Not only was it a blast to catch up with this friend who I hadn’t seen for about 3 years, but our lunch was followed by the most exquisite Caramel and Macadamia Nut Slice for dessert (which we shared by the way):
And being a booklover, I felt right at home in the surroundings – I would love a bookshelf just like this one at home....
It was off to the Kazbah at Balmain with my niece....and it was well worth the wait. I loved the Moroccan decor, the friendly service and the exotic food.
We decided to order three dishes that we could share, as it was too hard to choose just one thing from the menu – everything looked so appetising. We had healthy fruit smoothies as starters, so that we could stop our tummies from grumbling whilst leisurely perusing the menu....
My photos do not do the dishes justice at all. The Chorizo & Haloumi Stuffed Calamari was absolutely melt-in-your-mouth delicious....
And the Lamb Tagine was perfectly piquant.....
But the ultimate show-stopper was the Poached Pear with Sweet Rice. I’ll definitely be going back for more of the dreamy, creaminess of that one.....
Following all that excitement, I had to settle down to prepare for the Kitchen Tea of another of my nieces. True to form, I offered to make cupcakes! I had bought pretty cupcake cases from a little homewares store in Berry, and decided to use my friend Kati's "Tiffany Cupcakes" as inspiration.
Thankfully I had my Sunbeam Mixmaster to do the hard work of mixing enough batter for 50 cupcakes!
The theme for the Kitchen Tea was pink and white, so my cupcakes weren’t going to be true to Kati’s Tiffany style of blue and white. Nevertheless, I thought they looked pretty in pink.....
Although they look quite simple, they actually took me hours (but alas, only minutes to be devoured). It was a labour of love though, as I wanted to do something special for my niece....
Mixing cupcake batter takes a lot of muscle.
I’ve found after having breast surgery that my right arm is much weaker than it used to be – so mixing cupcake batter can be a bit of a challenge. But that’s where my Mixmaster comes in. All I have to do is throw all the ingredients in the bowl, flick the switch and presto...I have my instant helper! I can ask my husband for help every now and then too, when I can’t be bothered getting out the Mixmaster!
But there will be times when my hubby’s not home, or my mixer may break down and I’ll have no choice but to use my own muscles. For that reason, I’ve been trying to build up the muscles in my arm again, by doing strengthening exercises with small weights, which I do as often as I remember.
Muscles make possible the movement of the body. Without them, we wouldn’t be able to do anything. This makes me think of courage...without courage, there are so many challenges we would never be able to face.
But just like a muscle, courage needs to be built up! The more we step out of our comfort zone, try something new, or take a leap of faith, the more our “courage muscle” grows. So whenever we face a tragedy, an illness or a nerve-wracking opportunity, our “courage muscle” will be strong enough to handle it. We might be able to get helpers, personal trainers or some much-needed encouragement, but at the end of the day, we have to step up and face most life challenges ourselves.
It’s okay to rest our courage muscles at certain points in our life. All muscles need rest. We don’t always have to be doing things that are out of our comfort zone. But when a new challenge arises, or we need to get through a really tough situation, we need to use our “courage muscle”.
If we slowly build up the use of courage, we’re actually establishing “muscle memory”. Anyone who is familiar with working out at the gym will have heard of this amazing phenomenon. Apparently, when performing any physical activity, our muscles gradually become familiar to the processes involved in that activity. After a while, we don’t even have to think about performing the activity, because our body will just instinctively know how to do it. Take walking for example...we don’t remember, but I bet as babies we really had to concentrate on putting one foot in front of the other when we were learning to walk; but now we just do it instinctively.
I remember when I was young, the first time I went skiing, I was petrified. But after a little encouragement from my brother and a couple of lessons, I was skiing in no time. I was by no means skiing black runs or anything, but I was certainly staying upright, and having fun doing it! It didn’t take long for me to feel courageous and I was never petrified about skiing again (although you still couldn’t get me to try a black run!) I’m so glad that I took the opportunity to ski when I did, as I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to ski again, because of my ankle injury that I’ve often mentioned. I’m thankful that I didn’t let my fear get the better of me and rob me of such an exhilarating experience.
Public speaking had always been another one of my fears. I remember many times having to speak in front of my teacher and classmates at school and feeling my legs go to jelly and my whole body shake uncontrollably. Who would have thought that I would become a teacher, having to speak in front of a whole classroom everyday (albeit a classroom of beautiful, non-judgemental children)? Or having to address a whole school assembly in front of other teachers and parents? But over time, my “courage muscle” for public speaking grew so much that the jelly legs and body tremors became just a few butterflies in my tummy....much easier to handle.
Then just last week, I had the amazing opportunity to speak on radio as the new blog reviewer for Hope 103.2FM! I would never have imagined that I would get to flex my “courage muscle” for that sort of public speaking! But my “muscle memory” kicked in and I was able to do it. All those times that I took a step of faith, gave myself a little nudge forward, or did the self-talk to overcome fear, continued to build up my “courage muscle memory”, so that I was ready for this new challenge.
I never want fear to stop my “courage muscles” from working. I never want anxiety about what others might think to stop me from flexing my “courage muscles”. I never want to suffer the regret of missed opportunities because my “courage muscles” let me down.
I love the Nike advertising campaign “Just do it”. I love the motivation it stirs and the possibilities it conjures up.
I love that I have a faith that continually beckons me to be courageous and to make the most of my life. There is a Biblical “advertising campaign” that tells us to “Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid or tremble, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Deuteronomy 31:6).
Come on, be courageous.... just do it!!