Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Sponge Cake Queen…Friday Fictioneers.

This year the judging of the Best Sponge Cake at the Royal Sydney Easter Show was breaking with tradition. In addition to the regular judging panel from the Country Women’s Association, Melissa Leong from Masterchef was guest judge. She couldn’t wait to slice into Madge Gerbera’s sponge. She’d won Best in Show for 25 years, and was “the Sponge cake Queen”. However, the knife couldn’t cut through. There was something odd in the middle of the cake. Meanwhile, back home Grandma couldn’t find her teeth. Last seen when she helped herself to the mix. Humph! This was a truly unforgettable sponge.

…..

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Ever since I was a small child, I’ve had an acute phobia of false teeth. So, while for some finding a rodent of any description in their cake would give them the horrors, for me, it would be a set of false teeth.

I had actually planned to write about my mother and her sponge cakes. She was the sponge cake Queen of our family and friends and she added a bit of melted butter and warm milk to her sponge cake. She icing them with passionfruit icing, filled them with cream, but also kept a piece plain for my Dad who doesn’t like icing.

The recipe came from a family friend, Val Gerber, who I believe had won at the Brisbane Show and the recipe was printed on the back of the Fielder’s Cornflour as “Val’s Sponge”. I remember meeting Val when I was a little girl out on the farm. We were treated to a very special country afternoon tea where the table almost sank under the weight of all the cakes and treats. Yum!

I hope this story hasn’t made you too hungry!

This has been another contribution to Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wishoff-Fields. PHOTO PROMPT © Todd Foltz.

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

A Meeting of Minds….Walks With My Friend.

“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, “What! You too? I thought I was the only one.

C.S. Lewis

When you think about what remains of our life stories after we’re gone, it’s all about family connections…DNA. However, most of us can’t live with family as our only source of human interaction. We also need friends.

Every friendship is unique, just like our fingerprints. No two friendships are the same, which means we need to cherish each and every friend like gold, and they’re certainly not simply a stepping stone to get us where we’re wanting to go. Rather, I’d prefer to think about how I could ease my friend’s journey in some way, although I’ve had some truly wonderful friends who’ve been literal lifesavers when I’ve been seriously ill, barely able to look after my kids and they’ve driven them to and from daycare, school, fed them, cooked us meals or simply, and very importantly, listened. Finding understanding and acceptance, especially given my rare health and disability issues, has been a struggle and such a God-send when I’ve found it.  There are those two parallel footprints in the sand. We’re each independent and carrying our own load, but we’re also there with and for each other through life’s ups and downs, cups of coffee, walks along the beach and no doubt through the storms.

Footprints Pearl BeachThese photographs of footprints in the sand could tell a story of their own. However, they were actually taken while I was out walking along Pearl Beach with my friend who I’ll call “Henry’. I turned around and saw our footprints side-by-side in the sand stretching uninterrupted almost along the full length of the beach and they told a story of friendship, and what it means to be a friend. Well at least that’s what these two sets of parallel footprints said to me.

“Friendship is the hardest thing in the world to explain. It’s not something you learn in school. But if you haven’t learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven’t learned anything.”
– Muhammad Ali 

In many ways my friendship with Henry breaks a few taboos. As you know, I’m married to Geoff and well you might ask what’s the story of my friendship with Henry? To put you at ease, Roland is the same age as my Mum and Dad and while some people might go for that kind of age difference, it definitely puts up a roadblock for both of us. Besides, I am clearly and most definitely married and if I was going to have an affair, I wouldn’t be hanging out once a week at a local cafe next door to the bookshop where Henry and I met. Rather, I’d be heading off to Sydney well and truly away from this goldfish bowl where everyone knows yours and everyone else’s business.

“I don’t need a friend who changes when I change and who nods when I nod, my shadow does that much better.

-Plutarch.

By the way, I first met Henry a few years ago in our local bookshop.  He was looking for books about WWII German history to write about his father’s war service as a Polish fighter pilot in the RAF. I knew of a good book through my own German/European heritage on my mum’s side and so we had that cultural connection, as well as our shared writing interest. Henry and I also made time for each other. Time to meet for coffee once a week, and at much the same time every week… very much like clockwork. Many of my friends don’t operate like clockwork, or don’t feel the need for that weekly coffee/ tea fix. However, I need it just like I need food and water and the car needs to be topped up with petrol. Geoff has joined us a few times, and the kids have met him. Moreover,  they know that my meetings with Henry are set in stone unless it’s mission critical. Aside from my violin lessons, there haven’t been many restrictions placed on my time since I stopped work a few years ago and I think it’s good for them to know I’m not available on tap. Another thing I really appreciate about my friendship with Henry, is that he takes me seriously. He sees something more in me than this incomplete, imperfect scrambling character I see inside myself, and he gives me hope. Reads my writing and takes it seriously and even edits it and provides suggestions. He is kind, considerate and in the mould of his chivalrous Polish father, a gentleman and someone I trust and can truly rely on.

Roland & Rowena

Our shadows captured walking down the beach…Henry with his cap on and me lugging my camera bag along.

 

“It’s your road, and yours alone, others may walk it with you, but no one can walk it for you.”

– Rumi

Henry’s friendship has also been a very important for me during the coronacrisis. For a few months there, he was all but my only physical social contact outside the family. He is fastidious about maintaining social distancing, is very protective of my health and also has a small social circle and takes precautions when he’s out. Our cafe’s been closed and I’m not quite ready to head back yet So, we’ve been going for walks along the beach instead. We did actually try to get a coffee at Pearl Beach last week but that all stops at 2.30pm over there so we didn’t have the opportunity to support local business. Gotta say, I was pretty disappointed, but we’re still coming out of covid and it is Winter here and there aren’t a lot of people around. However, they can also become a viscous circle.

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A few years ago, I used to have my dog-walking friends who were important to me. However, mornings and I haven’t been well acquainted of late and that’s fallen by the wayside. Moreover, I’ve seriously missed all the incidental friendships, which are structured around our activities and haven’t happened during lock down. Unfortunately, although dance has returned to the studio, parents are excluded and I’m still being cautious. The coronavirus is down, but not out.

Ferry and big clouds2

This massive cauliflower-shaped cloud decided to join us as well as a pod of dolphins which I didn’t quite manage to capture on film.

Anyway, might I encourage us all to unapologetically pursue and maintain our friendships. Indeed, I’ve made some really strong friendships through blogging, which have added a very interesting and largely international dimension.

Friendship matters!

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

 

Once Upon A Virus…

Millions are following what the coronavirus is doing, how different countries and individuals are responding and it’s sort of like a huge social and cultural experiment which jumped out of a movie set. So, I’m quite interested in checking out what’s going on out there, especially as I’m staying home and there’s not much to say about that once I’m done commenting on the kids doing school from home. So, I wanted to share this clip I came across on Facebook and it’s also been reported on the news here in Australia.

Any thoughts?

Best wishes,

Rowena

Get Your Squirrel Picnic Table!”What The Friday” Has A #shelterathome Distraction For You – A “Squirrel Picnic!”

As an Australian, I’ve never met a squirrel in person, but love hearing stories about them from fellow bloggers and this Squirrel Table was too cute. Enjoy.
Best wishes,
Rowena

johnrieber

Time For A “Squirrel Picnic!”

During this time of #shelterinplace and #quarantiningathome, many people have taken up cooking, art, gardening – whatever it takes to fight off the boredom, loneliness and stress caused by this horrible pandemic….and some are sharing great stuff like this:

Yes, you can learn how to build a “Squirrel Picnic Table!”

It’s what “What The Friday!?!?!” is all about! Things that make you shake your head, but in this time of a worldwide health crisis, we need ANYTHING to take our mind off the bad news, and keep us engaged…and what better than with a Squirrel?

Of course, Amazon has kits available so you can build your own! Here’s what the sell:

Start Your Day With a Smile by Watching the Squirrels Play on This Cute Picnic Table Feeder

A Wonderful Gift For Nature Lovers and Backyard Enthusiasts. You Will Love This Feeder From the Moment…

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S is for Stevengraphs Bookmarks

I really loved Linda’s post about a special bookmark which passed down through her family. I also loved the poem: The Old Armchair by Eliza Cook. It brought back very precious memories of when our children were young.
Best wishes,
Rowena

The Curry Apple Orchard

THOMAS STEVENS (BOOKMARK)

When I was a child we had in our possession a bookmark embroidered with a poem called ‘The Old Arm Chair”, by Eliza Cook.  I thought  my grandmother told me that it was a sampler made by one of my great grandmothers and I admired the tiny letters, marvelling at the detail.

One day I took it to school to show the sewing teacher.  She held it in front of her critically and announced that it was machine made.  To make matters worse she accidentally ripped it in half.  She quickly stuck it together with sticky tape and handed it back in a hurry.  Too scared to tell my mother I hid it away in a book.

The funny thing is I found it the other day when searching through memorabilia.  Taking another look I realised it was machine made so now with the benefit of Google…

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Weekend Coffee Share – Finding Normal In A Crazy World

As a parent of school aged teenagers, the issue of when they should return to school is a serious consideration and I know many of my friends are also wondering what is best.
My friend Maria works as a teacher in Sweden and shares her experiences in this very interesting Coffee Share post, and the comments which follow and the banter back and forth are also very interesting. It reminds me just how much I love being part of an international blogging community where I can get own out my own head, beyond my own backyard and gain more of a global perspective.
Best wishes,
Rowena

Sagittarius Viking

smart

Welcome to another virtual coffee date. Yesterday I tried a new type of coffee, I already forgot the fancy name. . you whisk together equal parts of sugar, hot water, and instant coffee. You whisk it for a long time until it becomes very fluffy. I tasted it at work in our break room, and it was really good. Tasted sort of like a creamy espresso. My colleagues enjoyed it with milk, I thought it tasted better without milk. A very small amount of this very potent coffee gave me tons of energy that lasted all afternoon yesterday. I’m sure I could whisk some together if you’d like to try! How hard could it be? Would you like to try?

Speaking of work, this was the first week of only outdoor activities. It was fun, intense, and the kids really enjoyed themselves. The days consisted of a lot…

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Masterchef 2020 – My Friends in the TV.

Over the years, I’m not sure whether I’ve mentioned that I’m a die-hard Masterchef tragic. Indeed, I might not have let on just how much I long for Masterchef season to come around every year. Indeed, I’m there poised on the very edge of the couch with the same intense enthusiasm as a  Rabbitoh’s footy supporter longing for kick-off.  By the way, in case you’re wondering what a Rabbitoh’s supporter might be, they’re a particular crazed breed of Rugby League fan with actor Russell Crowe as their fearless leader. They’re anything but your average fan. So, that really says a lot about me and Masterchef. Indeed, I’d be wearing the apron if you didn’t have to go on the show to earn it for yourself. To the best of my knowledge, this is something money can not buy.

However, my love of Masterchef doesn’t stop at the couch.

I’ve also mentioned in one of my recent travel posts, that I’d consider moving to Melbourne for Masterchef, trading in my Sydney stripes for good.

That says even more!!!

Juli Rabbit Rowena in kitchen

Julie Goodwin (right) photographed in my kitchen. Rabbit and Julie hosted the breakfast run on  our local radio station.

Also, just to show off just a little bit, Australia’s very first Masterchef,  Julie Goodwin, has even been to our house to cook us a meal. My cousin also works on the show. However,  she has to adhere to a code of silence, and she also moved to Melbourne.

Anyway, every other year, I’ve been in parked on  the couch in front of the box gripped with tense anticipation on opening night. However, somehow what with watching all the coverage of the coronavirus, and all the car restoration shows my husband and son have been watching on some random channel, we not only missing the first night. We missed the first week. I was in shock! I know we’re living in a very strange world atm what with all the changes the coronavirus has wrought. However, the fact I missed the start of the new Masterchef season, shows just how far the earth has shifted from its axis,  taking us into very alien territory.

However, all was not lost. Last night, I wrestled with catch up and went to bed very, very early in the morning after binge watching five episodes of the show.

For those of you who follow Masterchef and many of you who don’t, you’d also be aware that Masterchef 2020 has had major changes of its own. At the end of last season, all three of the original judges (Matt Preston, George Calombaris and Gary Mehigan) left, leaving a very big question mark over Masterchef’s future. Could the series survive? What was it that made the show Masterchef, and could that go on? In many ways, it felt like the end of the world with a bunch of survivors escaping through the flames on a life raft.

However, this show clearly has a lot of bedrock underneath it. In Masterchef 2020, they cleverly launched the new judges within very familiar territory. They brought back previous contestants…the people we know, love and have been gunning for in the past. Moreover, just to ensure the new-look season went off with a bang, they launched off with Gordon Ramsay Week. Could the show start off with more fire and brimstone?

I don’t think so.

Since we’re all in isolation, I haven’t been able to talk about the show with my two support workers who are just as passionate about the show. Obviously, I haven’t talked about it on Facebook either yet. However, this post might generate some discussion.

Reynold at Koi

Reynold Poernomo photographed at Koi a few years ago.

Personally, I love Masterchef 2020 just as much as usual, and I must say that I’m personally very glad to see Reynauld back. I’ve been to his Koi dessert bar in Sydney and his desserts taste just as exquisitely scrumptious in real life as they look on TV. I also have loads of other favourites on the show. Poh Ling Yeow, who placed second in the first season, has been a major personality on the show so far, and had been tipped to be one of the new judges. However, all of the contestants have unfinished business and are back to win.

Nomtella inside at Koi

A treat from the Koi…yum!

Binge watching Masterchef last night was also strangely comforting in this very strange world we’re currently living in. You see, it was filmed three months ago pre social distancing and the contestants are all standing in their regular positions at their benches. Indeed, they’re even HUGGING EACH OTHER!!! Wow! It’s absolutely wonderful to be a part of all that love, joy, friendship and community, even if it is on TV. I miss all of that in real life so much, and as we all know, the lines between the people on TV and us at home has always been blurry, and we feel we know these total strangers in quite an intimate and personal way. However, now more than ever, we need our TV friends and some sense of normal when reality is anything but.

So many people I know, especially people living alone, are really longing to hug someone, especially their friends. For huggers, it’s just such a part of who we are, our joie de vivre and even more importantly, our love and connectedness with people. I really miss that too, even though there are four humans and three dogs under our roof.

Although we’re all doing isolation together, not everybody here feels like a hug, and might not feel like a chat at the same time either. We’re not always on the same page. Indeed, my husband and I have ended up in different time zones, where I’m night and he is day. Of course, binge watching Masterchef only compounded this scenario last night. That was the latest (or should I say earliest) I’ve ever been to bed since university!!

C

Jonathon & Amelia Jan 2007

Kids learning how to cook January 2007.

Before I head off, there’s one other thing I love about Masterchef, and that  hasn’t changed this year either. That’s how it inspires my cooking and certainly raises the bar several  notches. While I’m fairly strong on the sweets front, I’m not so versed on the savoury side, and every season, I at least pick up a few extra ingredients. I started baking fennel last year, and I should be inspired to get my herb patch at home up and running. In my typical style, I bought a few punnets from Bunnings and they haven’t made it past the front door and are still in their punnets. I would love to be able to experiment with liquid nitrogen and see how that works for myself. However, that’s well beyond the scope of my home kitchen. So, I’ll just have to keep on dreaming.

ballet shoes

A current view of the whiteboard in our kitchen.

By the way, speaking of my home kitchen, while Masterchef is playing in our lounge room, our kitchen’s been converted into a dance studio. As you might be aware, our daughter is a dedicated, aspiring dancer and ballerina. Thanks to social isolation, all her dance classes are now being transmitted via zoom. She’s currently on school holidays, but rehearsals for a production whose performance date is very much in the air, continue and when you have a look at our whiteboard, you can see that is no small undertaking involving serious commitment from the studio and families alike. For the first time ever, I’ve truly wondered whether it’s all worth it. Of course, anyone with a more practical mindset, would already be questioning the viability of  career in the performing arts. However, I come from a family of professional musicians and so this world isn’t quite so foreign or precarious to me. I also have my own writing dream inside my heart, which was buried in the corporate world for quite awhile, but has found release. Even if I’m not paid to write, that should never detract from who I am. I’m still frantically working towards that one day which I’m believing will come. Thanks to the coronavirus, it’s taken another hit, although perhaps this time at home will finally mean it’s done. I hope so! Yet, my own dreams also mean I understand our daughter’s vision.

Have you been watching Masterchef 2020? What are your thoughts? Are you hooked just as much as ever? Or, perhaps, you’ve called it quits. I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Best wishes,

Rowena

PS I would also like to acknowledge those of us whose dreams are currently in suspended animation with this incredibly powerful song from Les Miserables. Better still, I’ve chosen Susan Boyle’s audition for Britain’s Got Talent: I Dreamed A Dream

I’ve dreamed a dream too. How about you?

 

Le Petit Chocolat.

We’re having a flash back to Easter’s past today and wishin you and yours a Happy and Blessed Easter.
Stay safe.
Love,
Rowena

Beyond the Flow

This was determination. With a chocolate moustache painted across his upper lip, Little Man was stretching his tongue as far as he could, savouring each and every last smudge. Unlike his meals at home, none of this was going to waste!

Indeed, even as a rambunctious two year old, he knew there was chocolate and there was CHOCOLATE!!! This delicacy was so incredibly rich and creamy and as much as he loved his Freddo Frogs, this was an altogether different experience.

The older lady in the black dress had given him a chocolate. And then, even another!

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Wow! Little Man gravitated towards the shelves. There were chocolate Easter rabbits everywhere! He’d never even seen so much chocolate before in his life but the rabbits themselves also looked exquisite. It was almost like his magical picture-book world had suddenly sprung to life and he’d become absorbed into a chocolate fairytale. His…

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E – Eaglehawk Neck, Tasmania.

Welcome to Day Five of the A-Z April Challenge.Today, we’re revisiting Tasmania’s  Eaglehawk Neck, which featured in my A-Z around Tasmania back in 2017. This trip around Tassie is feeling even more special during this goodness knows how long it’s going to last cononacrisis and with our son leaving school at the end of next year, I’m also wondering  how many family holidays, at least as we know them, we have left. Time seems to be flying through the hourglass at the moment, especially in terms of missed opportunities and possibilities even if we are trying to be mindful of precious moments still being created in the present. Right now, for me at least, freedom of movement is something I crave more than ever. Didn’t we all just take it all for granted? Hey, indeed, I confess I’m still not making the most of the capacity for getting outside that I do have. I’m still able to go for a walk and exercise and we have a beautiful beach just down the road and if it wasn’t raining, I could be there. I could still carpe diem seize the day beyond very happily immersing myself in writing and research.

Anyway, back to Eagle Hawk Neck.

The Eaglehawk Neck is a narrow isthmus that connects the Tasman Peninsula with the Forestier Peninsula, and hence to mainland Tasmania. A township settlement in the same region is also called Eaglehawk Neck. Locally known as the Neck, the isthmus itself is around 400 metres (1,300 ft) long and under 30 metres (98 ft) wide at its narrowest point[1]. The area features rugged terrain and several unusual geological formations. These include the Tessellated Pavement, Tasman’s Arch, the Blowhole and the Devil’s Kitchen.

We’re just lucky that we had perfect weather when we last visited Eaglehawk Nest in January, 2017. That’s the trouble with photography when you’re traveling. Most of us don’t have the luxury of waiting day after day til the weather decides to do its thing before we have to move on. These shots are absolutely glorious, especially as it’s wet and dreary today and I’m starting to feel like nodding off.

tessollated-pavement

The Tessellated Pavement

Tasman Blowhole

The Tasman Blowhole

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These days when you visit the Neck, you’re immediately struck by its natural beauty. However, rewinding back to convict times, this narrow isthmus was guarded by a line of ferocious dogs (the Dog Line) to prevent convicts escaping across the Neck from Port Arthur. The slightest disturbance would set the dogs barking and alert the soldiers. Convict bushranger, Martin Cash, was one of the few to escape the dog line – twice, earning him considerable prestige among his peers.

Well, I hope you enjoyed your virtual pizza along with the stunning views with myself and the family. Although that trip was only three years ago, it’s incredible how much the kids have grown up in that time and I’m reminded yet again of the incredibly fast passage of time.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Sources

https://www.discovertasmania.com.au/home/local-tips/dog-line

Heart Broken

News and smoke from our horrendous bush fires in Australia is spreading round the globe. I haven’t written about the fires myself, because I’ve been too lost for words and also overcome by smoke and struggling to breath at home well away from the fire fronts. However, a friend put me onto this very open story written by the wife of one of a heartbroken fire fighter who is now needing a bypass after three gruelling months fighting these fires. I wanted to send them our love, our heartfelt prayers and share his story a little further afield.
Love,
Rowena

SMARTER THAN CROWS

The last time I wrote about a photograph of my husband was December 10, 2019. I was worried about the impact of the fires and the smoke on his health and angry at Scott Morrison for saying that the volunteers wanted to be there. Here’s a link for those that missed it.

No Scott Morrison my husband does NOT want to be fighting fires

As a consequence of that post, Graham and I both ended up on The Project. Here’s the link to that:

The Project: In my own words – Meg McGowan

We said no to all the other media requests. We nearly said no to The Project but we had been overwhelmed by the messages of support, particularly from other fire fighters and their families. “You have put into words what we have been feeling!” they said, so we felt like we owed it to all of them…

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