Tag Archives: baking

Weekend Coffee Share…2nd September, 2019.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

Since this is all about virtual sharing, I can offer you a slice of passion fruit sponge cake with a generous dollop of cream without having to fend you off with my fork. You see, in reality this cake is mine, ALL mine. However, I can be very generous with all of you. Almost all of you are too faraway to collect.

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Passion Fruit Sponge Cake (butter needed to be mixed in better…oops)

Yesterday, it was Father’s Day here in Australia. A day which promises so much, but frequently under delivers. Or, completely contrary to one’s hopes and aspirations is catastrophic. I know we all try to hold back the tide for special occasions, but it isn’t always possible. It is what it is. I explored realities versus expectations in yesterday’s post Not Quite A Perfect Father’s Day

Yesterday, was not only Father’s Day. It was also the first day of Spring…yippee! Sunshine here we come. I have to admit I’m looking forward to warmer weather, especially the in between months of Spring before the place turns into a furnace in Summer. The beach is only down the road as well…heaven on earth.

The last week was rather uninspiring. We had a few days of ferocious rain and wind, which while nothing like the force of Cyclone Dorian which is hitting the US, it was still quite intimidating and made its presence felt. By day, I bunkered down in bed underneath the doona reading Oliver Twist.

Indeed, speaking of Oliver Twist, I finally finished it over the weekend. Have you ever read it? I absolutely loved it. While I read A Christmas Carol and A Tale of Two Cities at school, Oliver Twist is the first of Dickens’ novels, I’ve read by choice. I also prefer to read shorter works. So, for me to actually make it through to the end of a 500 page novel, was also a personal triumph. I found myself completely absorbed in the story. Although I know the musical and we actually put it on when I was about 12 at school, I found the novel was in a league of its own. The characters were much richer and complex and the novel is deeply philosophical as Dickens explores the aftermath of the Poor Laws of 1832 and the horrors of the workhouse, child labour and the world of crime. London comes across as a veritable cesspit, a place to escape at all costs. Knowing that Geoff’s family was living through these times in London, further brings Dickens’ stories to life for me.  These weren’t just characters in a novel. These characters represented real people… thousands and thousands of people grappling with extreme poverty and crime as the only way out. I’m certainly glad I wasn’t living through these times.

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“Please, Sir. Could I have some more?”

Have you read Oliver Twist or any of Dickens other works? Are you a fan? Do you feel Dickens has a place in the modern era or belongs in the past?

The main reason I’ve been reading Dickens is that I’m working on writing a book of short biographical stories about our ancestors and the stories at the beginning are from this era, or even a bit earlier. To really tell a story well, there are so many details to absorb and yet these need to become the wallpaper and not the story itself or you’ll bore your reader to death. To be honest, I thought I’d have got there by now but I still feel like I’m having to process more before I’m quite ready to tell the story right. I’m not sure if this is the perfectionist in me or whether I’m not there yet. However, I’m trying to hang in there.

Meanwhile, my reading has gone off onto a different tangent. I was trying very, very hard to keep walking past our local bookshop Book Bazaar and  yet like a kid being lured into a candy shop, I ducked my head in through the door and spotted John Marsden’s: The Art of Growing Up. John Marsden is a distinguished Australian author of Young Adult fiction and was the founder and principal of two schools. As a writer myself, this had to be my kind of parenting book, although he’s quite hard-hitting and certainly not into free-range parenting by feel. Probably a good thing really. Anyway, thought I’d share a quote with you…

When I hear parents say ‘I want my children to enjoy their childhood; there’ll be time when they’re older to learn about those things’, I hear the voices of those who are scared of the vastness of the universe. These adults have a view of childhood as some kind of discrete interval, rather than just a few years from the continuum of life. How fortunate that the spirit, courage and curiosity of many young people remain largely undefeated by such adults.

-John Marsden, The Art of Growing Up

So, you could say that last week was book week.

In terms of blogging, I’ve done the following posts:

On The Run…Friday Fictioneers

A Festival of Red Doors…Friday Fictioneers

Hey, just when I thought I hadn’t done anything very exciting, I forgot that I revisited Heidelberg, Germany where I lived for six months back in 1992 when I was 22 years old. I had the time of my life there and made some life-long friends. We recently got a few crate loads of photos out of the shed, which included a second photo album of overseas photos. There was Heidelberg again. How beautiful. I showed the photos to my daughter and she asked why I came back. I must admit, I was wondering myself for quite a few years. Anyway, I ended up revisiting Heidelberg via Youtube. It was amazing. Here’s the link: Heidelberg Tour

So last week wasn’t quite so uneventful after all. How was your week? I look forward to hearing from you.

This has been another contribution to the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by  Eclectic Ali. We’d love you to pop round and join us.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Weekend Coffee Share…3rd February, 2019.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

This week, you’re in luck. You can have a slice of piping hot Peach Upside Down Cake with a scoop of creamy Vanilla ice cream with your choice of tea, coffee or whatever. I don’t know what possessed me to go baking tonight when the kitchen was already a bomb zone and the dishwasher is broken and the teenage substitutes are unreliable at best. Indeed, I suspect they have a few faulty circuits. However, being Sunday night, I felt the call of the Sunday roast, which thanks to still going through the Christmas ham, I decided to make a special dessert instead.

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Peach Upside Down Cake…Yum!

Last week was momentous. One by one, the rest of the family fell like dominoes returning to the real world. Tuesday, Geoff was back to work. Wednesday, our son was back to school and is now in Year 10. Our daughter had the longest reprieve. She went back to school for only one day on Friday and then she was off for the weekend again. It’s a tough life.

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Back to school 2019.kwr

By the way, it was funny seeing photo after photo of kids of all ages, shapes and sizes heading back to school. Themes and variations. Parents should warn their kids that if they don’t smile at the camera or worse still, they frown, cry, snarl or make a stupid face, it’s going to spread like gastro all around the world wide web and haunt them forever. Facebook never forgets. It bringing these things back from the deepest depths of its memory and no parent can resist clicking share and making the bad photo do the rounds again.

Zac & Amelia reading

Even the poor dog has homework. However, he soon nodded off and went to sleep.

Anyway, we got through the first week of term one. I can tick that one off. How many to go? Can I stick my head in the sand now? Or, do I really have to face another school year.

Last night, I revisited my parents’ old holiday house at Sydney’s Palm Beach going through masses of photos and posted two of them:

Girl on the Sand

Above: Footprints Running Through Sand

Driving Through the Clouds

Making Tracks.

Meanwhile, I participated in Friday Fictioneers again. This week’s photo prompt featured a tee pee, and took me into the realms of Native Americans, which was right out of my league as an Australian who has never been to America and has a healthy respect for Indigenous cultures. I wanted to show respect and came very close to skipping this week. My piece was called: Natural Justice and also raised some interesting issues about how to view historic literature through our modern day concepts of equality and social justice.

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Gosford Sailing Club.

For Thursday Doors, I featured Gosford Sailing Club. Both my husband and son are sailing members and I am hoping to be able to start sailing soon myself.

Well, how was your week? I hope you’ve had a great one.

This has been another Weekend Coffee Share, hosted by Eclectic Ali.

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

Weekend Coffee Share…21st January, 2019.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

Well, it’s just hit Monday afternoon at my place just North of Sydney, Australia and you’re welcome to join me for a cup of tea or coffee and even a chocolate macadamia cookie. Virtual consumption doesn’t put on any weight!

How has your week been?

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The kids BEFORE Jamboree

It’s hard for me to know quite where to start, because I was about to say that my new car was the best thing about my week, but then I remembered that the kids also came home from the Australian Scouting Jamboree last Tuesday and nothing compares to having them back home. We really missed them and I must admit that I was rather pathetic scouring through photos on the Facebook page trying to find them. Often, it was like “Where’s Wally” and our eyesight isn’t what it used to be either. It’s almost comic in hindsight, but on the morning they were due back, arrival times kept getting put back and it was becoming quite difficult to guage when the bus was going to pull up. Of course, there was no way I was going to miss the actual arrival of the bus and that incredible moment when the doors burst open and our scouts (in what ever condition they’d arrived back home in) burst through the doors. We allowed ourselves a 15 minute head start on the last message and I didn’t care about being early and waiting. I HAD to be there. However, we we’re about 5-10 minutes away when a text arrived saying the bus was off the freeway and it was clear that it was going to get there first. Yikes! Of course, this doesn’t sound very sensible, However, as they say, never come between a mother and her baby. Fortunately, Geoff was driving and he was more sedate and level-headed. However, as we entered the road where the bus was pulling up, council had decided to do roadworks. So you have a bus load of Scouts just off the bus and hoards of parents coming in to pick them up and you have this piddly council worker on his steam roller very sedately driving across blocking the road and there’s was also one of those !@#$ lollypop people standing there with the stop sign. Well yours truly with stitches in her foot and doing a hop-along Cassidy routine,  jumps out of the car and hobbles off to her children on foot. Love knows no distance, or it seems, no common sense either. Well, this must’ve jolted these council workers into action because they suddenly allowed the traffic to go round them. So, while I’m hobbling along at a galloping snail’s pace, Geoff drives straight through and pips me to the post. That’s the last time I act like an irrational maniac, I  mean, mother. Well, maybe not. It seems that I was put on this planet to act as a cautionary tale for others.

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Our son AFTER Jamboree

If we reverse up a bit, you might recall that I mentioned a “new car”. You might also recall that I’ve had more than my share of car troubles lately after badly scraping the car one week and writing it off in the hospital car park the next and two week’s later the replacement car was caught in a hail storm and we also expect it to be written off. All up, we were in the market for two replacement vehicles as the Nissan Pulsar we bought just after we were engaged and bought our house, is now something like 18 years old and it’s time for it to move out.

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Feeling like a new woman in my hot new car.

As it turned out, my husband became rather “absorbed” by his car quest cruising round online auction sites like many a crazy desperado hunting around Tinder. However, his dogged persistence paid off and he certainly caught my attention when he pointed out a red Alfa Romeo 159. While the Italians consider it a “family sedan”, it’s still rather sporty, very stylish and in addition to being RED, has a sunroof. I was in love. So was our daughter. We had to have that car. Yet, we also had to keep our heads. It was an auction and as Geoff reminded us, you’re not supposed to become emotionally attached before it’s yours. However, it was too late. I was all but dribbling all over my laptop screen.

Obviously, we won the auction and yesterday we took “Blue” as I think he’ll become known (a bloke with red hair in Australia at least used to be called “Blue” hence Virgin Blue) for a drive to get some good photos. That was a lot of fun. Blue is really good to drive and not just a car to get you from A to B. It’s an experience. Fingers crossed it remains a good experience. We are a little concerned about whether performance and reliability will live up to it’s Italian good looks and style.

pelican

Anyway, we drove Blue down to Patonga. However, there was no parking by the beach or jetty and so we cruised around the backstreets until we found a more secluded location. It was very relaxing and serene and we also happened to spot a pelican cruising along.

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Our next location was in front of the Imagine sign at either Tascott on Brisbane Waters, near Woy Woy. That was a lot of fun too. Hard to believe that I’ve never photographed this sign before when I photograph almost everything in sight. However, I’m also a bit of a perfectionist and am wanting that perfect shot. I would’ve liked more sun and blue sky. However, I really wanted to share my good news and a compromise was in order.

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My daughter and I.

This week, I’ve also been writing up about our trip up North staying with my husband’s sister at Newrybar, near Byron Bay. This region is not only famous for its stunning natural beauty. It’s also bursting with creative energy and there’s music almost on even street corner in Byron Bay, and so many artists at the markets. I always come home feeling so inspired and that despite my devotion to my writing, photography and violin, that I’m only living at half mast and there’s so much more I could do. That I need to stop being afraid and stop aiming for absolute crippling perfection before I even get started and just do it. That there really is something inside which is worth coming out.

 

Here are some links to the posts I’ve written so far:

Saturday Night in Byron Bay

Byron Bay Markets

Main Beach Byron Bay

The Macadamia Nut Castle & Ballina

Walking Through Bangalow’s Past

Bangalow Doors – Thursday Doors

The Red Tree of Bangalow

Well, I think we’re into the last week of school holidays, which means it’s time to refocus on all the nuts and bolts of life and get organized. Find shoes for feet and sort out uniforms. It goes quite against the grain of wanting to make the most out of the last precious days you have left. Meanwhile, my daughter and I are off to see Charlie & the Chocolate Factory…the Musical tomorrow and one of my daughter’s dance teacher plays Veruca Salt so it will be particularly special. We can’t wait!

This has been another Weekend Coffee Share, hosted by Eclectic Ali.

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

 

Weekend Coffee Share…31st December, 2018.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

It’s already New Year’s Eve here in Sydney and I’m briefly putting my feet up after leaving the pizza dough to rise and making Chocolate Mouse and Pavlova for dessert. We don’t go out on NYE. It’s not easy to venture into Sydney city for us to view the fireworks in person due to my mobility restrictions, and it’s not the safest time to head into the city either. Moreover, we also have the added complication that at least one of our dogs, Lady, is terrified of fireworks and breaks into a sweat when local fireworks get set off illegally. No doubt, that also happens where you live as well, and you’re also aware of how many pets go missing as a result.

Couple Ocean Beach best

I’m struggling to remember what happened during the last week and I had to confirm with Geoff that today is actually Monday. That’s a common phenomenon in between Christmas and New Year However, I should’ve remembered that there was a minor event called Christmas. How could I forget? Well, I’ll blame the heatwave for that.

We had a family dinner at home on Christmas Eve and headed out to Church for carols intermingled with the traditional Christmas tree manger reenactment.

We spent Christmas Day at my aunt and uncle’s place where we met up with my parents and the extended family. These Christmases fuse tradition and change. Much to my concern, there’s an increasing Melbourne contingent and missing persons from the celebrations. If you’re not aware of the rivalry between Sydney and Melbourne, it’s not quite as intense as it used to be but to have family exodus to Melbourne of all places, is a concern. Need to stem the tide. The highlight for me of this Christmas celebration was taking part in a jam session with my cousins with two on guitar, another on cello while I played my violin. It was a very interesting experience because my cousin was playing chords in a blue grass style and I was trying to listen deep into the music and pick out what became something like a song line to play on my violin and my violin actually sounded like a harmonica which surprised me. I usually play classics on my violin of the likes of Bach so playing blue grass ad lib was quite a change and I was very proud of myself for stepping so far out of my comfort zone and doing so well. Our son also joined in with the jam on guitar and also took over my violin plucking the Peter Gunn.Monopoly Go to Jail

We received this local fundraiser Monopoly for Christmas from my parents. Playing Monopoly is a good this time of year. I ended up in jail a few times.

After Christmas, we’ve been catching up with friends and we’ve also braved the post-Christmas sales. Not unsurprisingly, I found my way into yet another book shop.  where I bought Cicero’s: How To Be A Friend which was written in 44BC in Latin. I’m almost halfway through and highly recommend it. I also bought Oliver Sacks’: The River of Consciousness. In case you’re not aware, Dr Oliver Sacks is a neurologist who has written quite a few books including: The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat. Have you stuck your nose in any great books lately?

heat wave

The weather around here has been fairly intense lately. After having three or four storms the week before Christmas including blackouts and hail, we’ve been caught in a heatwave, which has largely forced us underground. Indeed, we’ve been hibernating at home although I did venture to the beach two days ago for a photographic walk. That was a lot of fun, and despite initially thinking I wasn’t going to find much, the light was particularly good the clouds seemed to dance in the setting sun especially for the camera. I was also quite fascinated by the watermarks in the sand. All those wiggly lines of sand along the beach which resemble secret messages.

Well, it’s now 10.00pm  and after watching the 9.00PM fireworks, we’re listening to the NYE entertainment and Ross Wilson has just finished singing Can’t Get No Satisfaction and has moved onto his own hit Eagle Rock. This music is a good distraction from the choking smoke leaking in from the kitchen. Somehow, the hot plate which I swear I didn’t use tonight, ended up on high and the left over pizza has apparently been incinerated and it’s not safe for me to enter the kitchen. Indeed, even the rest of the family is covering their mouths going in there. Hoping the air is going to clear soon so we could put together our NYE dessert  of pavlova, chocolate mouse, fruit and cream. I was even thinking of chopping up some Tim Tams and sprinkling them over the top for a bit of added chocolate crunch.

Have you set any New Year’s resolutions? I’m still working on mine and as you can see by the dessert we’re having tonight, that my sins are continuing to mount.

I’ll be back in the New Year to share a snapshot of the Sydney Fireworks.

This has been another Weekend Coffee Share, hosted by Eclectic Ali.

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

 

Weekend Coffee Share…December 17, 2018.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

Being so close to Christmas, I should be able to offer you a slice of home-made Christmas cake. However, I haven’t gotten around to that yet. Or, writing more than a couple of Christmas cards. Had you popped round yesterday, you could’ve had a slice of the All Bran Cake I made, which loads of dates, apricots and pecans and is best straight out of the oven covered in lashings of butter…yum. Yet, all is not lost. I have some scorched macadamia nuts from Haigh’s Chocolate Shop in Sydney. They’re very yum!

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All Bran Cake…My Grandmother’s Recipe.

Well, there are only eight sleeps til Christmas and the last week has been hectic as expected. I think it was Tuesday night, that we attended the End of Year School concert, where our daughter was dancing with her dance class and also performed a contemporary solo, which she’d choreographed herself. Our son was also working backstage and we saw quite a lot of his black shadow lurking in the background. That was a fun night which climaxed with the teacher’s band, which was a lot of fun. Even as a parent, I find it intriguing to see teacher’s actually unwind and party.

Tuesday, I headed down to Sydney to meet up with two school friends. One of them is living with Motor Neurone Disease (MND) and is currently in intensive care after major surgery, and we wanted to touch base. I was expecting this to be a challenging visit and very confronting, although I’m quite used to the hospital environment and being the patient. The shoe was on the other foot this time, with my friend and I wanting to give our friend respect and dignity, but not too sure about what to say or how to listen given her speech difficulties. Although we all go and visit people in hospital, most of us have had no training or preparation for it and feel very much out of our comfort zones. Dread knowing what to say, even though just being there is enough. No doubt they just need to feel loved and see a familiar face.

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Elf meets pianist Michael Hope at David Jones’s Elizabeth Street Store. He even got to have a turn.

On my way home, I stopped off at the Gordon Violin Centre looking for a new bow for my violin. Replacing your bow is a major decision for even an amateur violinist and there’s a lot to think about in terms of the weight of the bow. Do you prefer a light or relatively heavy bow? Well, I thought I’d go in there and try a few out. This was quite a big step for me, representing a transition from mediocre violinist, to someone progressing and taking their instrument more seriously. However, I wasn’t quite prepared for what a leap this would be. As I walked up the stairs, I found a metal security door with a violin shaped into the framework. You had to press a buzzer to get in, which seemed rather formal and I had a feel I was about to step into very expensive, upmarket territory way beyond the $100 mark I was thinking of spending on my bow. Life at our place gets rather crazy and bows do get sat on. I’m not quite at the point of making a big investment. Not yet, anyway. So, you’ll understand that I was feeling rather sheepish when the door answered and I entered into this incredible salon environment which could’ve been in Paris, London, New York. There were rows of cellos and the decor was antique and 1920s-1940s and my grandparents’ era. I was spellbound. Yet, the best was yet to come. There was a room within the room, which was absolutely immaculate and there was a chaise longue and an upright piano inside. It could well have been a practice room or recording studio. I was in love! Meanwhile, I’ve found an $85.00 bow and he recommended I brought my violin in and tried it out. Ouch! I was left stammering but grateful I’d moved on from the $50.00 violin I’d first bought on eBay and at least had a Stentor. I’ll have to keep you posted on that in the New Year.

Thursday, I headed back down to Sydney for a lung function test and appointment with my lung specialist. This was just a routine thing, and I did a brief post showing some of the lengths staff have gone to spread some Christmas cheer: Hospital Cheer: Thursday Doors.

Whenever I have these medical appointments, I usually go on a little detour afterwards as a pick-me-up. After my appointments on Thursday, I headed into the city and ended up walking up to David Jones and checking out their Christmas windows, which have a Nutcracker theme. I had the elf with me and photographed him in the Queen Victoria Building and various other locations. However, he really had his real moment of fame when he played the piano alongside pianist Michael Hope at David Jones’s Elizabeth Street store. They’ve had a pianist in there as long as I can remember, and it’s just another reflection of the store’s prestige and tradition. Anyway, I asked Michael if I could take his photo, and he invited me to sit alongside him and we passed my phone onto a total stranger to film me “playing” beside him. Then, I produced elf and Michael played with him. It was the sweetest thing. By the way, Elf is slowly heading towards Afghanistan where my cousin is currently serving in the Australian army but I have ordered some reinforcements. We’ve become rather attached.

Family zoom

Friday, we were back at the school to attend our son’s Year 9 Graduation. This is a celebration, which is quite unique to our school as Year 10 and Year 12 are when students actually leave school, and in this instance, the kids are simply moving from the junior campus to the senior campus which is about a five minute drive down the road. Yet, it does mean leaving their teachers and siblings and friends in the junior years behind. So, it did get a bit emotional. It was also another reminder that our son is rapidly growing up and about to get into the serious end of school. Next year, he’ll need to knuckle down. _DSC7837

Friday night, a huge storm hit. Geoff rang me and said they were expecting hail so I decided to take the car to the local shopping centre and park it undercover. AS it turned out, there was no hail, but the shops had no power and the water was pretty deep. Should’ve stayed home, although I did manage to buy a scrumptious berry cheesecake.

Saturday night, we all headed off to the sailing club for the annual Christmas party. That was when a second storm hit. No hail, but heavy rain and flashes of lightening which I didn’t even try to photograph for some strange reason, but I did photograph the sunset afterwards. The air felt so crisp, clean and refreshing and I was stoked with the photos. It looks like the sky is on fire. However, we arrived home to find another blackout and they couldn’t say when the power was coming back on. Naturally, that was alarming and there have been local black outs (thankfully not at our place) that have gone on for a few days. My parents and aunty visiting from Western Australia were coming over on Sunday and the house was suffering from dreadful neglect. So, I needed this blackout like a hole in the head. It’s not easy trying to clean the house by candle and torch light. The power came back on about 11.00pm and By the time they’d arrive lunchtime Sunday, I’d baked a cake, set up my vintage chine tea set and given up on the rest of the house. That’s what doors are for. We had a great visit with my aunt, and I must tell you that I actually played Danny Boy and O Holy Night on my violin for them, which was a first. I call myself “The Closet Violinist” for good reason. Either I’m playing behind closed doors, or the door’s being shut to block the noise. However, I’ve been practicing a lot more lately and really getting into a rhythm and went for it. I was pleasantly surprised and my mother even said I had good legato. So, it looks like I might not be staying in the closet anymore.

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By the way, before I head off, I wanted to share a stroke of good luck we had tonight. We’ve been needing a new lounge suite for about the last five years. However, we haven’t found anything we liked and finances have also been tight. A few years ago, we found a lounge suite at the op shop which had two manual recliners. We bought this as a stop-gap measure. However, these had become stained and the springs had worn out. I’d thrown covers over them but they really needed to go. Then, our stoke of good luck. Our son and I were out walking the dogs when we spotted a blue leather suite with two single recliners beside the road. We dashed home and fetched my husband and the car and then I was left sitting beside the road minding our stash while they drove back and forwards. The old one is now out the front but will need to wait a week for collection. We’re stoked. We’re planning to replace the flooring in January so this was a great morale boost. My Dad also won a leg of ham at golf today, which he’s sending our way. So, that’s meals for January taken care of.

It’s funny how things work out. I’d been planning to have a garage sale for some time and have had loads of stuff stockpiled ready to go only I haven’t been able to get my head around holding on. I’ve no doubt complicated things way too much in my head. However, it’s been looking like it’s not going to happen and so I dropped a few large bags of clothes at the charity shop. I thought I’d go with more of a spirit of generosity, rather than holding onto things and more than likely applying a false economy. There are probably much better ways of making money than a garage sale. So, from where I’m sitting, it looks like a case of clothes out, lounge and ham in. Not bad!

What have you been up to lately? How are your Christmas preparations going? Hopefully better than mine!

Anyway, I’d better get to bed. I hope you’ve had a great week. This has been another Weekend Coffee Share, hosted by Eclectic Alli.

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

 

 

Weekend Coffee Share: December 10, 2018.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

Well, you’re in luck this week. We’re off on an adventure, but you’d better get your coffee to go. We have some important elf business to attend to. Indeed, we’re off to our local beach to photograph the elf doing what elves do best…getting up to mischief. However, our elf’s protesting that he was actually trying to help our local lifeguard on beach patrol, but I don’t believe him. I’m pretty sure he was trying to steal the lifeguard’s sunglasses, the beach buggy and probably the surf board as well. Once upon a time, these elves were Santa’s little helpers. However, there was a revolution somewhere along the way, and now the elves have taken the easy way out. Instead of building and creating the presents themselves, they’ve become a bunch of freeloading kleptomaniacs.

Quite aside from chasing and photographing cheeky elves, I’ve had quite a busy week. Saturday was my daughter’s dance concert. She learns ballet, tap, jazz, modern and is also part of Dance Team. This meant she had six costume changes, which necessitated a portable wardrobe, which my husband had to assemble with a screwdriver. While dance parents aren’t expected to have dancing ability, we’re frequently expected to morph into an all-conquering superheroes and the demands, as you can see from the screwdriver, go way beyond standard taxi driving duties. Indeed, I think we perform too well most of the time, and should drop our bundles more often. This way our dance charges might actually realize what it actually takes to fly to the moon on the way to a concert to pick up those theatrical pink tights, and not rely on teleportation.

Yesterday (being Sunday), I had my annual violin concert where I played Danny Boy as a duet with my teacher. The concert was held outside at a pecan farm up at Somersby, which is such a relaxing setting and you feel totally bathed in green. Compared to getting ready for the dance concert, getting ready for the violin concert was easy. Just needed my violin and music and you always have to doubt check your bow is in the case. It was too early to practice at home before I left, and so I took my chances on a quick warm up when we arrived. It went well with a couple of mistakes but you need those just to prove I’m human and the music wasn’t produced by a machine. I’d been making a few jokes during the week about my violin letting out a diabolical screech right at the emotional climax of the piece and killing the sensitive mood of the song. However, it behaved itself. As much as good playing requires talent and dedicated practice, there’s always a role for luck…good luck and bad and it’s important as a performer of any description, to keep that in mind. That it’s not the end of the world if your worst ever performance is on concert day, although I’m mighty glad mine wasn’t!!

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Performing Danny Boy at the end of year concert. Note the tractor in the background.

It’s now 17 days left until Christmas and I’m sure somebody has pressed a fast forward button and the Earth is spinning round four times faster than usual. I usually do quite a lot of Christmas baking and we also decorate the tree but I’m not sure how much of that is happening this year. I’m thinking of making a tree out of driftwood which we could somehow attach to the ceiling or the wall away from the dogs and to be perfectly honest, there isn’t a square metre of space in this place for a tree. Indeed, we can’t even stick it in the bathtub.

The other issue I have is with the Christmas baking. As much as I’m big on Christmas traditions like making your Christmas cake and pudding, the kids don’t really like it and it’s so hot here that it feels rather heavy, particularly after a big meal. My personal tastes head more towards something chocolatey and cool. Pavlova is also good. We’ll be spending Christmas Day with my parents at my aunt’s place. So, I don’t need to come up with a menu for the big day. However, I would like to create a special meal for our own family to celebrate. I’ll have to get myself motivated and start going through my recipe books. Goodness knows I have enough of them. So, there must be something there!

Christmas cake 2014 zoom

Homemade Christmas Cake made to my mother’s recipe.

By the way, here’s a post I wrote a few years ago on The Meaning of Christmas Cake

Shortbread Christmas trees 2015

Do we need to break with tradition?

Do you feel that you’ve outgrown some of your family traditions but aren’t too sure quite how to proceed? Are perhaps also looking to create some Christmas traditions of your own?

Anyway, I don’t have to worry about Christmas too much this week. There’s still plenty of time to prepare without needing to panic.

How are your Christmas preparations going? Perhaps, you have different beliefs which you are celebrating or just believe in Happy Holidays…a phrase we don’t really use here in Australia. A more generic Christmas greeting here would be: “Merry Xmas”.

My grandfather opening his Christmas cards went into his 90s.

By the way, I almost forgot to mention that I took part in Solveig Warner’s Advent Calendar again this year where I wrote about Silent Night with an Australian twist: Silent Night. By the way, during my research, I found out that this Christmas Eve will mark the 200th Anniversary of Silent Night.

Anyway, how has your week been? I hope you’ve had a great one and all your preparations for Christmas and/or the holidays are going well.

Well, on that note, I’m heading off. I hope you’ve had a great week. This has been another Weekend Coffee Share, hosted by Eclectic Alli.

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

 

 

Weekend Coffee Share -2nd December, 2018.

Welcome Back to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

While some weeks you’re lucky to get a tea or coffee at Beyond the Flow let alone something to eat, this week you’re being spoiled. I can offer you a slice of virtual Hazelnut and Raspberry Gateau, which I made for the Church Christmas Party. These cake experiments of mine don’t always work out and can be rather catastrophic. So, when this cake looked like something straight out of a bakery, I was so chuffed. I even managed to position the raspberries neatly around the edge and created a hazelnut praline pyramid on top. That was actually quite simple and yet it looked very dramatic and so clever. It was more a situation of good luck, patience and a few trips back to the supermarket as the recipe evolved but that hasn’t stopped me for feeling particularly chuffed and excited that I could get something right.

I think I speak for many of us when I say that I’m often just trying to stay out of trouble most days. A few weeks ago, I had a really bad run with the car and really felt I should stop driving or at least cut back. I scraped the car badly in the supermarket car park and then drove into a concrete lane divider in the multi-storey car park at the local hospital when I was taking our son to Emergency. I cracked the radiator and goodness knows what else. I felt really bad about it for a few days. However, as I started speaking to various friends, it turned out that the turning circle was very tight and they’d struggled to get around and weren’t at all surprised. That was reassuring. Anyway, the insurance company ended up writing off the car and we’ve gone out and bought an older Subaru Forrester at auction to get by and will get another good car once the dust has settled. However, we like the Forester so we might get a more recent model. We’ll just see.

Last Friday, I went down to Sydney for a medical appointment and in typical fashion disappeared on one of my excursions afterwards. This time I headed over to Elizabeth Bay on Sydney Harbour, which was quite a way from the hospital and the opposite direction to home. The appointment was late in the day and with all the end of year stuff going on, I knew going there wasn’t the most sensible thing to do. That I should be conserving energy and being a good little Vegemite. However, sometimes I get sick of being good. Being that Mum person who is straight-laced and driving kids from A to B and is supposed to have everything sorted. Stick to the routine and all that. Sometimes I want to go back to being a backpacker and going off the grid exploring all sorts of nooks and crannies without having to rush home to pick anyone up. I just want to escape all those time pressures and having to be somewhere and just be nowhere for a bit. Get off the leash.

Anyway, a few weeks ago, I found out that my grandparents used to have a flat at Caversham Court in Elizabeth Bay and I wanted to go and check it out. Walk the streets they’d walked. There’s something quite amazing about trying to squeeze into someone else’s shoes and try to see the world through their eyes. Walk along the very same streets they walked, and feel a sense of timeless magic which knows no bounds. Just around the corner from their flat, I came across a park on the waterfront with a few seats looking out across the harbour. I’m not sure bout whether you’re familiar with that concept of an empty chair representing an absent friend, but I photographed two of the empty park benches side-by-side and thought of them. Clearly, I didn’t know them as newlyweds. However, young love hasn’t changed and I could sense the love in the air. More than that. I could feel them sitting there in the park behind me enjoying a picnic and a glass of wine beside the harbour. How I wish it were true!

I shared more about walking around Elizabeth Bay Here.

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It was well and truly dark by the time I reached Central Station but not without it’s own photographic opportunities.

 

Thinking about other posts I’ve done this week, for Thursday Doors I wrote about Building 30, Royal North Shore Hospital. I came across Building 30 on the way to my medical appointment on Friday. It’s one of the older Federation-style buildings on the hospital grounds and it must be being renovated because it had these fabric sheets with fake Federation style windows printed on the sign which hid all the scaffolding and building site paraphernalia. I was quite intrigued by it all and could help wondering why and how much it cost, but took photos of it in the meantime. It was quite interesting and I did managed to find an old dilapidated door in there to keep our host happy.

This coming week is concert week at our place. My daughter’s dance concert is on Saturday. It’s a big deal. She’s in dance team and with something like eight costume changes, there’a a lot to organize and she could use her own Personal Assistant. They each have their own portable wardrobe, and look like the Queen of Sheba although with so many quick costume changes, they make good sense. She was talking to me tonight about all the steps she has to remember, and I was blown away. Unlike music, dance doesn’t seem to have a written score. The opening number is the highlight of the show and is every bit as challenging and dazzling as you’d expect. I saw a sneak preview at the recent nursing home concert, but can’t wait to see the final thing on stage and under lights… as well as her other dances. Indeed, I love watching the entire show. It’s brilliant and it’s amazing to see the students’ progression each year and how far they’ve come. Dance is much more complex and mentally challenging, than I’d ever realized  and then there’s also the physical side of things which completely blows me away, especially considering my own physical limitations.

Rowena Violin

Violin Concert 2015.

However, my daughter isn’t the only concert performer this week. Next Sunday, yours truly will be taking to the stage and playing a duet of Danny Boy on my violin with my teacher at the end of year concert. These concerts are held outside on a pecan orchard, which makes for a very relaxing, lush green environment. I’ve ramped up my practice for the last month and it’s coming along well. So, fingers crossed it’s going to come off well on the day. That’s always a bit of an unknown. I bit like making a cake for a special occasion, you can put in all the same ingredients and one day it works out perfectly and another time disaster beckons at every turn. At least, the violin has a dubious reputation and is well known for squeaking and making horrible noises. So, if my violin suddenly emits an ear-piercing screech right in the middle of Danny Boy just when the emotions are rising and the tears are starting to swell, my audience will more than likely let me off. It was the violin’s fault, and well beyond my control.

Lastly, while I was catching multiple trains halfway across the universe on Friday, I was reading Kathy Lette’s The Boy Who Fell To Earth. This is about a Mum who gets arrested for trying to procure a prostitute for her son with Autism, so he can lose his virginity before his 21st birthday. I’m still not quite sure what to make of the book or Lette’s excessive use of similes and puns, but I’m still reading it. It also seems a bit far fetched, which you might say goes with a standup comedy approach to writing a novel . However, for me, it still needs to be credible and I’m not quite sure this is. That is despite Lette writing from personal experience. Her 26 year old son Julian  was diagnosed with Autism when he was three. You might like to read a bit more about it in this review by the Australian Women’s Weekly Here

Have you read any good books lately?

Anyway, the night is no longer young and indeed the clock has accelerated past midnight and taken me with it. Another week begins in just a few short hours, and like Cinderella I’ll be back to the real world and needing to look responsible.  I guess that’s what makeup and a good choice of lipstick are good for.

Well, on that note, I’m heading off. I hope you’ve had a great week. This has been another Weekend Coffee Share, hosted by Eclectic Alli.

Best wishes,

Rowena