Tag Archives: baking

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!

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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

 

 

Weekend Coffee Share… 26th November, 2018.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

Well, before I get much further, I should tell you it was much husband’s birthday earlier in the week and we had a wonderful lunch out together at a restaurant across from our local beach. The weather was stunning and we had such a relaxing time. Well, it would’ve been more relaxing if a group of young whippersnappers weren’t discussing their investment strategies and how much money you should leave in the pot. I was very tempted to ask them to ****up and tell them that some people actually like to enjoy life. Go out for lunch to get away from all of that. I can guarantee that when I was their age, I wasn’t discussing investment strategies. However, eventually the bright sun forced them inside and out of earshot.

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By the way, my apologies on the food and beverage front today. About all I can offer you is tea, coffee, water and some great music. I’m sitting out at my desk listening to Ian Cooper: Hard Axe to Follow featuring  violinist Ian Cooper, guitarist Tommy Emmanuel and Maestro Tommy Tycho. This where my story gets rather humbling, which is hardly surprising for someone who bills themselves as: “The Closet Violinist”. Even if you’re shy, if you have a modicum of talent, someone eventually drags you out of the closet into some kind of public arena. Wants to bless the world with your magic. Not so for a poor closet player. They either leave the door, shut or slam it in your face. People can be so insensitive!!

Anyway, as I said, I’m listening to Ian Cooper Ian Cooper and this piece of music is vaguely familiar and moving out of the background, until I’m wracking my brain trying to work out what it is. Indeed, I’m even glaring at the back of the cover, and still not getting any wiser. Clearly, I should’ve finished my cup of tea before I began this simple, yet apparently ambitious task. The peanut butter sandwich clearly wasn’t enough either. As it turns out, much to my embarrassment, they were playing a reinvention of Dvořák’s Humoresque . I say much to my embarrassment, because I’ve been learning this piece for over the last three months. I guess it’s a bit like when you’re introduce two close friends, and have a temporary memory lapse and can’t remember their name.

Meanwhile, the Closet Violinist is hard at work. For those of you with even a toe in the performing arts, you’ll know that the end of the year is concert season. So, I’ll actually be coming out of the closet and will be playing a duet of Danny Boy with my teacher at the end of year concert. Last week, she gave me a big tick of approval and said she’d be stoked if I played like that at the concert. Yet, I’m still working on it.

Perhaps, I shouldn’t be surprised that practicing more, produces more practice and consequent improvement. It’s so exciting to be polishing off a handful of pieces and I’ll soon be moving from the Suzuki Book 3 onto Book 4, where I start learning concertos. It struck me that even if I’m only learning concertos, that I can’t keep saying that I can’t play the violin anymore. We Aussies can be an understated bunch. So, I think I’d now describe my playing as “could be better, could be worse”. How’s that for confidence and self-esteem? To be honest, I’m just grateful when my violin doesn’t squeak or do its infamous cockatoo screech. While the violin can be such an incredibly beautiful songbird (even when I play it), it can also be so cantankerous. Yet, I must say I was encouraged recently when a newfound friend, who is an incredibly talented musician, said all musicians wrestle with their instruments. By the way, as you may be aware there are definite parallels between mastering an instrument and conducting a passionate love affair…the love, the intensity, arguments, silence and all too often a parting of ways possibly after a physical break of some description.

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Our Daughter performing her contemporary solo at a local nursing home. Photo: Dancin Mates.

This weekend, however, it wasn’t my turn to shine. My daughter performed with the Dancin Mates Dance Team at a local nursing home. They did the opening number from the upcoming annual concert and they each performed their solos. It’s been awhile since my grandparents were living in nursing homes now and this is the only time I visit one these days. I’m really pleased my daughter is involved with these performances, as it’s important to try and cheer up people who might be doing it tough and bring a ray of sunshine indoors to people who may not get out all that often. Even just being themselves and wearing their dazzling costumes would be enough to brighten someone’s day but then to see them dance, is utterly magical. Some of these young people are in the process of transitioning into the professional dance world and so they weren’t just seeing people with nowhere else to go. My parents also came up to watch which was very special for us.

There have also been some challenging times over the last few weeks. My health is doing well and my endoscopy and colonoscopy haven’t picked up anything too nasty. However, I have a friend battling advanced Motor Neurone Disease and things with her have been really difficult lately. There were a couple of days where I was so angry about it and ended up finding solace on my violin, which isn’t something I’ve consciously done before. After all, as a beginner, all that screeching is hardly relaxing. I have also been listening to some violin music and that’s been very cathartic as well. I think the tone of the violin, especially when it hits the high notes, really releases the anguished or troubled cry of the soul. Any thoughts?

I did a bit of baking through the week. It started out with attempting to make a birthday cake for my husband using GF flour. I don’t know what happened because what went into the cake doesn’t resemble the recipe and then the cake didn’t rise. While I was waiting to decide its fate, the dog decided to help herself and Geoff heard the tin crash on the floor and half the cake was gone by the time he got there. Golly. These dogs are quick. Fortunately, there had been two layers. By this stage, the logical thing was to throw it out. However, I must believe in raising the dead after all. I broke the cake up and decided to do a variation of a family dessert…Chocolate In-Betweens. In the original you have chocolate mouse in between sponge fingers which have been dashed with sherry. In this version, there was chocolate cake smothered in cream, splashed with Frangelico and then covered in the chocolate mouse filling from the original cake recipe. The patient was removed to the fridge to rest. Much to our surprise, the result was incredibly scrumptious and will be the beginning of a new thing.

In terms of blogging, I’ve been a bit quiet this week and only participated in Friday Fictioneers with: The Secret

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

 

 

Chocolate Brownie with a Stick on the Side.

It’s been awhile since I’ve dobbed in a dog on Beyond the Flow. However, when I found one of Rosie’s sticks parked on the plate  right next to my chocolate brownie, duty called. All of a sudden the quirkiness of living with dogs was flashing like neon lights and I couldn’t keep my amusement to myself. I had to share it with you.

Above: Zac top left, Lady bottom right and Rosie has the red collar and spots.

Just to recap on the dogs in our family…We have Lady, a 6 year old Border Collie x Cavalier who is more Cavalier in temperament. Left to her own devices, she’d love to eat and sleep all day and chase the occasional moving critter. She totally ignores balls and sticks and refuses to chase inanimate objects. Last year, after Bilbo our beloved Border Collie passed away, we fostered two Border Collie x Kelpie pups from the same litter…Zac and Rosie. They’re now about one year old. Zac and Rosie are like twins and it’s not uncommon for each of them to grab an end of the stick and play tug-of-war with each other. Lady has absolutely no interest in chasing sticks or balls, which was a big reason we adopted the pups. We were used to a crazed, ball-obsessed dog and as much as he drove us crazy, we couldn’t live without this harassment. We needed that constant pestering.

That might explain how I’ve allowed myself to get manipulated and dare I say trained into perpetually throwing the stick , or even the teeniest splintered fragments to Rosie. I’ve also found myself feeling rather fed up, and it’s a natural instinct to throw something away when it’s annoying you. However, you don’t need to be a human or dog psychologist to know that this is only reinforcing the very behavior I’m trying to curb.  Clearly, I’m being out-manipulated by a dog. Or, you could say that I’m  very well trained.

Being a true blue desperado, Rosie keeps depositing these bits of stick right in front of whatever I’m watching. Quite often, she’ll hover over my laptop and delicately remove the smallest fragment of stick out of her mouth with surgical precision and place it on the keyboard. This might even be accompanied by a gentle nudge with her paw as a polite but rather insistent reminder.  “Come on, human. Get moving!” Or, as one of my teacher’s used to say back in primary school in around 1978: “Wake up, Australia!” (I wonder if this was because Australia was generally seen to be asleep???!!)

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I’m not sure why I found it particularly funny that Rosie had deposited a stick on the plate next to my brownie. There are random stray bits of stick scattered all around me and I’ve even had a stick or two go down my top. That was rather disturbing and quite an invasion of privacy. So, having bits of stick turn up in unexpected places is nothing new around here. However, it did look particularly striking on the plate and like it had been dished up…Chocolate Brownie Served with Fragment of stick. Humph…I can see it appearing on the menu at Heston Blumenthal’s  The Fat Duck in However, the very near future. The must have dish!

However, perhaps it’s what happened next which really caught my attention. Rosie goes over to my plate and unlike your average dog who would’ve helped themselves to the brownie if they’d had the chance, Rosie picks up the stick and brings it closer. Drops it on my lap. I don’t know about you, but if I had the choice between a brownie and a stick, it’d be a no brainer. Just in case you’ve been infected by a similar madness, let me just confirm. I’d take the brownie.

Rosie! Rosie! Rosie! Hasn’t anyone told you that you’re just a tad too obsessed? Trust me! We’ve tried. We even get her up on our laps, massage and pat her and try to get her to relax. It occasionally works. However, most of the time she’s looking trapped and is squirming to escape.

Clearly, she’s taking the whole working dog thing too seriously, and needs to learn about holidays.

Has your dog been up to anything “interesting” lately? Feel free to dob in your dog in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Weekend Coffee Share…23rd July, 2018.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

This week, I’ve been a bit of a bower bird and we’re enjoying the warm fire at the Central Coast Bar and Grill where we indulged in a scrumptious Sticky Date Pudding. Indeed, we loved it so much, that I had to make one for dessert last night and added some pecan nut praline for good measure. Dinner was supermarket lasagna just in case you think I’m about to enter Masterchef myself.

Amelia Coast Quest

Last week, was jam packed with rehearsals and performances. Our daughter competed in Coast Quest with her dancing and went extremely well. Well, perhaps “extremely” is being a somewhat over the top. However, if you’d seen her beaming smile when she came second in her ballet solo and third in her contemporary (with a higher mark of 89), you’d understand. We don’t receive many awards, so these were pure gold.You can read about the the full experience here.

 

 

The kids were also performing in the  Scout & Guide Gang Show with four performances at Laycock Street Theatre. The show was fantastic, and this was more our son’s turn to shine. He even made an appearance as NASA astronaut Michael Collins from the Apollo 11 (moon landing) mission. He delivered his lines well and smiled throughout the entire show. He looked like he was having a ball. Our daughter’s involvement was cut back due to clashing commitments with dancing but just managed to stay in the show. It looks like it will be her last. Needless to say, I spent a lot of time last week in the audience. It is a role I cherish, and I turn it into a much more active role by encouraging the performers. I also love watching the performances, and really feel quite privileged. I’m definitely not there under sufferance.

Last week, I also took part in Friday Fictioneers. I actually had two attempts this week, after some feedback, and my second effort An Unpredictable End was much better received.

The kids have been on school holidays for the last two weeks, and school goes back tomorrow. So, I’m thinking along the lines of getting organised for the term ahead while writing on the blog. That works, doesn’t it? Humph…

Anyway, it’s actually a beautiful sunny day outside. Well, not quite as warm as I’d first thought. It’s about 18°C so still not what we’d consider “balmy”. It’s still rug-up weather as far as I’m concerned.

Hope you’ve had a great week and I look forward to hearing from you!

This has been another contribution to the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Eclectic Ali.

Best wishes,

Rowena