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{Tasty Tuesday} Crunchy Seasoned Peas

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Looking for a healthy alternative to chips or crackers? Look no further – these crunchy peas are the perfect healthy substitute.

When in Vietnam earlier this year we were often given bowls of salty crunchy peas at bars or before dinner drinks. Our toddler could not get enough of them surprisingly. I have been meaning to create our own version since then and only just got to it. They aren’t entirely the same. But still popular with the little person.

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And only 3 ingredients:

  • A bag of frozen peas
  • 1 tablespoon of salt
  • 1 & 1/2 tablespoons of oil

Defrost the peas in the fridge over night, mix the 3 ingredients together in a bowl.

Pre-heat oven to around 180 degrees Celsius in a fan force oven or equivalent.

Place a sheet of cooking paper on an oven tray and lay out the peas. Cook them in the oven for about 30-40 minutes, checking every 10 minutes to make sure they don’t burn.

Once some start to brown, take a couple out to cool and see if they are crunchy. If so, you are good to go!

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They are a great lunch box snack or good for sitting in front of the football… or at least that’s what I will try and convince my husband now! Healthy and tasty is a winning combo!

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{Tasty Tuesday} Toddler-Style Deconstructed Tacos

There is nothing better than a meal the whole family can enjoy together, toddlers included. The older they get, the easier this gets thankfully, however then it becomes more about keeping fussy appetites happy.

Tacos are often a popular choice with big kids (and most adults). We love them in this household and with a bit of a tweak, so does our daughter.

So, this is a deconstructed taco:

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The toddler plates with separate sections is ideal for this type of thing, but pretty much it is everything that would go in a taco, in little finger friendly servings (although miss L will always use a fork or spoon… she likes to be fancy). Flavoured mince, tomato, grated cheese, lettuce, and pieces of taco and tortilla for her to nibble on.

In fact this is such a popular dish in this household that I had to top up her plate several times on this occasion, as she could not get enough of that tasty mince. We use Old El Paso taco kits usually but home made would likely be even better.

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Unfortunately the lettuce and tomato are less popular but at least if it is there, they may have a nibble…

Wedding Planner & Expense Tracker

Wedding planning is a lot of fun, but there is a lot to keep track of. Guest lists, quotes, payments and everything in between. It’s nice to have it all in one place.

I created an excel spreadsheet for my own wedding organisation a couple of years back and have tweaked it a little & popped it in my etsy store, along with my simple blog tracker.

The wedding planner includes a place for guests, including addresses so it is all in one placement, with columns for RSVP from engagement party to the wedding.

There are lots of places for quotes for everything from catering, venue, transport, flowers etc.

A page to plan your wedding songs to have the perfect soundtrack to your big day.

And so much more! But rest assured, it is simple to use and full of pre-set calculations to help you stay on budget. All this for just $3, instant download and yours to adjust to suit your needs.

You can grab your copy here.20140730-192039-69639129.jpg

{Tasty Tuesday} Marinated Fish Skewers

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As is usually the case with my recipes, I had fun experimenting with random ingredients. Thankfully it was another success.

This time it was some fish skewers from the freezer I had purchased on a whim a little while ago. They were on sale so I thought why not… Then they sat and sat and sat in the freezer, without a clue what to do with them since they were plain.

Plain fish on a stick isn’t much fun!

So out came the marinating dish and some random ingredients.

Ingredients

  • Plain fish skewers (or fillets of fish you skewer yourself)
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tsp crushed ginger
  • 1 tbs apple cider vinegar
  • Salt & pepper

Method

  1. Mix all the ingredients except your skewers into a bowl. Season to taste.
  2. Place fish skewers in suitable marinating dish. Add marinade and cover skewers.
  3. Marinate for a couple of hours or over night. Cook on grill, frying pan or BBQ.
  4. Serve with rice, cous cous or other side dish of your choice.

That’s it. Super simple and very tasty. You could essentially marinate any fish this way but the skewers are extra fun and actually would make great BBQ or entertaining food.

Playing Catch up – Project Life

The past few months have been somewhat crazy and only getting worse. My most hectic month will kick off from mid August til late September with uni prac then my cousins wedding in north Queensland, with lots of assessments due in between. The cruel thing is I am doing 3 subjects this semester and 2 have assessments due mid prac while all 3 have an assessment due on the same day in the last week of term. OMG!!

I was starting to stress a bit too which is rare for me, but I was starting to fall behind. With a toddler who is a night owl at the best of times suddenly not getting to sleep until close to midnight some nights or waking frequently, it was getting a little frustrating and extremely unproductive. One of the challenges of a night shift husband.

With said husband on tour with his band this weekend, I was fearing the worse with falling even further behind, but nope. I’m now at least a week ahead in each subject with readings and up to date with assessments so far. Phew! Miss L has been nice and easy for mummy during our girl weekend.

So much so I got some time to play a bit of project life catch up tonight since I am starting to fall over a month behind on that now too. Caught up til mid June. Not as bad as I thought but still a long way to go.

 

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The fact that week 23 & 24 had so few photos and fit on a single page certainly helps with keeping up. And good memory keeping with useful apps on my ipad really help keep me on track when I’m behind. I should do a post on that sometime soon I suppose. When I find a spare few minutes that is 😉

Otherwise, you can find my entire 2014 album so far here.

More Father’s Should Do Things Like This

Have you seen this video? It’s recently been doing the rounds on the internet and the reception has been a combination of support and negativity.

It’s about a dad who wants to create a special memory for his young daughter – by taking her on her first ‘date’. He documents the day and launched it as a Father’s Day tribute recently.

Some people have labelled it as ‘creepy’, ‘wrong’ or ‘inappropriate’ but had he not used the word ‘date’ perhaps this wouldn’t be so. Or sadly enough, were it a mother taking her son on his first ‘date’ there may be a lot more support.

In my opinion, this is just wrong!

This dad should be commended on wanting to show his daughter how precious she is and give her such a cherished memory of what is simply a daddy-daughter day out. It is lovely!

It saddens me that such a beautiful video, filled with nothing but love and good intentions can be received so poorly by so many people. And perhaps this is in part due to their own less-favourable childhood memories, or the fear that so many people live in these days that something such as this cannot be innocent and filled with only good intention.

Father’s should be encouraged to have such strong bonds with their children. Don’t you think?

Creativity Break

I’m in week 3 of uni already with 2 assignments due in the next 2 weeks. I’m doing 3 subjects which is a full on post grad work load with the amount of reading.

Let’s just say… I’m very busy!

I met my first practicum mentor teacher yesterday, as well as the principal & the class of year 2 kids I get to work with. Exciting stuff. Everyone seems nice.

One of the kids even made me this, although I think she thinks my name is Loren? Not sure.

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Today it’s back to the books in between toddler interruptions but I had a sudden burst of creative mojo. It’s been a bit rare at the moment which is a bit sad, so I did a quick scrapbook page to tide me over:

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Nothing fancy but it felt nice to create 😊

{Tasty Tuesday} Nutella Choc-Chip Mug Cake

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That dreaded moment came when I realised I had no chocolate in the house…well, almost no chocolate. There were chocolate chips in the cooking supplies. Oh dear, time for desperate measures.

When I get a massive sweet tooth craving and have no chocolates otherwise in the house, its time to turn to the amazing mug cake or cookie recipes on Pinterest. My favourite has always been the chocolate chip cookie in a cup recipe from No.2 Pencil, which was partly my inspiration for this recipe experiment.

I went to make my go to mug cookie, but oh no… not only were we out of chocolate, but apparently butter too. Yet, hubby had decided Nutella was a necessity at the most recent grocery shop instead. Okay, that works. I’m sure I’ve seen recipes that substitute butter for Nutella. Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients

  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon Nutella
  • 2 tablespoons (or more) of choc-chips
  • 1/4 cup plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • Optional – tablespoon or two of sugar

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Method

  1. Whisk egg with a fork in a microwave safe mug or bowl.
  2. Add in other ingredients and mix well.
  3. Microwave for 1 minute
  4. Add a dollop of ice cream for extra indulgence, put your feet up, grab the TV remote or a good book, and make the most of this moment! You deserve it 😉

Unlike the No.2 Pencil recipe, I am lazy and throw in a whole egg rather than separating my whites and all that fuss. So rather than a cookie, it’s more of a cake. You could separate your egg if you like, but seriously it’s good just as it is. The ice cream is perfect, melting into the moist mug cake and it has just the right amount of subtle Nutella hazelnut flavour mixed in with an abundance of chocolate chips.

My chocolate craving was cured… for today!

 

Photo Editing Basics in Photoshop Elements

 

One of the best gifts my husband ever gave me is my Photoshop Elements 11 (oh… and my iPad – thanks honey).

As an amateur photography enthusiast, it is an essential tool and so easy to use. It can take your dark, underexposed photos and give them a refreshing ‘natural’ glow, or convert colour to black and white, crop out unwanted background and just so much more. So much that even I haven’t uncovered probably 90% of what it is capable of yet.

However I am going to share with you my go to technique for quick photo edits which makes a massive difference overall. Because lets face it, how many of you end up with photos like the one below often? I know I do.

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Start by opening up your photos in Photoshop Elements. I use Photoshop Elements 11 which isn’t the latest but it is recent and similar to the couple of versions before and after. There may be a few subtle differences in how it looks though.

With the photo you wish to edit on the active screen, go to the Expert editing screen – you will find the 3 tabs at the top – Quick, Guided and Expert. Expert should be the 3rd tab.

Your screen should look something like below.

Go to the side menu where there is a thumbnail of your photo in PSE 11, this is on the right.

Right mouse click on this and choose duplicate layer. You can rename this to anything you like however I went with the auto names.

Do this twice. You will now have 3 ‘layers’ to work with, as below.

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Click on your top layer so it is highlighted like above, then click on the dropdown menu above this where it is labelled ‘Normal’.

Scroll down and choose ‘Screen’. Your main image will become brighter.

 

 

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Click on the second duplicated copy of your image at the right.

Repeat as above, however this time select ‘Soft Light’.

There will now be darker shades added to your photo.

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Now it is up to your individual preferences on how light or dark you want your image to be, so each of your new layers highlighted one at a time, you can adjust the Opacity.

You will see the percentage box next to the drop down box you selected earlier on the right above your layers.

As you will see below I adjusted my soft light to be quite a low opacity percentage as the photo was very over exposed. I left my screen at 100%. The levels will depend on the exposure of your original photograph and your individual preferences.

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And below is the edited end result – not a perfect edit but a very quick and simple way to improve a photograph when you are short on time or have only a basic knowledge of Photoshop capabilities.

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And another before and after:

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Big difference with little technical skill required!

What are your favourite quick tips for photo editing?