Six of us learned the art of making fancy boxes at an eat-and-craft pre-Super Bowl party. We stuffed dainty portions of cookies or candy in them to make the perfect Valentine’s Day gift. Of course, we ate them right away.
In retirement our friend, Helen Bauer has taken up several crafts that she teaches to Boys and Girls Club Members. These activities align perfectly to S.T.E. A. M. or Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics as students solidify and apply their knowledge of fractions and three-dimensional geometry.
Helen donated her time and all the materials to make these boxes and all the goodies to go inside of them to the Woodlake High School Foundation. Thank you, Helen. We had a great time.
The creative part of our box making experience involved fancy papers and stamped designs. I’m not going to pretend to be an expert on this subject. There are lots of those. Stampin Up (SU) demonstrators give away their templates, measurements, but the products can be costly if you get hooked like Helen.
Australia #16 Fitzroy Gardens and the Fairies Tree
Relax? Are you kidding? Life gets hectic surrounded by five million people, the population of Melbourne, Victoria in Australia. That might make someone like me from a town of 7,000 feel somewhat claustrophobic. Since 1848 Melbourne has found a way of calming its visitors and residents alike. Come with Carol and me through Fitzroy Gardens and relax.
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Carol and I found one of the secrets in Fitzroy Gardens in East Melbourne. Wide paved pathways lead to the Fairies Tree and the Model Tudor Village.
Ola Cohn carved the Fairies Tree and dedicated it to the children of Melbourne. One mother complained on Trip Advisor that it was not worth the walk with a baby in a tram. She missed the idea.
Young mothers like Tram Mom may have lost the skill of relaxing and enjoying an afternoon of imagination. What conversations she could have had with Tram Baby about a bear that stood no larger than a bird. Did he shrink? He looks fearful.
Fairies, full of energy, climb and play on the branches of the giant web. Some practiced their gymnastics while others cuddled the fuzzy spider. Children, surrounded by onlooking adults, imitate the fairies and practice their gymnastics on the lawn. Applause breaks out.
I picture Creative Mum and five-year-old Frannie with books and writing materials spreading out a blanket near the tree. Creative Mum opens an insulated lunch bag. Slowly she pulls out a sandwich made with magic peanut butter spread on raisin bread with a banana face dusted with a light coating of powdered fairy dust.
“I brought your favorite a fairy catching sandwich,” she says as she takes it out.
Frannie squeals, jumps up and down, spins around, and runs over to the fairies to tell them.
“Come sit down,” Mum calls out laughing.
“The fairies want a bite of the magic peanut butter.”
“Yes, they do, and they will sneak over and grab your sandwich if you are not careful.”
Frannie plopped onto the plaid blanket and lay on her belly propped up on her elbows. She looked at the fairies clamoring for her attention.
“You want some of this, you sneaky fairies? You can’t have my magic sandwich. It will make me fly like you.”
She glanced down at her peanut butter and banana sandwich. She dipped her finger in peanut butter and held it up for the fairies to lick off her. Then she rolled over and giggled as she stuck her gooey digit into her mouth. The fairies still clamored, so Frannie teased them again.
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On the other side of the tree, Tram Mom’s baby reached out to the bear. The tree bear wanted to ride along. Tram Baby looked up at Tram Mom and whimpered. Tram Mom angrily pushed the Tram away from the tree.
“No, you can’t have that bear. Here, play with your teddy. Let’s go.”
Tram Mom did not realize that the tree gave HER a reason to relax and build some memories and wonder in her children.
Ola would have been grieved to hear Tram Mom’s grumpy tirade.
“A long time ago,” Mum told Frannie, “the fairies might have jumped off the tree onto your sketch pad.”
When you were my age, Mum?”
“No, no, fairies are ancient forest creatures, older than the animals, and much older than I. They would dance on your paper making beautiful designs.”
“I can do that for them, Mum!”
“Yes you can, and we can show Dad and Eric what happened when they come home for dinner tonight.
Frannie leans against her mother and doodling. Creative Mom bends forward and whispers. Frannie looks up, and giggles then gets back to her task.
Several pages go by with many shared secrets and muffled laughter. Finally, Frannie says, “I’m done! Dad and Eric will be so excited to read it.”
“I think the fairies enjoyed it too. Can you hear them buzzing?”
Frannie sits quietly and purses her lips together as she listens.
Together Creative Mum and Frannie pack up their lunch and go home to make finishing touches to the fairy story.
The day Carol and I visited Fitzroy Gardens there were more fairies than people.The sun beat down on us. We did not have a blanket with us, nor a cute five-year-old with a peanut butter face.
I Admit to Being Somewhat Tram Momish
By the time we finished taking photos, it was past noon, or at least 10:30. Since confession is good for the soul, I’ll tell you that I was a little out of sorts after walking for quite a while in the heat. We were both thirsty. Like the little red fox who got his fat tummy caught inside the tree, I wondered if I would faint from starvation. I’d had nothing to eat since my Tim Tam’s that morning.
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My imagination cried out for a break. Fortunately, there was a little restaurant with air-con a few steps away from the Fairies Tree. We trudged past the Model Tudor village giving it little more than a cursory glance on the way up the hill to the Pavilion Cafe.
We both ordered an iced coffee and relaxed enjoying the pictures of the fairies tree on our digital phones. Carol quickly Instagrammed her photos. I sat patiently trolling my fingers on the table and waited.
I couldn’t post until I had internet service at the Air B & B to show my pictures on Facebook through my computer, the old-fashioned way. By that time my hubby, Vince had already liked her beautiful pictures. So I treasured them until now.
If you have a chance to wander the pathways of Fitzroy Gardens, take your camera, books, paper, crayons, and blanket and stay a while. Let the fairies do their magic before you leave. Just a word of caution, take sunscreen, cold drinks, and maybe hard candy from Ballarat or some nuts. Those fairies like to eat! And they are sneaky!
Mrs. ET and I headed across the plains of Victoria from Melbourne, AU to Ballarat by train. Seventy-five minutes later, we coasted into the station surveying the historic town of Ballarat. Her niece and sister-in-law picked us up and the adventures began.
The main interest was Sovereign Hill. Replicating the Australian Gold Rush in the 1850s, reenactors peppered Sovereign Hill with authenticity. There were miners, majors, mothers, and bakers making meat pies.
“Have you ever had a meat pie?” Carol asked.
“Of course,” I answered like an Aussie know-it-all.
Only I did not know that the Aussie definition of a meat pie was so different than an American Meat Pie.
Carol could not wait to get her hands on an authentic Sovereign sausage roll, and told me I had to eat a meat pie or my life would not be complete.
“Where are the carrots, peas, and potatoes?”
“What part of meat pie didn’t you get, Marsha?”
“This looks like hamburger, not roast beef.”
“It’s minced meat pie. Try it.”
Remembering back to Christmas more than 50 years ago, I recalled my great-grandmother’s minced meat pie. It was a sweet spicy pie filled with chewy brown stuff called “mincemeat.” I did not think I wanted to try that again.
“Is it beef?”
“Yes, but minced meat can be beef, turkey, pork or any meat. It’s minced MEAT, Marsha.” (They sure are dense in the US, I could hear her thinking.)
I explained about mincemeat as best as my 60-year old memory of it would allow.
“It’s meat, Marsha. It’s not sweet.” Carol urged.
I gave in. I opened it and sure enough, it looked like hamburger.
“You’re not supposed to open it,” Carol admonished me sternly. “Put the top back on and put tomato sauce on it.”
“It’s too hot. I’ll burn my mouth!”
Oh no, I thought, catsup. Now it sounds like Mom’s meatloaf. That was awful! I can’t do this. What am I going to do now?
“You’re ruining it!” Carol said. “You’ve got to put tomato sauce on it!” She sounded frantic for me to do it right to get the full effect of the Aussie meat pie. I was frantic, too.
“Carol, I can’t put catsup on the top. How am I going to eat it? I’ll have catsup all over my hands and face and who knows what else.”
Carol was disgusted with me. I could tell by her sigh. “It’s not catsup. It’s tomato sauce anyway. You’re not doing it the Aussie (pronounced AUZZY) way. But go ahead JUST TRY IT!”
Gingerly I took a bite without catsup. It was different. I could not identify the flavor, though. Basically, it tasted somewhat like hamburger. The pie crust was flaky. The meat was meaty. I was hungry. The whole thing was gone in five minutes.
Thank you, Carol, Kate, Mandy, and Paul for such wonderful day at Sovereign Hill. I’ll have more to share about our amazing experiences in later posts.
Remembering Ballarat at Home
When I got home, I thought I would make some Aussie meat pies for Vince. I made my own pie crust, which was a mistake because I did not have eggs, and I like eggs and vinegar in my pie crust.
Rolling it out I soon realized that I did not make enough pie crust for two pies. I made another crust. Piecing it all together, I pinched it around the top and thought it looked good OK.
For the meat filling, I followed the recipe below – sort of.
Since I did not have real stock beef, I used brown gravy mix. I did not use enough water. Also, I was missing Vegemite. OH WELL! Carol gave me some of that on a piece of bread at her house. It’s nutritious.
Proudly I baked the pies. Neither Vince nor I remembered to take a before picture. Vince asked about catsup to put on top.
“What’s the date on that bottle of catsup?” Vince asked as I retrieved the nearly empty bottle from the refrigerator.
“Um, January 2013. It’s fine.”
He did not use catsup either.
Here is Vince’s meat pie after picture.
I am not sure whether or not he liked it. Maybe if I had put vegemite in it.
It’s been in the refrigerator several days now. Carol would not let things like this go to waste. She was a fabulous cook and so efficient. I don’t think Carol would ever substitute things in a recipe. I wonder if I will ever learn?
Have you ever experimented before, and been a little sorry about the results?
Mrs. ET and I flew from Melbourne to Toowoomba on Australia’s Air North. She suggested that I take the window seat. It was a short trip. I would not have to crawl over anyone during the duration. I thanked her, sat down, and buckled up as instructed. As we taxied, I watched the shadow of the plane.
The shadow did not stay large very long!
I do not like to kill birds, but I am proverbially killing two birds with one stone because there are two photo challenges I can do at once with these photos. And I love photo challenges.
In addition to size changes, there are several visible textures. The smooth metal plane, hard concrete, soft green grass, and prickly brown stubbles create a Tuesdays of Texture treat.
But we kept looking. Textures are mellowing out as the shadow continues. The landing gear is still visible, but not for long.
Seconds after take-off, the landing gear clicked into place and our shadow streamlined away from the Tullamarine Airport (Melbourne to me). Carol shared that we would be flying into the new Brisbane-West Wellcamp Airport. The airport is located in Toowoomba, Queensland a city of about 120,000.
The plane crossed the highway below the dark rectangle (a parking lot in the middle of farmland???) That represents another change of texture.
The Story of the Brisbane-West Wellcamp Airport
The city of Toowoomba, Queensland has a new privately built airport. The airport is inappropriately named Brisbane-West Wellcamp. Wellcamp had a population of 302 in 2011. Not 302,000, just 302. Brisbane, with a population of 2 million is a two-hour drive from Toowoomba.
This distance might create a problem for bargain hunter travelers who do not know the area. Unknowing travelers might think that would be an alternative airport to Brisbane International find themselves a little farther out-of-town than they planned.
The joke at the time of naming the airport was, “Why not name it Cairns South?” Cairns is a large town north of Toowoomba in the state of Queensland. Never mind that it is an 18 hours drive from Toowoomba. Or maybe they should call the airport Perth-East, a mere 44-hour drive.
Who knows the minds of governments or airport namers?
I hope you enjoyed the shadowy flight of our ride into Brisbane-West Wellcamp.
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For those who prefer Textures, try this link. This my first time to participate in the texture party.