackellar’s poem “My Country” that really resonated and reflected my new found love from the Australian Desert.

An opal-hearted country,
A wilful, lavish land –
All you who have not loved her,
You will not understand –
Though earth holds many splendours,
Wherever I may die,
I know to what brown country
My homing thoughts will fly.

Lots of love

xxx Holly

p.s here are a couple of beautiful new friends I made along the way!

IMG_9885 IMG_9940


Mudgee….. an old town with a buzzing with a great new vibe!

Someone please hit play on The Dixie Chicks because A Pretty Little Life is back on the road and in search of some more “Wide Open Spaces”…… this time …..destination Mudgee!Mudgee1Sit back, relax and breath in the goodness as I take you on my weekend away to the old town of Mudgee that is buzzing with a new vibe!

Mudgee_9161Mudgee is a quite country town located roughly 3½ hours drive north/west of Sydney. It was placed on the map as a booming town in the 1800’s as it was situated in the centre of the Australian Goldrush. Today it has a real rural vibe, but is filled with some great gastronomic experiences, trendy accommodation and has an array of excellent wineries to discover.

Where to Stay

Mudgee_8061I have stayed in some pretty beautiful places in my time… however Trelawney Farm would have to be one of the most uniquely beautiful place I have ever been fortunate enough to visit.Mudgee2-2

This 150 year old farm house is located only a few kilometres out of the centre of town, situated on 24 acres, Tralaeney Farm is the perfect house to relax, recuperate, celebrate, or if you are like my friends and I…. gather and catch up with some great food! With two well equipped kitchens, 5 bedrooms and enough quiet little spaces tucked away to relax in, you are sure to be swept into he eclectic energy this house has to offer…. my favourite quiet space was the outdoor bath (with hot water!!) aaahhhh sheer luxury.


I am absolutely kicking myself that I left my camera at home in the mad rush of trying to escape Sydney, but check out Trelawney Farms website for more photos of this beautiful homestead.Mudgee2

Where to Eat

How does a seven course degustation of delicately prepared meals from locally sourced produce sound?…. good right!

How does a seven course degustation of delicately prepared meals from locally sourced produce paired with matching wines sound?…. Too good to be true right!


Pipeclay Pumphouse I must say nearly is too good to be true.  Nestled into the landscape of Robert Steins Winery this restaurant is a jewel in the Mudgee area. The atmosphere is the perfect mix of rustic and sophistication which instantly makes you want to sit down and relax into the vibe. Each of the seven courses is an intricate, well thought out master piece of local ingredients displayed beautifully and paired perfectly with a glass of Robert Stein wine. I am always an advocate for dessert so I must make a special mention of the dark chocolate delice with caramelised banana, honeycomb, mascarpone and salted caramel served with a Robert Stein Rum Cask Tawny… ummm HEAVEN!! It was the perfect end to a very special meal.

Pipeclay Pumphouse is an absolute credit to the owner and chef Andy Crestani. He is an inspiring and talented man whose passion for good food is very evident. We were fortunate enough to chat to Andy when we returned for breakfast (seeking some more of that great quality food for the second time in a weekend!). Check out Pipeclay Pumphouse’s website for more details:


My favourite Wineries

I am by no means going to sit here and pretend that I am some big hot shot wine critic!… however I do appreciate a good glass of vino and a wine tasting is all about the atmosphere! These are my pick of the wineries to visit in Mudgee


An absolutely spectacular location with the most stunning architecturally designed space for wine tasting. I felt like I was on Grand Design a little! I bought a couple of bottle of the shiraz… it helped that they have very pretty bottle labels!  http://www.loganwines.com.au


I loved the whole experience at Peter Van Gent. The dark cellars makes you feel as you are instantly swept away to a french vineyard. The girls looked after us exceptionally well and were very accommodating to our large group.   http://www.pvgwinery.com


If you make a stop here be sure to try the sparkling red!!! AMAZING!! http://www.petersonswines.com.au


Robert Stein has a fantastic range of both young and mature wines. Whilst there you can also pick up some great cured pork products! http://www.robertstein.com.au

Places to Shop


If you are a fan of jute, wicker baskets or country chic fashion like myself.. Julie Thorsley is the place for you! I really could have done some serious damage in this beautiful store. http://juliethorsley.com


Trust me to find a cheese shop on my travels. High Valley have a small selection of great cheeses. Be sure to try the High Valley Mudgee Rouge!! (The closest I have found to my beloved French Epoisses!) http://www.highvalley.com.au/index.php


Our time in Mudgee was a weekend spent with great people, drinking brilliant wine, and eating even better food! Mudgee certainly is a little town in New South Whales that I will be returning to explore!IMG_8311

Dreaming of an outdoor bath today…..


Rocky Road Cupcakes….. with a little extra rock and a little extra road!!

Rocky Road CupcakesAll my spring baby friends have been keeping me very busy lately with birthday cakes galore!

Making cakes is always interesting and there is never ever a dull moment in a cake decorators life. I have learnt over many years of “caking” to expect that anything that could possibly go wrong, WILL go wrong.. and to just go with the flow. I am now a master of not only cake decoration but also in stress management, quick thinking, an expert in profound language and very very talented at balancing a cake in one hand whilst opening numerous doors all on roughly 2 hours of sleep! (I am going to start adding these serious talents to my resume) Any cake decorator out there will understand.

On this blog I am an open book and I aim to share with you all the happy and pretty moments in my life.. so it feels only natural to share with you when life throws me a little.. lets call it an “oopsie”.

These yummy chocolate birthday cupcakes are topped with a swirl of chocolate butter cream, a cluster of mini marshmallows, a scattering of red lollies and all drizzled with milk chocolate. These are my rocky road cupcakes..

Rocky Road Cupcakes

Now comes the humorous part of this story…. after spending hours perfecting these cupcakes very tired on Friday night, I was pretty chuffed with my efforts! A quick happy snap of them on Saturday morning and I was off with a skip in my step, bursting with excitement to share my pretty cupcakes with the birthday girl.. Balancing a cake stand under my arm, a box of cupcakes in my hand and a handbag is never and easy task so a friend was there to help….. (that’s what makes this even funnier) some how I didn’t quite clasp the locks on my cupcake carrier, so my perfect little cupcakes decided to take a swan dive from hip height out of the safety of their box an onto the footpath. Now because these cupcakes were stacked high with butter cream, marshmallows, lollies and chocolate they were very top-heavy (this makes for a very yummy cupcake/not such a great swan diver)…. consequently all twelve of my cakes landed on their heads 10 meters away from their final destination!

At this point looking down at the 12 dishevelled, smashed, sad looking cupcakes that had taken me hours of effort, love and enthusiasm to create.. I could have cried (well sobbed!). Just as I knelt down on my knees to pick up the mess I had made, a beautiful lady walked past, expressed her sympathy and said… “Don’t worry my darling, for ever negative thing in life, there will always be a positive”… What a fantastic attitude!! They are just cupcakes!.. sooo instead of fretting, I hysterically giggled at the unfortunate situation and then in true blogger style I reached for my phone and document my cupcake carnage!

smashed rocky road cupcake

My friends were happy to apply the 3 second rule to those cupcakes that weren’t so dishevelled and they were enjoyed immensely with a little extra rock and a scattering of dirt from the road. After 10 + years of making cakes, this was my first (and hopefully last) dropped cake. Tell me I am not the only one! Please make me feel better and comment below your disastrous cake stories.

I guess the lesson I am reminded of here is that no matter what you have to alway look on the bright side of life… I am very blessed!

lots of love





Pink Donut Birthday Cake

What’s the best thing about birthdays?….. BIRTHDAY CAKE!!

Being a cake decorator for so long, it often becomes a little hard to constantly come up with new and exciting cakes to impress my loved ones..

This cake was my weekend creation for that pink donut loving best friend of mine! It’s a very different style for me and quite liberating to get all messy and free!! It honestly has put a little “spring” into my cake making step!

Just couldn’t wait to share with you all!  


Carottes Râpées – Parisian Carrot Salad

Paris Carrot SaladIf you have not already noticed, my love for Food and France is probably what dominates  90% of “A Pretty Little Life’s” content. Well this post I hate to break it to you is no different!

Whilst in Paris we became very familiar with a carrot salad that we would see adorning the front windows of all the famous french rotisseries. Beautiful and vibrant looking this salad immediately caught our eyes and was enjoyed on numerous occasions during our stay in Paris.

The most memorable of these occasions would have to have been when I ate this this zesty salad with a falafel pita whilst exploring the Jewish quarter of Paris. We spotted people from streets away all carrying and indulging in these overflowing Pitas. We followed our noses and the trail of happy customers carrying pitas until we stumbles across L’As du Fallafel. It was there I had a broken conversation with the most delightful jewish man. We both could not speak each others languages, but some how managed to have a conversation expressing our love of food! This incredible pita was served to me chock a block full of zesty carrot salad, falafel and a combination of hummus, tahini and a sauce I can’t quite put my finger on…. yum!! It was the perfect blend of cultural cuisine.


Since returning from our European holiday we constantly try and find foods similar to those we ate on our travels. Although we are yet to find a falafel pita anywhere near as good as our Parisian experience, I have been able to recreate our favourite zesty carrot salad from inside it.

We have this simple and tasty salad in my house a couple of times a week. It is quick, yummy and I pretty much always have the ingredients on hand ready to go!

Here is my recipe for Parisian Carrot Salad or

Carottes Râpées

(Parisian Carrot Salad)


  • 4 carrots
  • 2 Tbs fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • a splash of verjuice (optional)
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbs honey
  • Big pinch of salt
  • cracked black pepper
  • a good handful of flat leaf parsley chopped finely


Wash, peel and grate your carrots. You may do this the old fashioned way with a grater or use an attachment on your food processor. I have recently bought a veggetti (I love it!!) purely for this salad.

Prepare the salad dressing by combining all other ingredients in a glass. Whisk to combine.

Dress the salad just before serving so that the carrots remain crunchy and beautiful.