Thursday, June 28, 2007


A few people have left comments, wanting to know how the frugality challenge is going. The quick answer: Um, could have been better. It's been completely snot city around here, with poor old Grumbles hacking away like a seasoned smoker for the last week. Which meant that we copped out and bought lots of juice (in plastic bottles, gasp!) which I'd banned for the month, because I am tight and water is good enough for us, got it?!, and also treated ourselves to some rented DVDs.

The DVDs may have been more trouble than they were worth. I grabbed Curious George, because it was cute and it featured a monkey. Grumbles loves monkeys. Too much, it appears, as all she wants to do now, every second of the day, is 'watch the monkey, Mummy!' It wouldn't be so bad, but the lead guy is voiced by Will Ferrell, who would have to be the actor in the world who most makes my skin crawl. Seriously - if I know he's in a movie, than it's all over, red rover. I will barely be able to sit throught it, let alone admit that it might be good, I find him THAT annoying (I dare say he thinks the same about me). But what can you say to a kid who can barely smile for coughing? So it's Will Ferrell's voice a couple of times a day while she recovers, and I scurry around the house trying to find corners to in which to hide away from his voice.

We also had to drive the motherinlawship to the airport at Avalon last night, and on the way home we copped out and bought take away. Oh my goodness, was the Princes Highway scary! The rain was bucketing down, so hard you couldn't even see the lines on the road, but that didn't stop anybody from going less than 110 kph. The West Gate bridge was the worst - the speed limit was 80, and the wind was gusting so hard that it was forcing giant sheets of rain right into us, and you could scarcely see the road in front at all. The car was being buffetted like crazy by the wind, as were all the cars around us - you could actually see them slide across the road as each gust came. My job was to keep an eye on the lines of the road, and direct the Galumph if he strayed from them, while he manned the wheel and tried to navigate the psychotic traffic around us. When we got home, he uttered "That would have to be the most intense and frightening driving experience of my life!", before plunking himself down on the couch, where he pretty must remained, prostrate, for the rest of the evening.
So we've splashed out on juice, rented some DVDs and had one take away. Not bad, really! And only 16 days to go.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The big three!

Cor blimey! See how much she's grown!

Three months

One year

Two years

Three years

Happy birthday to my Grumbles! Although your entry into the world wasn't the happiest, I'd do it all over again in a moment, in a flash, in a heartbeat, without a second thought, because the last few years have truly been the very best of my life.

Friday, June 22, 2007

The Month of Frugality has begun!

This month has been offically declared by the Jorth household as The Month of Frugality. That's right - we're being tight-arses for a month! It came about a few weeks ago, when the Galumph and I were paying bills, thinking about our savings plan and having a moan and groan about money in general, and in particular our lack of it. Then I came up with the most sterling idea - how much money would we have left at the end of the month if we did nothing but paid for rent, bills and food?
We quickly tottered up the sums and then sat back in our chairs, thinking "You know, old chap, this might just work!" The money we save won't have us running out to buy a house next month (gah, or even next year - house prices in Melbourne are BLEEPING RIDICULOUS!), but every little bit helps, and the whole frugality thing fits in well with plastic free and Wardrobe Refashion. One week in, and we're doing surprisingly well. We haven't succumbed to buying any lunches at shops, take aways in general, books, magazines or anything! I'm telling you, thriftiness is the next black, doncha know?!

The only fly in the ointment was the fact that Grumbles 3rd birthday falls in the middle of it. However, the troika of frugality, craftiness and resourcefulness has come to rescue in the form of this:

Like it? I'm enamoured with it! (What's that sound? Oh, my trumpet). It's the Sangsang doll, made from a pattern by Melly and Me. And the best bit is that she is made completely from scraps. Scraps of clothes made for Grumbles in fact, so there's some nice little memories sewn up all together.
Just a quick note on the construction of the doll: I wasn't sure if the pattern included a seam allowance or not, so I added a 1cm one. Also, it says to glue the felt face, eyes etc onto the doll, but I don't fancy using fabric glue on a toy that Grumbles might sleep with, so I handstitched mine on.

Thursday, June 21, 2007


Eeeek! It's been too long. The last week has been really crap. The Galumph's step-grandfather passed away in the UK, all alone in his house, and it was a few days before he was found. Such a sad and lonely death. My heart goes out to him.

The Galumph, his sister, and their father are the only family this man had left, and even then it was only by marriage (he's Galumph's father's step-dad), so the task fell to me to write his obituary. How do you write about somebody you've never even seen a photo of, let alone met? I hope I did him justice. Ever since his wife passed away a few years ago, it has been his wish to die so he can be with her, so at least it's some comfort knowing that it finally happened. God preserve me from such a lonely end.

As you can imagine, there's been a lot to organise. Circumstances being as they are, there's going to be a coroner's report done, so Galumph's dad has flown over to the UK to deal with that. We have no idea when the actual funeral will be, because apparently in the town he's in, there's a bit of a backlog of cremations. Who knew? Gah, it's all such a ghastly mess. I've spent the last few days trying to locate real estate agents, auction houses etc in his town, as everything will need to be sold and packed up. His whole life, neatly folded away by strangers. It'll be like he was never there. The thought breaks my heart.

I was intending to do some blog wittering, but it doesn't really feel right anymore. Too light-hearted for a post like this. Maybe tomorrow. I'm off to cuddle my Grumbles now.

Friday, June 08, 2007

If only he offered to weed my garden (and that's not meant to sound dirty!)

Some crazy old man just banged on our door, asked if I wanted my garden weeded for $20 bucks, cast a very disparaging look at the garden when I politely declined, then swore at me when I asked him to close the gate. Grrrrr! And he frightened Grumbles. No shiny penny for you, sir!

Don't worry, it wasn't the spunk above. He was a lovely gent that I met at a wedding a few months ago. He had such a wonderful smile that I couldn't help but snap a photo. And he danced like a dream!

I'm off to a 63rd birthday party at a Russian restaurant tonight. Should be fun, especially with all the courses we're being served up. Borscht, here I come!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Thursday is cake day!

This cake would definitely have to be the strangest cake I've ever made or eaten. An utterly bizarre match of flavours: chocolate and beetroot. I used a fabulously rich cocoa, which made the chocolate flavour incredible, but then you got this strange earthiness coming from the beetroot. It wasn't bad - in fact it was rather good - but completely unexpected.

Anyhow, if you've got the time, and have a couple of beetroot kicking around the bottom of the fridge drawer, give it a burl. Then you can have the fun of serving a slice to somebody, and then stand next to them in a completely maddening way and demand they figure out the magic ingredient. The Galumph's best response was "Ummmm, chocolate?", bwahahahah!

Chocolate and beetroot cake

200g (about 2) trimmed beetroot bulbs, washed
30g (1/4 cup) cocoa powder
60ml (1/4 cup) hot water
200g (1 cup, firmly packed) brown sugar
2 eggs, lightly whisked
125ml (1/2 cup) reduced-fat milk
60ml (1/4 cup) vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla essence
225g (1 1/2 cups) self-raising flour, sifted

1 - Preheat oven to 180°C. Brush a 7cm-deep, 11 x 21cm (base measurement) loaf pan with the melted butter to lightly grease. Line the base with non-stick baking paper.

2 - Put on rubber gloves, unless you really fancy having purple hands for the next couple of days. Use a vegetable peeler to peel the beetroot bulbs, then a grater to finely shred. Set aside.

3 - Place the cocoa and hot water in a medium bowl and stir until smooth. Add the sugar and eggs, and use a wooden spoon to beat until smooth. Stir in the beetroot.

4 - Combine the milk, oil and vanilla essence in a jug. Sift the flour into the cocoa mixture, then add the milk mixture.
5 - Pour the cake mixture into the prepared pan. Bake in preheated oven for 55-60 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean. Set aside for 5 minutes and then turn onto a wire rack to cool. Cover with chocolate icing, then scoff, making frequent exclaimations about the flavour combination, until somebody gets so annoyed they dong you over the head with the loaf pan.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Wardrobe Refashion

I'm in! I've taken the four month Wardrobe Refashion pledge, and shall abstain from purchasing any new items during this time. Although I think undies are allowed. Some of mine are looking decidedly in need of replacing. You know, holes in unfortunate places. I seriously need to make sure I shop for underwear far more often than I currently do.

Anyhow, undie confessions aside, it's going to be all sew sew sew here, and no buy buy buy. Not that I really buy much anyway, but it's always different when you know you can't. You suddenly find yourself with a wallet full of money and shops full of tempting clothes that normally you wouldn't consider. If I find myself tempted, I shall simply have to have a stern talking to myself, and march myself home to occupy my mind with some sort of activity. Maybe like darning my underpants. Eeeeew!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Don't all turtles feature plastic rings around their shell?

For those of you interested, have a read of the fascinating entry on No Impact Man about the impact of plastic on our environment. Shudder!

Monday, June 04, 2007

Alas, they didn't play any Beastie Boys

That, believe it or not, is a conga line. Wheeee, that barmy sure went off like a frog in a sock! Not the actual ceremony - it was lovely, so reflective and holy and wise. The reception, however, was one crazy dance after another. Alas, I didn't get to boogie on down myself, as poor old Grumbles took fright at the cranking up of decibels and the smoke machine, so while everybody else was doing the Nut Bush, I was stuck at the back of the room nursing a very frightened little girl. Still, her death-like grip around my neck (there was not way she was letting me put her down) prevented me from mazel toving the wrong person (I can get a bit carried away with newly aquired lingo, and thank you all for your suggestions).

Behold: death like grip in action!

Friday, June 01, 2007

He glows! Even without hands!

We're going to a bar mitzvah this weekend, for the Galumph's step-sister's son (hmm, complicated). And when I say this weekend, I mean for pretty much the entire weekend. Our weekend gone, gobbled up just like that! We've got the synagogue tomorrow, then a big reception on Sunday. Is that usual, for the BM to take an entire weekend?

Tell you what, it makes my pissy little first communion look a bit ordinary. I had to wear my sister's communion dress. I think it looked really nice on her, but she was petite and blonde with blue eyes. I was gangly and stick thin, with nothing coloured hair and the dress ended about half way down my calf, instead of gracefully sweeping the floor like it did for her. So my mum thought she'd dress me up a bit by making me wear sparkly silver socks with big clunky white school style shoes. Let me tell you, it didn't improve the look any. And to this day I remember how damnably itchy those horror socks were. In fact, in every photo I've got this scowl on my face, because my feet were being itched to death by them. Oh, the awful memories! And to top it all off I don't think we even did a fancy lunch afterwards. It was the same old sad Sunday sandwhiches, munched in front of The Wide World Of Sports, as per usual. I'm still bitter.

And no fancy presents, no siree. I received a nice picture of Jesus sitting next to the angel Gabriel, and a glow in the dark (I kid you not) Jesus statue which my brother promptly broke the hands off, so poor old Jesus glowed each night holding up his stumps. This step-nephew person has requested that we buy him two juggling tools at $75 a pop. Man, he's got a good deal. Much better than stumpy hands Jesus.

Anyway, the point of this post (besides being cheaper than therapy) was to ask all you wise peoples of the internet what does one write on a Bar Mitzvah card? "Happy Bar Mitzvah" sounds a bit lame. "You're now a man!" sounds a bit, um, pervy. "Just be glad you're not getting a crappy glow in the dark Jesus!" sounds a little bitter and scarred. Suggestions most welcome!