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Green Bean and Corn Succotash

During the Easter weekend, I spent time with family which, of course, means the over-consumption of food.  Not wanting to contribute to the fat-fest that is Easter (and thus contribute to the size of my thighs) I decided to make some slightly healthier (but also tasty) options for our family gathering.  I quickly made a Tuna Loaf , which everyone always enjoys and, if there’s leftovers, can be eaten the next day and freezes well too.

I then thought about making a salad.  Now, I eat salad pretty much every single day.  Which can get a little bit dull, to be honest.  I didn’t want to make the usual lettuce-cucumber-tomato scenario, so I went with this yummy Green Bean and Corn Succotash.  My ex Mother-in-Law used to make this for me whenever we got together for a family event.  It is fresh and vibrant and so colourful.  This isn’t her exact recipe – I haven’t been able to find her original one (which I put somewhere very safe and now, well, you can guess the rest) but it is pretty close and I reckon, with some tweaking, one day I might replicate hers exactly.  In the meantime, I will enjoy some delicious trial and error 🙂

This recipe, below, is adapted from Celebratemag.com

Ingredients

350g green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1 small red onion, diced

3 cups corn kernels (fresh, or frozen, drained and cooled)

1/2 red capsicum, diced

1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs: parsley, basil, or cilantro

2 tablespoons white-wine vinegar

1 teaspoon sugar (start with 1/2 tsp, then add other half if you think it needs it!)

1 teaspoon wholegrain mustard

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Method

  1. In a medium saucepan, cook green beans in boiling, salted water until bright green and barely tender, 2 minutes. Plunge beans into ice water to stop the cooking process; drain well on paper towels.
  2. Sauté diced onions until softened, 3 to 4 minutes, in the 2 tbs olive oil. Transfer to a large bowl, and let cool.
  3. Add corn, beans, capsicum and herbs to onions, tossing to combine;
  4. In a small jar, combine remaining 1/4 cup olive oil, vinegar, sugar, salt, mustard, and pepper; cover and shake to blend. Dressing can be made up to 1 day ahead and stored at room temperature.
  5. Just before serving, cover, and shake dressing jars to blend; drizzle on salads.

Voila!  Yummy, healthy and a bit of a change from a boring green salad.

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Thank you for popping in 🙂

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Being Yourself

Belated Happy Easter to you all 🙂  Did you indulge in a huge chocolate-fest, or were you restrained and just had a few little treats?  Did you spend time with family and friends, or take part in religious events?  Whatever you got up to, I hope you enjoyed yourselves and had a nice break.

I spent a lot of time with family and friends over the weekend, cleaned my house so it was fit for my Mum to visit and stay in for a couple of nights, and did some crafting.  I am still loving the Kelly Rae Roberts Unscripted series I have subscribed to.  It’s just makes me want to craft and create and DO STUFF.  I am nowhere near her standard of creativity and art, but it is very enjoyable just mucking about with paints and paper and having a go.  I am still rubbish at faces, but I keep trying and hope that some day I will get them just right!  If only people didn’t have eyes!  It would make everything so much simpler for me, at least in terms of drawing and painting (maybe not so much in real life though…) and I wouldn’t end up having tantrums, or just drawing a lot of people with closed eyes (which is my default position these days).

I had this little communion plaque (bought on a recent op-shopping trip for 50c) and I thought it would be perfect to paint over and repurpose.  It’s quite small – a little bigger than an iPhone – so perfect for me to do some crafting on!  Plus it had the little hanger on it so I didn’t need to worry about adding one myself.

I removed the picture that was already on it ( a communion poem and prayer) and sanded the wood back, then slapped on a layer of white Gesso, just to seal and give it a good working surface.  I then added paint in various colours to create a distressed, rubbed back look.  I used a soft green, some burgundy and a little bit of yellow – just dabbing and rubbing it on with my fingers.  When I was happy with the effect, I let it dry whilst figuring out what I was going to put on it.

I decided to draw my little lady on a separate piece of paper, paint her main features and then cut her out, to be glued and finished on the plaque itself.  I didn’t trust my drawing/painting skills to just add her straight to the wooden surface.  I adhered her with gel medium and then added flowers and wings cut from scrapbooking paper and vintage books.  The words were cut from old books or stamped (when I couldn’t find the word I wanted!) and I’m not quite satisfied with them, but they’re stuck on there now!  I might go over them with a bit of colour, just to make them look less “new” and pale.  I outlined here and there with black and white pencils to give some definition.

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I was a bit heavy-handed with the lady’s features – I was using a very fine black marker, but it was still too heavy.  I will do better next time! I’m happy with her top though – it came out very rustic looking and picks up the red colour in the background – and I’m glad I added the “me” heart as it needed an extra little something.

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So, all in all, I was pretty happy with my little lady.  I am trying to be myself and be ok with who that is.  Even if it means I am not the world’s greatest artist 🙂  I am still trying to find my “niche”, artistically speaking, so this is another part of the journey.  I will keep practicing faces and different techniques with paint and drawing and, in the meantime have a lot of messy fun doing it 🙂

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Thanks for stopping by – may you enjoy the freedom of being yourself,
whoever that is, today and always x

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Learn to Fly

Hello everyone!  Hope you’re having a lovely day 🙂  I had a very productive and pro-active weekend, tidying up and getting things sorted out.  I finally finished cleaning up my outdoor area (I have a sort of closed-in patio) so it is actually fit for human habitation and I moved my outdoor setting over so I could now sit and have a cup of tea and look at my plants and not battle spiders, cobwebs and general disorder.

I took a load of stuff to the op-shop (clothes I never wear and shoes I fall down in) and made plans for further de-cluttering and sorting.  It feels good to get some stuff done and not waste my weekend.  I have fallen in to a bit of a rut, not just creatively, but in all aspects of life, and things have gotten on top of me.  So I need to have a plan of action for each day.  That way, I can whittle away at all the big jobs, and they won’t seem so overwhelming.  I also need to stop being lazy 🙂

After tidying up and doing some housework (just a bit – let’s not crazy here!), I got stuck into some craft.  I have been so down in the dumps about my lack of creative ability that I really needed something to spur me on and get me fired up again.  I recently subscribed to Kelly Rae Roberts Unscripted video series and it’s been just the kick in the pants I needed.  She is such an inspiration – not just because her work is beautiful, but because she just goes with the flow and creates from the heart and doesn’t let mistakes and bad days get in her way.  If she makes a boo-boo, she either paints over it or makes it part of the design.  She creates for no one else but herself, and that’s what I need to do – stop thinking about what everyone else thinks.  I’m so glad I subscribed – I really had to think about spending the money, but I can cancel at any time and, if it makes me start creating and making art again, it is totally worth it.

I don’t want to copy Kelly Rae, but at the moment I am just drawing from her art and ideas to get me started again.  Sometimes you need to imitate before you instigate I guess!

So, with all of that in mind, I created this piece.  I am kinda happy with it.  I love the colours and the text and it all came together pretty easily (albeit with a lot of false starts and paint-overs!).  I tried not to overthink it, and just CREATE.  Afterwards, I sat up late, sketching out rough plans and ideas for more collages and pictures.  I feel like I am ready to start making stuff again.  My mojo might be returning at last!  This piece isn’t perfect by any means, but I’m so glad I got it done (and that it didn’t end up in the bin, which happens sometimes!).  I’m learning to fly again 🙂

Thanks for stopping by x

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Super Simple Banana Bread

My workplace has a “health and wellness” program, that includes providing the staff with a box of fruit each week (to encourage us to eat healthily and not rely on the coffee van for cakes, muffins and sweets).  Inevitably, there is some fruit left at the end of each week, especially now that we have a lot less staff to eat it all.  So, I have been taking the leftovers home and making various baked goods with it.  I can’t stand the waste otherwise.  It might as well get eaten and not just thrown in the bin, right?

This week I had a few bananas that were overripe and needed using, so I made banana bread for my brother to take to his workplace for morning tea.  From one workplace to another – I don’t care who eats it, as long as someone does!

Here is my very easy-to-make, simple banana bread recipe.  It takes no time at all to whip up and is very flavourful, even if you only have a couple of small bananas to put in to it.  It slices nicely and is equally good served at room temperature, or toasted up and spread with a little butter.  Keeps well and can be frozen.

Super Simple Banana Bread

2-3 overripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup soft brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
1/3 cup melted butter or margarine
1 1/2 cups self-raising flour, sifted
Pinch of salt
1 egg, beaten lightly

In a large mixing bowl, combine the mashed banana, sugar, vanilla essence and melted butter.  Add the beaten egg and mix well.  Add the sifted flour and salt.  Stir until combined.  The mixture will be quite thick.

Put the batter in a loaf tin, lined with baking paper (or sprayed with non-stick spray, depending on the non-stick-ness of your tin!) and bake at 180 C for approx 30-50 minutes.
(NB : I have found that this cake takes very different amounts of time to bake depending on the amount of banana in it and whether or not you have a decent oven!
Check it after 30 mins, but be prepared that it may take longer).

Have a look every now and then to make sure it is not burning – it has a fairly high sugar content – cake is ready when it is just firm to the touch.  Allow to cool slightly in tin and turn out onto a rack.  Serve sliced, warm, with butter if you like.

That’s it – told you it was simple 🙂  It’s kind of a no-fail recipe and a good one to have in your arsenal of “what can I bake for afternoon tea/unannounced guests/school bake sale?” ideas.  Everybody likes banana bread, right?

Thanks for stopping by x

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Book Bargain Bonanza

I had a day off this week.  A glorious, nothing-scheduled, I-can-do-what-I-want day off.  Work has been very stressful, I’ve been having lots of migraines, and life just seemed a bit craptastic in general.  I’m always exhausted and just needed a break.  So, a day off was necessary, for my mental health if nothing else.

I got up early (not too early – it was a day off, after all!) and hit the op-shops.  I wanted to visit some I hadn’t been to before, and expand my “territory”.  I didn’t have much luck in finding anything good to start with, but eventually I hit book heaven at one particular Salvos store.  Lordy, lordy, they had the BEST book selection, AND it was in alphabetical order so you could actually search properly in the section you were interested in.

I am always on the lookout for Alice Hoffman titles.  She’s one of my favourite authors, but I never buy books new (who can afford them???!) so I have to wait until I find them in second hand shops.  Normally, I don’t find any of her books or, just as annoying, only ones I have already read and have in my shelf at home.  But on this day, dear readers, I found FIVE!  Woo!  I’d already read a couple of them, but I did snap up two for myself – White Horses, and The Museum of Extraordinary Things.  So happy!  I’m cross at myself because I left another one behind – Blue Diary – because I thought I had it at home, but then found that I didn’t.  You know you have too many books when you can’t remember what you have!  Hopefully it will still be there if I visit the shop again…but I’m glad to have found these two anyway 🙂

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Craft books are not always easy to come across in op-shops, and really nice ones are like hen’s teeth.  That’s why I was thrilled to find these two – French-Inspired Jewellery and The Adventurous Scrapbooker.  The latter has lots of off-the-page ideas for scrapbooks and similar projects.  I actually don’t like scrapbooking at all – I don’t do it and have never liked the concept of it – but there are always awesome ideas and techniques you can apply to other crafts.  So this book is great for that.  The jewellery book is gorgeous – not just for the pretty projects inside, but for the beautiful background layouts they have used for display.  Vintage papers and ephemera, ribbon and other embellishments make for beautiful pages, that are works of art in their own right.  So glad to have found this one!  Especially for the bargain price of $2.25!

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I love dogs.  I had them all my life, right up until I was in my 30s.  But now, with full-time work and a little house of my own, on my own, a dog just isn’t practical.  Maybe one day…sigh…  In the meantime, there are books like Rachel Hale’s 101 Salvations to keep me happy.  Rachel Hale’s photography is always a delight, and this book of doggy pictures is gorgeous.  I want to start doing some proper drawing and thought I might start with some canine-inspired sketches (might as well begin with a subject I know and love!) so I am hoping to use the photos as guides.  In any case, it is a beautiful book in excellent condition and, again, at only $2.25 – I’m sure the original RRP would have been well over $35.00 – I got another bargain.

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As I just mentioned, I am trying to improve my drawing skills (such as they are) and need all the help I can get.  So, with that in mind, I picked up this next book – You Can Draw in 30 Days. I’m not necessarily convinced I will only take 30 days, but hey, it’s a start.  I desperately want to be able to draw eyes so I am really hoping this book will help me.

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I also picked up a couple of titles for my Mum, who is a  voracious reader and is always running out of her own books to read.  So, all in all, a very successful visit to this particular op-shop.  I didn’t have room in my basket for anything else, which is probably a good thing.  Didn’t stop me from going to a few more op-shops afterwards though! 🙂

Hope you are having a good day – thank you for dropping by x