Quick Post

Quick Post

Can it really be almost three weeks since I posted?  I am so slack!  But I’ve been so busy!  And tired!  And ticked off at work!  And lots of other things that end in an exclamation mark!  I’ve been coming home and falling asleep and have just been too tired to think straight, let alone post anything coherent or interesting.
I can’t say this post will be any better, but, at least, it’s SOMETHING.

I’ve been doing lots of op-shopping on the weekends, and gardening and making some crafty bits in the in-between times.  Some of my op-shop finds include :

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…this awesome fabric.  It’s blue and white (hard to see in the photo) and a nice thick, good quality material that I want to make a skirt from.  I got about 15 metres for $5!  Pretty good!  There’s enough there to make cushions and all sorts from it.  I have visions of myself parading about in a Von Trapp manner, looking like I am wearing curtains…

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…also picked up this delightful little Christmas scene.  Hand-painted and slightly age-worn, I just loved it and look forward to decorating with it at Christmas time.  Only $4…

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…made this necklace for the lovely SH as part of a craft swap I did with her…

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…and completed this glass, crystal and porcelain bead necklace (love the purples)…

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…I’ve been working on some friendship bracelets for my friend K – she wanted some in bright, fluoro colours so I chose a neon red and a yellow (they’re brighter in real life than in the photo).  I haven’t made a friendship bracelet since about 1989, but I found that I soon remembered the knotting technique and got stuck into in whilst watching TV…

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…I also made her this polished stone, coral and glass beaded bracelet (she wanted one for a friend at work)..

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…then quickly made these crystal earrings (using the beads from a bracelet I bought a couple of weeks ago)…

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…this little owl bracelet is for my cousin.  She saw one I had made for K and wanted one in green for herself.  Ask and you shall receive…

And then, I’ve been gardening, or, at least, planting lots of succulents and trying to propagate little cuttings and off-shoots.  It’s so exciting when the little babies appear and you can start off a whole new plant.  I had to buy myself a shelving unit to house them in because my front porch has limited space and if I put them out the back I will forget all about them.  At least if they’re by the front door, I have to go past them everyday and notice if they need anything like water, or more sun or shade or if they just need some conversation ha ha (yes, I am one of those crazy people  who talk to their plants!).

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Just look at some of the amazing colours they are displaying!  So pretty and each one unique.  I am still learning though and managed to kill one little specimen last week.  I think I overwatered him.  Never mind – the rest are doing fine and growing and looking happy 🙂

Sorry about the quick post – I promise to do better in the coming weeks.  Work has been so busy and stressful and I am just over everything by the time I get home.  I went to the hospital this morning for my 6 month renal check up and all is well so I don’t have to go back for another year now.  Good news 🙂

Hope you are all well and filling your lives with much more interesting pursuits than work! (Unless you have an awesome job – in which case, keep doing that!).

Bye for now (and a promise for better posts in the future)

x

Raspberry & Pear Loaf (a rewind-post)

Raspberry & Pear Loaf (a rewind-post)

[I found this post in my drafts folder from June…I don’t know why I didn’t publish it at the time…or maybe I did and it just isn’t coming up in my searches.  Weird.  It is quite likely I just didn’t like the photos of the finished loaf so I scrapped the whole thing.  Or I just forgot.  Or some crisis popped up and I lost my brain for a few days.  Who knows?  Anyway, here is a recipe for Raspberry and Pear Loaf.  It was alright from memory :)]

Ahhh…full tummy…can’t move…must digest…

Just got back from a very lovely dinner with some equally lovely friends of mine at one of our favourite restaurants nearby, The Dux.  So delicious.  L, K and I were co-workers for years and have remained good friends – L was actually my boss for quite some time but I think, even from the very start, we were friends and I sort of see her as a second Mum.  We try and catch up every couple of months, either for a lunch or a dinner, or sometimes just a quick coffee (and probably cake – let’s be honest!) and always have a good natter and share all our news and gossip.

We have been to the Dux before (I myself have been there LOTS of times, for breakfast mostly) and love their menu.  We always take forever to decide what to have but usually go for an entree rather than a main, so we can have dessert.  The entrees themselves are pretty substantial and filling enough on their own.  Tonight, K and I had the Caramelised Fig and Persian Feta Tart.  Oh so yummy.  It is served with a green salad and extra bits of feta and caramelised onion.  L had seared scallops which was served on a bed of pulled pork, with julienned pieces of apple.  It looked delicious, even to a non-meat-eater like me.  We also had some dips and different breads and some seasonal steamed veggies to share.  We always say we’re not going to overdo it and then we do anyway ha ha.

We also said we would be good and not get dessert tonight.  Pfft, who were we kidding?!  K and L just had a tiny serving of biscotti and house truffles.  Me, I went the whole hog and got the Peanut Butter Parfait with Salted Caramel Peanuts, Chocolate Sorbet and Goats Milk Yoghurt.  I mean, why wouldn’t you???  I didn’t eat the chocolate sorbet (no choccy for me – it was bad enough I was having peanuts) but the tiny bit I tasted on my spoon was so dark and bitter – it would have been lovely but it was just too much choccy for my little kidney to deal with.  The parfait though – oh Mylanta! – so scrumptious!  It was so yummy – I really just wanted the rest of the room to melt away and leave me and my tastebuds to be alone together.  It was heaven.  And I don’t feel a bit guilty.  Well, maybe a bit but it WAS delicious.  What made the meals even better was that we had a discount card for the restaurant and so we paid a paltry sum for our wonderful meal.  I hadn’t eaten much all day so my tummy was happy (though groaning ever so slightly).

I actually had to go to the dentist again today as my temporary crown had come loose in the night.  It’s been re-cemented on now and will hopefully hold on if I am careful.  Which I thought I had been, as I have been mostly having soft food and soups all week.  Oh well, hopefully my dentist isn’t psychic – he doesn’t need to know about the peanut butter…actually, don’t tell my renal specialist either.

On the weekend, I baked a Raspberry & Pear Loaf to take to my friend CW’s.  My oven is retarded.  I know you’re not supposed to use that word anymore, but, seriously, it is the only word that applies to my oven.  Things that should take 25 minutes (e.g. this loaf) take an hour.  Other things burn in half the time they should have taken to bake.  It’s rubbish.  But I persevere in the hope that I will figure it out one day or find a recipe that corresponds to its perverse and uncooperative nature.
(post script : I just re-read the recipe and it actually says “bake for 1 hour, 25 minutes…” so d’oh!  I am the mentally challenged one here, not my poor oven…)

I took the leftovers to work yesterday and they were gobbled up by everyone.  People said it was nice so I am including the recipe here.  If your oven works like an oven should do, the loaf will probably turn out even better than mine did.  It’s a fairly easy recipe (thanks, Australian Home Beautiful) and makes quite a large loaf.  Give it a try…

Raspberry & Pear Loaf

2 cups self-raising flour
1 cup plain flour
1 tsp bicarb soda
3/4 cup caster sugar
825g can pear halves, drained (juice reserved)
125g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup frozen raspberries

Preheat oven to 160 C.  Grease and line a deep loaf tin with baking paper.
Sift flours and bicarb into a large bowl.  Stir in sugar.  Puree half the pears in 1/2 cup of the reserved juice.
Put pear puree, butter, eggs and vanilla in a separate bowl and whisk until smooth.
Make a well in the dry ingredients and stir in puree mixture until just combined.
Roughly chop remaining pears and stir into batter with raspberries until just combined.
Spoon mixture into loaf tin.  Bake for 1hr and 25 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the loaf comes out clean.
Allow to stand in tin for 15 minutes, then invert onto a cooling rack.
Cut into slices whilst still warm and serve with butter if desired.

Voila!

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Pots and Such (Another Adventure in Op-Shopping Land)

Pots and Such (Another Adventure in Op-Shopping Land)

Hi everybody! I hope your week has gotten off to a good start. I am gearing up for yet another move at work in the next couple of days and I am very tempted to either hide under my desk until it is all over or move interstate. I can’t wait for everything to be back in its rightful place, neatly organised (or not-so-neatly, I’m not fussy, as we all know), all the library books back on their shelves instead of packed in boxes all over the place, and to be able to run an efficient service again without having to tell people that we can’t access things at the moment. I don’t want to leave the other office though – I like it there with all my colleagues and will miss them (such a sap!) and the sound of chatter and laughter during the day. Hopefully I can make regular visits to see them and ensure the resources there are kept up-to-date and current.

I did do a spot of op-shopping on the weekend. I always call it a “spot” of op-shopping… Why don’t I just say I ran rampant in a few op-shops and emptied my purse? That would be more realistic. I didn’t buy clothes which is a miracle, but lots of china and pottery including a little, vintage porcelain brooch – which I promptly dropped as soon as I got it home and now it is chipped in several places (I am telling myself that it was already chipped and I failed to notice in the shop). This is also the only decent photo I took of anything so be prepared for a less than award-winning photography performance…

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I bought a few different receptacles for succulents including….

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…this cute pottery mug – the colours will go nicely with an aeonium (with it’s pink and yellow-tinged leaves).
Don’t think I am all up on the names of these things; I just had to look that up 🙂

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…these pottery bowls – so nice! I’ve decided to keep them for me and use them in the kitchen. I’ve already had my soup in them as pictured in my last post.
They were only about 25c each so I couldn’t pass them up (well, I could have, but I didn’t!)…

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…this little gobletty-thing. I don’t know what it is, really. I guess it could be a candle holder thingy. I’m going to call it a goblet.
If you know what it is, please tell me so I don’t look like a dufus (any more than usual). It’s made in Ireland and I really just liked the colours…

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…these ceramic clogs! So daggy and twee! But they will look cute with a little succulent in them, right? Not my kind of colours (a lime green clog? I don’t think so…) but they might go with someone else’s decor, you never know…

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…a couple of little white pots. Cacti and succulents always look nice in a fresh white pot, so I picked these up for a cheap price. The smaller one is made in Portugal…

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…I loved this sugar bowl. I’ve always liked this design – 70’s Figgjo Flint, Tor Viking – and this little vintage piece was in really good condition, no chips or cracks.
It was only $3.25 too… They had matching cups and saucers but I controlled myself ha ha… I’ll keep this piece for myself though…not planting anything in that!

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…of course I bought beads (that goes without saying). I found a couple of necklaces that had awesome beads and they were colours or shapes
I didn’t already have anything similar to…these blue/green cubed wooden ones were great and plenty of them on long lengths…

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…they came in a bundle with this necklace, which I probably wouldn’t have picked up on its own (turquoise – I think I have enough of that…
but can you ever have enough turquoise?) but I will use the beads nevertheless…

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…these ethnic-looking beads were perfect, especially as they are lighter in colour than the typically dark wood ones I always seem to get.
The pale terracotta shade is really nice with the white detailing…

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…LOVED this necklace with it array of pretty lampwork beads in shades of green and I’ve already made a pair of earrings with them…

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So, a pretty good afternoon of treasure hunting and actually not much money spent as most things were marked down from their already ridiculously low prices. I’m going to stop looking for and buying pots etc soon – the succulent “thing” is shaping up to be a bit of a fad/phase for me and I haven’t even potted any up yet (although my lovely cousin gave me a load of cuttings and leaves to propagate last night…) so I’d better start growing some before I buy any more containers to put them in. I do like the idea of plants that are hard to kill though…and if you can plant them in cute little pots, all the better!

What do you look for when op-shopping/thrifting? Do you only go for clothes or like looking at lots of different things? Do you go in with a budget, or just wing it? Do you share your favourite spots with friends, or do you keep the locations secret? I’d love to know your op-shopping “style”…

Have a lovely day, everyone x

Carrot, Ginger and Honey Soup

Carrot, Ginger and Honey Soup

Another Sunday night has rolled around and I am in my usual state of panic about all that I haven’t achieved over the weekend.  I had such plans but they fell by the wayside as I ended up spending time with friends instead.  Which was lovely and I am by no means complaining.  At all.  But I sometimes despair at my lack of organisational skills and inability to follow plans.  Or to even make them to begin with.  Never mind, time spent with friends as wonderful as mine is never a waste of time and I have done lots of well-needed talking, venting and just interacting with other human beings.  It’s been a bit of a emotionally heavy week and by Friday I was not in a good way.
When you find yourself sitting on the floor, sobbing your eyes out whilst watching a movie, you know that maybe you need some emotional support and care.
When that movie is something as dreadful as “Eat, Pray, Love”, there is no hope for you and you must seek help.  Quickly.  Go now!

But I tried hard to get a few things done this weekend so I wouldn’t feel guilty by Monday morning.  I painted and varnished a few more of the little blobby wooden brooches (which seem to get worse the more I paint so I am stopping now and relinquishing all hope of ever being good at painting. Even if it’s just blobs of paint, I still manage to make them messy blobs).  I made some earrings and finished off a bracelet for my friend K, worked on some sketches for another project I have in the works, and started putting together a few bits for a craft swap I am doing.

This evening I thought it would be a good idea to make some dishes that I could divide up and freeze, to see me through the week at work so I never have that late night panic about what I am going to eat the next day.  I made Tofu Burgers, a mushroom and eggplant risotto (based on the recipe HERE) and this yummy soup (recipe courtesy of Real Living magazine) which was very simple to make and surprisingly delicious.  Well, not THAT surprising – I mean, what’s not to love about carrot, ginger and honey as a combination?  Yum!  Anyway, the soup simmered away as the burgers and risotto baked in the oven and now all I have to do is clear the kitchen up.  Ugh.  That’s the worst part about cooking – the mess that comes with it.  Never mind, you should try this soup as it is basically a one pot wonder and very tasty, healthy and doesn’t have too many ingredients.

Carrot, Ginger and Honey Soup

INGREDIENTS

2 tbsp olive oil
1 brown onion, diced
2 tbsp grated fresh root ginger
500g carrots, peeled & chopped roughly
1 tbsp mild-flavoured honey
1 lemon, juiced (I must admit I didn’t use lemon in mine – I didn’t have any!  I put a tablespoon or so
of white wine vinegar in instead to add some zing – it seemed to work well but next time I will use lemon…)
Salt & ground black pepper
400ml boiling water (I used vegetable stock and omitted the salt above)
40g butter, diced
Handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped

METHOD

Heat olive oil in saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and cook for about 5 mins, or until soft and translucent.

Add ginger and cook for a further 2 mins. Stir well. Add carrots, honey, lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Stir.

Add boiling water to soup ingredients. Reduce heat to low and cook for 35 mins.

Transfer to blender. Drop in butter cubes and blend until smooth and creamy.

Serve in mugs or bowl with a sprinkling of chopped parsley on the top.

Enjoy!
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PS The bowl was one of a set I bought at the op-shop yesterday (more on that later) for only 25 cents a piece.  Crazy price but lovely little bowls (which will help me with my portion control which has, of late, become rather uncontrolled).  I wasn’t going to keep them for myself but I rather like them and they’re my favourite combination of colour – blue and brown – so they will most likely stay with me.
Hope you all had a lovely weekend, spent with friends and family and yummy things to eat 🙂