Sunday, August 26, 2012

Love and Lemon Cake

Last Monday evening I raced home to bake a cake for the staff lunch on Tuesday. It was my debut baking contribution at work so I was hoping to pull off something good, something maybe even a little impressive? One could only hope. It was going to be the pear upside down cake. I'd made it a few times before and it always worked. A nice spongey cake topped with a lemony caramel syrup and thin pear slices.

I had a two hour window of baking opportunity before French class so went to work. I knew the danger of baking to a deadline. Cakes often don't take kindly to it. I knew that the best baking is always the result of entering a weird baking zen mode, with no pressure or performance anxiety. Unfortunately these conditions could not be manifested on this occasion, but bake I must.

All went reasonably well, although the cake batter looked a bit curdled and runny, but in the oven it went, while I made, served and ate dinner with the Smiths. At the halfway check, the bottom looked a little black - the oven was too hot.

I was getting a bit antsy by this stage. I had no more time to make anything else so this had to work. Oh well, a little extra 'caramelisation' on the bottom wasn't the end of the world. I turned the oven down and hoped for the best.

With five minutes to go till I had to leave to parle francais avec mes amis, the oven timer rang and the cake came out of the oven. It looked ok.

'Thank God.

Now you have to turn these cakes out while they're still warm, don't you?

Here's my fancy cake plate. Its a nice big,flat, white one. A bit slippery on the top, but she'll be right. I'll just put it over the cake tin and flip ...


That was the moment that the tin slipped off the edge of the cake plate and half the cake splatted onto the kitchen bench.

I removed the tin quietly, lay down my tea towel, walked to the armchair and sat down.

Not only would I NOT be impressing the staff with my baking skills, but I would be that knobber who promised to bake and didn't deliver.
The baking-under-pressure curse strikes again.

It was time to go to French.
I picked up my books, despondently hugged the luthier and smalls and left the ugly cake scene behind.

Halfway through French class I received a text with this photo and the message 'lemon cake'.

The luthier, known for his superb craftsmanship of stringed instruments and the occasional maker of an excellent custard, who has not often before made a cake, had come to my rescue. Covered with lemon butter icing, it was the toast of the staff lunch.

My hero
It must be love.


Saturday, August 18, 2012

Oh What a Beautiful Morning!

After a full, yes, I said it, a FULL night's sleep, this morning is looking pretty darn rosie! I'm not saying its the first in 11 and a half years, but damn, it feels like it.

Not only a full night of sleep was had, but when I woke up I was in bed alone. Luxury! I lay in the grey light listening to living room rumbles and the 'Yo Gabba Gabba' theme tune, meditating and recalling my whacky dream.

I dreamt that we lived at work and my computer and phone had been stolen. We raced off to find them and as we drove the environment changed from suburban Launceston to a tropical coastline with us riding scooters on roads curving between jungle and the turquoise sea. I was a bit sad to have lost the photos of the kids on the computer, but apart from that, in the tropical sunshine, I couldn't care less.

Hmmm, there something in that for all of us.

Happy Saturday to you!!!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Even in Timbuktu

I think the most difficult thing to deal with, being a working mother, is these moments when you feel like you are not good at any of your jobs. The lack of sleep impacts on your work performance and the work performance impacts on your capacity to mother in the way that you want to. And so you are left feeling like you are only catching a tiny number of the balls that are being thrown at you.

Oh well, some days are like that, even in Timbuktu.

Friday, August 10, 2012


Today I think I started something.

I pinned it.
Then bought it.

This Pinterest addiction I am forming could begin a descent down a very slippery slope.

Romantic Floral Scarf Duvet

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Craft on

We had our first Launny Brown Owls get together on Saturday. We haven't met for a millenia. Jobs, kids and winter hibernation were allowed to get in the way. It was a modest gathering but seeing people make awesome stuff again, has inspired me to get my craft on again.

Today I went patch crazy!!!

What do you reckon? Stitched by hand with love.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Home work

Speaking to someone recently about having a job and kids etc and they said "It's good for your kids to see you working now. "

This is what I wish I had said in response, looking them straight in the eye, cool, calm and clear:

'My kids have been watching me work all their lives.'

What the fuck do people think being at home looking after children, a home and managing a family is, if not work? Isn't it the most important work? Just because it does not attract a salary, does not mean its not good, hard work. Its a pity that it is not held higher in our cultural esteem. All of us would benefit in health, happiness and community if it was.

End of rant.

Friday, August 03, 2012


The luthier delivered a viola this week, his first to be played in our state orchestra, the Tasmanian Symphony orchestra, or TSO, as it is affectionately known. Three of his bows belong to TSO players, but this is the first instrument. It's a big step and a proud moment.

Everything in the luthier and bow making business takes a long, long time. There is a myriad of minute handcrafted steps in every lengthy process. A violin takes 3 or 4 months to be planed, shaped, constructed, carved and varnished. Many of the materials are gathered from all corners of the planet like aged tone wood from Germany. And for bows he uses Mongolian horse hair, silver, pearl, ebony and pernambuco, the endangered Brazilian rainforest wood that can now only be reclaimed from buildings and packing crates. Animal glue, oil varnish, and mother of pearl - the elements are alchemical and exotic.

The luthier has spent the last 12 years carving out, little by little, not only beautiful, resonant instruments and now bows, but also handcrafting a reputation for excellence, if only on our little island, as yet.

I can't wait to drink in the sight and sound of this viola (and its talented and discerning owner) in action on stage with the TSO. And to see the luthier acknowledging,in that moment, all the work he has done and to, perhaps, consider the possibilities of all the musicians and stages that his instruments and bows are yet to grace all over the world.

Remind me to pack some hankies.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Filling the Gap

It might be boredom, or midwinter blues, but we've decided we would quite like to move to New York. That should be totes easy, shouldn't it? Finding jobs, getting visas, finding schools and moving the 5 of us to the biggest of big towns? Easy. 

About 457 people we know (or at least 7) have visited the Big Apple this year. It must be a sign. 

Sigh,... we can dream. 

Ten years ago the luthier was offered a job on Long Island and sadly, we couldn't get a visa. No money and not enough qualifications held us back. It wasn't all bad though because then we moved from a very unsatisfying, debt-collecting life in Melbourne with a baby on board to an easier life in Tasmania. I remember one of the girls I worked with in Melbourne at the time read auras. She was very excited because she said mine was green and that indicated that moves and changes were imminent. You should have seen her face when I told her that she was right, but, it wasn't New York we were moving to but sunny Launceston! Her disparaging response was very unmystical. But hey, New York - Launceston. Same same. 

Tassie is extremely kind to us. And my heritage, on my father's side, is so embedded in this island's soil that no matter where we are, this will always be home. (I am fifth generation Tasmanian through my grandfather and 7th on my grandmothers' side, or something like that. Luckily my mother is English or the gene pool I'm swimming in would be more of a puddle.) Tasmania is a beautiful home. But I am itchy. My feet are itchy. 

Most islanders leave for university and travel the world. They live in the big Australian cities and then many come back. A friend of mine once described it as feeling like you are attached to the island with a huge elastic band, You can leave and travel the world for years, but there is always a little tug that bounces you back home. 

The luthier and I lived in some big towns, but we didn't travel the world in our youth and now that we are dead-set, middle aged, we both feel like we would love to take on the challenge.  That's right, there was no gap year boozing in Ibiza or playing in London pubs had by us. No touring Europe, working in bars or funny secretarial jobs for random businesses. One of my sisters had a short-lived job in the UK working in one of the country houses of a lesser royal, blacking the grates and warming beds like a chamber maid and then going out and getting plastered on pints of ale on the weekend on her travelling adventures. 

We have been lucky enough to get a travel taste with our French journey and we are hungry for more. The luthier dreams of more contact and experience in a place where the real luthier action is, and who can blame him? The biggest limitation of the island is its isolation, which is also one of its greatest blessings.

I turn 40 this year, is that too late for a gap year?