Sunday, 27 December 2020
We've spent the last day and a half preparing for our south coast hike which we are leaving for in a matter of minutes! It's a week or so walk from Melaluca in the south west, out to Cockle creek.
All the preparation has been exhausting - I'm sure the hiking will be the easy bit now! Unfortunatly Clare had to drop out due to dodgy knee, and Andy got stuck in Sydney. Robin is a last minute new addition though (and we raided all of Clare's supplies and his brother's hiking gear to get him ready) so we'll be setting out with 5 of us.
Christmas Day was super fun this year.
We had the usual Christmas Brunch, the kids played badminton and in then we unwrapped our t-shirt kris-kringle. Which was a roaring success.
After we booted everyone out we had a relaxing afternoon including playing our very apt new board game (although it's been around since 2009) Pandemic. You'll be pleased to know we won.
Monday, 14 December 2020
It should be a simple process. Put an ad with photos on gumtree.com.au , respond politely to people who ask if they can come and inspect the item. Sell the item. Simple.
We put our two old couches onto gumtree. Originally the older sofa bed was free and the slightly nicer one was going to be for sale, but when I inspected it in the harsh light of day I decided it should be free too as although it looks good, the cushion zips are broken and there are a few marks & stains on it. I figured that just giving it away would be so much easier and quicker.
And it looked like that was going to be the case. 30 minutes after putting the ads online, we got a call from a Huonville family who happened to be nearby who wanted to pick up the one with the sofa bed. I gave them our address then rushed to uncover and vacuum it. I'd just finished as they reversed their ute down the drive and 3 primary aged children jumped out and dispersed themselves through the house and garden. A few minutes later the sofa was loaded and the adults were ready to go. I'm glad they didn't leave though as two out of the three kids were missing and the other one was on the toilet. As we made awkward small talk I noticed out of the corner of my eye that the youngest child was loading up her hands with the sunscreen that we keep by the door, and heading towards our new couches! I dashed inside to defend them but luckily she had become distracted with something else along the way and the sofas were safe.
Back outside we waited and waited for the third child to finish on the toilet. After ten more minutes of awkward small talk interspersed with increasing agitated instructions from the parents to the remaining children to get back in the ute the third child appeared and after a bit more cajoling they were all loaded up and on their way. The whole process was successful but quite stressful.
The 2nd sofa (what I thought was the nicer one) has been a different story. I immediately got messages from people wanting to come and get it so I tried to be fair and give the first person a chance to show up before letting the 2nd person know our address etc etc. Jon advised me that this was crazy and I should just give everyone our address but I argued that it was simply how I'd like to be treated - I wouldn't want to get hold of a trailer and drive across town to pick up a couch that was gone before I got there.
It turns out Jon was right simply because people are unreliable. The first respondents, to their credit, came when they said they would but they rejected the couch (they clearly have high standards for a free couch). Since them it's been a procession of no-shows. In fact I've had enquiries from 11 different people and to our knowledge, NONE of them have turned up to look at it. Person A couldn't get a van, Person B's dad had a big concreting job and couldn't come by to pick it up with his truck. Person C got a couch from a friend instead, Person D had a long night with the 9 month old baby, Person E (and I'm not kidding) had her car stolen so didn't have transport, Persons F, G, H, I & J simply didn't respond again after asking if it was still available, and Person J wanted to know if we could deliver it (sure we'll deliver your free couch and would you like us to pick you up some stuff from the supermarket on the way??). So it's been a bit frustrating. Each morning Jett and Jon have carried the couch to the top of the drive, each evening they have brought back down. We're all holding out hope that tomorrow is the day it won't have to come down again.
Update: It took another week or so, but a nice family from Kingston finally came to get the couch. Yep. Clare and her dad picked it up for Clare's brother Luke.
Sunday, 13 December 2020
We left the children unsupervised today so they used the opportunity to decorate the gingerbread houses that Zali had baked and constructed in the previous few days.
The results were.. well..subversive.
Not on the surface though, from the street this gingerbread house is pretty as a picture..
Although there are some warning signs of the activites within..
It's not until you get out the back that you realise it's a drug distribution den.
The other gingerbread house was more disturbing. The facade advertises a happy daycare centre, with surprisingly cheap rates:
But I beg you.. DO NOT SEND YOUR GINGERBREAD CHILDREN TO THAT DAYCARE CENTRE...
as the backyard tells a different tale. There's even a grave in the bottom left there. Shudder.
Yesterday Jett, Jon and I went up to the Springs so they could wear in their new hiking boots and packs, and so I could just go for a jog-a-hike. The weather was amazing..
I went up the Icehouse Track to the summit, then down the Zig Zag. All along the way the waratahs were beautiful and the views were fantastic.
While I did they Jon and Jett hauled 15+ kg packs up the Organ Pipes track then down Hunters Track. They did really well and avoided blisters which was great!
Wednesday, 9 December 2020
We've had our current sofas since the 90s, and one of them we even bought 2nd hand at the time. That makes them significantly older than the kids, and certainly a lot grottier (which is saying something). So it is well past time to replace them.
The old ones are both from Freedom Furniture, and co-incidentally, after much web browsing and a few fruitless family trips to furniture stores, Zali and I headed to the Freedom store back in May (in the middle of the lockdown I think - they were obviously essential purchases). After lots of sitting in store, and a bit of reflection at home we eventually chose two of these sofas, which I returned to the store to order (and pay a hefty deposit for) the next day:
We then settled back to wait the required 10-12 weeks. After about the 10th week I recieved an email from Freedom:
I am writing to provide an update on your order. I unfortunately need to advise of a delay on your order.I have been advised by our head office support team that there was a system glitch which meant your order did not create and did not make its way to the manufacturer. This unfortunately means we have had to replace your order and we are looking at a worst case scenario of the 2nd week of November for both sofas to reach us in Hobart...
They went on to offer me free delivery (saving $100) for my inconvenience. I went on to immediately cancel the order and request a refund - which was promptly provided. This was satisfying but I still had no couches which was very disappointing. I then watched the entire season of the Block which was sponsored by Freedom and the contestants would just race out to the shops the night before a room reveal and bring back the SAME sofa that we originally ordered! Aargh!
After about a month or so of looking fruitlessly on-line, Jo, Clare and I were driving past Nick Scali furniture on the way home from Pittwater and we decided to stop in. To my surprise there were lots of reasonably priced and nice looking couches and I really liked the very first one we sat on.
So after convincing the family, I ordered 2 and a matching ottoman the next day. I've always wanted an ottoman as our living room does not lend itself to the comfy looking L-shaped couches, and this is the next best thing. It was the 1st of August.
Then I settled back to wait the requisite 12-14 weeks. On the 16th of November I got a text from Nick Scali furniture saying that due to a shortage of shipping containers (where were they all?) our order was going to be delayed. Given our luck so far, I wasn't particularly surprised and I went about preparing myself for their next contact which was probably going to be to inform me that all their warehouses had disappeared into sink holes.
Much to my surprise I got a text the very next week to say our couch was only 10 days away - horay! and sure enough, it arrived last wednesday - on the 2nd of December - a mere 12 weeks after we ordered it, and 8 months since we began the journey.
And we love them! They are even more comfortable than I hoped and they look great! We now have matching couches!! This year we also got matching ikea dining chairs and we were also given a beautiful set of matching wineglasses! We are so posh now. Oh - and I'm so much happier that we got these sofas rather than the original Freedom ones. So is Pinto because she can still sit on the arms.
Left: Pinto deciding which part of the couch to scratch first.
Oh Delicious magazine. How I hate thy recipes. And why oh why do I have yet another bloody Delicious magazine on my shelf. I guess it's because it's vegetraian and the pictures are nice and maybe I got it for free. I can safely say I've never actually used it before, so I had a choice of everything in order to satisfy the criteria that the recipe be something I'd never made before. In the end I chose something I figured I could make with the minimum of extra purchases from the supermarket. And since I couldn't find fennel seeds (to roast and grind), that left me with just needing to get buffalo mozzarella . Which I coudn't find either, so I got a ball of regular mozzarella.
The moussaka recipe dictated I dust each slice of eggplant with flour and fry it for 10 minutes, and that I should do this in two batches. I'd like to know what frying pan is large enough to fit 1.5 eggplants worth of slices as after two batches in our large frypan I realised I was looking at another 50 minutes of frying before even getting close to putting the dish in the oven for another 30 minutes.
At this point Jett, who doesn't like eggplant anyway, wisely suggested I halve the recipe so it would serve 2 instead of 4. I agreed and about an hour later, it was ready to serve. I must say the recipe was irritatingly vague in many areas - it never said how thick to cut the eggplant, it didn't say how much mozzarella to use, or how thin to slice it.
It tasted ok I guess. For that much trouble I'd prefer vegetarian lasagne, and I'd definitely use more spices normally - this had just fennel and salt and pepper - even substituting the fennel for cumin seeds left it fairly bland. But although I was definitely underwhelmed last night, I had the leftovers tonight (while everyone else had fish) and it seemed to taste a bit better.
Funnily enough the Christmas Event was originally the only orienteering event that Jon and I were rostered to organise this year. However this year has been crazy - and for various reasons we've ended up organising 11 events between us. Jon has also organised 2 training camps, while I've made 3 maps which have been used, and another 2 which haven't yet. That's a lot of time spent on orienteering stuff! Luckily effort is rewarded by seeing people enjoying themselves, and last Sunday's event had a pretty big dose of that!
The Christmas Event is generally supposed to have some Christmas themed novelty factor - and if there's one thing I'm good at, it's dreaming up novelty events with complicated rules.
So this event included a maze that the competitors had to navigate part way through their course:
Mazes are fun, but I didn't think that was enough novelty so I added a couple of extra challenges. Before entering the maze, competitors had to wrap a present for themselves (a 57c packet of wafer biscuits) and make a suitably illustrated gift tag. Zali supervised this to ensure the wrapping and illustrations were done acceptably.
Then the competitors navigated the maze with their present until the final control when they had to toss it into the giant cardboard chimney that Zali and I made from sofa boxes.
Once they'd landed it in the chimney they were able to continue their course. It all looked pretty fun and the results of the wrapping and tagging were interesting:
The weather was forecast to be pretty terrible but in the end it wasn't as bad as we expected and most people stayed for the BBQ afterwards. All in all it went really well. Yay!
At this point in my life, this recipe book is un-necessary - who really needs a book filled with quick pasta recipes? Pasta is always quick.
Nevertheless I played along and rather than choose a variation of roasted vegetables tossed onto dryish looking pasta, I selected a recipe for fresh pasta from the section at the end of the book - Coriander and Chilli. It went pretty well in preparation and it was nice to use coriander from the garden. I must say the pasta seemed to be a bit rubbery in the final dish but that's probably my fault for not squishing it any thinner with my Aldi pasta machine:
So that's another one down (and out)
Since doing the 3 Capes jog-a-hike I've been a bit sporadic with running but the last two days have been quite delightful.
Yesterday I ran around some of my favourite tracks at Peter Murrell Reserve - which is always pleasant.
Today while Jett had soccer practise at Newtown I went for a run along the foreshore, then I ducked into the botanical gardens to loop around the plants and pools. It was lovely.
Monday, 30 November 2020
Although I'm not a huge fan of rogaining, the one Jon and I did last December in St Helens was a bit of a revelation. Before that I wouldn't have thought that I could possibly cover so many kilometres in one day. Together we walked and ran about 50k before going to bed just after midnight then the next morning we got up and walked another 16.
Since then Clare and Jon and I have planned and executed (and also, due to various reasons, cancelled) a number of epic hikes. Clare and I did a 37k walk at Freycinet in July, and yesterday, while Jon and the kids were doing another rogaine at South Arm, Clare and I did the an el-cheapo version of the 3 Capes Hike. We were basically going to do 2/3rds of the route of the fantastic 3 night walk that we both did a few years ago with kids.
As it was so long, I wanted to get an early start so I forced us to drive down the afternoon before and pay for non-tent style accommodation. In retaliation Clare forced us to stay in a cabin for which its greatest attribute was that it housed a cheese grater. Fancy huh? Actually if it had been so fancy as to contain a couch as well, we could have sat there and admired its steely shininess all night.
Anyway, after a night spent tossing and turning (I have a bad habit of lying awake fretting about adventures the night before actually doing them - in fact I may as well have been in a tent after all), we got up at 6, made ourselves lunch (using a plate as a chopping board because.. well you can guess) and were heading off from Fortescue Bay in the light drizzle by 7:30. We weren't the only ones starting out with grand plans - about half an hour in we overtook a group also heading to Cape Pillar. Wisely they were just doing the out-and-back route, as opposed to our out-and-back-and-then-around route.
The first hour and a half is spent on the old Cape Pillar track, which is really pretty, particularly in spring with all the flowers. After a delightful 10km we arrived at the first of the huts whereupon we chatted with the nice ranger (who was happy for us to fill our water bottles), and admired the view from the deck.
From there it was out and back to Cape Pillar - 6kms each way from the hut. It was typical Tasmanian spring weather - occasionally windy, sometimes sunny, sometimes rainy - we must have put our rain jackets on and off about 50 times during the day.
It was pretty nice when we got to Cape Pillar - so after admiring the stunning view we enjoyed some lunch in the sun before returning to the hut to refil our water again. We passed lots of people on day 3 of their hike also making it to Cape Pillar. In fact during the day we passed people on the 2nd, 3rd and final day of their respective trips. It certainly seems to attract a mixed bunch of decrepit old hands, fit teenagers, families and hiking newbies. It's fantastic that the provision of such nice accomodation makes the trip so accessible (at least physically if not financially) for so many people.
With half of the journey done we then faced our highest climb - the ascent of Mount Fortescue.
I'm not sure how it gets to be a mountain as it's really not that high, and without big heavy hiking packs it only takes about 20 minutes to hike up. After that we had a delightful 5k lope down the hill to the intersection of the shot but steep out-and-back track to Cape Huay. With 30+ k under our belts the relentless steps were starting to get a bit tiring but we toughed it out and got some spectacular views from the end.
Thankfully from back at the junction it was another mostly-downhill section to the finish. By this time Clare's toes were getting pretty sore, and my knee was a bit niggly so it was a bit of a relief to be in the final stretch. We arrived back at the beautiful Fortescue Bay beach and had just enough the energy to walk another 500 metres to make sure the total trip was over 40km.
So we did it! yay us. We both agreed that apart from our annoying injuries (Clare's toes, and my knee), we felt pretty good considering! I am a bit sore today but otherwise fine. What's next?
Oh - and while we did our hike, Jett and his team-mate covered almost 30k on foot, Zali did about 20k, and Jon and his partner did 71 (but they were on bikes).That's a lot of kilometres between us in one day!
Sunday, 29 November 2020
Clare and I had big plans for the Tasman Peninsular on Sunday, so we headed down there on Saturday to prepare ourselves. We also decided to try out the upgraded Crescent Bay track - 8km return to one of the most beautiful beaches in southern Tasmania I reckon.
I know what you are thinking.. How can there possibly have been room for almost 40 recipe books on your shelf? My thoughts exactly, but unfortunately there is room for many more than 40 books, so we aren't done yet. At least I am getting some variety.
The last time I had a macaron was in Paris. We bought some from an alleyway near Sacre Coeur. Those were the days.
Anyway - I didn't want to have to buy a whole lot of ingredients so my choices were limited - in the end I went with hazelnut recipe with chocolate ganache filling.
I followed the slightly complicated and time consuming recipe exactly, and if I do say so myself, the results were spectacular.
Another perfectly fine book we should have let go a few years ago as we've kind of outgrown it.
It's filled with very basic baking recipes. I searched in vain for something I could motivate myself to bake among the recipes for red sausages wrapped in pastry, angel cupcakes and toasted cheese sandwiches.
Then Zali and I realised we could do this with the recipe for alphabet letters....
(see what we did there).. then we did this:
proving that the book probably isn't too childish for us afterall..
Sunday, 22 November 2020
We were forced to contribute to, and then buy this book as part of a school fundraising event. Aside from noting that the vegetarian section included a number of fish dishes, I've barely opened it since. We contributed 'our' choc-orange mousse recipe although I'm sure copyright lawyers would have some issues with the claimed ownership of much of the contents of this book.
Unlike other more fancy recipe books I've used lately, this one did feature some pictures, unfortunately they were done by 8 year olds.
I took a chance on the lemon drizzle cake recipe, and it was fine.