Delicate like Spiderwebs

I have a new friend.

She’s funny and sexy and smart and articulate, she’s sassy and confident and beautiful.

And when I grow up, I want to be her.

I’d like her to know that.

But she’s a new friend, and I’m not sure if it’s my place.

A few weeks ago, something huge happened in her life.

Something that most of us will never experience. Something that has left a huge, gaping hole in her heart.

Something that leaves unanswered questions and baffled bewilderment and the heaviness of guilt, even though logically, there is no guilt to be felt.  Something that rocked the very core of her soul.

I want to tell her how strong she is. I want to tell her that she is still so funny and smart and amazing and beautiful and that somehow, I really believe this very huge thing that has happened to her has increased her capacity to live, learn and love. I want her to know that in time, the bruises will fade and scars will mend. I want her to know that crying at memories and feeling rawness and anger and is absolutely just fine, even though the situation is far from fine.

It’s pretty fucked.

But she’s a new friend, and I don’t know if it’s my place.

I want her to know that I’m there, and there’s no apology needed, and that laughing or crying or swearing or blubbering or a combination of all the above at the same time is perfectly acceptable. I want her to know that she can yell, or scream, or question – endlessly and repetitively if need be – and then come back and do it all over again, anytime she needs to. If it gets too much it’s fine to drink jelly shots and dance barefoot on the tables without guilt.

I want her to know that people love her and care about her and are there for her because they want to be, not because they have to be.

But she’s a new friend, and I don’t know if it’s my place.

So I’ll hold her hand in my heart and listen, I’ll hold her secrets to my chest and protect, and foremost, I’ll hold her friendship – this new, delicate friendship – tenderly and carefully and I’ll treasure it.

Because she’s a new friend, and that’s my place.

Happy Birthday, Keith

Super low tide. Super calm ocean. Right down on the point at the fishing pier, a surprise on a lamp post.

The card reads “Dear *Keith, Happy Birthday. I wish we could celebrate it like we used to, together.  We will celebrate apart, together in my heart, always.

I miss you. Love mum. xxx”

Sorry about the mist, there was something in my eye…

Best by, Use by, or Expired

I recognise I have a problem.

I do.

Like the Yin for Yang, the black for white, my natural orderly personality that craves neatness and uncluttered areas has a secret obsession.

I am addicted to pantry items.

Larder loot.

Prada for the larder.

I have 2 large pantries that are filled to the brim. Chock-a-block with pickles, jams and chutneys that are made from exotic ingredients. Asian sauces with unpronounceable names. Sachets of hairy basil seeds and Argentinean high altitude Juniper berries and activated charcoal snowflake salt. And yes, these are real ingredients.

They are arranged beautifully and stacked  with labels facing forwards. That satisfies my OCD. Most of them are unopened… because they will be useful someday… should the perfect occasion arise.

Can’t waste a hairy basil seed.

So this year, when I commenced my foodie project of becoming as self-sufficient and natural as possible, I began making great pickles and jams and chutneys from exotic ingredients. I began making my own Asian sauces. I gave them unpronounceable names. And yet the stockpile still grows.

Enough is enough.

My mission is now, to slowly use every open, unidentified or out of date product before the end of the year.

Starting from open and oldest.

The snack food section is first.

I didn’t even realise we had an abundance of snack food, since it’s not something I ethically support.  Or purchase.

Yet, over time, I’ve acquired almost one entire basket of oddness.

The lucky recipient of stage one, are the boys. Specifically, the boy’s lunches.

A little addition every day.

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My first offering was from a cute little container of chocolate coated sunflower seeds called ‘Sunny Seed Drops’  that an online contact sent me from Missouri. In 2008.

Yes, they were 5 years old. The candy colours were faded, but I pressed on.

My instructions were clear. 1 centimeter each day from the tube to be consumed.  After all, everything in moderation.

The 16 year old balked and gave them to his dad. Since The Sparky eats practically anything, that worked fine.

He’s still alive – so I pressed on.

The next challenge lie when I re-discovered 3 packages of commercial biscuits. I *never* buy shop bought biscuits. But each year, a school parent gave me a hamper and each year, a little box of biscuits were included. And filed in the ‘just in case’ portion of the pantry, just beside the tin of condensed milk. Just in case I ever needed ‘Gourmet Hamper Cookies’.

I decided the logical thing to do here was go oldest first. That would be the shredded wheatmeal from 2011. It became apparent that  these were not of sound biscuit body when the taste testing teen spat them back at me.  So we moved on, to English shortbread,  circa 2012.  They went into circulation today – 2 per lunchbox per day – which should knock them out in a week. There’s still the  2013 milk arrowroot to cover and that will be the end of the hamper biscuits.

The upside is, the terrorists are being well fed and I will slowly regain my pantry… that is, assuming I can refrain from the next providore that carries super interesting products.

Highly unlikely.

 

What’s the most bizarre thing in your pantry? Do you need to join me as I FOOD* food?

*Free Out Of Date food

Food Styling and Photography

I’ve always loved taking photos.

When I was a wee tacker, I had little Kodak and spent all my pocket money getting film developed.

For that, I have a nice collection of the backs of people’s heads, accidental foot shots and some great eyes wide shut portraits.

IMG_0093I’ve been lucky and managed to jag a few over the years, that were not half bad.

I’ve sold a couple (literally. Two. For a tiny amount) and a few have been reprinted for commercial use, including the wall of a restaurant and some web pages.

IMG_0097But for the most part, it’s just something I enjoy doing – point, adjust, click, instant memory.

IMG_0109Those of you who have been here a while might remember the fateful trip – the one that started in a tropic port aboard a tiny ship.

That would be the one where my husband tipped me out of the boat and into the Pacific ocean.

While I had the Canon DSLR camera around my neck.

IMG_0112It did get replaced, but with a newer model.

I never really ‘connected’ with the newer camera.

I just couldn’t get the same results, the same detail, the same light.

IMG_0137A few weeks ago, I signed up for a short course called ‘Food Styling and Photography’.

After all, what could suit me better – food, photography, cooking and eating?

Sign me up, I’m in.

IMG_0117Chris Bell from Christopher Klaas photography ran a one day session that comprised sessions about food descriptives, food styling, shooting the images, styling for professional shoots and a short in-action photography cooking class.

All this plus lunch.

Ummm, yes please. IMG_0156

We had a professional stylist on hand.

This explains why the shots are all so beautifully choreographed.

It was up to us to find angles we liked, look for focus points,  and snap, snap, snap.

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Chris was there every minute of the way, instructing on aperture, ISO, colour techniques.

He spent a lot of his time talking us through our viewfinder, helping us to ‘see’ what sings, pops and catches the eye.

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As well as what does not.

English born chef Peter Brettell, from Wild Rocket @ Misty’s, was on hand to whip up a gorgeous dish for imaging purposes.

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His dish de jour was a beautifully fresh oven baked snapper with a hazelnut crust, snow pea salad with a pea and mint veloute.

As he talked us through the recipe (and we drooled into our camera lenses), Chris explained that the way a chef plates up for the table is complete different to how a stylist plates up for food images. IMG_0172

This dish, although it looks good, is plated for the diner. The diner looks at the dish from above. The eyes are drawn to the top of the plate, which should showcase the generosity of any specialty ingredient and highlight the main feature of the dish.  The quantities of sauce will differ, the diner needs to think they are getting ‘the best bang for their buck’, so generosity is perceived by the way the dish is ‘spread’. IMG_0174

For a food styling shoot, the dish is plated quite differently. The size and depth of the flatware is altered. The ingredients are arranged to encourage the colours to complement across the plate.

The protein, or  main feature, is angled slightly and tilted to show the degree of colour, depth of cooking and any firmness or marbling in the focus point.

There is a lot of ‘hands-on’ as each element is handled, moved and placed strategically. This has to be done quickly and with delicate touch, as to keep the heat, the glaze, the  freshness apparent.

Any sauce is used to work through against the salad, again to compliment colour.

Finally, a texture is added. A utensil, a cloth – something to add interest and excite the eye. IMG_0187

Finally, with a light screen and reflector, the shot is ready.

I can really see how different the two fish dishes look. In reality – this is the same slice of fish, and the same salad. It’s just been styled.

Both shots were taken with my camera, same lens.

Cool, huh? IMG_0208

We did have a chance to play.  There were lots of little tables set around  where we could style and shoot and learn.

So I think I may have made peace with the camera again.

I’ve given it a few runs, and make sure I take it out on a date occasionally. IMG_0211

I just wish I could bring along the stylist, the chef, the great guest speakers and maybe that fish dish, too. IMG_0212

If you want to see more photos, the album is on my facebook page here.
Do you think you’d benefit from this type of class?

When is it time to make a life change?

“Where do we go from here…. is it down to the lake I fear…*”

There comes a point in everyone’s life when they need to move on.

And if you – yes, you – are nodding your head in understanding, then you probably already know what it feels like to be stuck.

Stuck in a job, stuck in a relationship, stuck in traffic, stuck in an elevator.

No matter the circumstances, that feeling of frustration and the seeming inability move forward is one that messes with your head.

Unlike being caught in an elevator, or  sitting behind forty-‘leven cars at a standstill, the potential outcome of choosing to remain stuck in  a big ticket item like a career, a job or a relationship can be detrimental and potentially destructive to your health.  But choosing to step out is scary.

If you’ve read this far and are still sitting there nodding your head, well, you’ll know all this, too.

You’ll know it’s safe standing inside, despite the head crazies. It’s secure, being in one spot for a long time. It’s your spot. It’s shaped to fit your life, your style, your bum. It’s like being surrounded by glass walls, all warm and cozy inside but for the lack of fresh air.  You can see out, people can see in. They’ll see what you portray,  what you want them to see, what picture you choose to present to your audience. Only you, inside your chrysalis, can see both inwards and outwards.

And if you are really, truly honest with yourself – you’ll know that it’s not what you see on the outside that’s scary. It’s what you see – what you know – what’s on the inside that’s visible to you and you alone – that’s the scary part.

Do you dare to step out?

It can be frightening, sure.

It can be threatening. It can be downright terrifying.

And to make that first step out is beyond brave.  It’s almost heroic.

Having the bravery,  the tenacity, the  absolute faith in yourself to step out of that cocoon is huge, and to do it takes amazing, insurmountable courage.

It takes, if you’ll excuse the expression – it takes balls.

But do it, I say.

Just take that first step. You can leap, you can jump, you can tiptoe, hell – if you need it, you can ask a good friend to give you a bloody hard shove.

But whatever it takes, by whatever means you need, just do it.

Take the scariness and the uncertainty and the fear and the worry and the judgement and the insecurity and do it.

Just. Do. It.

The only thing standing between you and the outside, is you.

And how the hell do you know where your journey will take you if you never get off the bus?

*Thanks, Haircut100