Monthly Archives: June 2016

Cold Dogs!

Many of you will be familiar with my two dogs, Bilbo and Lady and we’ve been following their intrepid adventures going sailing, kayaking, trying to rescue lost tennis balls from raging seas.

While not quite as exciting or newsworthy as their adventures on high and low tides, the dogs have been chasing the heat lately as Winter sets in.

As you can see from the photograph, Bilbo is hardly a small dog but try telling him he’s too big to be a lap dog. Oh no! My husband and I will be tapping away on our respective lap tops after the kids have gone to bed, and then we feel this white paw reach up and another. Before we know it, the dog has parked on our laps and we’ve juggling cables and laptop to make room before they inadvertently send dreadful messages to all my recipients at once.

Anyway, once the temperature plunges to 15° Celsius around here, it’s deemed “freezing” and even the dogs agree. Bilbo not only snuggled into Geoff’s lap but really dug in the other night:

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Cold Dog.

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Not sure how she usurped Bilbo, but Lady also welcomed a warm lap.

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Complaints to management! Bilbo’s not happy about being rendered a floor dog!

Actually, Bilbo also seems to find a spot near the heater! Funny that!

Meanwhile, my cries of “freezing” have been met with derision on Facebook. You call that cold?

These were some of my responses:

“-5 overnight here in Orange and still -3.3 coming to work at 7 this morning. Now that’s chilly”.

“Northern New England is -6°C at the time of this post.” (This is NW NSW near Armadale).

My husband, Geoff, grew up in rural Tasmania where you had to board in Launceston to complete your last two years of school. He tells great stories of sticking a  glass of water on the window sill overnight where it would turn into a freezing slushie and you really had to be on your guard. Not my idea of a shower on an icy Winter’s morning!

So, what’s your weather doing today? I must say that it looks like our cold snap has eased today and it’s bright and sunny outside today and about 16-18°C. I know that’s “Summer” in other parts of the world and I’m feeling so much better!

Take care!

xx Rowena’

Weekend Coffee Share 25th June, 2016.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

If you’re joining me for coffee today, you’d better forget having anything iced or frozen today and instead warm your frozen fingers around a coffee or join me in a mug of Hot Chocolate. I like my hot chocolate with whipped cream, a sprinkling of cocoa and marshmallows to dunk. Indulgent I know but I don’t have one very often so they’re quite a treat. I had my first one of these back in Koln or Cologne back in 1992. Another time…another place but still delicious!

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My daughter playing her violin.

By the way, I had the Hot Chocolate featured here on Tuesday My daughter was performing with the school choir and the string group at a lunchtime concert and as her school is a good 45 minutes drive from home, I just had to go out for lunch, a Hot chocolate and follow it up with tastings at the neihbouring cheese and chocolate factories. As much as Mum’s Taxi might cry “abuse” and “exploitation”, there are also benefits. By the way, after indulging on pork pie swimming in gravy with hot crunchy chips, my Hot Chocolate, cheeses and chocolate, I topped my splurge by visiting a huge charity shop “The Vinnies Warehouse” where I picked up a fabulous red Oroton handbag and knee-length black boots for a steal. The boots are a little tight but for $25.00, I’ll make them fit.

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Ever considered going swimming in gravy?

I needed a huge pick-me-up this week. Awful things have been happening to good people I know and then I can extend those sentiments out to Beautiful British MP Jo Cox who was brutally shot and stabbed in the UK. She was a wife, a mum of two, a daughter, a sister.

However, it was matters closer to home that really rattled me. A family friend’s daughter lost her husband suddenly fa heart attack. He was only 45 and they had a 12 year old son…the same age as ours. As much as we’ve lived with my volatile health for the last 10 years, I can’t imagine what it would be like to lose your husband and Dad suddenly like that.  Steve Gee was a much loved and respected Sports Journalist and my heartfelt sympathies go out to his family and friends. Speaking of which, I need to write a card and think of what to say, which I’m finding challenging. Perhaps, “thinking of you” is enough but when we’ve come so close to experiencing a similar loss, I expect more from myself. What have I picked up from along the road? Hence, I have written nothing…other thasn sharing his memory with you.

This week, also saw our local Paralympic Gold Medallist, Liesl Tesch attacked and robbed at gun point while training for the Paralympics in Rio. I’ve met Liesl a few times and I actually wore her gold medal down the main street of Gosford during the International Women’s Day March a few years ago, when she was our Keynote Speaker and I was on the Status of Women Committee. I also met Liesl again when she spoke to members of the kids scout troop. They’re Sea Scouts and Liesl and her husband contribute behind the scenes. What helped me at the time, was seeing how she juggled her mobility so she used a wheelchair to conserve energy but rode her bike to and from work. This made me realise that using equipment didn’t make me it’s slave and I could use it to extend myself, rather than narrowing my options. I can’t tell you how much I appreciated that at the time and since then, my health has improved significantly and I’m getting around quite well almost all of the time.

So, to hear about what happened to Liesl and  a team official, really rattled me and I did manage to get a card off to her.

I understand that bad things happen to good people and that our lives need a balance of flavours like a good dish…a bit of saltiness, sweetness, acidity, creativity, following the recipe and not just having everything sweet and sugar-coated all the time. I understand that in many instances, adversity is good for us and makes us stronger, more resourceful, compassionate and loving but at the same time adversity breaks, leaves our heroes fighting debilitating PTSD and loving people somehow consumed with hate. It’s not a predictable equation where you can put adversity in and know the person’s going to emerge like a beautifully wrapped package with a bow on top when it reaches the end of the production line.

scales Good-vs-Evil-Scales

While I haven’t been so bold as to go up to God and ask him what on earth he’s doing, I have been wondering whether he might have pressed a few of the wrong buttons. We all know someone mean, nasty and despicable who lives a comfortable life well into old age and karma never catches up with them. Case in point being Jack the Ripper. I guess the argument goes that they’ll be judged by their maker but even so, am I the only one who wants to see justice on earth and not only for eternity? I don’t think so.

So, you can see I’m a bit fired up this week but it’s doing me good venting my thoughts here and I know many of you have experienced tragedy and heartbreak and know these feelings much better than I.

Speaking of stress, last night we heard that Britain is Brexiting the EU. I don’t know what all this means and I guess it remains to be seen. I’m Australian and going back, there was some tension about what Britain was doing joining the EU and what that meant for the Commonwealth. I guess those questions will resurface to some degree. Our current Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is an outspoken Republican and we have a Federal election on July 2. There have to be some local ramifications and I don’t know what Brexit means for Australian exports to Europe. It seems the stock market isn’t happy at the moment but hopefully it will bounce back. That obviously has global ramifications.

Anyway, I wrote a post about Brexit last night: The Brexit: Britains Favourite Biscuit. It’s not intended to be a funny piece and falls more into the realms of satire.

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Roald Dahl at work in his Hut.

After dealing with the heaviness of the last week,I’ll move onto what I’ve been reading and ask if any of you are huge Roald Dahl fans? You might recall that for the A-Z Challenge I wrote a letter to Roald Dahl as part of my series of Letters to Dead Poets. This has triggered a Dahlfest in my own bookshelf and I’m currently making my way through his biography while reading through his children’s books. I have already read Matilda, James & The Giant Peach and this week I finished off Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and I’m now reading Charlie and The Great Glass Elevator. I’m pretty sure that I read both Charlie books as a child but my memories are very dim. I certainly loved the movie starring Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka, although there are some obvious discrepancies with the book. Who hasn’t wanted to find their own golden ticket and tour Wonka’s factory and own it at the end?!!

So, travelling along a chocolate river in my dreams has paralleled those more intense questions this week and we’re having a quiet weekend with the kids off at Gang Show rehearsal for Scouts. Performance are only a few weeks away. This means that I’m still rugged up in my winter PJs and dressing gown and I have no intention of going anywhere today. At a chilling 12.9 °C, it’s almost too cold to breathe! (Okay! You can start playing your violins for me now!)

So, how has your week been? I hope it’s been good and look forward to catching up!

Thanks for popping by! This has been part of the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Diana at Part-Time Monster. You can click  for the Linky to read the other posts.

xx Rowena

The Brexit… Britain’s Latest Biscuit!

New from UK Biscuit manufacturer McDunk’s comes :”The Brexit”. The Brexit is a plain biscuit designed for biscuit lovers with a less sophisticated palate, who are sick of  Nice and having their biscuits sugar-coated.

Designed to be dunked in either tea or coffee, the Brexit can also be pulverized to make that most English of desserts, Apple Crumble and is versatile enough to use for crumbing meat and makes a flavoursome stuffing for roast chicken.

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The Brexit is perfect for dunking in tea.

Since leaving the EU, the British Government has banned all foreign biscuit imports and Britons have been asked to do their bit to salvage the national economy by buying Brexits. Indeed, they’ve been implored to eat Brexits for breakfast, lunch and dinner and the Prime Minister has engaged Master Chef Heston Blumenthal from the famed Fat Duck Restaurant to produce a cookbook to teach the British public creative ways of cooking with Brexits.

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So popular….the Brexit is gone in a flash!

In recent polls, the majority of Britons voted for the Brexit as Britain’s favourite biscuit, although the Scottish voted overwhelmingly against. They like their oats.

So Britain, enjoy your Brexit but be careful while your dunking it, to ensure that it doesn’t fall in! You wouldn’t want it to drown, would you?!!

Do you have any views on Britain’s exit from the EU? I haven’t been following the debate but I’m certainly interested in the aftermath and am looking to buy a few things from the UK while the exchange rate is good. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts and get a bit of discussion going. 

xx Rowena

 

Lessons from a real and metaphorical mountain climb

As a survivor of a metaphorical mountain and my own challenges, I really appreciated this. You’ve captured the journey so well! xx Rowena

Untangled

I always used the metaphor of climbing a mountain to describe my healing journey. Then I was able to experience a real mountain climb. These are the lessons from a real and metaphorical mountain climb

  • The road to the trailhead is wrought with bumps, divots, potholes, and dusty uneven terrain. It is hot, cold, sunny, cloudy, ever changing but it’s possible to start the hike by crossing a wooden bridge at the trailhead, or climb the stairs to the safety of my therapists’ office.
  • The air at the trailhead is cleaner, crisper, and alive with possibility and excitement. As I breathe in, my lungs are fill with clean air and I want to take deep cleansing breaths. As I begin to climb into unfamiliar altitude my lungs keep me from moving too fast and I find I gasping for air. I have to remind myself to breathe. I listen to how…

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Weekend Coffee Share 18th June, 2016

If we were having coffee today, I’d be offering you a Cornish Pasty to go with your beverage of choice. Given the number of guests I usually have for my weekend coffee shares, I might have to make them a bit smaller so there’s enough to go around.

Have you ever tried Cornish Pasties? I must admit that I had to tell both my kids that they don’t contain corn and hail from Cornwell in England. However, our Cornish Pasty is better known as the “Curley” and hails from Scottsdale in NE Tasmania where my husband grew up.

We’re still fully engrossed in Masterchef here and after hearing so much about recreating your childhood memories on the plate, I decided to try to make Geoff his much loved Curley. This act of love was by no means an easy feat because I only tried the Curley a couple of times 10 years ago so I have no idea what it was like. Moreover, unlike my husband, I’m not a Cornish Pasty connoisseur and fusspot of the highest order, which made recreating the Curley pretty difficult. So, after reading a few recipes and seeing Jamie Oliver shot up in flames for not sticking to the original ingredients, I opted to go with this Traditional Cornish Pasty Recipe All went well aside from being ready at 10pm and needing to cook a quick second dinner. I also ended up with a lot of extra filling and still had some left over after making a second batch of pastry. Despite the late finish time, my husband gave my Curley his royal seal of approval, although the original had more pepper and a soft pastry. This pastry had a lovely crunch. Our daughter loved hers the next night, which is a serious endorsement as she is the fussiest eater I’ve ever met. Our son found his pastry too salty. When it comes to food, my kids have incredibly sensitive palates reminding me of The Princess and the Pea!

Needless to say, Curley will be back on the menu very soon and I’m looking at making an authentic Australian Pasty…especially as anything made outside Cornwell isn’t supposed to be a Cornish Pasty, even if it’s made by people of Cornish descent. I suspect there was an influx of Cornish immigrants into NE Tasmania looking at place names such as Launceston, Devonport and the River Tamar. Indeed, my husband’s grandmother had Cornish ancestry and was descended from Francis French from Pelynt, Cornwall who arrived in Hobart Town  on the 23 August 1831.That family was huge and populated much of Northern Tasmania.

Last Monday, was a Public Holiday in Australia celebrating the Queen’s Birthday. While she didn’t invite us to cross the high seas and join her at Buckingham Palace for High Tea, Geoff and the kids had a day off. Well, our son had a sort of day off. A friend of ours is going through her psychology registration and needed a guinea pig to sit through a supervised IQ test. These tests can be very helpful so I jumped at the opportunity which found his sister and I checking out a nearby surf beach and going out for a scrumptious lunch of corn fritters and fresh Belgian Waffles with caramel syrup and ice cream while he toiled away indoors. Meanwhile, Geoff caught up with her husband, who is his best mate, best man at our wedding. So, you have to agree, our son drew the short straw which enabled the rest of us to have a great day. We will be making it up to him.

I was really stoked with the photos I was taking of the roaring surf crashing into the beach with such vengeance. It’s been awhile since I’ve been to Wamberal Beach near Terrigal on the NSW Central Coast but we’d had nasty storms and reports of dangerous surf. Indeed, like Colloroy Beach in Sydney which saw a backyard swimming pool fall into the waves, a strip of homes in Wamberal is also seriously under threat. While I was taking the photos, I turned on the flash to freeze the waves in their tracks and captured some really dramatic effects. I was stoked…especially with my best ever photograph of a surfer.

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Winter Surfing, Wamberal, Australia…..Photo: Rowena Newton

However, while it’s all very well sharing about what’s been going on in my own little bubble, the Orlando Massacre is on my mind. Firstly, I’d like to express my heartfelt condolences to their families and loved ones and then I’d like to express my anger and wrath towards the gunman and the US gun laws. I’ve never been to America but I certainly get the impression that guns are everywhere and that it’s almost a case of getting a gun thrown in with your McHappy Meal.

I would like to urge Americans to finally take a stand against such prolific gun ownership and learn from our Australian experience.

Australia dramatically tightened our gun laws following the heinous 1996 Port Arthur massacre where the gunman brutally and rapidly murdered 35 people and injured 23 others using semi-automatic rifles. Prime Minister John Howard, supported by Walter Mikac who’d lost his wife and two young daughters in the attack, crusaded to get all the Australian states onboard and heavily restrict the legal ownership and use of self-loading rifles, self-loading shotguns, and heavily tightened controls on their legal use by recreational shooters. The government initiated a “buy-back” scheme and some 643,000 firearms were handed in at a cost of $350 million.

I really admire then Prime Minister John Howard for taking this stand, which wasn’t without serious risks. He received death threats and faced intense hostility.  Meanwhile, Walter Mikac founded  The Alannah and Madeline Foundation which supports child victims of violence and runs a national anti-bullying programme.It was launched by the Prime Minister on the first anniversary of the massacre.

The Australian experience shows that it can be done. Indeed, this story from NBC News written a year ago in 2015,  turns to the Australian response for inspiration. Australia too has it’s gun lobby but politicians and the community need to decide what is more important…the right to bear arms or the right to life. For me, it’s a no brainer.

So, while I enjoy catching up for a good social chit chat, getting together for coffee has also been about reflecting on the state of our world, the need for change and somehow turning thought into action. That’s a challenge for me personally but I do hope that through writing and raising awareness, that can somehow become a form of action.

I hope you have personally had a good week and that the week ahead goes well for you too. After researching the Port Arthur Massacre and the news from Orlando, I’m reminded how fragile life is and that we need to hold our loved ones close and never allow water to flow under the bridge, building division, fracturing relationships and bringing hurt. We need to love.

Love & blessings to you all!

xx Rowena

 

Australian Pastry… including Tasmania!

Rolling out pastry and dough, can be a bit like watching the clouds drift by. You never know what shapes and intriguing characters you’re going to find.

Yet, I was still surprised  to find Australia perfectly rolled out on the bench, while I was rolling out my pastry for the Cornish Pasties last night. I haven’t changed the shape at all. The kids simply added Tasmania because with their Dad being from Tasmania, they’re not allowed to leave Tasmania off the map.

By the way, this accidental Australia was way better than my botched efforts at trying to draw Australia at school. There’s a sort of cheat’s method where you draw a framework up with your pencil and ruler and then fill in the wiggly bits. Unfortunately, my Australia looked more like Antarctica and I must confess that I left Tassie off the map. Please don’t tell Geoff. That could be grounds for divorce!

Indeed, leaving Tasmania off the Australian map, is so commonplace that it’s even warranted it’s own Wiki page: Omission of Tasmania From Maps Of Australia  It mentions how performers who created a map of Australia during the 1982 Commonwealth Games opening ceremony, even omitted Tasmania. This prompted English-born Tasmanian poet Andrew Sant to write:

Identity deleted,
Close to the Continent
Who wouldn’t make a fuss?
There have been wars for less…

Andrew Sant, Off The Map

Being from Tasmania, of course, isn’t like being from Sydney, Brisbane or Dubbo. It’s special. Almost like being from overseas but not quite. Jokes abound about Tasmanians being inbred and backward such as having scar tissue on the shoulder from where the second head was surgically removed. Then there’s the response…”two heads are better than one!”

 

However, these days Tasmania is touted as a fabulous travel destination what with it’s unspoilt wilderness, convict ruins, gourmet food trails and stunning coastline. Oh yes! How could I forget! The grass is also greener in Tasmania…much greener! After being with my husband for almost 20 years, how could I forget?!!

Have you ever been to Tasmania? What did you enjoy most about the trip? Or, what would you like to see there?

 

Five Ways To Be More Likeable.

“Hold faithfulness and sincerity as first principles.” ~Confucious 1. Pay attention to detail Let’s face it, people love to be noticed. Whenever you meet someone new, take a moment to identify what makes them unique. Make sure to look for positive attributes so you don’t end up pointing out that someone has poor posture or dirty shoes. Maybe they have a nice […]

via 5 Easy Ways To Be More Likable — MakeItUltra™