Monday, March 31, 2008

Earth Hour

Saturday night found us quietly at home celebrating Earth Hour. At about four in the afternoon, we went around the house and turned off everything bar the fridge, got the candles lit and settled down for a peaceful family evening. Grumbles and Galumph happily built Lego bridges until it was too dark to see any more whilst I read Sense and Sensibility (I felt it was an appropriate low energy reading choice, and spent far too much time daydreaming about what it was like writing it by candlelight as opposed to reading it by candlelight). We then had a low-impact meal of spicy pasta (I wasn't organised enough to make a raw meal, maybe next year, so I cooked the quickest thing I could think of), then sat around reading Grumbles her stories as it became steadily darker around us.

After a while we all began feeling the cold, so we donned jumpers and hats and sat snugly together, listening to the Galumph's hand wind-up radio and nattering about this and that.

Grumbles: Why are the lights off?

Parents: Because we are celebrating a special evening to raise awareness about global warming.

Grumbles: But why are the lights off?

Parents: Because this special event is all about minimising energy consumption, to reduce our impact on the planet.

Grumbles, behoving a sigh as though to say my goodness you people are thick and as soon as I'm older I'm going to deny being even related to you: But.Why.Are.The.Lights.OFF????

I must have remarked on how cosy! and peaceful! and lovely! and did I mention I'm really rather quite enjoying this! far too often as the evening progressed, as the Galumph finally turned to me and said "Are you going to make us do Earth Hour every Saturday night?"

Bwahahahahah! Um, yeah. Maybe?!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Almost at their destination

QUINCE #2: How long have we been sitting in these boat-like things on the table for? Because, just between you and I, the guy next to me is getting kinda whiffy. Letting off some ethylene or something, and smelling ripe. Can we change spots?
QUINCE #1: Two weeks. But don't worry kids, we'll be at our destination soon.
QUINCE #3: Where are we going?
QUINCE #1: Some place called 'Oven baked in sugar syrup'.
QUINCE #4: What's the hold up already? Why aren't we there yet?
QUINCE #1: Word in the fruit bowl is that she's waiting for a rainy day. Apparently it takes 6 hours to get to 'Oven baked', so she wants it all cold out so it's nice and cosy inside with the oven on.
QUINCE #2: Well it's certainly cold enough now. Is it warm where we're going?
QUINCE #1: Sure is. A balmy 160 C.
QUINCE #3: Oooooh, lovely! Sounds so tropical!
QUINCE #1: Well it's funny you mention that, sweetheart, (nice stem, by the way), as I think it is. We're meeting some characters there called Raw Caster Sugar and Vanilla Bean, which sounds pretty darn tropical to me.
QUINCE #3 (sighing happily): This sure has been some adventure since leaving the tree. I know that we're all going to get along just fine!
Oven baked quinces in sugar syrup
6 quinces, peeled and thickly sliced
3 cups water
2 cups raw caster sugar
1 vanilla bean
1 - Place sugar and water in a saucepan, and bring to the boil. Simmer gently until all the sugar is dissolved.
2 - Preheat oven to 160 C. Place quinces in a casserole dish, then add the vanilla bean, firstly scraping out the seeds. Pour over the sugar syrup, then cover the dish tightly.
3 - Place in oven and cook for 6 hours, or until the quinces are a deep ruby colour. Every few hours take the quinces out and turn them over, covering with syrup.
Serve with yoghurt, cream, on porridge etc. Delish!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Knitting during the credit crunch

Very happy with today's post, for this morning these little beauties arrived from Bendigo Woollen Mill:

Which, in due time, will enable me to make this ultra sweet cardigan from And So To Bed by Lucinda Guy. Seriously, how adorable are the illustrations in that book? It has to be The Greatest Children's Knitting Book Of All Time. Really! I dare you to nominate a challenger. Betcha can't. Nothing can beat those gorgeous illos. Nothing!

Also very well pleased with my yarn substitions. Rowan is a wee bit out of my price range just now, and the BWM was cheap at a quarter of the price and machine washable, which really is a must for a child as grotty as Grumbles. Don't get me wrong, the tiger sure is cute, but she can spill food down her front with the best of them. And since we are about to embark on a time of nasty financial gloom, one must watch the pennies, oui? Particularly with:

- petrol going up due to oil concerns
- food going up due to increased transport costs (otherwise known as oil concerns) PLUS the impact of the drought
- electricity/gas costing more due to all sorts of energy concerns, plus again the impact of the drought on the hydroelectric schemes
- interest rates going up due to inflation AND world economic concerns

Sigh. The ol' dollar doesn't stretch quite as far as it used to, that's for sure. Is anybody else feeling the pinch?

Thursday, March 13, 2008

How was my break? It was lovely, I just lounged about and read books.

Testing, testing, one-two-three. Is thing thing on? Oh, hello! It's me, ol' Jorthy, here to blow off the dust and remove the cobwebs. I feel I should explain my unintentional mini-blog break: there's been no good reason, but lots of tiny ones that all added up to prevent me from sitting down and yakking away to you all. And then, because I'd left it so long, I got a wee bit embarassed, as all my news seemed old and suddenly irrelevant.

So, in a nutshell, here's what I've been doing: attending the most relaxed and gorgeous country wedding of all time (well, my time), an engagement party for my sister, loads of bike riding in preparation for our upcoming biking holiday, sewing jimjams and dresses for Grumbles, starting kinder (!) for Grumbles (yes, I cried the first time I dropped her off), swimming in this incredible heat and much planning and prep for Grumble's winter wardrobe. Oh, and I've organised a knitting club.

Plus reading! Lots and lots of reading. Here's a brief rundown:

The Shifting Fog by Kate Morton: Excellent mystery/love story/coming of age tale, slowly eked out of the memories of Grace Bradley, a now old lady who holds the key to the remarkable events of summer 1924, in which she was a maid to one of two sisters, who both loved the same man.

Charlotte Gray by Sebastian Faulks: I recently read Birdsong, and was absolutely rivited by the quality of writing. Some of his depictions of life in the World War 1 trenches actually had me putting down the book and taking deep breaths before I could continue. I was expecting more of the same from Charlotte, but alas, no. Did the same man even write the two books? It's not a bad story (young woman goes over to occupied France to aid the Resistance whilst pursuing her love), but it feels like it was written on autopilot, and that so much more could have been made of the material. Pity.

Good Evening, Mrs. Craven: The Wartime Stories of Mollie Panter-Downes, and London War Notes 1939 - 1945 by Mollie Panter-Downes: I got Mrs Craven from a bookshop recently, and scoffed it down in one indulgent sitting. Incredible tales of what life must have been like during wartime Britian, written by one of the masters of the short story. I immediately started hunting for London War Notes, which are a collection of essays Ms Panter-Downes wrote fortnightly during the war for the New Yorker magazine. Boy, is that book hard to find. I ended up buying it from, but it was worth it. Fascinating to read her thoughts, from the latest political situations to her cool assessment of foodstuffs available. Very highly recommended, especially together.