Its been a hectic few weeks most of which I was not home. It was June tour for Supanova and I headed off to Sydney and Perth to join the fun.

This was my first Perth Supanova and it was great to see how they do it. Bonus I got to stay really close to the convention centre so I didn’t have to get up to early to get there.

I had a great time catching up with old friends and making some new ones. I got to try some cool places to eat in both cities and I got the cutest and softest Squirtle plusshie.  I also had a chance to catch up with some family in Sydney and spent half a day in Perth with a fellow foodie friend and her cute toddler.

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I do enjoy traveling but it was also wonderful to come home.  The only problem? Brisbane got cold while I was away. (though I know Sydney has also gotten colder after I left).

Winter has definitely set in. My new electric blanket is getting a work out and my beanie and scarf collections have been pulled from the back of the cupboard.  Its time to pull out the hearty recipes to warm you from the inside.

For me that means soups and stews.

This week I have my easy veggie soup to help warm you up. This one came around one day in an effort to make dinner one week when we had very little food left in the house. I managed to rustle up a bag of frozen stir fry veg and a tin of cannelloni beans and managed to work them into this soup. The colour and flavour of the veg will change slightly depending on the mixed veg you use but you can use whatever you have on hand.

Easy Veggie Soup

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500g  Frozen mixed veg

1 tin Chick peas, cannelloni beans or mixed beans

2 cups boiling water

2 stock cubes

1 packet instant miso

1 tbs soy sauce

Place Frozen veg, chickpeas (or beans) and water in pot. Water should just be covering the veg.

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Turn on heat to low. Add stock cubes, miso and soy sauce and stir through until all dissolved.

Turn up the heat and bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 15-30 mins (at least until veg is soft)

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Using a stick blender, blend together until the soup reaches desired consistency.

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Serve hot with some bread or allow to cool and store in the fridge or freezer for later.

Where is the year going?
The busier I get the faster it seems to go. And it’s not about to slow down any time soon. I don’t think I have a free weekend until October.

Last weekend B and I traveled to cairns for a quick getaway to celebrate five years together. It was quite exciting as we’ve never been to cairns. I got to go to the virgin lounge with B as he has a membership which was definitely fun. In Cairns we went on the Skyrail to Kuranda then caught the train back.

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The views were absolutely beautiful and worth the anxiety the Skyrail trip gave me. I don’t deal well with heights.
Even the views from the airport were pretty.
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While I’m not the biggest fan of flying I must say I do enjoy the view of the land and the clouds from above. The lovely view of the coast and the beautiful patterns the hills form in the land below.
Onto this weeks recipe.
This is one of my favourite slice recipes. It’s very easy and tasty to boot. Best of all I tend to have the ingredients on hand.

Ginger Crunch Slice

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Base:

114g Margarine

57g Sugar

1tsp Ground Ginger

1 -1 1/4cups SR Flour
Topping:

2 Tbs Margarine

1 tsp Ground Ginger

1 Tbs Golden Syrup

1 cup Icing Sugar
Oven:

180C-200C
How To:

For the base combine margarine sugar and ginger. Mix in flour until it just forms a dough. Press into the base of a square baking tin.

Bake for 15-20 mins or until lightly brown.
In a small saucepan combine all topping ingredients. Stir over a gentle heat until smooth then allow to just boil.

Pour over hot base.
Cut while warm then cool before serving.
I hope you enjoy this slice as much as I do. If you give it a go send me a picture on Facebook or Instagram @thegammiecreative.
Lil

Budgeting – Its not as fun as Fivesies but its certainly an important life skill.

Wether you have a big savings goal or your just trying to make it from one week to the next there are certainty many times in life when you’ll need to create and stick to a budget.  This can sometimes be tough but hopefully some  of these tips will help you.

Know what you have to work with.

Fist things first, Know what you have to work with. Write down all your usual income sources and their frequency and amount. This may be just the one income from your job or you may have other income sources as well like government payments, regular casual jobs (like babysitting), ad revenue (if your lucky enough to have enough internet traffic for something you create to collect that). If your income is not always a regular amount try to average it across a month or two to get a regular weekly/fortnightly amount.

Prioritise

Possibly the toughest part,  get your priorities straight. What’s you’re big goal, what can you drop if it just doesn’t fit, what payments must be made in a certain time frame/frequency.

To start this I would suggest listing what you spend your money on. Either in detail or some slightly boarder categories. Whatever works for you. Just remember you want a good idea of where your money goes (or will go if you only just got an income).

From there rank them in order of priority to be paid. In general things like bills and other general living expenses should be at the top and fun and non essential items should be at the bottom.  Depending on your savings goals it may be at the top or somewhere in the middle.

Break it down

Break all your bills and general spending down by pay period. If you get paid weekly put money towards each category/item weekly. If you get paid fortnightly put aside the money fortnightly.

Always work on a pay period basis. This will especially help if you don’t have a steady income. If you’re paid different amounts each week, work out your weekly wage by averaging a month or two of your last pay cheques. On weeks where you earn more than the average put what’s left to the side to boost your pay to the average amount on weeks when you are paid less. If you then put money aside each week towards your bills and other fixed expenses then you won’t  be caught short if they happen to be due in low income weeks. It also means you aren’t reducing your saving or spending amounts on weeks you have bills due.

Get Organised

Create a spreadsheet, start a log in a notebook, find an app that works for you. Write down your plan somewhere you can refer back to it and adjust where necessary.

Personally I have a few different methods for a few different aspects of my budget.

I have a spread sheet that details the break down of my budget and generally how I came to decide on those figures. Its easily editable when things change and helps me remember why I set the figures the way I did.

I keep track of monthly payments and bills in a monthly calendar. I mark down what days payments come out of my accounts and what bills I need to initiate the payments for.

I have in the past tried a few apps and while I haven’t found one that works for me yet it doesn’t mean that one won’t work for you. In this mobile day and age there are many different apps out there which will help in many different aspects of budgeting.

Separate

Once you have worked out what you spend your money on put it into categories then separate that money out. Whether you do that by setting up multiple accounts or withdraw the money and stick it in envelopes or use an app to digitally keep track of what money you have just make sure it’s always very clear how much is there for you to spend and how much is already tucked away for something else.

Be Flexible

Build in safety nets where possible inflate your expected bill amounts especially for fluctuating amounts.

Most importantly, budget yourself some spending money.  It doesn’t have to be a lot but in my experience the best way to stick to a budget is to have some freedom in spending your money. If you budget in some spending money you know you will have some money to spend on you or someone else guilt free each week.

Review

Give a go for a few pays then review it. Look at what’s working for you. Look at what’s not working. Add in the things you forgot about at first. Adjust your buffer amounts if needed.  Then keep reviewing it as regularly as needed. I usually review my budget every couple of months or whenever I feel like my spending is getting out of hand.

If you’re constantly having to move money between categories to make up the differences it’s time to review it. If you regularly find yourself with excess money at the end of your pay review your budget, work out where else it could be used.

Even if it’s all going well you should still review it a few times a year if only to make sure it’s all still relevant.

So that’s my tips for basic life budgeting.  If you have any questions please comment and I’ll do my best to answer them.

The next life skill we’ll be tackling in a couple of weeks is washing.

Lil

Last week marked one year since I was put on life support in ICU. It’s interesting but emotional looking back on how far I’ve come since then. The hardest part has been learning not to be so hard on myself when I don’t live up to my high expectations of myself. It’s been tough but I’m very fortunate to have a great family and support network to help me when I’m struggling with my own limitations.

The year is of course flying by and its suddenly mid May already. Our busy schedule doesn’t help matters of course as there never seems to be enough time to do all the things I’d like to do.  Even when I do have some free time, my brain seems to decide I need a nap.  This has of course led to an overall lack of productivity outside work.  I am working on a few craft projects and some new recipes but its slow going.

So today I brought you a new old favourite.  Well it’s a new take on it for me but I’ve made a couple of batches now and its been quite tasty.

Biscotti is reasonably easy and its easy enough to change around the flavours to suit your taste but today I’m going with:

Choc Pecan Biscotti

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Ingredients:

2 Eggs

1 Cup Sugar

1 Cup SR Flour

1/2 Cup Plain Flour

1/2 Cup Pecans

3/4 Cup Choc Chips

Oven:

180C

How to:

In a bowl mix together the eggs and sugar until combined.

Add the flours and mix to form a dough.

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Break up the pecans and add to the dough with the choc chips.

Mix until Pecans and choc chips are well incorporated. (you may need to do this by hand)

Form the dough into a log and place on a baking tray.

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Bake for 30mins or until just cooked through.

Take out of oven and cool for 15-30mins.

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Reduce oven temp. to 150C.

Slice log on the diagonal into 1cm slices. (this can be tricky as the log likes to crumble especially around the chocolate and pecans).

Place individual slices (and any of the larger odd bits) onto a baking tray and bake for 15 mins.

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Turn each slice over and bake for a further 15 mins.

Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Pack into air tight containers as soon as possible once they are cool to maintain their nice crunch. Leaving them out for too long (e.g. overnight) can cause them to soften.

Enjoy with a cup of tea or coffee or just a snack on their own .

I hope you try it and if you do let me know how it goes. Take a picture of your batch and tag @thegammiecreative on Instagram or post it on the facebook page.

That’s all for now and hopefully next up I’ll have some tips on budgeting for my ‘Life Skills with Lilz’ series.

Lil

Today I am finally bringing you the first post in my ‘Life Skills with Lilz’ series.

I’m starting with something a little bit fun but an important skill none the less.

Fivesies 101

What is Fivesies I hear some of you ask?

We call it Fivesies, you might call it Happy hour, 5 O’clock drinks, Cheese and bikkies, Cheese board, pre dinneries, etc

Basically it’s a selection of pre dinner snacks (normally a cheese board) and drinks consumed at around 5pm before your main dinner.

For me fivesies is always a cheese board and cool drinks (alcoholic or not depends on your preference). You can of course serve other snack foods, with or instead of, a cheese plate depending on the crowd.

Lilz’ top tips for putting together a great Fivesies plate

Lets start with the cheese board

Pick your board

Pick the right size board for your cheese board. You don’t want a massive board for only a few cheeses nor a tiny board to feed the masses. The size of the board may also differ depending on how many sides are with your selected cheeses.

Pick Your Cheeses

Firstly, How many cheeses?

Well that can depend on how many people you are feeding. I usually go with 3 or 5 (aesthetically an odd number is generally better though of course there are exceptions) but keep in mind you don’t have to serve the whole block or round at once. If there are only 2 of you, you may only want a 1/4 of each cheese and 3 cheeses. If there are 15 of you, you may want to but out 5 full blocks/rounds of cheese. For larger groups  its also good to put out more than one board to make sure everyone can reach.

Which Cheeses?

There are many types of cheeses and when you are putting together a cheese board you want to make sure to get a good variety.

Cheese types

The main cheese types (and some examples) are:

Fresh Cheese – Ricotta, Cottage Cheese, Cream Cheese, Flavoured Cream Cheese,

Soft White Cheese – Brie, Triple Cream, Camembert

Blue – Stilton, Gorgonzola, Roquefort, Danish blue

Cheddar – Vintage, tasty

Eye Cheese – Swiss, Edam, Gouda, Havarti, Gruyere

Fetta Style – Greek, Danish, Marinated etc.

Goats Cheese – Chevre

Italian Hard – Pecorino, Parmesan

Washed Rind – Red Square, Reblochon

When choosing different types of cheese its also important to take into consideration the texture of the cheese as well as the flavour. You don’t want all soft cheeses nor do you want all strong cheeses. Try to get a nice balance of soft, semi hard, and hard as well as a balance of mild and strong flavoured cheese.

Most importantly

Eat what you like. Don’t feel pressured to serve cheese you don’t eat. When it comes down to it, choose cheeses you like to eat.

The Crackers

When it comes to what to eat the cheese with there are many options . I prefer rice crackers, B prefers water crackers, my mum prefers wafers, my sister like crusty bread.

Try to offer a variety (even if you only pick two) and always put out more than you think you will need.

Other Bits

Something sweet

To go with your cheese you want to serve at least one sweet element.

Fresh or dried fruit. Seedless grapes, slices of apple or pear and fresh figs are some of my favourite fresh fruits to include.  For dried I like dates, dried figs, dried apricots and dried apple. Once again go with whatever you prefer (or have in the cupboard)

Fruit paste, chutney or jam. Quince paste is lovely but it can be quite expensive. Jam works just as well when your on a budget. Sweet chutneys are also a good substitute and there are a lot of great varieties out there these days.

Something savoury

To keep the balance of flavours you also want to serve a savoury element.

All sorts of antipasti like olives, sun dried tomatoes, roasted capsicums, pickles, etc work well with cheese. One of my favourites when I can find them is caper berries. You may like to put these items in a little dish so the oils or brine they are served in don’t run over the rest of your board.

Cold cuts of meat like ham and salami  or meats like cabanossi or chorizo are also a really good  addition to a cheese plate.

Optional extras

Dips can be great for helping stretch out a cheese board if you have more people than your cheese will feed. Of course if you do have dip you will need even more crackers.

If there are kids around (or fussy eaters) you probably want to have some other snacks like chips or pretzels available. They are also good to stretch the cheese for larger crowds.

Drinks

Fivesies is not complete without something to drink.

Generally cold drinks are in order but of course its really up to you.

Wine of course goes well with cheese but don’t feel pressured to drink it just because your having cheese.

My only real tips here are just have some options available and drink what you like.

So that’s it. My Fivesies 101.

I hope this helps you put together some well balanced fivesies for yourself and your friends.

If you do put together fivesies send me a picture or tag @thegammiecreative on Instagram.

There’s more life skills to come and next up we are going to tackle basic budgeting.

Much love

Lilz

I’m not sure where the weeks keep disappearing but they sure are flying by.

It was another 4 day week at work this week. This time due to ANZAC Day.

I did something different to our normal routine this year and I quite enjoyed it.

Usually we head into the city for around midnight for breakfast then from there head into ANZAC square to help where we can.  After dawn service we head back to our suburb for some breakfast and then the local march.

This year though our scout group helped out at both local services by doing a sausage sizzle so I skipped the city and just went along to both local services.

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It was nice not to have to get up so early and to help feed the masses after each service. And even though I didn’t get up anywhere near as early as normal I still spent the afternoon sleeping.

This weekend is also another long one (labor day) and the plan is to cook (of course).

I’m hoping to make a few batches of marshmallows and some biscotti. The only problem may be the weather but so far its holding out for me.

On to this weeks recipe

Peaches and cream pastry

This is a simple dessert that can be made reasonably quickly. It’s one of my many ‘what do I have in the cupboard’ inspired recipes.

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Makes:

6

Ingredients:

1 Puff pastry sheet

3 fresh Peaches or 1-2 tins (18 slices)

1 cup cream

2 tbs Icing Sugar  + extra for dusting

1 tsp Vanilla Essence

Oven:

180C

How To:

Cut 1 sheet of  puff pasty into 12 pieces. Bake between two baking tray until brown so that the pastry only lightly puffs.

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For this recipe you can use fresh or tined peaches. If using fresh you will need to remove the seed and cut into eighths.

Heat up a medium fry pan.  Grill the pieces of peach until lightly browned on each side and warmed through.

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While the peaches are cooking whip  the cream with the icing sugar and vanilla essence.

To construct spread a thick layer of the whipped cream onto the pastry.

Layer the peach slices on to three of the pieces of pastry and cream then top with another piece.

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Serve sprinkled with icing sugar.

 

So that’s my peaches and cream pastry. You could of course use different fruit depending on what you like and what’s in season. I think it would work well with strawberries or caramelised banana.

Let me know if you give it a go.

Lil

I’m back.

Two full weekends of Supanova has left me a little worn out but I have lot of great memories and I’ve made some new friends.

While I was a little slack on taking photos of cosplayers I did however catch these two at the gold coast.

Gender bent Weasley Twins

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Steampunk Mad hatter

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And these guys in Melbourne

The Doctors and Claras.

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Now on to Bubbles’ Adventure.

Once there was a bear called Bubbles. He was a proud Hufflepuff and a big fan of Doctor who.

One day Bubbles decided to go on an adventure to Gold Coast Supanova.

This is his Adventure.

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That’s all for now but look out on Sunday for the first Life Skillz with Lilz post.

Just a quick one this week as I’m gearing up for Supanova this weekend. I am aiming to take some cool photos to share with you over the weekend so I should have a bigger post for you next week.

This week I’d like to share my honey soy wings recipe and a little bit on how to joint your wings.

So here it is

Honey Soy Chicken Wings

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Ingredients:

4-8 chicken Wings

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup soy sauce

Sides:

Rice

Cucumber

Red Onion

Wombok

Carrot

Coriander

Salad dressing.

Oven:

200C

Depending on what you prefer you can serve the wings whole or you can joint them into wingettes and drummets.

Jointing a chicken wing seems a little tough at first but its quite easy once you get the hang of it.

To joint your chicken wing start by spreading out the wing and cutting the loose skin under the joint.

Next hold the wing in one hand and slightly squeeze the two edges together. Make sure the joint edge is exposed.

Cut into the joint. If you’re holding the wing right your knife should find the groove in the joint to go into.

BE VERY ACREFUL NOT TO PUSH TO FAR AND CUT YOURSELF IN THE PROCESS. Cut in until you are about halfway through the joint.

Place the wing back on the chopping board and cut into the edges of the joint where the top cut meets it to finish separating the two pieces.

Place your wings (or winggettes and drummets) in a bowl. In a separate bowl or a jar mix together the Honey and soy sauce. Pour over wings and allow wings to marinate for at least 15-20 mins.

Once marinated place wings in a lined baking tray. Brush (or pour) some of the leftover marinade over the wings.

Bake for 30-40 minutes.

I served mine with some salted cucumber and onion,

Simple Slaw, (wombok, carrot and coriander)

And rice.

You can also simmer the leftover marinade for 10min  and use as a sauce.

I hope you enjoy my simple honey soy wings.

I hope you all enjoyed you’re Easter break.

Was the Easter bunny good to you? Did you gorge on chocolate and coast into the week on a sugar high? I hope so.

I spent the weekend camping with some friends. It was nice a nice relaxing weekend though it would have been nicer if it didn’t rain on Saturday and Sunday night. Overall it was a chill weekend full of fives and not really having to keep to any schedule. Over the weekend I managed to finish two beanies and start a third. That’s possibly the most productive I’ve been all week.

Unfortunately my iron deficiency has gotten the better of me again this week. Many a plan for a productive night has ended up with me asleep on the couch after promising myself it would only be a 15 min nap to gain more energy.  Hopefully this will be remedied tomorrow and next week I’ll be back to my less tired & more productive self.

I have at least managed to attend a few meetings I had to go to so I suppose I haven’t written off a whole week due to my excessive tiredness. I even got to go to a lovely dinner with some of my good friends on Monday night to finish off the weekend. It was nice to catch up with everyone and we had some delicious food and wonderful brownies for desert.

This week I’ve gone with something reasonably easy but I hope to show yo that just because its easy doesn’t mean you can’t get creative and have lots of flavour.

Three Cheese Steak Toastie

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Ingredients

2 slices Bread (I used soy linseed but use what you prefer)

1 large slice cheddar cheese (could replace with grated parmesan if you don’t eat blue)

2 Tbs onion jam

25g blue cheese

50g -100g steak cooked and in chunks or slices

100g mushrooms sliced

1 tbs butter or margarine

2 leaves cos lettuce

4 slices camembert or brie

How to

In a small pan melt butter and sauté the mushrooms until golden brown.

On a sandwich press (or in a small fry pan) lay the first slice of bread to begin sandwich construction.

 layer sandwich as follows

Cheddar, Onion jam, Crumbled blue cheese, steak pieces, mushrooms, lettuce, camembert.

Place final piece of bread on top then lower lid of press (or place another pan or tray on top and place in a warm oven)

Now here is the tough bit. Walk away. Don’t touch the sandwich for at least 5 mins maybe longer. Wait for the bred to brown and the cheese to melt.  For me leaving it until its ready is always the hardest.

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When done remove from heat and slice in half to serve.

Now that’s a toasted sandwich to make sure you’re well fed.

What’s your favourite gourmet toasted sandwich combo?  Do you have a sandwich press or do you go old school with toasties? Let me know

Lil

What a good Friday this is.

No but really. This morning I got to sleep in to a reasonable hour. I got to make breakfast when I was ready and I even managed to catch up on some of my housework.

I did have a brunch meeting this morning but overall it was a relaxed morning.

And now I’m getting ready to go camping for the weekend . My 3rd and 4th batch of banana bread are in the oven and when its ready I’m headed down the coast to spend the weekend with some fellow Rovers.

I’m not the biggest fan of hot cross buns but I like to find ways to enjoy them a little differently so today I thought I’d share some Ideas for how you can enjoy hot cross buns a little differently.

Firstly

Hot cross French toast.

For my hot cross french toast I used chocolate hot cross buns but you can use any type, , home made or shop bought.

Mix together eggs and milk then sliced up hot cross buns into 3 slices. You’ll need around 1 egg and 1/6th of a cup of milk for every 2 hot cross buns.

Dunk each slice in the egg mixture then fry in a lightly oiled frying pan until browned on each side.

I served mine with whipped cream and stewed raspberries.

Hot cross desert burgers

Warm up your buns the slice in half.

Fill with sliced fruit, cottage or cream cheese and caramel or chocolate sauce.

Or for something savoury

Hot cross sliders.

Slice the bun in half. Place cheese on half then place under the grill until the cheese melts.

Fill slider with tomato lettuce and pork or chicken slices. Top with some caramelised onions or your favourite sauce.

So that’s three different ways you can serve your hot cross buns this Easter.

Do you make your own or buy them? Do you just like them warm with butter or do you have a different way to serve them.

Let me know.

Lil.