DIY #1: “New” chair

One of my favourite things in the world, even above scoring a great bargain on ebay or in an op-shop, is finding fab furniture on the side of the street.

Of course it’s great because its free and reduces landfill, but what I really love is the fact that it gives you a chance to try something new; especially if you’re not sure whether it’ll work in your place, for free, with no risks. And if you don’t like it? Put it back out on the street and let someone else have a crack at at.

The other day I found this chair just up the road. It was hidden underneath a load of other detritus, but it looked structurally sound and passed the roadside “wobble” test, so thought I’d drag it down the road and give it a try.

After a good hose down, I moved it up onto my formerly bare verandah.

New chair

It seems to work quite well so far. At least its a nice place to sit while I put on my shoes (and my puppy jumps all over me).

Next thing to keep a lookout for: a little side table, bookcase or crate, so maybe I can sit out here and drink a cup of tea.

Note: this is the first in what I hope to be a series of little things I improve around my house. I know that dragging a chair down the road doesn’t really count as “doing” anything, but hey you’ve gotta start somewhere right?

Plu-what?

Until a few days ago, I’d never even heard of a pluot. Blissful in my ignorance of this apricot-plum hybrid, I idly perused the aisles of my local fruit & veg shop.

The first thing that caught my eye was a peach that looked like a miniature pumpkin (sorry can’t remember the name). Second thing was a pluot, which I initially thought was a nice big looking plum.

Pluot

After seeing the weird name, I was intruiged and bought 2. And the verdict? Yum. To be honest I think it tastes more plummy than apricotty, and if I didn’t know otherwise I’d just assume its a variety of plum.  But its nice and firm and juicy and sweet, so what’s to complain about?

Here’s some other ideas of what to do with pluots, other than gobbling them down after walking the dog and before procrastinating on going for a run.

Five ways with Pluots

Corny

One hot summer’s afternoon in early December, I joined Nadine for a late afternoon swim at Brighton beach.  It was about 30 degrees even as the sun was setting, but the highlight of this jaunt was not the deliciously refreshing water, nor the gorgeous sunset over the bay, the tantalising views of the Melbourne skyline.

No; the highlight was sitting on the warm sand scoffing down corn on the cob doused with chipotle sauce, that Nadine had kindly brought along.

Corn has to be one of my favourite vegetables ever. Sweet, juicy, crunchy – what’s not to love? And this new version doused with spicy sauce rocked my world.

Since then I’ve thought about that corn more than once. I’ve made my own, however the delicious combination of butter, salt and pepper paled in comparison to the spicy goodness of the chipotle sauce.

Does that make me unfulfilled?

No longer. Tonight I was browsing through the aisles of my wonderful local fruit & veg shop, and found a jar of chipotle sauce hiding amongst various condiments. Needless to say I snapped it up faster than you can say “yum”!

I was already planning on cooking corn for dinner tonight, but this addition really made my night.

Chipotle corn

Here’s the end result in it’s full glory: garden salad, corn cob and lamb cutlets. Happy camper here.

Chipotle corn

Thankfulness

Image

Source: searchquotes.com

The above quote forms part of the lyrics to one of my favourite songs by one of my favourite artists, Carus Thompson. Until I just googled the image, I had no idea the quote came from Eleanor Roosevelt, but there you go; learn something new every day.

I was feeling very sorry for myself on Friday night. I’ve just been away in Spain for a month (which I plan to write much more about later!) Needless to say I had an amazing time. However on Friday night I was feeling sorry for myself for being back at work, on a nightshift, on a Friday night, 24 hours after landing back in the country, and when I’d just gotten a cold.

However as I was seeing a patient at about 1am that night, my woes got put back into perspective. A man in his early 50s, diagnosed with lung cancer a mere few months ago after feeling tired and getting a bout of pneumonia. Now on palliative chemotherapy, with the cancer already having spread to multiple organs including his brain. He lay in bed confused and worried, but not for himself. For his 24 year old daughter and his 19 year old son. And the fact that he has so much to do, and so little time.

Made my worries that night seem minuscule. Something I should try to remember more often.

Mmmmm….polenta

I could have sworn I’d already posted a polenta fries recipe here, but perusing my scanty archives suggests otherwise. I find that quite surprising because a few months ago I was obsessed by them. I still love them now, but haven’t eaten them for a while due to combination of polenta overload, their relative inaccessibility in restaurants, and the fact that although they are very easy to make at home, they do require pre-planning and are not ready instantly.

And when I say “haven’t eaten them for a while” I mean at least a fortnight. The place I last ate them at was a new discovery, The Sporting Club in Brunswick. I’m always excited when I hear about a new restaurant that serves them, so when a friend told me about it, I was keen to check it out, despite it being on the other side of town.

But tonight I had to satisfy my polenta craving by less convenient means; making it myself. I follow a recipe for polenta fries from allrecipes.com and make a few modifications: I tend to eat a serve as mash rather than fries as I’m making it, just to mix things up a bit. I add everything except the parsley and parmesan before serving it as mash. Also I bake the fries rather than frying them; I find its easier and uses less oil.

Polenta Fries

Here’s my modified version.

Polenta Fries

Ingredients

  • 500ml whole milk
  • 1L chicken stock
  • 30g butter
  • 600g polenta
  • 85 g Parmesan cheese
  • handful chopped fresh parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • paprika, chilli, other spices as desired

Directions

  1. In a large saucepan, combine milk, chicken stock, and butter; bring to rolling boil. Slowly whisk in polenta.
  2. Turn down heat to medium-low, and continue cooking and stirring until polenta pulls from edge of pan. Eat as mash at this point if desired.
  3. Mix in cheese and parsley, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Spread polenta evenly over a cookie sheet, and refrigerate until cold.
  5. Transfer polenta to cutting board and cut into cut 3/4 by 3/4 by 3 1/2 inch sticks.
  6. Put on baking trays and cook in an oven preheated to 180 degrees until brown and crispy. Yum!

Polenta Fries

Oh and if you know any places in Melbourne that serves these suckers up, please do let me know. I’m always on the lookout for more!

More inspiration

I’ve been a big fan of Phillipa’s blog Skinny Latte for years due to her honesty, her joy for life and the way she gets out there and tries new things and challenges herself. One feature I love on her blog is Monday Mantras.

Inspirational quotes may seem a bit preppy or trite at times. However there are times when the combination of an inspiring picture and a well worded quote are just enough to galvanise myself off the couch and into whatever I should be doing for the day.

Incidentally, the site fitspoholic where Phil found this image is choc full of inspiration if this is the type of thing you are into.

 

Taking my own advice

I want to blog, honestly I do. I really enjoy the process of thinking of a post, developing it in my head, and then sitting in front of the computer, creating sentences and paragraphs that please me. Then pressing “Publish” and seeing it formatted, preferably with a picture, so that it looks whole, complete and not just random scribblings in a journal.

So why haven’t I done a damn post since July 1?

Sure I’ve been busy. I’ve got a crazy work roster at the moment, and its the season to be applying for jobs for next year. But so what? Those are all excuses. I’ve also had plenty of time to eat chocolate, watch Masterchef and read a host of websites (some more productive than others). So either I want to do it and I do it. Or I don’t. And I don’t. Not rocket science is it? So let’s make it happen!

Funnily enough that’s pretty much what my first post ever on here said. Lucky I can go back and read my own advice hey?

21 Days

Thanks to the gorgeous Nadine, I won a spot on the beautiful Stella’s 21 Days workshop. Not only do I *never* win anything, I have also never embarked on anything like this before.

I am not skilled at self reflection, nor at sharing those thoughts with others, but its not going to kill me to try, is it? I am yet again facing some major uncertainties and challenges regarding my future which for the last few weeks have left me paralysed into alternating between indecision and denial. Hopefully this course will help me make a few major decisions.

For starters I have just meditated for 2 minutes for the first time in my life. Already I’ve done something new – and it’s only day 1!