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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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Blessing Tree

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Having had a bit of a creative slump lately, I was moping around at home trying to figure out something I could do to get me back on track.  I didn’t want to make a card (odd, for me, because I always like making cards) and my attempts at making a Kelly Rae Roberts-inspired collage were all dismal and uninspiring.  So, what to do?

I have a box of “bits” that I hold on to for upcycling/altering or using in other projects.  It’s got tins and wooden blocks, boxes, decorations and papier mache forms.  Basically, it’s a box of crap that I have collected.  It’s a hoarder’s dream, but it does come in handy when I am stuck for inspiration and want to do something different.

So, with that in mind, I rummaged around and found these weird Christmas decorations.  I bought them years ago in a post-Xmas sale, so they only cost me 25c each or something (the original price was $9.99 – ridiculous!).  I thought they would be good for altering, stamping on, painting etc.  I liked the shape and the fact they had a good solid base, as well as being able to hang them from something.

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Crazily expensive Xmas decoration!

I had been playing around with them for a bit when I decided to make a tree out of one of them.  Don’t ask me why.  I like trees, I guess, but I had never really had an urgent desire  to make a little mini-tree of my own.  This one came together reasonably quickly, once I got into it.  I covered the body/trunk in dictionary text and sealed it with gel medium mixed with a little black and brown paint.  I raided some sticks from the neighbour’s tree and made wee little branches with them, stuck into the holes in the wooden shape.

During a crafty session with my nephews and nieces, I made some teeny-weeny mushrooms and a little bird out of polymer clay.  After baking them and letting them cool, I painted them (with a lot of squinting) with acrylic paints.

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Polymer clay teeny-tiny mushrooms and a birdie!
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Painting mushroom # 1
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Adding the final detail to mushroom # 3.  Do you know how fiddly it is to paint tiny little “gills” on a tiny little mushroom?
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Wee birdie.  I didn’t make him too detailed.  Partly out of laziness, but mostly because I was scared of making a shemozzle out of it.

I then crafted a little bird’s nest from twine, which was oddly therapeutic. Just twisting and fraying the twine and making it a roughly bird-nesty shape.  I really do like making tiny things.  I don’t know why, but they are very satisfying and appealing, from a creative point of view.  I really do need to wear my glasses when doing this stuff though!

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Mini bird’s nest!
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Happy little birdie in a tiny nest!

Eventually, it was all put together (very carefully – it’s not the most robust of creations!), sitting on a base of sphagnum moss glued to a wooden lid, and I’m pretty happy with it.  It’s just for me.  No purpose behind it (not a gift or something to sell) – it’s just purely for me.  I added the “Benedictus” text (from an old large print dictionary) because, very roughly translated, it means “Blessed Be” which kinda resonates with me for various reasons.  I wanting to make some more things like this now.  I’m feeling the mixed-media vibe right now!  I’d like to try some tea-bag art next…will keep you posted!

Thanks for stopping by 🙂

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The final product.  Blessing Tree complete.  Blessed Be!
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Thrifty-Happy

Op-shopping (thrifting), as I have said many times before, is one of my favourite things to do.  Probably THE favourite thing to do, if I’m honest.  I love the element of surprise, of never knowing what you’re going to find.  I have learnt not to actually go in seeking a particular thing, because I won’t find it.  It’s more of a treasure hunt – and sometimes you don’t find any treasure.  Which can really suck 🙂

Recently, on my birthday week, when I had some time off work, I did a bit of solitary op-shopping.  I had nothing to do and nowhere to be except in the rows of second hand goodness.  The weather last week was dreadful – it’s the middle of Summer and it has been cold and rainy and blah.  Which is probably the best kind of weather for trying on clothes because you don’t get hot and sweaty and cranky.

I have recently put on quite a bit of weight which, aside from being really upsetting and depressing, means that a lot of my clothes don’t fit me.  Ugh.  Is there anything more blues-inducing than trying to squeeze into a skirt that USED to be baggy on you but now makes you look like an overstuffed sausage?  No, there is not.

So, I needed to buy a few more items of clothing that would a.) fit me and b.) be suitable for the weird weather we are having.  Longer sleeves were the order of the day, because it’s too cool for short ones, and my arms are hideous.  That’s right, I said it – HIDEOUS.  They should be hidden away in case they scare someone with their white flabbiness.  There should actually be a law against my arms – seriously.  They could incite people to revolt.

Anyway, I went op-shopping.  I found a really nice shop that I hadn’t been to before and it had a great selection of clothes – so much so that I found myself with a basketful just from the first rack.  Reasonably priced and in my size – what could be better?

So here’s what I got :

  1.  Nice, lightweight top for Summer days.  Beachy and bingo-wing covering!

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Beachy!

2.    Cute little jacket that is still cool enough for Summer, or I could even
wear it as a top – it’s a blousey sort of material.

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Hearts!

3.  Super-soft checked shirt.  I don’t normally get these because I can never find one that looks ok on me.  But this one fits perfectly, is SO SOFT and I loved the blue tones.  It’s good as a cover-up over a t-shirt, or on its own.  I channel Madonna in her “Don’t Tell Me” video when I am wearing it.  Don’t judge me.

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Checks!

4.  Was lucky to find this lovely Review top.  It probably retailed for at least $100 originally, and I got it for $7.  Can’t beat that!  A good one for work.

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Ladylike!

5.  At $10.25, this was perhaps a tad more expensive than I would normally go for in an op-shop.  But it was so pretty, and just what I need for my craft room to organise my paintbrushes, pens, papers etc.

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Shabby Chic!

6.  I found this teeny-weeny religious thingy for only 50c.  It’s about the size of two postage stamps.  So dinky!  I am going to cover it and collage over it and make it completely non-religious, but hey if it has some built-in blessings or divine protection, I won’t argue!  I wish I had been able to find more, so will have to be on the lookout for them.  I guess maybe they are a little travel thingy so you can take your faith with you or something?  Whatever, it’s cute.

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Upcycler!

7.  I snagged this cushion cover for a dollar.  Although it does have a store label on it, it is obviously handmade which neat, little stitches and imperfections.  It is very large so will actually make a nice table mat or it could hang on the back of my couch.  I liked the colours and the slightly rustic quality it has.

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Patchworky!

8.  Shoes!  I have wanted a pair of these chunky heels for ages but have never been able to find exactly the right pair.  So I got these.  They’re a tiny bit small so I might need to stretch them out just slightly.  I got them for $5.  I am a mega klutzoid so I need chunky heels if I am going to wear heels at all.  Otherwise there is falling down and general embarrassment and humiliation.

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Chunky!  I mean the shoes…stop looking at my ankles!!!

So, a good day, and I have already worn a couple of the items which shows they were worthwhile purchases.  I Especially like the checked shirt – I think I will be snuggling up a lot in that in the Autumn months.  And pretending I am Madonna.  When she was still cool and making good music and not gadding about in leotards and pretending she’s 25.

Hope you are having a happy day 🙂

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Tarting Up Your Drawers

Hello everyone and greetings from a wet and cold Perth.  It’s Summer and should be hot, fine, blue skies-a-plenty.  But no.  We are having a cold, wet spell which is totally bizarre for January in Western Australia.  And you know how I hate the cold.  So I am feeling a bit miserable.  Although, I have to say, my gardens (both at home and at work) will be loving it, as will the poor fire fighters who normally are battling big blazes this time of year.

Over the weekend I was determined not to waste time and faff about, so I did lots of gardening and cleaned the house (a bit – let’s not get crazy) and tarted up my drawers.  No, not THOSE drawers (no one sees them but me anyway, ha ha) but my wooden, storage drawers.  I have had these for approximately twenty years.  I was supposed to paint and decorate them immediately when I bought them.  Did that happen?  Apparently not, hence my makeover of them this weekend.  Hey, you can’t rush these things, right?

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So, to start with I painted them with off-white house paint (I had a sample pot lying around, as you do).  I only did the sides and top, and the little edges that show at the front.  I could lie and tell you I sanded and prepped the wood beforehand, but I’d be fibbing.

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While the paint was drying, I selected some pretty scrapbooking papers (that was the longest part of the process – choosing papers) and then drew around the individual drawers to get the shape of them, onto the back of the papers.  The bottom drawers was longer so I had to join two strips of paper for this.

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Then, I simply glued the paper to the drawers and trimmed off any misaligned bits (ie where I had done some dodgy tracing).  Someone who is less slack than me would then have sanded back the white pint and possibly the edges of the paper to make everything nice and smooth and neat.  But, as this project was just for me, and I just wanted to get it finished, I skipped the extra steps.

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The whole thing took me about an hour.  And twenty years, but hey, who’s counting?!  I’m really pleased with it and it definitely brightens up my craft room.  My rubber stamps have a nice, colourful and pretty home now.

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I’m going to try and not procrastinate so much this year and just get little projects like this done and dusted.  This would actually make a nice gift for someone, and you can easily pick up these type of drawers at IKEA or even in an op-shop (thrift store) for just a few dollars.

Hope you are having a colourful, creative day – thank you for stopping by x

 

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Antler

Forgot to post this before Christmas…  Just another ornament thingy I made for my handmade stall in December.  I had made a few of the baubles and wanted some less glittery versions, that could maybe serve as all-year-round decorations.  So, I found these lovely little ceramic antlers in Target and thought they would be perfect for embellishing.

I used, as always, recycled beads from old jewellery, including some rather tarnished and battered metallic ones that I really liked the look of.  There are also polished stone, clay, and wooden ones in the mix.  Strung onto some beading wire, attached to the antler and voila!  I was pretty happy with it and kept one for myself (which is now hanging on my wall next to my faux stag head). The ornament itself only cost $2.40 and I used beads I already had in my ridiculously large stash, so it was a pretty cheap creation all round.

Hope your day is a happy one – thank you for stopping in.

x

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How to Measure Christmas

Christmas Day is just around the corner.  I can’t believe how quickly it has come up this year.  I probably say that every year, but this last twelve months has whizzed by, and so much has happened.  It’s been such a strange, disturbing year, with a lot of loss and grief for so many people.  I don’t know about you, but I am praying for a much kinder 2017.

My Mum is currently suffering with a nasty cough/virus and it makes me very anxious.  I can’t bear for her to be ill.  She is always so healthy and I sometimes forget she is a senior now, and small illnesses can be potentially dangerous.  Also, being sick at Christmas sucks!  I know she feels miserable and concerned and also annoyed that she can’t do a lot – she hates neglecting her garden and other chores.  I just worry incessantly, especially as I am not just around the corner but 30 minutes drive away, and I can’t keep a close eye on her.  Luckily, my best friend’s Mum is just around the corner – in fact, she is taking Mum to the doctor’s this morning (I would have done but had no one to cover me at work). Hopefully she will get some antibiotics (even though she hates taking them, she admits she probably needs some this time) and be on the mend soon.  We’re meant to be spending Christmas Eve with my brother and his family, but I don’t know if she will be well enough at this stage 😦

It’s funny how, in the lead up to Christmas, you think about all the things you would like, and hope that Santa obliges.  This year, I just want my Mum to be well, and for us all to have a nice, peaceful, stress-free time together, with no dramas.

This week, I managed to get all my Christmas shopping done in record time.  I have less people to buy for this year, for one reason or another, and it made it much easier.  I made a few gifts too, which meant less spending (always a good thing) and less stress (a very good thing).  I also decided not to do the fancy wrapping I always do, which usually ends up with me stressed out of my brain and wrapping gifts every night until midnight, making sure they all fit a “theme” and all look decorative and pretty.  Not this year.  I used store-bought wrapping paper and did nothing fancier than tying them with string.  I didn’t even use matching tags!  *gasps*  It just made everything so much easier and quicker and reduced my stress by about a million percent.  I am wrapped and done, ahead of time.

Whilst looking for gifts for my Mum, I pretty much followed the list she had given me (an Ian Rankin book, some gardening stuff, a Michael Buble CD, pyjamas) but I always like to get her some other little extras too, so she has some surprises.  I found this set of measuring cups in an op-shop and thought she might like them.  They look vintage (although I suspect they are not) and I liked the little Wintery scene on them, which I thought would also make them ideal for Christmas decorating, if Mum didn’t want to use them as actual measuring cups.  I just thought they were sweet.  And at $5.00 for the three, I wasn’t exactly breaking the bank.

I hope she likes them, and is well enough to enjoy all of her presents.
That’s all I want for Christmas.

Best wishes to you all.  Stay well and take care of each other x

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My Week in Pictures

It’s been a hectic week.  I have been madly making cards and other crafty goodies for my upcoming market stall.  I’ve been organising things to sell at a car boot sale this weekend (I have so much junk-that’s-not-really-junk to get rid of).  I’ve been organising quotes for air-conditioning in my rapidly heating up house.  I’ve had several birthday events to attend and catch-ups to arrange before Christmas.  It’s all happening.

I finally updated my phone and now have a much better one that doesn’t take blurry photos and doesn’t keep shutting down for no reason.  My old phone looks and behaves like something from the stone age.  Well, to be fair, it was about eight years old which, in phone terms these days, is practically a millennium.

I can take selfies now without having to guess if I am pointing the phone camera in the right direction.  And then edit the photos on the spot if I am not happy with them (ie don’t like the way I look in them).

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I also managed to fit in a spot of op-shopping.  I haven’t been for aaaaaaaaages, mostly due to lack of funds but also I just haven’t had time.  I broke my shoes this week so I actually did need to go and find a new pair.  Not wanting to spend a fortune, I of course when to the op-shop to check out what they had available.  I scored these lovely buckle-detail wedges.  I cannot walk in wedges, normally.  I fall down, a lot.  I wobble and am very unsteady because my ankle tends to turn in and I am a super klutz.  But these had a nice chunky heel and were very stable and comfortable.  And my perfect size! Better still, they were only $3.00!  I mean!  How could I not get them?  I wish they had been black as they would be more practical for work, but beggars can’t be choosers, right?

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My garden has gained a critter.  This VERY LARGE grasshopper.  Who only has one back leg.  He has been on the same tree for about a week now.  I am not sure if he is resting or waiting for a bus, preparing to die, or just hanging out.  I must admit to being a bit squeamish about crickets and grasshoppers but I wouldn’t hurt one and, as I have no garden to speak of, there is nothing for him to destroy, so he can stay.  I don’t know if he can get around on one back leg – I’m assuming they don’t grow back like a spider’s does.  He is quite magnificent though – he looks like he is wearing armour.  He was kind enough to let me get in his face and take his picture without leaping off and scaring the bejeezus out of me.  But I do fear he is not long for this world, which is a shame.

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I had a lovely afternoon of Lego and tea with my Mum, brother and his brood.  Playing with Lego is an age-old tradition in my family.  I don’t think we will ever tire of it, and I am so glad the littlies enjoy it (because it gives us an excuse to play too).  That’s my castle there in the middle of the table – it’s been demolished by Master Nine, despite my protests.  I used to love hanging out with my big bro’, back in the day, building all sorts of creations.  I’m lucky I even had a big brother who didn’t mind his little sister hanging around playing with his stuff and probably taking all the good bricks.

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I went walking with a friend and found this beautiful cockatoo feather (shortly after having a spectacular fall and landing on my face).  Isn’t it gorgeous?  The Red-Tailed Black Cockatoo is endangered and always having its habitat destroyed by various construction projects and deforestation.  They are lovely creatures and it would be a shame to lose them.  I have treated them when I was a vet nurse and, despite their large size and FEROCIOUSLY STRONG beak, they are quite a gentle bird and very intelligent.  I love this feather and it will have pride of place on my hall table.

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I have not been looking after my plants at all, but they continue to amaze me with their resilience and growth. My “Mother of Thousands” plant is doing so well and is producing so many babies I feel I should open a nursery.  It is doing so well despite my neglect and  inability to remember that plants like water occasionally.

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Even the “dead” leaves from my Kalanchoe Feldtschenkoi I threw into the garden have sprouted bubbies and they are so cute!  They’re like tiny little rose buds at this stage.  I love that they propagate like this.  This is why I never throw any part of a succulent away – it still has life in it even if it looks dead!

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I got glasses.  Proper ones.  Not over-the-counter-chemist ones.  Actual optometrist-prescribed ones.  I am still getting used to them.  I really only need them for fine, intricate work, particularly when crafting and drawing, so I keep forgetting I have them.  They are currently buried under a pile of card-making supplies.

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My cousin in England sent me this STUNNING photo of my Mum.  I have never seen it before.  She looks so beautiful.  She would have been about 18 years old, just engaged and living at home with my grandparents.  Check out those nails!!!  They’re her real nails – not some fake stuck on ones.  And her hair is amazing (although I know now where I get my split-fringe issue from!).  The photo would have been taken by my Grandad who loved to shoot very posed pictures – he would always have a prop and a theme going on, ha ha.  No candid happy snaps for him, oh no!

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Now I just have to concentrate on my market stall on the weekend and then I can relax or, at least, make sense of my house and maybe start decorating for Christmas before Christmas has actually been and gone.

Hope you have a wonderful week and accomplish everything you you have planned (even if your plans include lots of napping, day-dreaming and generally lounging about 🙂 )

Thanks for reading, as always x