Tag Archives: perfectionist

The Closet Violinist Breaks Out.

Tonight, the closet violinist swung from the chandelier onto centre stage, dazzling the audience with a half-decent rendition of Chopin’s: “How Deep Is the Night” (Tristesse). However, if I’m honest, my entry onto the stage was much more reticent. Of course, I didn’t want to trip over which was quite a possibility with all the leads, drum kits etc to fall over. However, my violin teacher helped me out and my grand entry went smoothly. Now, I just needed to play…

In the days leading up to the concert, I second guessed myself something chronic.WHAT WAS I THINKING?!!! “You’re hopeless. It’s not ready. Don’t do it!!!” Of course, I’d done nowhere near enough practice. It was only in the last days before the concert, I actually got moving squeezing in all those critical hours of practice, which make such a difference yet almost came too late. However, despite the anxiety, I actually love performing and would love to get out there more often. It’s another one of those eternal, internal conundrums.

Rowena on stage

I could almost look like a rock violinist under these lights.

It was only a small soiree with fellow students and their families. Hardly playing at the big end of year concert, or heaven forbid, at the Sydney Opera House. However, no one likes making mistakes and there’s always that possibility of humiliating disaster. Yours truly has even broken her foot just before going on stage, but in true violinist fashion, it was on with the show. However, nobody in our household says “break a leg” before any of my performances now.

“How Deep Is the Night” is a particularly melancholy piece of music and the words are grab you by throat kind of dark…

SO DEEP IS THE NIGHT 

So deep is the night,

No moon tonight,

No friendly star to guide me with its light.

Be still my heart,

Silent lest my love could be returning,

From a world far apart.

So deep is the night,

Oh lonely night,

On broken wings my heart has taken flight,

And left a dream.

In my dream our lips are blending;

Will my dream be never ending?

Will your memory haunt me till I die?

Alone am I,

Deep into the night,

Waiting for the light.

Alone am I,

I wonder why,

I wonder why.

In my dream our lips are blending;

Will my dream be never ending?

Will your memory haunt me till I die?

Alone am I,

Deep into the night,

Waiting for the light.

Alone am I,

I wonder why,

I wonder why.

Frederik Chopin (m) 1832 Sonny Miller (l) as recorded by Richard Tauber March 29th 1940

However, who hasn’t experienced that all-consuming heartbreak and that sense of the surrounding darkness penetrating your soul? That’s one thing I don’t miss about my youth!

Unfortunately, I couldn’t share the words with the audience so I gave a brief introduction and parked a teddy bear in front. You can’t see it clearly in the photos. However, he has a red stone on his lap with “I love you” etched into it.

DSC_5727

I’d proud of myself for persevering with the violin, which has been very challenging at times. However, persistence and regular practice pays off. I’m making solid strides forward. It’s fantastic.

Rowena & Danni

Photographed here with my very encouraging and patient teacher, Danielle. We played as a duet. 

Do you play an instrument? Do you perform at all? Do you like it? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Best wishes,

Rowena

P- Perfectionism…A-Z Challenge.

“Tomorrow, I will get it right.”

– Rowena Curtin (Myself)

Perfectionism is not a good topic to be tackling when I’ve dropped my bundle with the A-Z April Blogging Challenge and am goodness knows how many days behind.

“My advice is to never do tomorrow what you can do today. Procrastination is the thief of time.”

– Charles Dickens

For those of you unfamiliar with the April Blogging A-Z Challenge, you write through the alphabet to a theme and post every day except Sunday. In previous years, I’ve really got stuck into the challenge and even exceeded expectations writing in the vicinity of 55,000 words last year. However, this year, I’m so deeply embroiled in my book research and writing, that I’m struggling to put one foot in front of the other let alone juggle the challenge on top.

Of course, I could just stop. Not finish this year.

That isn’t a crime and the powers that be from the A-Z Challenge, are hardly going to throw me in jail or hit me with a hefty fine. No one else is pointing a gun at my head either, including myself. If being involved is just going to stress me out and distract me from the book, walking away even makes sense. I could even take the dogs with me and head down to the beach. I don’t have to do this.

However, I am actually learning a lot through writing this series and thinking through the quotes and how they apply to my current book project and who I am simply as a person.

After all, we don’t always feel like jumping out of bed and even seizing that lifesaving cup of coffee can be a struggle and it’s helpful to look at those moments as well as celebrating our triumphs.

Besides, I particularly wanted to address perfectionism along with what I am coming to acknowledge its close ally…procrastination. Indeed, these days I’m starting to wonder just how many of those good for nothing lazy layabouts are actually perfectionists too afraid of making a mistake and have a go? How many of us are sitting on work we know is good but haven’t taken further because it’s “not there yet”? Where is “there”? Is that absolutely perfection?

I’m not sure whether this quote helps with that but at least it made me smile:

“Have no fear of perfection. You’ll never reach it.”

Salvador Dali.

“I have to say that I’ve always believed

perfectionism is more of a disease than a

quality. I do try to go with the flow but I can’t

let go.”

Rowan Atkinson

“We must understand the need for

perfectionism is a corrosive waste of time,

because nothing is ever beyond criticism. No

matter how many hours you spend to render

something flawless, somebody will always be

able to find fault with it.”

-Elizabeth Gilbert

Now, I’ll leave you with the warnings of Drew Barrymore:

“When things are perfect, that’s when you need

to worry most.”

How do you overcome perfectionism? Or, does it still hold you in it’s grasp? On the other hand, there must be those of you who simply couldn’t be bothered and subscribe to a different creed: “Near enough is good enough”.

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

 

Thursday Doors…St John’s Cathedral, Parramatta, Australia.

This week, a new door opened up, when I stumbled across a new-to-me blog share…Thursday Doors, hosted by Norm 2.0. As he explains:

Thursday Doors is a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favorite door photos from around the world. Feel free to join in on the fun by creating your own Thursday Doors post each week and then sharing it, between Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American eastern time), by using the blue link-up button below. 

What a great idea!

Yet, there began my dilemma.

Of all the doors in all the world, which one would I choose to be my first?

Of course, it couldn’t just be any old door.

It had to be special. Personal. Tell a story.

At the same time, being the eternal procrastinating perfectionist, I also twigged that I could spend days, even years, sifting through millions of photos on my hard drive pedantically searching for the perfect door and this new opportunity would never open up for me.

Trust me. There’s no perfect door.

No perfect door photo either.

Well, I’d probably find one if I searched a bit harder, and I really should’ve straightened this photo by the smallest fraction of a degree, because it isn’t quite straight. You see, despite being a half-decent photographer I struggle to get the horizon level. There’s often a slight lean to one side. So, this photo as it stands has my personal signature.

So, let me introduce you to Sydney’s St John’s Anglican Cathedral, Parramatta, home to Australia’s longest continuing church site, and one of its earliest churches. The cathedral itself was built in three main stages, St John’s Anglican Cathedral combines Victorian Romanesque style with an (earlier) pair of Old Colonial Gothic towers.  The oldest part of the current building, the two western towers, were built between 1817 and 1819 on apparently new foundations to replace the collapsed vestry. The towers are modelled on the towers of the ruined 12th century Saxon Church of St Mary’s at Reculver, Kent, England. See source.

My husband and I had a weekend away in Parramatta a few months ago and really enjoyed having a chance to explore its historic architecture. You can read more about that in: A Weekend Away In Parramatta.

Well, I look forward to knocking on a few new doors taking part in Thursday Doors and I also hope a few of you will head over there and give it a go. Here’s the link again.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Mummy’s Littler Miss.

This is the inimitable Miss, Age 3…a long 8 years ago!

I’m currently riffling through photos on my hard drive, searching for a photo of my daughter with her ballet teacher, which was taken about 5 years ago. That’s how I chanced upon this stunner,  which grabbed my heart with both hands.

The things is, eight years down the track, I’m struggling to remember why she’s covering her eyes. Is she playing hide-and-seek? More than likely, she’s hiding from my flash.

So, I return to the scene of the crime.

After all, I never take just one photo. There’s always a series!

 

DSC_3696

Someone loves Mummy’s lipstick a tad too much!

 

DSC_3699

Look at me!

I’m not going to show the next image of her contorting herself to escape from the flash. However, there’s no doubt she’d had enough of the paparazzi!

Fast-forwarding to 2017, her make-up is impeccable and the lipstick well and truly stays within the lines and yet it’s so lovely to hop into my time machine and celebrate this exuberant moment… three year old’s passionate journey into Mummy’s world.

She has plenty of time to grow up!

xx Rowena

 

Quote: Living With Yourself.

“but before I can live with other folks I’ve got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.”

–Atticus Finch in Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird

As hard as it it to live with someone else, perhaps the most difficult person to live is ourselves.

After all, we live with our selves twenty four hours a day seven days a week from birth right through to eternity. That’s way longer than being stuck in the same lift with someone…anyone!!

When I was younger, I used to get frustrated when my Mum would think she knew me better than I knew myself. Who did she think she was? She wasn’t me. She wasn’t walking in my shoes. Indeed, she had her own shoes and she could jolly well step straight back in them and leave my shoes alone!!

However, I have lately come to appreciate that we only know ourselves from the inside out.. through our own eyes, our own experience and let’s faceit, when you’ve only been on the planet for 5 short years, your understanding of the bigger picture and wider world is extremely limited.

Those around us, particularly who know us well but also have a broader experience and knowledge of life, can not only see us but also where and how we might fit into the overall scheme of things. They can see abilities in us we might overlook or downplay as well because so many of us are our own worst critics. In putting ourselves down or aiming for a perfection we can never attain, we can completely dismiss our strengths and fail to become all we were meant to be.

Rowena sea steps

Returning to the quote, however, that deals more with our conscience. That it doesn’t matter what other people think or hold dear, we must be true to our own values and conscience. Stand up and be counted…even if we are the one…that lone voice calling out through the wilderness.

After all, only we need to live with ourselves…and our actions and inactions. No one else.

As Edmund Burke wrote:

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

Moreover, for those of you who are a bit like me and feel you can’t do much, he also wrote:

“Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.”

Edmund Burke

It is so much easier for us to point the finger out, instead of pointing it in and asking: “What is my role? What do I need to do? Not someone else…just me.

What are your views? Please share. I’d love to hear from you!

xx Rowena

I would like to thank Merril Smith for sharing the quotes from To Kill A Mockingbird, which inspired this post. You can read her post here: https://merrildsmith.wordpress.com/2016/10/12/walk-and-talk/

Compassion…it’s Complicated.

Around 18 months ago, I joined a revolutionary blogging network called: “One Thousand Voices for Compassion”. We not only write about compassion, empathy and trying to make the world a better and more connected place, we try to take that out into the real world and translate these thoughts into action. Naturally, we feel a strong need for compassion, or we wouldn’t be part of the group.

This month, we’re addressing whether compassion is innate or learned. Are we born caring about the welfare of others or is it something we learn along the way?

While I could’ve written this from my gut, instead I fleetingly perused “the science”, which seemed to support that we’re at least born with some level of compassion and that our life experiences can either nurture or diminish our compassionate selves . If you’d like to read more about the nature versus nurture debate, there’s some recommended reading.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/feeling-it/201306/compassion-our-first-instinct

The Compassionate Instinct

This leaves me doing my usual thing of exploring yet another tangent, looking at why people don’t help or respond to someone’s pain, loss, discomfort…you get the gist. Why do people do nothing?

More pertinently, why do I do nothing?

That’s right. I’m just as guilty as everyone else. No matter how hard we try, people fall through our cracks, even when we know they’re falling through a dark abyss. Even though we love these people with all of our hearts.

For those of us who are part of this 1000 Voices for Compassion Movement, these personal failings are even more frustrating. After all, we are striving to be that compassionate caring person… the Good Samaritan who stops and takes care of that person in need…not the person who walks past. We think from our hearts, not from our heads and would be willing to leap tall buildings in a single bound for anyone in trouble.

So, why can’t we do it? Why can’t we always be the person we’re striving to be?

The trouble is we’re only human. That as much as we might strive to be that superhero…Don the cape, flex out muscles and take to the skies,  we have so many limitations, frailties and who hasn’t ended up somehow paralyzed and glued to the spot in a stressful situation . Who hasn’t forgotten to phone a friend when you know the proverbial’s hit the fan?

Guilty as charged.

Compassion guilt…send me straight to jail…directly to jail. Do no pass Go. Do not collect $200.

BUT…

We can’t be in two places at once. We can’t clone ourselves and even help everyone in our own backyards, let alone to try to save the world as we would like.

That learns us having to make choices.

Or, circumstances can also dictate our response.

This brings me back to what I’ve written before about being kind to ourselves. Understanding and being compassionate to ourselves when we don’t live up to our own principles, ideologies, which includes fighting whatever negative stuff someone else might send our way when we let them down. We’ve done our best and even when we haven’t, know we can take that life lesson back to the drawing board and hope to be a better friend or person next time.

I am rushing this through to get this up before the link closes. So I hope it make sense. I’ll be back to straighten up the rough edges.

Or, perhaps writing rough is good enough, after all.

Well, at least once and awhile.

This has been part of 1000 Voices for Compassion and if you’d like to read other contributions, please click on the Linky.

xx Rowena

PS: I just came across a great hymn “Brighten the Corner Where You Are” over at Ann’s Corner. It guess it’s a precursor to a great slogan from our times: “Think global. Act local.” https://annofgg.com/2015/03/07/anns-corner/

The Craft Master.

Today, my daughter and I revisited the toy shop, AKA “the scene of the crime” and decided to reattempt our previous craft catastrophe. Hopefully, an extra four years and learning from our mistakes, would bring about a different result. After all, we’re not too keen on mistakes.

So what was our illustrious craft project?

We bought a Suncatcher Making Kit. You’re probably familiar with these kids’ craft kits, which come with a metal frame and little plastic packets filled with multi-coloured plastic “crystals” which you pour into the gaps. Or, if you’re more meticulously inclined, or have a more detailed design, you might use a pair of tweezers to carefully place each and every crystal into its intended place. Once all the gaps are filled, you bake it in the oven and after 20 minutes or so of magic, it comes out looking like a stained-glass window. I still remember the incredible sense of magic when I made these as a child. Wow! How I loved making my own stained glass window!

suncatcher

Our Cat Suncatcher Kit.

By the way, before you get all excited and rush into making one of these, there are a few pitfalls for the unsuspecting parent and child. Firstly, before you even think about adding the crystals, that you need to put a sheet of foil down on a metal baking tray and ensure the tray is on a flat surface. This might sound like stating the blatantly obvious, but you can get caught up in the creative moment and sweep over all sorts of details, leading to catastrophe. That’s right, you can send all those multi-coloured crystals flying faster than Jaffas down the aisle.

Trust me! I know!!

Although all those tiny crystals are only plastic and aren’t going to cut little feet or anything nasty like that, if they spill all over the floor, there will be tears. Nobody likes to see their artwork break…especially a young personage matching the age ranges mentioned on the packet.

There will also be tears if those crystals only spread over the tray.

a-place-for-everything

After all, if there was ever a moment for “a place for everything and everything in its place”, this is it.

Anyway, as you might appreciate through my previous tales of catastrophes with kids’ craft, baking and just about everything I touch, I know all about how to screw up something which truly should have been Simple Simon.

You can read all about that in my previous post: Disaster Crafter

Stained Glass Fairy.jpg

Mummy needed more help with this attempt than the child.

When it comes to doing craft with your kids, you can say that the outcome doesn’t matter. That it’s all about spending time together, being creative and having a go. However, if your budding artist is adding those coloured crystals with meticulous precision, I warn you that there could well be tears… even if nothing seemingly goes wrong. This time round, my daughter wasn’t happy with the number of very small gaps in the “glass” and I guess I’d suggest being generous when you’re applying the crystals to get around this. We had quite a few left over.

“I have to say that I’ve always believed perfectionism is more of a disease than a quality. I do try to go with the flow but I can’t let go.”

– Rowan Atkinson

However, you could say that the resulting conversation was an important life lesson. That when it comes to home made, there usually isn’t pure perfection because we’re human. There are themes and variations in the things we make by hand and while they might like that factory-made uniformity, there’s so much pride in making something yourself and unless you’re into cross stitch and someone always has to turn your work over and inspect the back, no one else is going to notice those infinitesimal mistakes or imperfections. They’re not going to look at it under a microscope and wack you over the knuckles with the proverbial ruler.

“These ‘mistakes’ occur in my books for a reason. I have an agenda: I’m secretly trying to inspire kids to create their own stories and comics, and I don’t want them to feel stifled by ‘perfectionism.'”

Dav Pilkey, author and Illustrator, The Adventures of Captain Underpants.

I should also share that when I showed my daughter a photo of our last fairy suncatcher and my post, she actually really liked it and she was quite embarrassed about telling me I should “go back to kindergarten and learn how to stay between the lines”. So, I’m hoping that she comes to like today’s effort and won’t be so critical.

“If you look in the dictionary under ‘perfectionist,’ you see Henry Selick* correcting the definition of perfectionist in the dictionary. I mean, he is so meticulous.”

John Hodgman

After all, isn’t the point of art and craft, especially as a kid, that you have a bit of fun?!!
So, forget about staying between the lines and throwing all those luscious rainbow colours to the wind.

 

xx Rowena

*Henry Selick is an American stop motion director, producer and writer who is best known for directing The Nightmare Before Christmas and James and the Giant Peach.

Disaster Crafter!

Kid’s craft should definitely come with warnings. I’m not talking about those warnings such as: WARNING! CHOKING HAZARD- Small Parts. Not suitable for children under 3 years.

I’m talking about warnings for parents.

THIS PROJECT SHOULD NOT BE UNDERTAKEN UNLESS YOU HAVE THE PATIENCE OF A SAINT

Or…

WARNING! MUST BE QUALIFIED SURGEON/ENGINEER/ARTIST TO COMPLETE THIS PROJECT!

Perhaps, I should have confessed upfront. I have failed kid’s craft again. This time I have screwed up a relatively simple project that any 8 year old could do but was somehow beyond my abilities! I guess that makes me a loser! Make that loser loser!

Our latest craft project, aside from obligatory choking warnings, advised that children 6-8 may need some help and children 8-10 should be able to do it themselves.

I thought our 6 year old daughter would have no trouble completing it. She is very advanced like most people’s children. What I didn’t envision was that I would have trouble doing it. In fact, that I would sabotage and almost destroy our fairy completely!

Yesterday, we visited our local toy shop. So far, so good. Well, I came across a kit where you can make your own “stained-glass” fairy. She even comes with her own pet unicorn. You simply pour the crystals into the metal frame and put it in the oven to bake. Miss and I were both very excited! She loves craft just as much as I love revisiting my childhood!

You see I loved making these as a kid. That’s why I bought it. I remembered pouring the crystals into the frame and then watching them metamorphose like magic in the oven. They were so much fun and so easy. I wanted our daughter to share in the magic. Our son too if he hadn’t disappeared.

In all my excitement, I didn’t look that closely at the fairy and didn’t appreciate the fine attention to detail required. The metal frame was indeed quite intricate in places and we needed to apply one crystal at a time with the precision of a micro-surgeon.  This is all very well if you are the micro-surgeon type and you have the time to be so meticulous. We, on the other hand, were making ours’ before school. While we weren’t exactly rushing, we didn’t have all day either.

As I said before, my experience of making these stained-glass thingys was pouring the crystals into the frame. That is much more my style. I’m much more of a broad-brush kind of artist. Slap on the paint. I need a style which is a bit forgiving and allows a lot of scope for mistakes. Precision isn’t my thing and when it comes to staying within the lines, I couldn’t be bothered. After all, aren’t lines  meant to be broken, extended, challenged? Isn’t that what being creative is all about?

dsc_3836

Miss Aged 6 with her doll.

Miss Perfectionist, on the other hand, is very particular. Precise. Without any consideration for my poor, wounded self-esteem, she very bluntly lets me know when my artwork isn’t up to scratch and doesn’t look like the real thing. She is also 6 and one of the first rules of colouring-in is that you stay inside the lines. I’ve been told before that I need to go back to kindergarten to learn how to colour-in properly.

As much as Miss is precise, she is also a perfectionist. Of course, she started off with the most fiddly bit where you could only apply one crystal at a time. She was struggling and quickly became frustrated and that’s when I was called in. My approach of tipping the crystals in wasn’t really appreciated. I also mixed the colours and I thought the fairy would look quite nice in a pink dress with purple spots but this wasn’t good enough. It didn’t meet Madam’s high standards and so she started to remove the offending dots. Well, I obliged and was using a fork to get them out when disaster struck. The fork clipped the metal frame lifting it ever so slightly off the tray and the crystals all tumbled out of position. To make matters worse, I couldn’t wriggle the frame back onto the tray either. It was resting on top of the crystals instead. The crystals had all gone AWOL.  On the brink of despair, I shoved it in the oven. It was a done deal!

At first, Miss was surprisingly impressed. She was quite excited and told me it was “pretty”. It didn’t take long for either of us to see its short comings. There were quite a few “extensions” added to the frame. You know…extra bits. I even managed to fill up the hole at the top. Yes, that’s right. That hole where you put the piece of ribbon to hang it up. At least, I could have got that bit right!

I soon found her chiseling away at these offending additions with a sharp knife. As I carefully removed the knife, once again craft had become yet another lesson in “acceptance”.

I know this won’t be our last craft project. As much as I protest, I keep finding more craft activities to frustrate us.

For the time being, however, we’re going back to baking. You can’t go wrong with cupcakes!

cupcake

A Cupcake…the safe alternative.

Do you have any craft disaster stories to share? I’d love to hear from you!

I have reblogged this post which was first published in 2012. My daughter made another one of these sun catchers today and wanted to share this with you as a back story.

xx Rowena

Waffling About Perfection.

How long has it taken me to actually use my waffle machine for its intended purpose and actually make waffles?

I’m not telling. This is a blog, NOT a confessional!

While I’ve crushed, fried and crunchified boiled potatoes in the waffle iron before, I’ve NEVER ever made a waffle. Yet, tonight I finally walked the plank, jumped over the edge and straight into the raging waves only to find absolute calm…still waters!

The waffles worked. Were delicious! I succeeded!

So why have I put it off for so long?

Of course, you know why. You know the crazy reason why. I’ve been too scared. Scared I’d make a mistake and botch them up.

That’s right. I’ve been yet another a paralyzed perfectionist.

How about you? Are you also guilty as charged?

There’s nothing more annoying than a perfectionist who isn’t perfect…especially when it’s yourself!

Perfectionism is a sneaky, cunning beast. It doesn’t knock on your front door and announce its arrival. It doesn’t have flashing neon lights with ringing sirens either. Instead, it silently sneaks in through the back door and creeps up on you from behind and grabs you by the throat.

It also gets you busy. In the case of the waffles, it threw a bamboozling array of recipes at me, followed by a plethora of different waffle irons and that was before we’d even considered toppings. By this stage, there so  many rats going round and round in spinning wheels inside my head, for me to do anything.

Although it might be cliched, paralysis by analysis is real. Too many cogs spinning all at once and your exhausted, over-worked brain is blowing a gasket. Boom! Bang! Crash!

So, as I said, I made waffles for the first time tonight and they were great. Covered in creamy vanilla ice cream and maple syrup dripping off the fork…So yum!

Why on earth did I put it off for so long?

DSC_2004

The Lutheran Church in Wollongong put this recipe book together in the aftermath of WWII. Having members from a multitude of European countries, some being enemies at home, the idea of the cookbook was to bring people together and sharing recipes is a great way to start.

We didn’t have a waffle machine growing up at home. Even though I ended up using my grandmother’s recipe to make our waffles tonight, she’d never made them for me either. I found the recipe in a Church cookbook she’d edited back in the 1950s. Of course, all the measurements were in “ancient” and had to be translated. I also wondered whether I really did have to separate the eggs, or whether I should use a simpler recipe, which just throws the ingredients together? I chose the complicated path, hoping for fluffier waffles and I used my egg beater as well. It’s also ancient.

DSC_1991

As I was saying, we didn’t have a waffle machine growing up and I have to admit that making the waffles, was like magic. The batter looked just like pancake mix and I admit that as I spread it over the waffle iron, I doubted it could actually make a waffle and I had that child-like sense of wonder, when I opened up the machine, and found the sculptured waffles cooking inside.

DSC_1988

Abracadabra!…Waffles!

I’m proud of my waffles. Not just because they were good, but also because in tackling that challenge, I crossed a new frontier…just like an explorer crossing a mountain for the very first time. I did it. I actually extended my wings and allowed myself to leave my cage and truly soar.

While making waffles might only be a small step for woman and nowhere near actually landing on the moon, all these steps add up and could ultimately build a ladder. You never know.

So, in case you want to follow in my esteemed footsteps, here’s Grandma’s Waffle Recipe:

DSC_2001

My Grandmother’s Waffle Recipe taken from the “Around the World With Cooking” Cookbook.

Grandma’s Waffle Recipe

250g Plain Flour

Pinch salt

1 teas Baking Powder

1 generous cup of milk and a splash (270 mls)

2 eggs, separated.

50g melted butter.

Directions

  1. Start preparing the batter about an hour before required.
  2. Take eggs out of the fridge 30 mins beforehand and at room temperature.
  3. Sift flour & salt into a basin. Make a well in the centre.
  4. Separate eggs and put the whites aside.
  5. Beat egg yolks and add hald the milk. Pour into the flour and mix into a smooth batter, gradually stirring in the rest of the milk.
  6. Beat mixture and allow to stand for an hour.
  7. 15 minutes before the mix is ready to cook, beat egg whites until stiff. Put aside.
  8. Once the hour is up, add the melted butter to the mixture and then stiffly beaten egg whites and baking powder.
  9. Spray waffle iron with oil or butter and have it hot to make the waffles.

Enjoy!

By the way, just to encourage you and humble myself a little further, when I went to reheat my cup of tea in the microwave, I found the melted butter for the waffle mix in there. That’s right. I’d left it out. This could explain why the waffles weren’t quite as crunchy as expected, but I’d instinctively added butter to the machine for the second batch.

Have you ever made waffles? How does your recipe compare to mine and do you have any tips and topping suggestions to share?

I look forward to hearing from you!

xx Rowena

Picture1

My Grandparents.

The Creme Caramel Queen

This week I finally made Creme Caramel for the very first time and I’m so proud of myself. While this might be a seemingly simple dessert to make, I had baggage. My Mum was the Creme Caramel Queen and I had towering high heels to fill. Of course, this fueled my usual fears of “disaster” and the cream sat in the fridge for a week before I could muster the courage to get started.

(Note to self: add “fear of making mistakes” to previous post!)

When I was was a child, my mother used to make Creme Caramel for dinner parties. I remember peering up as she carefully tipped the Creme Caramel with its scrumptious golden crown onto the plate. It was her piece de resistance!

Then, being a fiendish sugar-holic, I’d nab the dish to salvage the crunchy toffee off the bottom with a knife. The next morning, my brother and I would find our left over slithers in the fridge. The scarcity just added to its glory. With it’s caramalised, sugary sweetness, it was heavenly divine.

My mother’s Creme Caramel was an absolute treat!

Given how much I love cooking and how much I loved that precious Creme Caramel, you’re probably surprised that I’ve never made it before…especially as I stubbornly refuse to eat those ghastly supermarket frauds which could never measure up.

I’m sure I did my usual thing of turning a mole hill into a mountain and besdies, watching Mum make it as a child, there seemed to be some kind of alchemy involved. Of course, I forgot that these were the impressions of a 10 year old and I’ve now grown up. I can cook.

What spurred me into action was that my kids like the supermarket version and had no idea how to make a real Creme Caramel.  Indeed, when I explained how it was made, it was just like telling a kid that milk comes from real cows and wasn’t made in a carton! I was flabbergasted and decided that making Creme Caramel at home was about to become an important part of their education. After all, how could I deprive them of the joy of chiselling the toffee stright off the bottom of the dish? That’d be absolutely unforgivable!

So, I dug a recipe out of the Australian Women’s Weekly Cookbook, which I believe is Mum’s recipe, and it was nowhere near as hard to make as I’d thought. Just toffee and custard baked in a water bath.

Easy peasy.

Nothing to fear.

That was until I had to convert  pints into millilitres, which is never an easy translation.

Miss helping.

Miss helping.

Then, disaster struck!

Perhaps, I was worrying too much about the measurements or was it my daughter’s chatter  or perhaps it was just me being me, which completely mucked it up. Instead of putting the milk and cream in the saucepan, I’d thrown them in with the eggs. Now, my precious first attempt had just become dog food.

Unperturbed, I read the recipe a few more times and without further dramas, it went into the oven.

This is when further doubts started to surface, just like air bubbles in the gurgling toffee.

How long should it stay in the oven? I couldn’t find small ramekins and so I was making mine in a larger dish, just like Mum. However, the recipe didn’t offer a suitable cooking time, leaving it up to guesswork or Google. This was when I dug up an article from The Guardian about How to Make the Perfect Creme Caramel. It was a bit late now that it was already in the oven but it did mention that my Monster Creme Caramel needed to cook for 1.5 hours. It also warned not to trust the timing and to “make sure it really does have a “slight tremble” in the centre, rather than a definite wobble, before you take it out of the oven.”

I wondered how  much wobble was ideal. I assumed more of a jogging along the beach kind of wobble than a lot of bounce or horror of horrors… sag!

Of course, I couldn’t over-cook it either and on this front it mentioned “rubber”. Ouch!

I had no idea that Creme Caramel could bounce. Indeed, I’d never seen Mum’s Creme Caramel bounce around the tennis court or being chased by the dog. Mine wasn’t about to start bouncing either. As I said, just a “wobble”.

I was going to have to watch that oven like a hawk and somehow pick exactly the right wobble without opening the door a thousand times and killing it altogether!

I know I’d heard of people catching cyberchondria by looking up medical conditions online but I didn’t realise it affected your cooking as well. In the past your dish either rose or it flopped but now there’s so much advice,  that I’ve opened a veritable Pandora’s Box of worries. Now, I was starting to feel like that parent with a newborn feeling completely confused, overwhelmed and wanting to head for the hills.

How could something so simple suddenly become so fraught with danger?

I didn’t know but but my nightmeres weren’t over yet!

I still had to extricate our precious Creme Caramel from the dish.

Of course, I don’t remember Mum’s Creme Caramel ever getting stuck but she was the Creme Caramel Queen. I was just the poor apprentice. She had Creme Caramel running through her veins… the same way she knew how to make the perfect, inimitable sponge.

This isn’t something you simply inherit in your DNA. It’s a gift.

So there I was. After hoping it had the right amount of wobble, I took my first ever, precious Creme Caramel out of the oven and transferred it to the fridge for a good night’s sleep.

Since I’m not one of those TV Cooking demonstrators who always have the next stage “prepared earlier”, we’ll fast forward 24 hours. I’ve now taken the Creme Caramel out of the fridge and with the two kids pestering me to dish it up, the big moment had finally arrived.

Would I, the Creme Caramel Apprentice, be able to get this thing out without it blowing up?

I was about to find out.

The recipe said to cut around the edge with a thin knife.

This I did.

I carefully turned the dish upside down on the plate but didn’t push the matter too aggressively on my first attempt in case disaster struck.

I held my breath and all but said a prayer as I turned the dish upside down, sacrificing my Creme Caramel to the Lord of the Great White Plate.

Humph. Nothing happened. It was stuck.

A huge anti-climax, my heart started to race a little faster. Indeed, the accelerator was flat to the floor. How was I going to get this thing out without destroying it completely?

“Think, Rowena. Think”.

It still wasn’t time to go in with the jack hammer yet but tougher measures were required. No more kid gloves but just enough force to give it a shove. Well, more of a nudge….this time with a broad knife. It wasn’t quite the thin knife the recipe recommended but it could not so subtlely get underneath the custard and lever it out. This is where art was meeting science and where salvaging cakes out of stubborn cake tins finally paid off. I knew exactly how to extract this beast and by jove, I did it!

Our Creme Caramel had landed!

A slice of heaven.

A slice of heaven.

Of course, I was expecting animated “oohs and aahs” from the family…especially as the kids had being eyeing off that caramel sauce like would-be thieves.

I was in for a very rude shock.

Indeed, I’d less complaints when I last dished broccoli for dinner.

I even heard a “yuck”.

Neither of the kids liked the Creme Caramel and wouldn’t eat it. Indeed, they even had the gall to say they preferred the supermarket version.

Our daughter even said it was “like cheese”.

That was like slapping me in straight in the face with a fly swat and boy did it hurt!

How dare they! Yet, I wasn’t surprised. They’re both incredibly fussy and usually drink Soy milk and don’t like dairy. My son is also lactose intolerant so it was probably a good thing.

So, unlike my childhood where I was lucky to procure my precious little slither, Geoff and I will now be feasting on Creme Caramel for a few days.

Things could be worse…

Photoshopped: my Creme Caramel was turned into a Green Slime Monster. No respect!

Photoshopped: my Creme Caramel was turned into a Green Slime Monster. No respect!

Meanwhile just to top off her total lack of respect for my magnificent Creme Caramel, Miss did this on photoshop: Attack of the Killer Slime Monster.

No respect!

Have you ever tried to make Creme Caramel?

xx Rowena