Bananas Foster on the Grill

Have you ever made Bananas Foster? On the grill? It's not hard, and it's awfully impressive. Try it.

Although Chef Chris Brown cooked Bananas Foster for us on his grill in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the recipe was created in New Orleans.  And it’s popular in Key West.

But we like to party like we’re on the Gulf Coast when we're at home in the states!



Even through Bananas Foster was invented in New Orleans, Key West has its own version.

The famous Blue Heaven Restaurant has it’s own recipe. It serves one of the best breakfasts on the island and has a chicken graveyard on the premises, Jimmy Buffet has been known to show up unannounced and play from the Water Tower Stage.

They've changed the recipe a little. They use spiced rum and serve it over a slide of banana bread, topped with homemade vanilla bean ice cream. Yum!

Rice Lovers Rejoice!

We love rice. We love it too much. We have it at least once a week. Especially on clean-out-the fridge stir fry nights. But we need to eat healthy and watch calories--badly.  Imagine my delight when I saw an article on Facebook describing how to prepare rice so it not only has 1/2 the calories, but is more nutritious for the bugs in your belly. 

Bugs in your belly?  More and more research is confirming that the microbes in our gut not only influence our weight but our health. Even our brains. We have more bugs in our bellies than cells in our bodies. We need to make sure we take good care of the little critters.

So the article that I've linked to below explains the science, but it seems, if you add a little coconut oil to your rice water before you cook your rice, and then put the rice in the fridge for 12 hrs, then re-heat it, it not only has fewer than 1/2 the digestible calories, but also feeds the bugs in your belly.

My plan is to cook some rice once a week and put it in the fridge. Reheated rice is still pretty good. I really don't think I'll have complaints. I'll add a little chicken broth when I reheat and both my family and the bugs in our bellies will be happy.

This Cooking Trick Cuts Rice Calories in Half

Queen Victoria loved her crapper.

Queen Victoria loved her crapper. Seriously.  Thomas Crapper invented the first “Water Closets,” as well as the "ballcock," and Prince Albert had one (water closet)  installed for his wife in Osborne House on the Isle of Wright. Victoria so preferred it to chamber pots that she had water closets installed everywhere she spent time. 

Balmoral Castle in Scotland had 14 water closets.

But the question is, what did she use for toilet paper? Toilet paper wasn't invented as we know it until the 1880's, although a Medical roll of paper was evidently around in 1866. 

But Victoria never did take to the roll. Evidently she used individual square paper pieces neatly stacked in attractive wooden holders supplied by Thomas Capper & Co.  Or maybe she had her own queenly fancy crapper paper holders.

And how did I come to discover all this fascinating information about Queen Victoria and her crapper? I’m researching my upcoming book, “Whiskey for Tea: A Tale of Scotland.” My heroine, Cassandra, is a thoroughly modern young woman from Tulsa, Oklahoma, who slips through time on a visit to her engineer father in Northern Scotland. And she meets the Queen, and works for her for a while.

View image on TwitterSo I am trying to figure out what it would be like to find yourself in 1867 Scotland and try to fit in and not call attention to yourself. How would a woman survive? She’d have to have a job, but practically the only jobs for women at the time were as domestic servants, so she'’d have to fit into a household with other servants watching her every move. 

She couldn't wear makeup. Whore. 

She couldn't leave the premises without permission. Whore. 

She couldn't wear a bra. Whore. 

What happened during “that time” of month? How did she bathe? Did servants bathe? Did the masters bathe? So many questions.

I was looking for things invented around the time my book is set. I want my heroine to be able to eventually leave domestic service and see a bit of the Victorian world. Meet some of the fascinating people alive at that time. Have adventures. 

Her money has to come from somewhere, and at that time, if she didn't marry a rich man, what were her options? What does she know and what does she have with her that could contribute to financial security?

She will be dressed in Scottish dress when she travels back in time. I have that figured out. And she can have some kind of bag that fits into that time. 

Bags then weren't very big. What should be in it? Something that she eventually discovers could make her financially independent? 

She will have a journal. And a pen. Which wasn't invented yet, or was that year….That gives me ideas.  

And a sewing kit, because she is an accomplished seamstress. Surely some makeup. She’s a girly girl. But that was a no-no back then. 

Maybe a flask of whiskey. She’s a whiskey drinking girly girl. And some tarot cards. I have to learn more about tarot cards. What else?

But whatever she takes back with her, she’s going to wish she’d tucked in some toilet paper. 


Actually, the picture below has nothing to do with this article. I just stumbled onto it, but I couldn't resist posting it here.

The World Through the Lens of My Camera

I've been neglecting my blog. I'm sorry. Know why? I was inspired. I love to photograph the world. Small things, large things. Nature, People, Buildings, The sky. Photography has changed the way I see things. I see small details that many people never notice. 

That's why. I hadn't visited my FineArtAmerica site in, probably since I'm been in Australia, and I went out there the other day and found they were holding $70.00 for me because they didn't know where to send it. I had to link up my paypal account, bla, bla, bla. But, WOW! I made $70.00 off of a photograph I took.

It's a pretty good photograph. It's of the Price Tower One, designed by Wright, located in Bartlesville, Oklahoma

I've had the account since 2009 and had only a few pictures out there, but that is changing. I have a vision of the world to share. I not only love photography, but I love Photoshop and this venue gives me the opportunity to make art of my photographs.

I'm in Australia now, and what a beautiful tropical paradise it is. But we'll be returning to the U.S. soon. And I'll be retiring in a few years. I need to build up my online avenues for profit. Both self published books and sites like FineArtAmerica and other places where I can post my art in different formats can create an income stream to supplement savings and social security when I retire by the beach in Mexico. And you KNOW I'll keep adding to my collections from there! 

So now I just have to find ways of publicizing my art and my book. I have almost ten thousand followers on Pinterest and, as you know, several FB pages. I need to work on my personal website. BADLY. 

I need to find ways to advertise art pillows because the price of these pillows is really low, and some of them are SO PRETTY.

So you can follow my travels in marketing and living here. Please consider following my blog so you won't miss out on my pictures and stories.

A Smorgasbord of Facebook Pages

I have quite a few Facebook Pages. Some are just to store stuff I might need later. Some started out that way and have grown. Some are super popular and some I think have a lot of merit but have never really been discovered. 

So this blog is a list of my Facebook Pages and what they are all about. Some of them might interest you.


My most popular FB Page is named Ocean Souls. 

Ocean Souls is a page for beach bums, mermaids, travelers, and boaters who love the ocean

Next is my author page, Susan Writes.

I am an Oklahoma girl writing my novels in Brisbane, Australia.  My first book is published and available on Amazon. Check out "On the Dock: A Tale of Grand Lake." 


Two Okies in Oz is a fun page about Australia. 

I started this page when my husband and I moved here from Oklahoma a year ago.


Magic Christmas is very popular--around Christmas time. 

I started it because I spend last Christmas over here on the other side of the world, away from my family, and I usually try so hard to create a magical Christmas at home. I'm told I succeed. In fact, the family got together and reproduced our family Christmas as closely as they could this year, but told me they expect me to be there to do it for them next year. I will be.


Two of my favorite pages were created recently. They are both repositories of information for the book I have just started.

The first is Whiskey for Tea: A Tale of Scotland. 

That's the name of my future book. This page is mostly about Scotland. I'm learning all I can about it, and what a beautiful place it is. I also post lots of pictures of guys in kilts.

Next is Cassandra: Time Traveler in the Victorian World. 

Since my book is set in Scotland during Victorian times and does include Queen Victoria, this page is full of information about Victorian England and the Queen. 

One of my favorite pages is, I fear, under-appreciated. 

"A Dangerous Gal" is for women, especially not exactly young women. Educated, brave, feisty, extremely alive women.  Are you a dangerous gal? 

And then there's Beautiful Living Spaces because I need a place to collect beautiful houses, inside and out, and flowers, inside and out, and entertaining ideas.

I really have fun collecting stuff for this page.


And here are the last two:

I really need to do a lot more with Retro Photography, and I probably will. 

When I get back to the U.S., I'd like to open a little photography studio that specializes in bringing out the beauty of women "of an age," and very romantic photography.

Last but not least is a page I've had for a long time. I made it for myself, Technical Writing an Creative Training.

 I am a technical writer and instructional designer and I often have to research how to do certain things for my work...or my play.  This is where I store lots of tutorials and tips and ideas.  I am a techie. This is my techie page. I'm surprised how many people have found it.

Costco: A Little Bit of America in Australia

We finally took our first trip to Costco. It opened north of Brisbane shortly after we moved here, almost a year ago. We've always wanted to visit a Costco. Tulsa, Oklahoma, where we're from, doesn't have one, although they are getting one later this year! That Costco coming to Tulsa was one factor that finally got us to the Brisbane store. What we've heard about the crowds and the distance from our home have kept us from visiting before this, but now that we can use our card when we return to Tulsa, the time has come.

Costco wasn't so different from the Sam's Clubs we used to visit, but it was a really fun trip. Almost like a visit back home. We will not renew our Sam's membership when we return. Costco is a much more responsible employer. They pay their employees a living wage and treat them with respect and still make great profits. We feel we need to support a company like that with our dollars.

So here are a few fun observations from our first trip to Costco:  Check out this old fashioned lunch box. Shades of my father! And yes, they have American products at the Australian Costco. Like Stanley and Lawrey's seasonings (More on that later.)

This looks like a handy piece of furniture. An electric fireplace under a slot for your technology. Top it all off with a television. Does that thing generate heat or is it just for show? I think it produces heat. I don't think I'd want my CDs next to a fireplace....Do they have these in American Costcos?

Yes, we bought $50.00 worth of lobster. But that's five lobster dinners! The bugs aren't really large, but they are delicious! We cooked two last night. So yum. One would be enough with veggies and sides, but Dan ate pork and gave me his lobster and OMG!! So good!  We paid $100 for two not much bigger than this from our local fish monger for Christmas. I just hope they're not from the North Sea. We didn't check to see if they glowed in the dark, but Australia is bad about not documenting the source of seafood.

Just had to include a photo of the head of a bed. I know many of these beds with no box springs are sold in the U.S. too.  The difference here is that you can't GET a box springs in Australia. They don't even know what they are. See in the picture? A frame. A mattress. An Australian bed.

And yes, Costco has big food. I've heard about Australians who purchased these pizzas and couldn't fit them into their tiny Australian ovens. My guess is that their tiny ovens are probably standard European ovens. Did you know we Americans have giant ovens? I didn't either, before I came over here.

I'm sure Costco back home has giant food. Even we were somewhat shocked by the giant apple pies. I really lusted after these giant marshmallows. What fun they would have been when my son was in Cub Scouts. Some Australian guys at my husband's work have attended "Costco Dinners." It's a thing here, where someone buys a bunch of big or very American food and has a dinner party completely from Costco.

We saved a little on Dinner Napkins. Understand that Australia doesn't have big box stores. Or didn't. You can only buy stuff in very small quantities here. And here "napkins" are called "serviettes." and you buy them in the picnic section of the grocery store.

One of our most fun finds was yellow cheese. No, they don't have yellow cheese in Australia. It is only food coloring that makes it yellow, you know. But they also don't have sharp cheddar cheese. Yum. Yum.

They also carry Australian products. Big box sizes of Vegemite for everyone.

And it's fall here. Break out the warm clothes. Really. It does get a little chilly. This will be my second winter Down Under. But not as cold as they dress for. They should experience an Oklahoma winter. 

What is Chicken Salt? I see it everywhere. I don't know what's in it and I don't buy it. Spices are different here. And EVERYTHING has sugar, even more that back home. Vanilla has sugar!

One thing that's cheaper over here is saffron. It's actually priced reasonably here.

So if you like to cook with Saffron, Australia's the place for you.  We bought some Lawrey's Mexican seasoning. It's comforting to have the tastes of home. A lot of Asian tastes get mixed into all the spice mixes over here.

We also did very well on Jasmine rice. We usually pay $8.00 for a MUCH smaller bag that this giant thing.

But here is what my husband was looking for. A liter of jalapenos. 

We can only buy little tiny jars here. This find made him a happy man. But I have to find room for it in our Australian size frig.

We don't eat Ranch Dressing, but we hear Americans whining about not having it all the time here. Costco has it, folks.

Here's an Australian brand they carry. Believe me, Anzac biscuits (cookies to Americans) are GOOD!

Giant bags of chips. Something else we can't find. We didn't buy any. We try to stay away from those things. Wish we'd had some when our American guests were here, though.

And finally check out. Our complete trip, with membership, cost about $400.00 Australian. But we seldom get out of any grocery store for less than $200.00. And Five lobster dinners!!! ( now four)

So, to market, to market, to buy a fat hog
Home again, home again, jiggedy jog.

And after being stopped for an accident on the way back into Brisbane, and a flat "tyre" after that, we finally made it home with our goodies and GRILLED!  Best dinner I've had in a long time.  

Thank you, Costco. We'll be back.

Worth the Wait

 I actually chose a later date for my knee replacement surgery so I could attend the last two last weekends' gallery openings, and I'...