Beauty amongst Chaos (3) – more abstract art from photo

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

I am enjoying this!  Surprising what comes out of a visit to a garden nursery … (read my previous 2 posts for more info!)  Once again, I am using a photo and selecting a portion of it to play with.  On reflection, maybe this isn’t ‘abstract’ as it can be seen that it is a flower petal and leaf?  Kay

Beauty amongst Chaos (2) – Slideshow and memories of mum’s gardening

In my last post, I mentioned that my garden needs a lot of work done and it is just not going to happen this year.  Despite this, I do love flowers and plants.  My mum loved gardening and I was brought up with beautiful gardens.  When I had my own home, she used to love coming round and planting summer bedding for me.  Often, apart from winter, whenever I visited mum and dad they were busy out in the garden.  Mum would be on her knees digging, weeding and planting.  She kept this up for most of her life till sadly she had Alzheimers and eventually went into a nursing home.  I returned last year to the home where I spent most of my childhood.  I walked slowly past and the garden still showed the loving labours of my parents when they landscaped the land, putting in different levels, a pond, walls, paths, steps and crazy paving.

I decided to have a go at putting some photos I took of my garden nursery haul into a slide show.  I believe that no matter how difficult things are, beauty can be found in life, no matter how small, in amongst the complex nature of our lives.

Beauty amongst Chaos (1) – creating abstract art using a photo

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

It’s early Sunday morning and I’m playing around with a few photos I took in my small garden, which is in dire need of a makeover.  I had given up on it completely this year and then I visited a garden nursery and decided to splash out on some sale goods – three pots of herbs and two hanging baskets – so that I had a bit of colour.  I’m having a go at putting together a small slideshow just to see if I can technically manage to get it on my blog.  I then decided to edit one of the photos which was too blurry to use.  I cropped the photo and used the basic editing facilities available on an Apple computer.  I love the colours and the abstract shapes created by the lines of the yellow flower.  To me, I look at it and see deep blue sea and turquoise sky in the distance.

Forced to Reflect – chemo and pancakes – including recipe for Strawberry Pancakes with Fresh Apricot and Caramel Sauce

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

Forced to Reflect

In my mind, the words force and reflect do not sit well together. Forced is negative, being made to do something against one’s will, whereas reflection brings to mind a calm place with ample time to look back in a positive way on memories. What brings me to think of these words together? I have had a couple of months off treatment, which has taken me to a wonderful place where I have enjoyed life, had renewed energy, been able to think about the future, my hair has regrown to a point where I actually like my new short style. I began to feel that I was in a false state of wellness as I knew that my next cycle of treatment was imminent. Last week I had the dreaded call, resulting in dates for this week. I have tried to keep positive, not to think back on the difficult and challenging time that I have had since January.

Yesterday, as the clear ultramarine blue liquid dripped into me, I thought ‘what a beautiful colour’. One of the nurses who knew me quite well from my spell in the high dependency unit joked about me turning into a smurf. Her smile reminded me of the kindness and care she had shown me back in that dark place. Another nurse smiled brightly, commenting on how unbelievably well I looked compared to that time when I was lying in bed, hardly able to move, being turned throughout the night and losing the use of my legs through lack of mobility. I got through that time. I can do it again, I may not even go there.

Here I am discussing my treatment, what this blog was not to be about. But this blog is saving me, it is giving me hope. It is enabling me to achieve goals at a time when I felt that time was running out. Each day is precious, I enjoy my life with my wonderful family and friends. I have been blessed with a beautiful warm summer that is delightful. Yesterday when I was going for my treatment, my eldest daughter visited and we went out to my favourite new local cafe for lunch. I once wanted to run a tearoom – it was to be called ‘Pebbles” and would be right beside the sea. One side was to be the cafe with special gifts and books for sale, the other side was to be a place for quiet contemplation, with artwork to view and books available, and the opportunity for either one to one support or small group workshops with a coaching theme. I gain satisfaction from seeing what other’s are able to accomplish. The cafe I mention is run by a young girl seemingly living her dream and very successful with it. Who knows where life will take her, I know nothing of her history. I have never owned a tearoom but I have been able to achieve the essence of my dream by organising special intergenerational tea party events, holding workshops and training in the community and organising an art competition – all while working in my dream job working for a local charity.

I started this post early today and now it is late evening and I am reflecting back. I return to the local cafe. The first time I visited it was with a friend. We chose from the breakfast menu and I had the most scrumptious fluffy American blueberry pancakes piled high, with fresh blueberries floating in warm maple syrup. All thought of taking photos for my blog went out of my head as I dived in, so the photo shown here was an afterthought. This experience led me to look up recipes and try one out with my new mixer that I treated myself to. I was really pleased with the results and we had them with cinnamon sugar. Yummy. So this morning, as my daughter had stayed over, I decided to make them again. The first round was drizzled with tangy fresh lemon juice with cinnamon sugar. For the second round, I thought I’d try something different and I made the most wonderful fresh apricot sauce with strawberries. I was gutted that I forgot to take a photo so will have to make them again specially and take a really good photo. But I wanted to include what I did here anyway. So, a quick recipe.

Strawberry Pancakes with fresh apricot caramel sauce

Use your favourite recipe for American fluffy pancakes – if you have never made them there are many to choose from online. The one I make uses 200 g self-raising flour, 200 ml milk, 2 eggs and 1 tsp honey. The eggs are separated first. Then mix the flour, milk, egg yolks and honey together with a fork until thick and smooth, but not for too long. Whisk the egg whites until thick and firm and then fold into the pancake mixture until all the white has mixed in. Melt butter in a thick frying pan and when it is sizzling spoon dollops of the mixture, spaced out. (At this point I add some chopped strawberries, quickly sprinkling a few pieces over the top of each pancake first and then gently pressing them down with the back of a large spoon before the tops of the pancakes become too set. The pancakes are then flipped over once golden to cook the fruity side until lightly golden.)

To make the apricot caramel sauce (quantities for 2 servings only) and the amazingly flavoursome whole strawberries that top it all, peel and chop 2 fresh apricots and wash and hull 4 fresh strawberries. Place the chopped apricots and whole strawberries in a heavy based pan, I use stainless steel, with 3-4 teaspoons of caster sugar. Do not add any liquid. Heat gently, stirring occasionally. The apricots will start to soften and the sugar melt, becoming a lumpy golden sauce. You will smell a slight caramel scent. Do not allow to boil. Continue to stir just for a few minutes. I stopped when I noticed the caramel smell start to change and placed the base of the saucepan in water for a few seconds to stop the sauce from continuing to cook, so it didn’t become bitter caramel. On tasting, there is a hint of caramel flavour which blends beautifully with the fresh apricots and I served it warm. The whole strawberries will be cooked through but remain firm, and their flavour is really intensified.

So today, my second day of treatment, we enjoyed a home cooked, satisfying and delicious breakfast. What a treat! It reminds me that I must cook more, something I used to do a lot of and have the recipe books to prove it in my garage library. It also gives me something else to photo and blog on here.  So, forced to reflect?  Yes, but to me, reflection ends in a positive and turns the world around.

Urban Gem – finding tranquility

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

Living in a mainly urban area, I sometimes forget how easy it is to escape in less than 20 minutes and find tranquility, something I should do more often.  It was wonderful sitting by the lake reading my book and I hope to return to do some writing soon.  It gave me a chance to try out the panorama facility on my phone and I quite liked the black and white filter effect for the last photo shown here.

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles