Roast Vegetables – Easy Tray Bakes Any Which Way

A roast dinner… just thinking about it oozes comfort doesn’t it? When I was growing up, lamb roast was on the menu every Saturday night. Juicy lamb, gravy made from scratch, mint sauce, loads of potato, pumpkin, sweet potato and parsnip with a small serve of peas or broccoli on the side. Food coma…

I still crave a roast dinner like that but these days, it’s a little starchy in my gut for it to be a regular meal. Luckily there are so many other veggies that are absolutely delicious when baked up together.

Roast vegetables with steak and chimichurri.

Roast vegetables with steak and chimichurri.

A basic vegetable tray bake is a fantastic dish to have in your repertoire for so many reasons –

  • Increase your vegetable intake – get a whole rainbow on your plate and feel the vitamins and minerals getting into your system!
  • Endless flavour combinations.
  • Use up whatever vegetables you have left in the crisper or plan something in particular.
  • Some quick prep and then you’ve got time to put your feet up and have a cheeky wine (or finish whatever else is on your list).
  • Depending on the protein you add, it can be a one dish wash up.
  • The left overs are brilliant for breakfast or lunch the next day.

There are so many combinations I’ve done over the years that I thought I’d share the basic formula I use and you can then mix and match depending on your taste buds or what you have available.

Tray Bake CombinationsMethod

  • Prepare vegetables and cut into approx 3cm pieces. Hard vegetables (e.g. carrot, sweet potato) will take longer to cook than soft ones (mushroom, zucchini) so either cut them smaller or give them more cooking time.
  • Place vegetables in large baking tray in a single layer. Reserve soft vegetables for now.
  • Toss in melted oil of choice and season well with salt and pepper. Sprinkle over any additional flavourings.
  • Bake in 190 degree oven for 20 minutes. Turn vegetables and add soft vegetables to tray.
  • If you want to cook your meat or chicken in the oven as well, now is the time to add it. Season and place on top of the vegetables and continue to bake for 30 minutes or until cooked through and browned to your liking.
  • If cooking your protein separately, prepare and grill at the appropriate time.

Serve warm or hot topped with protein of your choice and finished with fresh herbs etc to suit your flavour combo.

A little trick for helping to clean the baking tray – drizzle a generous amount of dishwashing liquid over the base and pour in a kettle full of boiling water. Leave to rest for an hour. All the baked on bits should glide off.

Leftovers

  • Toss chopped left overs in a pan with some butter to reheat for breakfast or lunch.
  • If you have only vegetables left, add some chopped bacon to the pan first or top with a egg (soft boiled, poached or fried). Or both. Throw in a handful of salad greens for good measure.
Leftover roast vegetables with added bacon and fried egg.

Leftover roast vegetables with added bacon and fried egg.

 What’s your favourite vegetable combo? Have you got a one pot dinner tip to share with us?

Linking up with Deb at Inner Compass Designs for The Creativity Tree.

Caz x

 

The Price of Value – What is Something Really Worth?

Image credit: pablopicasso.org

Image credit: pablopicasso.org

 

I recently watched the auction of Picasso’s The Women of Algiers live from New York. After some spirited bidding it went for a record price of $160 million US dollars. One Hundred and Sixty Million Dollars!

Now I would always be one of the first people to defend the worth of artists and their contribution to society but it made me wonder.

How do we value creativity? How do we value a person’s work? How do we value anything?

I will never forget the first time I stood in front of a Renoir painting and was completely captured and absorbed by its luminescence. It was truly one of those WOW moments in life. But how to place a dollar value on that?

Back to the price paid for the Picasso. A staggering amount of money for a painting.

What else could be done with that money?

What difference could that make to a school system? A hospital? A struggling or developing community?

What could be achieved by feeding it back into the arts? Music education? Community art programs? Art therapy?

Pop culture excluded, exorbitant prices rarely go to the artists themselves or even to their descendants. The money exchange is between investment funds, outrageously wealthy individuals and sometimes art institutions. The value judgement being made occurs long after the particular creative work came into being and usually after someone else has demonstrated a willingness to pay. In other words its almost like a competition. Someone else values this, so I must value it more so I can capture it.

As a society we often have inconsistent ways of valuing the contribution that people make to society.

Why is the work of a marketing manager selling us products we don’t need worth more than a kindergarten teacher who plays such a vital role in shaping our young people?

Why are we prepared to spend our hard earned dollars on those products we don’t need but baulk at the higher price of organic food?

I’ve seen people scrimp on groceries, feeding their children the cheapest, most nutrient-void possible bread for their school lunches but not blink at paying $10,000 for a new BBQ. Of course I’ve seen the opposite too – people going without all sorts of things for themselves in order to pay for something they really wanted for their child.

I guess in the end it comes down to our values. What we value in life. But how do we put a price on that?

Getting clear on your values is key. What is truly important in your life?

Be explicit. Write down what you value most. Check in with those values regularly.

When making a decision or choosing a course of action, ask yourself, “Is this consistent with my values?”

Get clear on your core desired feelings. Rather than “What do I want to achieve in life?” ask yourself “How do I want to feel?”

“Will this help me to feel how I want to feel?”

There’s no easy answer and you can’t control what other people value (and in most instances, you shouldn’t) but you can get a lot clearer on what you value in life and act in a way that is consistent with and supportive of those values.

How do you determine what things are worth in your life? How do you determine value?

Caz x

Linking up with Inner Compass Designs for The Creativity Tree

I’m Writing a Book… Help!

InfoBoMo
I’ve had the kernel of a book in my head for about nine months now but done nothing more about it. Nine months… I could have grown a human in that time!Luckily I came across the talented Elizabeth Kelsey-Bradley in the Bright Eyed & Blog Hearted group and she introduced me to her new project –  InfoBoMo or Infopreneur Book Month, a challenge hosted by a team of writers, publishers and other awesome women creating amazing content.

The concept is to get that non-fiction book idea that you’ve been dreaming about and get it written, designed and out to your audience within 31 days. Anyone can access a detailed welcome kit for free or for a tiny investment, receive daily lessons, videos, worksheets and the support of other aspiring writers as well as the leaders in a private Google+ community.

This year I’m trying to be brave, seek out opportunities and explore my creativity. This seemed like a perfect fit.

I’m still a little scared. Even just typing this before it goes out to you. Declaring that I am writing a book… Who am I to be writing a book???!

I am me, that’s who I am. I have learnt so much over the bumpy journey of life that I want to share. The ex-teacher in me still wants to help others discover things, nourish their own curiosity, fuel their fire. Maybe no one will read it but the process will be worth it for me. And if someone does read it and gets even just the tiniest bit out of it, then fabulous!

What’s it about?

One of my biggest learning curves has been around self-care. Feeling worthy of it, finding the time and energy for it, particularly since I became a mother to a not so always straightforward but amazingly gorgeous boy. My emotional and physical health suffered from a complete lack of it.

My free ebook will be about self-care for women who think they don’t have the time, money or energy for self-care. I’m still working on a knock ‘em dead title.

How can you help me to help you?

In order to make it the best it can be and relevant to as many women as possible, I’ve put together a little survey to gather some information. I’d love it if you could find a few minutes to share your experience with self-care with me. All responses will be completely anonymous and you’ll have my undying gratitude and loads of virtual hugs. You can find the survey here.

The fire is lit, the countdown is on and my little book will launch in early June. Wish me luck!

Caz x

Succulents in Recycled Tin Cans

Succulents in Recycled Tin Cans | Home Heart Haven

Succulents are a favourite plant of mine and I’m always on the look out for new ways to use them in both the house and the garden.

Succulents are very forgiving plants that:

  • thrive on neglect
  • multiply quickly
  • are super easy to propogate

which adds up to a budget-friendly, brown thumb-friendly little bundle of green.

Succulent Collage | Home Heart Haven

For interior use and gifts, I’ve previously played with vintage teacups and re-purposed teapots. My most recent effort is using recycled tin cans as planters.

After cleaning off any residual goo from the label with eucalyptus oil, leave the can as is or wrap with some jute webbing and scraps of string. A dab of hot glue keeps the webbing securely in place. (And I love an excuse to get the glue gun out!)

Succulent In Can with Jute and String | Home Heart Haven

When planting succulents in re-purposed containers without drainage holes, I’ve had the most success treating them like an open terrarium:

  • For the bottom layer use small pebbles to help with drainage.
  • Next add a layer of activated or horticultural charcoal to keep things fresh.
  • Wet some sphagnum moss and add a thin layer to completely cover the charcoal.
  • Now add a quality succulent potting mix, leaving space for your plants. Back fill if necessary.

Depending on how much soil is left exposed, you may wish to add a layer of pebbles as a decorative mulch.

Water gently, being careful not to flood the pot.

Place in a sunny spot and enjoy. Remember, its better to under water rather than over water.

What’s your favourite easy care plant? Do you have any other ideas for cute planters?

I’m linking up with the amazing Deb from Inner Compass Designs for The Creativity Tree. Go and have a look at what other people have been creating this week.

Caz x

Feeling Enough… a Destination or a Journey?

Feeling enough header

Recently I took part in Kate Northrup‘s 21 Day Money Love Challenge to explore some of my beliefs around money and finances. I’d read some of her mother Christiane Northrup‘s work years ago and discovered Kate through her collaborations with inspiring women like Danielle LaPorte, Marie Forleo and Kris Carr.

I’ll say upfront that I am usually turned off by ‘schemes’ and ‘programs’ that seem focused on building monetary wealth and status ahead of other less tangible measures of ‘success’. To each their own but that’s just not me.

To go back a bit, there was a lot of email and social media traffic ahead of the release of Kate’s Money: A Love Story in 2013. I hadn’t been paying much attention to a lot of it but in an article I can’t find now, Kate was emphatic that taking care of your finances is an essential self-care strategy. And that by ignoring it or not developing a good relationship with your money you were engaging in self-sabotage.

Interesting…

Money. Love. Self-care.

Given my interest in self-care coupled with a desire to explore long held beliefs that may be having a negative impact on my life and the people around me, this seemed like a path worth following.

Just over a week in to the Challenge, the focus for the day was You Are Enough. The task was to write down and share 3 ways in which you are MORE than enough.

Sure, no problem. I thought I was doing WAY better with this stuff but it quickly became a scary prospect.

I am a great mother.
I am a fabulous cook.

[Silence]

What to put next?

Then that Lizard Brain-Inner Critic of mine got snarky…

Boasting are we?
Getting too big for your boots?
Who do you think you are?

And then, like the classic “What are your weaknesses?” job interview question, I found myself choosing weaknesses and turning them around to make it seem like more of a strength.

I do too much for other people and don’t take care of myself became
I am very generous with friends, family and the wider community.

By the way, those classic interview answers – I’m a perfectionist… I’m really hard on myself… they are ABSOLUTELY weaknesses. Don’t be pretending ’bout that!

So, working through it a bit more…

I am creative.
I am passionate

Hmmm… Still feeling a bit ‘icky’ about this, more work to do.

So it seems that this I Am Enough business is an ongoing process rather than a finite task that can be neatly ticked off and filed away. It’s a journey, not a destination. Just like life really. As Elizabeth Gilbert always says as she signs off, ONWARD.

Do you struggle with feeling enough? What helps you in those moments of self-doubt?

Caz x

Maple Cinnamon Popcorn

Maple Cinnamon Popcorn

We all love a crunchy snack in this house. Dog included. Crunchy… salty… sweet and salty… I grew up on plain potato crisps and there’s always been something soothing about the combination of crunch and salt.

Having spent many years working with occupation therapists to help Master A’s sensory issues, I now know that some of the attraction we have for crunchy things can be for the effect that this heavy jaw work has on our nervous system. Crunching can calm us. Chewing gum can have a similar effect.

So, given that the crunching can be helpful for our emotional and mental state, I wanted to find snack foods that were attractive to a sensitive palate but didn’t contain a proverbial chemical sh*!storm.

We’ve had a popcorn machine for so long I can’t work out how long. It has made countless batches of popcorn for us, friends, friends’ children and now our little man. He loves his popcorn, loves ‘good’ salt and is now convinced that Mum’s popcorn is better than anything you can get at the supermarket or cinema. [Read more…]

Go At Your Own Pace

IMG_0608.PNG

We’ve hit the new year and social media is filled with people’s intentions, desires and goals for the year ahead. Not to mention wrap ups of the year coming to a close.

I made a decision a little while ago that I would like to be more intentional this coming year. That I wanted to be clearer on what I wanted to achieve, where I was going. What was important to me and how I wanted to feel.

Having done a gut healing program in November/December, I finally felt that I had a bit of a handle on how I was going to make a significant difference with my health. Not to mention greater mental clarity to actually consider ‘the meaning and direction of my life’. 
Then the crazy season hit in earnest –

Master A’s birthday festival (there seemed to be so many events).

End of year activities for school (parties, concerts, dressups). 

And of course Christmas. 

I was writing about Keeping Christmas Simple to try and stay sane and avoid collapsing in a heap but I didn’t get as many posts written as I would have liked. I didn’t keep things as simple as I would have liked. I didn’t avoid wheat or sugar as much as I would have liked. 

I fell in that heap, albeit a smaller one than in years past.

After overcoming a bit of overwhelm, I started to sort through my overflowing email inbox and found some tools for reflections, planning, dreaming and finding my word for the year ahead. I printed off a couple of workbooks to go through while we’re in the slow lane at the Gippsland Lakes. 

And then I was hit by a deluge of people who were ten steps ahead of me. I was ‘behind schedule’.

COMPARISON IS THE THIEF OF JOY
Theodore Roosevelt

And then I gave myself permission to go at my own pace. Breathe.

By now it’s New Year’s Day and I don’t have my word for the year established let alone blogged yet. So what? Does that mean the year is ruined? Of course not.

By being forgiving and not buying into an arbitrary deadline, I’ve freed myself up to be able to experience a wonderful guided visualisation about my ideal day. It felt so clear and so damn good. I can’t wait for what comes next. 

We can get so caught up in the concept of making a deadline or milestone that we lose sight of why the heck that goal was important to us in the first place. 

We are also usually far more accepting of others taking life’s challenges at their own pace – 

Would we express disappointment in our child for learning to ride a 2 wheel bike at 8 rather than 4?

Would we berate our best friend for not managing to give up smoking…yet?

Hopefully, you’ve all yelled “of course not!” at the screen.

So… Go at your own pace.
Be your own best friend, be gentle with that small child within.
Encourage and accept yourself as you would someone you care a great deal about. 
Keep in mind how it will feel when you reach that place but keep your mind off the stopwatch.

Oh, and it’s now ten days since I started writing this, intending to publish immediately. Going at my own pace. And it’s ok.

How do you manage to go at your own pace and avoid the trap of comparison?

Caz x

Keeping Christmas Simple – Shop Small

Shop Small

Last week I talked about my desire to keep Christmas simple, more joyful and the approach I’m going to take with gifts.

Today I’m going to introduce you to a number of lovely Australian women who make and sell products I admire. I’ve road tested things from all of them as well as having given them as gifts. I’m hoping people on my Christmas list aren’t reading this because I might be giving away some secrets…

kids-in-kitchen-cover-square-600x600

Kids in the Kitchen

Kristin blogs at Mamacino and has this year launched her Mamacino Homemade range of granola and other delicious whole food treats. She has also just released her first cookbook – Kids in the Kitchen. I’ve bought four copies already – three to give as gifts and one for us to keep. Thoroughly tested by Kristin’s three hungry children, the recipes are simple and mouthwatering and the book is beautifully photographed and printed.

 

Hanging Gardens

Hanging Gardens by Little Urban Farmers

Conceived and designed by a friend of mine, these nifty little planters attach to tiles or glass, allowing you to have fresh herbs at your fingertips in the kitchen. They also look fabulous in the bathroom with succulents or bath toys. They’re eco-friendly too and Michelle was a finalist in Kevin Macleod’s Green Heroes at last year’s Grand Designs Live. They come flat packed so are easy to mail to loved ones. I’ve given many of these as gifts and have a set of white ones in my house too.

 

Alisha1

Naughty Naturopath Mum and Essence Practitioner

Alisha is a naturopath and mum to two small children. She now runs her Australian Bush Flower essence-based business online and is a cheery presence on social media. If you haven’t heard about Bush Flower Essences before, have a watch of this video. I’ve had a number of Alisha’s custom blends to help with various things and I just adore them. I’m currently loving the Cravings blend to help support me on my gut healing journey. Alisha also stocks the amazing Love System range of skin and body care products which make beautiful gifts.

 

Alexx Stuart

Alexx Stuart

Alexx is a crusader for healthy living and amongst many other things, an ambassador for Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution Day. I have learnt a huge amount from Alexx’s blog and have cooked many of her recipes numerous times. If you’re quick, you can order a bag of her mother-in-law’s organic garlic, grown with love and care in the NSW Southern Highlands. Garlic not your thing? Try a copy of Alexx’s #1 Amazon best seller Real Treats (available as a PDF or Kindle format).

 

Mary Grace

Mary Grace Jewellery

Mary is a mum of six (!!) yet still manages to make gorgeous affordable jewellery, look fabulous and make it look easy. She produces a range of styles of earrings, necklaces and bracelets that is regularly updated and expanded. Her service is second to none and I’ve often bought things to give as gifts and been torn about parting with them. I think I’ll have to get another piece for myself when I put my Christmas order in. You can find browse the huge number of styles available on her website or on Etsy.

 

FCGroup4

4MyEarth

4MyEarth is a small Australian business dedicated to finding simple solutions to help reduce waste and other environmental impact. Rebecca produces re-usable food wraps, snack pockets, food covers and produce bags. I’ve used a bread bag for about 12 months to store my homemade bread and I’ll be ordering some of the food cover sets to go under the tree.

Go and visit some of these lovely ladies and get some Christmas shopping done quickly and easily while supporting small Australian businesses.

Which one of these takes your fancy? Do you have a favourite small online business you can share with us?

Caz x

Raspberry Infused Vodka

Raspberry Vodka

Once upon a time, there was a glut of lemons and a bottle of vodka. They were destined to make limoncello, primarily to give as gifts this Christmas but some for entertaining as well.

Alas, with one thing and another, the lemons and vodka did not meet. The lemons were used in ordinary, every day cooking. A few might have gone off… And then it was too late to start limoncello for Christmas anyway.

The vodka and empty bottles continued to sit in a corner in my kitchen reminding me of a task not done. Promise unfulfilled. And they were getting in the way.

Today was the day to give the kitchen a good scrub and I started in the vodka corner. Mainly because it’s a small space and I figured if I could just get one bit under control and nicely clean it would inspire me to keep going.

A flash of inspiration…

Raspberries. I have loads of frozen raspberries.

Raspberries + Vodka = Delicious! And February in Melbourne is still a great time for fruity summer cocktails.

After quickly consulting Chef Google, I settled on the following cobbled-together method.

  • Wash and sterilise 3 bottles
  • Place 50g frozen raspberries in the bottom of each bottle.
  • Using a funnel, pour 50g sugar over the raspberries.
  • Top with 1/3 bottle of medium quality vodka (my bottle was 700ml).
  • Screw the lids on and give each bottle a few gentle shakes.
Raspberry Vodka


A beautiful rich colour already.

I’ll continue with ‘the shakes’ each morning until the sugar has dissolved and then hide them away in a dark cupboard for 3 months. Hopefully. They might get tested before then.

I was feeling down that I hadn’t got the limoncello made but now I’m feeling chipper about the prospect of raspberry vodka with soda and lime come February.

Have you ever had a plan go awry only to come up with a cunning new plan?
What’s your favourite infused beverage?

Caz x

Keeping Christmas Simple – Gifts

Simple Xmas Gifts

With Christmas fast approaching, as well as Master A’s birthday, I found myself in a state of overwhelm about it all the other day.

There’s so much to do. How will I get it all done?

I want it to to be beautiful, meaningful, blogable, Pinterest-worthy even.

Money’s tighter this year, I have to set a budget but not skimp. 

I want to be organised not stressed but I’m getting stressed about wanting NOT to be stressed.

Sound familiar?

If so, Myquillyn from The Nester has a piece of wisdom to get us back on track.

 It doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful this Christmas.

SIMPLIFY

Simplify has been a guiding word for me this year as I realised I have a tendency to overcomplicate things. So how to simplify Christmas?

Today we’ll talk gifts.

I like to put a fair amount of thought into what I choose for the important people in our lives but I want to still be able to feel the joy of giving. I also want the process to be reflective of my philosophy of heart-centred living. Consistent with my values if you will.

Here are the key things I’m going to keep in mind this year to keep it simple, keep it joyful, keep it heart-felt.

Use What You’ve Got

I was going to make lovely upcycled heart ornaments to go with the teacher gifts but when I looked in the present box, discovered lovely porcelain ones I’d bought for next to nothing at an outlet store. The hearts can go on next year’s list. If you’re the sort of person like me who snaps up lovely things when you see them, have a good look in the cupboard and see what’s lurking there.

Streamline Handmade Items

I have made gifts for friends and teachers for many years, some years making up to a dozen types of edible or consumable items, some of which couldn’t be made or packaged until almost the last moment or were very time intensive.

This year I am going to keep to things I can make quickly in bulk ahead of time. Things I can make in my sleep so to speak but that still send a message of love and gratitude. I’m thinking about Lemon Sugar Scrub, Chocolate Granola and Chocolate Chai Syrup.

Theme Your Gifts

The people in our lives will have many intersecting interests so take advantage of that and buy multiples of things or gifts on a similar theme. Last year many of my loved ones received the Humans of New York coffee table book. Some of my ideas so far for this year include Keep Cups for the takeaway coffee drinkers, Adam Spencer’s Big Book of Numbers and a framed family portrait for the grandparents.

Shop Small

Last year I ended up buying a large number of gifts at Volumes, an independent book store/gift shop/cafe when a friend took me there for lunch – beautiful books, children’s activities, decorative items. I don’t think I’ll make it there this year as it is a bit of a drive but there are some local places I know I’ll visit.

There are so many talented women in the Australian blogosphere producing beautiful products that I’ll be seeking inspiration there as well. Look out for my upcoming post featuring my favourites.

I accept that I’ll probably lapse into the frenzy of Christmas at times but if I can just make things a little simpler, a little calmer then I can count it as a win.

Does gift shopping get you all hot and bothered? What are your tips for creating some calm from the potential chaos?

Caz x