Monthly Archives: May 2010

New York

You wouldn’t know by reading here, but the violinists are as busy as ever.  The Kiwanis Music Festival in April consumed much of their time with both girls competing individually and with Stellae Boreales.  They both played very well and advanced to their respective trophy classes.

The excitement of Kiwanis pales into insignificance when compared the upcoming Stellae Boreales tour.  Both A13 and L15  leave very early on Saturday to travel by bus to New York.  While there they will pack in as much sightseeing as possible as well as 4 performances.  As both are members of the senior performance group they will be playing solos at the concerts.  You can follow the tour and photos by visiting the Stellae Boreales blog.  They arrive back home on Wednesday evening.


We have moved on from watercolours in  our Art class.  We tried a couple more techniques with watercolours first, including masking areas with masking fluid and combining watercolour with black pen outline.  Maybe I will post about them some time, but as I have yet to post about the giant snowman my kids made with their cousin in January,  I wouldn’t hold your breath!

When we first began watercolour everyone complained that it was hard and they couldn’t do it, but as the weeks went by they improved and mastered several different techniques.  The week I brought out the pastels, I was told again that it was too hard.  It is hard, I agree and has to be approached quite differently to watercolour.

We have several sets of pastels, each one a little different and by the end of the lesson they are spread from one end of the table to the other.  During the first lesson we tried several techniques with pastel just to see what they could do.  Blending was the most popular and  continues to be used quite a lot.  It is hard to get used to the idea that the colour  needs to be built up layer over layer.   Although we roughly shade in the main colour areas first it takes a while to give definition to the elements in the picture.

The following pastel drawings are from our second class; the first week we drew fruit, something I did many times  in highschool and college art classes.  It wasn’t very popular with my group so we moved onto landscapes the next week.

The one above with the dramatic sky is B9’s.

MasterChef final 24

We have arrived at the  final 24!

Watching most of the pairs run around the farms like the chooks clucking in the coop was a little frustrating but they did eventually return to the kitchen and create their two course meals.  Poor Philip was deserted mid-challenge but, as was only fair, received a second chance from the judges.   I don’t know that he has got what it takes to get much further but I may be wrong.  Looking at the fresh berries and peaches made me hungry for summer fruits.  Another month or two and we will be picking and eating fresh strawberries too.

We enjoyed the “Mise en place” challenge a lot more than we enjoyed hearing George mispronounce it!  I thought I could have completed the egg separating part unless of course the whole MasterChef experience caused my hands to shake uncontrollably like some.  I might have even managed to julienne the carrots but the oysters and salmon would have seen me tapped on the shoulder.  I don’t spend much time with seafood.

Both the quail challenge and the fish curry challenge showed us that some know how to fillet and others definitely do not.   Smiley  Shanee must have been a real favourite with the judges to make it through even though her plate was missing noodles.  The mystery box dessert challenge was entertaining, as the 45 minute time limit left several with wobbly, runny jellies or crustless pies!  Lucky for Princess Fiona that her Strawberry Jelly/Champagne actually tasted really good, which apparently wasn’t the case for the Cherry Jelly bloke.

I haven’t memorized their names yet but I am sure it won’t take long.    B9 is backing Alvin,  A13 likes Princess Fiona and Claire is L15’s current favorite.   Sarah has the most amusing faces and Joanne the best, or is it worst, accent.  I am  keen to see how Claire goes but I also enjoy watching the guy with the sock hat and the one with tattoos.  Jake seems a bit hit and miss to me but may might survive as long as he can keep all his fingers in tact.

Speaking of cooking

March break is long gone now, but it was a particularly delicious break because L15 spent hours in the kitchen.  I made March break resolutions of my own to make double meals each night then put half in the freezer and also to try new recipes while I had more time.  I started well with a new chicken stir-fry on the first night but after that L took over.  She made a wonderful Indian Lamb Curry from Relaxed Cooking with Curtis Stone, which was enough for two nights and tasted even better the second time round.  From the same book she a Blueberry Clafoutis with Blueberry Cream and some impressively light Raspberry muffins.  One afternoon she and her friend P15 made sushi which we enjoyed while watching Pride and Prejudice.

A13 is cooking regularly as part of her school schedule.  She has whipped up main courses, desserts, cookies, cakes and soups.  One of my favourites was the Chocolate Soufflés also from Curtis Stone’s book.  Her Beef and  noodle soup was delicious and she made several varieties of cookies at Christmas time which were bundled up and included in gift baskets.

Recently Andrew went on an Indian food kick and for several weekends in a row we were treated to dals, rasams and sambars from Chandra Padmanabhan’s book Dakshin Vegetarian Cuisine from South India.   He also made dosais for us to dip into the wonderful dishes.  I don’t know why he suddenly came over all Indian;  I did ask if he’d had a job offer we should know about but he assured us no.  Perhaps it was because of the Bollywood movies we’d been watching.