Sunday, 26 October 2008

Izzie piccies

Went back to Bristol this weekend to see the family and took the opportunity to snap a few pictures of Jane & Izzie playing. Well, Jane did say she didn't have enough photos of her and Iz together.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

We have sofas

Today marked another small step for number 13 as the long-awaited sofas arrived. We ordered them in late july and it really is nice to finally be lounging about on one.

The delivery guys were a well matched pair. One said nothing the entire time whilst the other talked constantly, providing a running commentary on whatever he was doing ("I'll remove the packing now by cutting through the bottom - never the top, mind. I'm not using a safety knife as I don't get on with those...").

Blogged from my phone, lying on the sofa just because I can.

Sunday, 12 October 2008

The rumtopf keeps growing

The strawberries and raspberries have now had a week to lounge around in the rum - and as you can see many of them are already losing their colour (don't worry kids, this is all according to the master plan). What with the strawberries taking a pasting I thought it was time to send in some reinforcements. New to the rumtopf today are 1kg of plums and nectarines, nice and firm so they should stand up to the rigors of floating about in a sea of sugary spirits. On that note I threw in another bottle of Barbados' best, taking the ingredients to date to a fantastically healthy:

2.5l Mount Gay Rum
1.1kg Sugar
500g Nectarines
500g Plums
300g Strawberries
300g Raspberries

And there's still space left for some more :-)

Saturday, 11 October 2008

Housework


We've been busy on the house these last weekends. The bathroom is coming along well (see photos) and we've had what will probably be the last good go at the garden this year. The hedge at the front has been hacked back further (found more wall!) and a bulb-field now lies dormant at the front - that should go active next spring.

Much to my dad's undoubted happiness we've both been teetering on top of a long ladder today (not at the same time, obviously) fixing the gaps in the guttering and shoving loose tiles back into position. Come the rains there will hopefully be no waterfalls.

As if that wasn't enough, the piano tuner also dropped by this morning. He spent a good hour whipping our Menzel into shape and fixing the damping on one key. It sounds fantastic now, £50 well spent, and as I type this I can hear K practicing downstairs. The tuner thought that our piano was made in the late 1920's, which actually makes it older than our house.

Next excitement on the house front is scheduled for Wednesday when the sofas arrive!

Monday, 6 October 2008

The fire is alive


The multifuel burner has been an attractive feature of the lounge since we moved in; we liked it from the moment we saw it. Now that the weather has turned cold we thought it might be time to fire it up and see how it runs, so we bought some firewood Saturday morning and set to work.

Saturday and Sunday evening efforts weren't too impressive: the paper and kindling kicked off easily enough and the logs would char and glow, but we couldn't quite get them going properly. This evening Rob and Is popped round for dinner and we thought we'd have a third crack at it. A combination of hacking the logs to pieces with an axe (new purchase!) and emptying the ash pan (I only noticed that today...) seemed to do the trick and we spent a happy hour after dinner sipping wine and watching a couple of logs reduce themselves to cinders. Roll on those long winter evenings.

No posts for a month and then three come along in two days; nothing like consistency, eh?

Moving video

After much procrastination I've finally selected an edit of the moving video and uploaded it to YouTube. Enjoy...


The movie consists of about 680 photos taken (mostly*) at one minute intervals, the camera sat on a tripod in the corner of the lounge. The boys were in charge of unloading the van whilst the girls oversaw unpacking, furniture construction and lunch.

I edited it together with Windows Movie Maker, roping in Photoshop for the annotations. WMM was dead easy to use and did enough to let me get this far, so I cant complain - quite surprising for something bundled free with Windows.

* I had to swap the battery once and I saved time at the end by going to once per 10 seconds for the last few photos of the animated rabbit. But it was mostly once per minute - an intervalometer is a wonderful thing.

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Rumtopf

A rumtopf turned up at number 13 earlier this week, a birthday present from Lasse (thanks!). What's a rumtopf, you may ask? Well, Wikipedia says the following:
Rumtopf, which literally means rum pot, is a German dessert, traditionally eaten around Christmas. A mixture of various kinds of fruit, rum and sugar is filled into a large stoneware pot (the eponymous rum pot) and matured for several months until the fruit is very soft and completely saturated with rum. Rumtopf may be served with ice cream or waffles.
Yum! We stocked up on fresh fruit yesterday and this evening sees the inauguration.

The basic plan is that you kick off the rumtopf some time in the summer, adding fruit as they come into season and topping up with sugar and lots of rum. By the end of autumn your pot should be full and by Christmas it'll taste fantastic. The recipe I'm following (cobbled together from The Hop Shop and GermanDeli.com and reproduced here for my own sake as much as for anything) is as follows:

To start:
  • Wash and dry the first chosen fruit, removing any stems, seed and pits
  • In a separate bowl cover the fruit with an equal weight of granulated sugar and allow to sit for one hour (example: 500g of fruit and 500g of sugar)
  • Place the fruit, sugar and any juices left in the bowl into the Rumtopf
  • Pour in enough rum or brandy to cover the fruit (use good stuff, 40%+)
  • Weigh the fruit down with a clean saucer or plate (it's important that the fruit doesn't break the surface as the alcohol is preserving it)
  • Cover the opening of the Rumtopf with cellophane (to prevent evaporation) and place the lid on top
  • Store in a cool place away from heat, sunlight and anyone who might drink it
For each additional layer of fruit:
  • Follow the instructions above, but use only half as much sugar (example: 500g of fruit and 250g of sugar)
  • After the fruit and sugar has rested for one hour, gently add this mixture onto the earlier layer
  • Do not stir as this will break up the fruit
  • Add more rum or brandy to cover the new layer
  • Cover with fresh cellophane
Throughout the summer, repeat the process for each new fruit until your Rumtopf is full. Then allow the entire mixture to sit for another 4 to 6 weeks. It is best at 2-3 months, which is
just in time for Christmas.

What fruits are good?
  • Cherries (any variety, pitted)
  • Apricots (halves, pitted)
  • Nectarines (halves, pitted)
  • Peaches (remove pits and cut in halves, quarters, or slices)
  • Pears (cored, peeled & sliced)
  • Plums (remove seed and half or quarter)
  • Grapes (sweet seedless red or green grapes are ideal)
  • Strawberries (don't wash, just remove stem & leaves). Strawberries will lose their red color.
  • Raspberries (don't wash). Raspberries will lose some of their red color.
  • Redcurrants and loganberries (removed from stem)
  • Pineapple, with the rind and centre core removed, is best cubed and is usually the last fruit added.
Use ripe, dry but firm fruit and never any that is overripe.

What's not so good?
  • Apparently it is best to avoid watery fruits such as Melon, as they dilute the alcohol.
  • Rhubarb can make the fruits bitter, as can blackberries, which can also discolour the rest of the fruits and spoil their appearance.
  • Bananas (too mushy)
  • Citrus fruits (too acidic)
My strawberries and raspberries have been sugaring for an hour, so I think it's rum time...