At The Heart of Inspiration

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My poor cello was languishing in the corner of my studio for 6 months.
All four strings were loose and hung limp off the pegs.. the listless bridge shifted as I tried to pull things back upright into position.
One snapped D string later, I knew it was time to take my poor, neglected friend in for a tune-up.

With a walk of shame, I tenderly laid my faithful companion up on the examining table and thankfully, with only a few minor adjustments, he’s back in playing shape once again.
With sweaty palms, I’d soon be picking him up and seeing what remains from those years of practice followed by a lengthy absence.
I admonished myself for letting this happen, I wondered daily why or how I could lose interest in something that always gave me so much joy and passion?

Did we just need some time apart?

Was it the end of the line for us?

I was privately so disappointed in myself for being such a quitter.

I just couldn’t understand where my passion had gone?

We have a binder at the hospice where relevant articles are available for us to peruse each week when we pop in. I usually give them a cursory read and then tuck them away for the next volunteer. When I began reading this past Friday, I was instantly captivated, because here right under my fingertips was the answer I had been searching for! Was it mere Coincidence, penned pages of Divine Intervention, or a Smidgen of Serendipity? Call it what you will, I finally had the answer I’d been searching for.

Stan Goldberg attended a flute workshop where he was instructed to “Play the contour of the mountains. It will open up your music and let you hear the inherent melody of nature.” On a trek to the Sierras he did just that.. with great success on his Native American Flute. When he attempted to do the same with his Japanese Bamboo Flute he was met with disappointment, for the instrument didn’t fit the technique.

This was Stan’s “Eureka” moment, the revelation that he was confused in thinking the instrument was indispensable and synonymous with the feeling created when he played. I think this opens up a world of possibilities for us. This means we can choose to find love again after the loss of a loved one. We may not find a mate exactly like the one lost,  but we can recapture the same feeling of love and joy. It just may be experienced through a new “instrument”.. for instance, a new friendship, volunteering or the birth of a child.

I had temporarily lost interest in playing my cello because my joy and passion was being fulfilled elsewhere. I was finding all sorts of wonderful, creative outlets with my family and in my little Smidgen world of cooking, baking, blogging, and crafting. My cup and my heart were tumbling over with joy and beauty. Although my instrument of choice was (temporarily) no longer the cello, my creativity had been right there beside me all along!  So, I wasn’t a “quitter” after all. My passion was never lost, it had just found new pathways to wander.

This simple truth was the key to unlocking the puzzle for me. Interestingly, once I understood,  my desire to play my instrument came flooding back in. I could forgive myself for the time spent away from my instrument. I now understand and feel blessed that I have so much more room in my heart and, thankfully, the time in my life, to keep experiencing the joy of creativity… where ever it is found.

Post Script

I received a text message from a friend the day after I wrote this post, her friend was looking for another cellist for their group.
Serendipity, Divine Intervention or just the right Time?

{ You can read Stan’s full post here. }

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Well, there was no miracle in the making of this sweet little tart! I had some blood orange curd in my fridge and found the perfect quick tart crust recipe at White on Rice Couple and so I made them…
Just like that… and now so can you:D

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A sweet little blood orange curd made from from this recipe is spooned in dreamy little browned butter crusts.

Blood Orange Curd Tarts

At The Heart of Inspiration
Cook time
Total time
  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  1. Put the 1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter in a saucepan and set over medium temperature. Allow the butter to melt and then simmer, whisking constantly, until it begins to just turn lightly browned. You don't want it to darken too much or it can easily look and taste burnt. If you watch, you will see the butter foam, then bubble up. Finally, the bubbles will become quite small in size right before the butter begins to brown. It takes much longer than you would think. Once it's browned it will take on a hazelnut aroma, in France they call this "beurre noisette".
  2. Remove the butter from the stove and quickly stir in the white sugar. Stir until the sugar is almost dissolved (it won't completely dissolve). Set aside and allow the butter and sugar mixture to slightly cool.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, measure out the flour and whisk in the salt to combine. Make a well in the center and pour in the butter mixture. Stir quickly to combine. This pastry dough becomes almost like a soft cookie dough. Take one small cookie scoopful and click it into each miniature muffin cup. Using your fingers, press the dough down and up the sides of the tin.
  5. Bake for about 25-30 minutes or until the crusts have become golden brown. While the dough was creamy colored when pressed into the tins, they baked up with a fine speckled brown color when done.

Fill with Blood Orange Curd, Orange Curd, Lemon Curd, Whipped Cream, Jam, or any filling you wish.

By White on Rice Couple

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My daughter’s adorable friend Madison is running for Much VJ Canada.. it would mean so much if you take a quick moment to just click on her video.. the person with the least video viewings gets sent home. Please help a great Canadian Kid make it to the top! Thanks so much if you can!! 

Better still.. skip leaving me a comment and click on the video instead 😀






  • Your measuring spoons are so nice!ReplyCancel

  • I went through a rollercoaster of emotions when reading this post, Smidge ! And it’s so true that your true passions never die completely – and how great that you have so many passions that you can devote your time to. We benefit because we get all these amazing inspirational recipes and ideas from you. Maybe one day you could share a recording of you playing the cello ? 🙂ReplyCancel

  • My friend, everything in your post was so true. Honestly, you describe the loss and regaining of passion so wonderfully!
    If it is true, it never really dies 🙂
    Beautiful and delicious recipe to top it off too!


  • The pictures of those blood orange curd tarts seem to have been done with passion, so all’s well, I guess:)ReplyCancel

  • So well written, I too would love to hear a recording of you playing the cello.ReplyCancel

  • I have a similar relationship to my fiddle!!! I need to try to play the mountains, the sea, the swaying grass. Beautiful (as usual!). xoxReplyCancel

  • Beautifully written and the blood orange tarteletts look amazing!ReplyCancel

    • Barbara Bamber | justasmidgen

      Thank you, Sibella xxReplyCancel

  • Cello, I can see you as a cello playing girl … instrument that suits you – so glad that you will be playing again.
    Your tart’s are pretty as ever … *smileReplyCancel

  • These look so divine and precious…you have made me literally want to grab one thru the screen♥ReplyCancel

  • Though the outcome was different, I can so relate to your lament here. When I was much younger I found solace and fulfillment in painting — my art. When children came along and the twists and turns of life took me away from that deep longing satisfied, my brushes lay dry and deserted. Few people even knew of the sidelined dream. My family required food, so I cooked. Solace found a new home of expression. Fast forward some 20+ years later, close friends got together and bought paint and canvas and wrapped it in encouragement to return to my first love. Their sentiment was so touching, so deeply personal.
    I sat down to meld lines with brush stroke only to realize the skill and verve for this beautiful act of passion had been lost. I grieved only momentarily. The exercise taught me “My passion was never lost, it had just found new pathways to wander.” And that I had precious and dear friends who really saw me, knew me, and cared about my dreams–what a tremendous gift.
    Oh, love your blood orange curd tarts too!ReplyCancel

    • Barbara Bamber | justasmidgen

      I didn’t know that about you, Judy! You really have found a wonderful new passion, I love your site and recipes. Your food photography truly is art! xxReplyCancel

  • I think there is a lesson for me here as well Smidge. So glad that you shared this. I’m going to have to reread and take a ponder over things quietly this evening. There is something in this story that is resonating with me. And those tarts look fantastic – a browned butter tart shell?! Yum!ReplyCancel

  • Such pretty little tarts!ReplyCancel

  • What sweet little tarts and I really love that they are so small, bite-size. How pretty.ReplyCancel

  • What a great message! I have a friend who often says she feels guilty for not devoting time to all her numerous hobbies – I think I will direct her to this post because you have got it right! Don’t feel guilty – instead feel great that you are fulfilled by everything else you are doing 🙂

    Love the browned butter in the tart crusts. Brilliant!ReplyCancel

  • I’m so glad to read, Barb, that you and your cello have “reunited,” for lack of a better word. I imagine it like meeting up with an old friend, a very satisfying experience. These tart shells, made with brown butter, sound fantastic! Such a great way to fill them, too. You always write such wonderful posts, Barb, but this one was exceptionally so. A real pleasure to read.ReplyCancel

  • Smidge serendipity indeed!!! I didn’t know that you play cello? That’s wonderful. I think you’re my hero 🙂 Sometimes it’s good to walk away for a bit, you know? Especially when you need to whip up a batch of GORGEOUS blood orange curd tarts! These photos are STUNNING! You go girl. I have the same spoons too xxReplyCancel

  • That video about Instagram cracked me up. So exciting about the cello, once you brush the dust off your fingers perhaps a video can find its way on the blog! Yummmmmm to these tarts!ReplyCancel

  • Your work is So so beautiful, i crept in today .. as you remember for some reason your site swamped my old computer, so with this little new one I have tip toed in and VOILA! we are back in business and while i was away your work has just got more and more beautiful.. you are truly gifted.. now darling, are you terribly far from canmore? i am going there in july to my eldest sons wedding.. will it be cold?..what shall i wear? love love and so thrilled to be back in touch.. your old blogging friend celiReplyCancel

  • Lovely little tarts! I’m thinking that these tart shells will be delicious filled with fresh picked strawberries and blueberries. Thank you for the inspiration!ReplyCancel

  • I want a few of these for my dessert right now! I just love the tart shells. I can imagine how the browned butter provides such a nutty flavor and that they would go great with lots of different fillings.ReplyCancel

  • Your cello was not lost or abandoned. Your cello was just waiting for you patiently like a long lost friend. Sometimes life is like this we get busy , work, family and other obligations and we completely neglect the things that we really are passionate about. Don’t lose your passion.
    Delicious little tarts. Take care, BAMReplyCancel

  • I’m so glad you’re getting back into the cello but I do understand periods of absolute frenzy and other times of the instrument gathering dust. You have so much going on in your life and so many talents, I can just imagine you having an impossible juggling act fitting in time for everything xxReplyCancel

  • “Play the contour of the mountains.” These words are going to stay with me today. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Love your message here. It falls right into my Aries nature and it’s nice to have a positive look on how I can move through different projects:)
    And the video is a hoot.
    xx wendyReplyCancel

  • It’s just wonderful how things seem to fall together and your old ‘love’ of playing can be part of your life once again. Timing and Divine Intervention probably woven together…DianeReplyCancel

  • Beautiful images – I love the idea of blood orange curd.ReplyCancel

  • Your little pale orange tarts look delicious…a perfect little bite of goodness.ReplyCancel

  • I hope I wasn’t too late to be of benefit in clicking on the video! And I loved what you had to say about creativity being fulfilled in other ways that perhaps have prevented you from having the same passion for your cello. I’ve had similar questions. I don’t play the piano with the same amount of time and attention as I have for my whole life, but I can’t be as attentive to absolutely everything I find fulfilling. I’ll have to think more about that! 🙂 The tarts look just wonderful, Smidge! I must make them at some point. They strike me as very good to serve at a tea! 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Those tarts look amazing, I loved how you shaped themReplyCancel

  • I felt the same way as I shifted into writing. Now I know this is what I am supposed to do!
    Good for you!ReplyCancel

  • Gorgeous reminds me of champagne, absolutely beautiful.ReplyCancel

  • It was just the right time Barb, just the right time. And look at this tart. I think I would eat a bunch of these and deny I ate them lol. That’s how good they look.ReplyCancel

  • You are so wise – I totally agree that creativity can be satisfied in many ways. I grieve sometimes for the creative stuff I don’t have time to do…but the truth is, one simply cannot do everything. Even if one wants to! So…I have zero scrapbooks, my rubber stamps languish in a big bin, and I haven’t touched the piano in more than a year. BUT…I have a book that I’ve written! 🙂ReplyCancel

  • I am full parenting mode with my young family and I’ve had to set aside several of my passions since there just isn’t time for it all. I hope to pick those things up later on. There’s a time for everything, I suppose.

    Your little tarts are simply captivating, especially the way you’ve styled your photos.ReplyCancel

  • Such needed wise insight in this Smidge! Thank you for it! I (very) recently have been grappling with similar feelings – was counseled by my also-wise husband on how to reframe and see differently – and your words here are the (always lovely) icing on the cake. Wishing you abundant joy, refreshment and passion in your time away! xoxoReplyCancel

  • Those brown butter tart shells look so lovely! I am adding to my list to make this summer. Your blog is just amazing!!


  • Now I’m curious about how your tarts taste and feel like. They look amazing – the creamy colourful filling really makes a nice contrast.ReplyCancel

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