A resurrection of sorts (& a banana bread recipe)

Hello again.

It's been a while. More than a while. I won't bore you with reasons and excuses, but I'm back. I'm resurrecting the blog as part of my new commitment to writing that isn't thesis related because I need a ~creative outlet~. So, I'll be posting bits and pieces here on the ol' blog every so often.

For now, I'll share with you my banana bread recipe which has been serving me well for the last few years. I have no idea where I got the original recipe from, but I scrawled it onto a bit of old newspaper which has been gracing the door of our freezer ever since. I make changes to it almost every time I make it though.

The ingredients list varies depending on what I have and what I feel like doing, but here are the basics:

  • 1½ cups self raising flour
  • ½ cup of plain wholemeal flour
  • ½ cup of packed brown sugar (or less/none if you want to add honey or maple syrup or stevia or something like that)
  • 1-2 teaspoons of cinnamon (I honestly don't think I've ever actually measured how much I use)
  • 50g of butter, melted (or ¼ cup of some kind of oil or maybe yoghurt if you want)
  • ½ cup of milk (I generally use soy milk, but I'm sure any kind would be fine)
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed ( I just squish them in my hands as I add them, it's very therapeutic)
  • 2 eggs (or 2 eggs worth of an egg substitute or an extra mashed banana works great too)
  • ½ cup of optional extras (my favourite is chopped dates, but go nuts with whatever you want – muesli, sultanas, chocolate chips, dried figs, hazelnuts, All-Bran – seriously, whatever you want)

Preheat your oven to 180°C and grease a loaf pan. Mix all your dry ingredients (except any optional extras, mix them in last) together in a bowl. Make a well in the centre and add all your wet ingredients. Give it a good mix with a spatula (or a wooden spoon or a fork, it doesn't matter). Now mix in your extras. Tip it all into your loaf pan. If you feel like it, you can top the mix with stuff (a sprinkle of cinnamon, some oats, a drizzle of honey or a bit of brown sugar all work pretty well). Bake it for 45-50 minutes until the top is nice and golden.

I feel like in a world where people are in their home kitchens obsessing over choux pastry and macarons, we need a recipe like this. I can't think of a time it's ever turned out bad. There was once when I made the mix a bit too wet and undercooked it ever so slightly, but I just put slices of it in the sandwich press before I ate them and it was all good. It's a very "she'll be right, darl" kind of recipe and that's what I love about it.


It's not a diet: On changing my eating habits

Last Monday was International No Diet Day. I am very much of the belief that diets are terrible and that the best way to eat is unrestricted and in tune with our own bodies. Nourish your body, stop when you're sated, don't beat yourself up over your food choices and don't judge the food choices of others.

Having said that, on Tuesday I saw a naturopath who advised me to try limiting my starch intake to help with my ankylosing spondylitis symptoms. Since being diagnosed (years ago) no doctor has ever suggested I try this, but I did a bit of online research and it's a perfectly sensible suggestion. There have been studies into it and there's loads of anecdotal evidence online.

So, now I'm trying to reduce the amount of starch I eat. I've been very careful not to call this a diet or see it as depriving myself of certain foods. I can still eat starchy foods if I want to. Actually, I'm pretty excited about trying some new foods and experimenting with different recipes. I'm looking at this less like restricting starch and more like exploring new options.

So far the biggest change I've made has been at breakfast. Instead of eating two bits of toast or a small bowl of cereal in the morning I'm eating fresh fruit and yoghurt. And you know what? I'm enjoying breakfast! This morning I made it into a smoothie. It was awesome!

Other than that it's just been a case of having a salad instead of a salad sandwich or switching potatoes for pumpkin at dinner. I think the only things I would really miss are crackers and cake, but I can still have them if I want and I'm really interested in trying out some low-starch recipes I've found for them online.

As far as I'm concerned, I get to try out things like cauliflower pizza bases, zucchini 'pasta', almond flour cheese crackers and almond chocolate chia bites and maybe not be in pain for the rest of my life. That definitely doesn't sound like (or feel like) a diet to me.


Google Reader's death knoll

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

If you use Google Reader you probably already know that it will be no more as of June or something. I was really annoyed when it was announced. Really annoyed. I had Google Reader set up exactly how I wanted it and everything worked perfectly. After the announcement I tried Feedly for a few weeks, but it and I didn't really get along. I tried Feed Demon, but didn't like that it wasn't browser based. And now I've finally settled on Bloglovin. It's not perfect, but it's definitely my favourite of the available options.

Oh, and I'll totally make a proper blog post tomorrow. I've been meaning to post for a while (I even had things to post about!), but I just haven't been feelin' it. 


Self-care Sunday: I forgot I had a blog

I accidentally took a break from blogging. With health stuff and going back to uni I got somewhat distracted and forgot I even had a blog. But I remembered today and here I am. Self-care has been interesting lately. I'm still enjoying my morning coffee ritual whenever I can. I was pretty excited about this latte art I got a few weeks back. It looks like a turkey!

Photo of a latte featuring latte art that resembles a turkey.

I've also been treating myself to baked goods occasionally. Rodney's Bakery in West End is my favourite place at the moment. $2 lamingtons! Plus I like support local small businesses and they also do a killer vegetarian pie.

Photo of a lamington inside a white paper bag.

Speaking of food and eating, I'm finally reading Health at Every Size and it is amazing! I thoroughly recommend it to every single person ever. I don't want to get all gushy about it or anything, but thanks to this book I'm slowly learning to recognise when I'm hungry - and that is a huge deal for me. 

Photo of the book Health at Every Size in my lap.

In other exciting news, I started getting hives. Every single day for the last month or so, in fact. So now I'm keeping a "hive journal" to take with me to the doctor. The chemist gave me a cortisone cream for it, but it doesn't seem to do much. Going to try aloe tomorrow since we have some growing in a pot on our front porch. Wish me luck!

Photo of my legs, covered in hives, and a notebook "hive journal" on my lap.


Short Story: Randall in the Army

A few months ago I was sorting through some old notebooks and found a short story I wrote in grade 11. I thought I'd type it up and share it here since I'm actually pretty proud of 16-year-old-Amie's efforts. Enjoy.

Randall in the Army
by Amie Gill (2001)

Randall had always been the quiet type. And as the Major stared him down from behind his large oak desk Randall sat quietly. Whether it was out of fear or bravery, Major West could not be sure. The question he had asked was simple, “Whose fault was the accident?” Randall knew the answer. He was present when it had happened. Although, the term 'accident' was debatable.

It had been a cool afternoon, unusual for this particular time of year, and the boys from the unit were in a rather jovial mood. It was Roger Smith who had first suggested they head down to the lake. The rest of the company had met the suggestion with much enthusiasm and in no time they were swimming, and playing cards under the trees surrounding the lake. As the afternoon progressed men scuttled back and forth providing everyone with snacks and refreshments. Soon enough not one man was sober and the swimming and innocent card games had descended into nude dips and gambling.

It wasn't unusual to see this sort of activity around the barracks. Even Major West had participated in such goings on in his youth. Now, however, as a hardened Major he wouldn't have a bar of it. As darkness set in and drinking continued, wild ideas were bandied around. Most were met with hysterical laughter. However, it didn't take long for someone to take things too far. When it was suggested that someone obtain a few sticks of dynamite and create somewhat of a water feature in the lake it was first greeted, as were the previous ideas, with laughter. When a few men disappeared from the proceedings it certainly didn't arouse suspicion.

By this time news of the gathering had reached Major West. Upset at having his bubble bath interrupted, he pulled on his robe and began his march towards the lake. As he got closer the sound of loud laughter and shouting filled the air. Anger built up within him and his face contorted. The sounds grew louder until he was hit with an unwelcome silence. Major West often relied on the element of surprise and now it looked as though he had been discovered.

It was soon painfully obvious that his presence had nothing to do with the silence though when it was broken by the sudden cry of “Run for it!” and the men came rushing up the bank towards him. As they ran past, all with shocked faces, they didn't even notice Major West until Randall collided with him. The other men running past as Randall rolled about on top of the Major.

“What the hell is going on here?” Major West shouted. By this time he was absolutely infuriated. His shouting, however, was in vain as the situation was soon explained to some degree by the sounds of water and a huge explosion. What was once the lake now covered Major West and Randall as well as most of the surrounding area. Thankfully nobody was injured. This fact, however, seemed to incense Major West further. “You should have all been killed,” he yelled. “At least it would have rid the world of your great stupidity!”

Now, all Major West was interested in was finding out who was responsible. Randall sat upright in the large leather chair opposite him, staring blankly. “I don't want to have to repeat myself,” said the Major sternly. Randall leaned to his right, his small green body unable to keep balance on the large chair. “Are you listening to me, son?” Major West shouted. Randall toppled over in the chair.

“Damn cucumbers!” screamed the Major. “Meant for salads, not the army!”


2013: a year of self-care

I've been thinking a lot about personal goals recently. Perhaps it's just the new year or that other people are talking about them too, but they're on my mind. I like having goals. I like making lists and ticking items off as I do them. I think writing them gives me a sense of control and ticking items off helps me feel like I'm achieving something. And it just makes things seem more manageable when I break them down into lists. With that in mind, here is my list of self-care goals for 2013.

Photo of a pad of 'to do list' sticky notes and a mechanical pencil sitting on top of my laptop keyboard.

- Exercise more so I can feel stronger. I'd like to build my core and upper body strength which have both become quite weak. Working on my core will also help with managing my spondylitis.

- Stop putting off making medical appointments. Starting tomorrow by making the appointment for the CT of my jaw that was recommended before Christmas.

- Be more organised so I don't forget about things and then panic when they sneak up on me. Especially with regards to uni. I bought a pretty neat student diary from Officeworks that should help me with that.

- Keep a journal. Matt's mum gave me a beautiful hand-bound journal made from a vintage book for Christmas. I want to use it to document my thoughts on self-care as well as a more arty journal (with a self-care sort of theme). I've always had a sort of fear when it comes to writing in nice journals and books. I need to get over that.

- Continue to have fun with nail polish as self-care. Both Louie and Erin (best siblings!) gave me nail polish for Christmas. I may need a bigger box for my collection soon.

- Do a wardrobe clean-out and get rid of any clothes that don't make me feel good. Make a list of items I want/need and either make or buy them (preferably second-hand). Also, stop just wearing thongs (flip-flops) all the time and wear more supportive shoes instead.

- Remember that it's perfectly acceptable to say no to things. It's also perfectly acceptable to not answer my phone when I don't feel like talking. 

I'm also going to make Self-care Sunday a monthly thing from now on because I want to blog about other things too, but I don't think I have the energy for posting more than once a week at the moment. I'm really looking forward to writing about other things!


Self-care Sunday: 30.12.12: Some musings on self-care

Yesterday our friend Nic came to visit after having been overseas for three months. It was awesome to see him again and I love the conversations we have. We ended up on the topic of self-care and Matt mentioned the idea of a self-care triple bottom line. Nic suggested it might best comprise of mind, body and spirit. I'm not sure about how the 'spirit' part fits for me, but the concept of a self-care triple bottom line really resonates with me and it's been in my mind ever since.

I want to think more about self-care in 2013 and be more active about it too. Matt's mum gave me a beautiful hand bound journal for Christmas that I'm planning on using as a self-care journal. I want to write/draw/whatever in it every day (if I can - I'm not going to beat myself up if I don't feel up to it). I'm not really one for new years resolutions, but I feel very much like I'm at a turning point at the moment. Making changes and setting goals for myself right now feels kind of organic.

I feel like I'm still fleshing a lot of my ideas out at the moment, so here are some wonderful self-care related things on the internet:
Sad Teen Queer's self-care comic is just lovely.
Tonight I stumbled across Cosmoqueer zine and issue 4 is all about self-care.
I will forever love Stephen Fry's response to a letter from a girl struggling with depression.
I thoroughly recommend Maranda Elizabeth's writings on self-care.
 Treat yo' self! [video]

I save a lot of self-care related links to my mind + body Pinterest board and regularly peruse it. Is there anything that you specifically do for self-care? Are there any awesome self-care resources you've found? I'd love to hear from people.


Crafted: embroidered felt Christmas garland

No Self-care Sunday post yesterday because I spent the day cleaning. Matt and I decided we want to get the house super clean and tidy before new years so we can really have a nice fresh start. So I've been wiping down window sills and skirting boards, dusting shelves, throwing out accumulated junk and attacking a backlog of dishes from last week when my back was flaring up. And during my breaks from cleaning I finished putting together my embroidered felt Christmas garland that I've been working on.

Photo of my embroidered felt Christmas garland hanging above my window from a curtainless curtain rod.

I'm really happy with how it turned out. I couldn't really be bothered putting the tree up this year, but I still wanted something 'festive'. I kind of want to make something similar and non-Christmasy to hang there all year round since we don't have curtains on that window. Perhaps some fabric bunting or something.

Photo of the window from a wider view. On the sill is a vase with hot pink fabric flowers, a white ceramic owl, a framed photo, a pin-up girl cigarette tin and a Christmas card.

I think next year I'll try my hand at salt dough ornaments and I'm definitely making my own wrapping paper once I use up the last of the gigantic rolls I bought two years ago. There are some beautiful examples of hand-stamped wrapping paper and other alternatives to store bought versions getting around the internet at the moment - some of which you can check out on my 'holidays + celebrations' Pinterest board.

Close up photo of my embroidered felt garland: red, yellow and green felt 'baubles' embroidered with various designs and strung on a piece of cotton string.

If I get myself organised enough I'd love to do a completely handmade Christmas next year - gifts and all!


Self-care ...Tuesday: 11.12.2012

On Sunday my lower back decided to throw a pain party and it's currently still raging on. As such, self-care at the moment is basically spending a lot of time stretched out on the couch with my buddies heat-pack and codeine.

Photo of my view from the couch including my laptop on a cushion, my legs and the kitchen in the distance.

I'm pretty bummed because it's meant not being able to do a lot of the things I want to do. I was hoping to have my embroidered felt Christmas decorations finished by now, but they still need putting together. At least I can still use my computer on the couch or I would be so bored right now. I've been spending a fair bit of time on Pinterest though - so I'm not exactly being productive.

Hopefully my back will be feeling better before the week is over and I can get some things done. Fingers crossed!


Out and about: Brother Espresso

Matt and I recently had coffee at Brother Espresso on Wickham Tce and it was brilliant! I say recently, but really it was maybe two months ago. We were up that way for boring being-responsible-adults type reasons and decided to make the most of it with coffee. So glad we did!

Photo of Brother Espresso viewed from Wickham Tce. The building, Wickham House, was built during the 1920s.

Brother Espresso is located in the historic Wickham House and the neat little vestibule café is a nice escape from the street outside. Wickham House was built in the 1920s and the architecture is just gorgeous. I loved the framed historical photographs up on the wood panelled walls. I think Brisbane's history is often forgotten and ignored, so it was awesome to see it embraced and on show like that.

Photo taken inside Brother Espresso in the wood panelled vestibule of Wickham House.

And the coffee! I ordered a macchiato and Matt had a half long black. Both were absolutely outstanding. It's a pity we don't usually have reason to be in that part of town because it was easily some of the best coffee I've had in Brisbane.

Photo of two coffees in white espresso cups on a varnished wooden table.

Brother Espresso
155 Wickham Tce
Brisbane City

Accessibility notes: There are two small steps to get into the building. The café area itself is quite small and narrow.