Day 159 – Hillsong for Equality?

First, I have to be clear; I have no idea what the display at Hillsong is about exactly. But with vanes this colourful and rainbow-like, what else could it possibly signify?

I’ve seen stories of Hillsong pastor Brian Houston saying that same-sex marriage may be something “Christians have to live with”, but this display can only possibly mean that this year they will be throwing their support behind legislation change to make it official.

Hillsong Believes in Equality
Hillsong Believes in Equality

And it’s not just vanes either.

There appear to be many rides to support their new-found agenda. Donkey-rides to teach the kids to push their stubborn peers, friends and family into the future. Slippery-slopes to show everyone there is nothing to be afraid of. And a number of rides I could not quite make out from my vantage point, but I can only assume there will be a Leap Of Faith in there somewhere for the more reticent.

All is Fair in Love and More Love
All is Fair in Love and More Love

It’s nice to daydream though, isn’t it?

Day 158 – Frozen Delights

It started one year when I got an ice cream maker over Christmas (which is in summer over here, for the record). Since then, every year over the holidays I make batches of ice cream.

This year, my Gingerbread House Making (here, here, here, here and here) has limited the amount of time I have available so instead of 20 litres I only am making 7 litres this year. This includes gifts as well as batches for personal use.

Ingredients for 3 batches of Coffee/Ferrero
Ingredients for 3 batches of Coffee/Ferrero

This year I am making:

  • 3 batches of Coffee-Ferrero ice cream
  • 1 batch of Chilli-Chocolate ice cream
  • 1 batch of lactose-free Mango ice cream
  • 1 batch of Rocky-Road ice cream
  • 1 batch of Mango-Berry ice cream

I create all these on a custard base. A hand-made custard that is. It took a little practice the first time I made custard. It’s very easy to end up with boiled-egg-crumbs throughout if you try to go too fast.

Step 1 – put milk and cream in pot and simmer short of boiling

Milk, Cream, 8 shots of Coffee... Stir
Milk, Cream, 8 shots of Coffee… Stir

Step 2 – put sugar and egg yolks in bowl and whisk together

Eggs and Sugar... and surplus Egg Whites
Eggs and Sugar… and surplus Egg Whites

Step 3 – slowly whisk hot milky mixture into frothy eggs

Whisky Eggs...
Whisky Eggs…

Step 4 – very slowly heat combined mixture in pot

As the Custard forms you'll notice the ripples getting softer and smoother
As the Custard forms you’ll notice the ripples getting softer and smoother

What is tricky is that at the end of step 4 it feels like the custard is still much too runny. It may cover the back of the spoon just fine, but it just still feels like liquid. Don’t panic… once it cools down it will get thicker.

For the Coffee-Ferrero I also need Ferrero obviously.

Step 1 – get plenty of Ferrero

Ferrero for 3
Ferrero for 3

Step 2 – unwrap all Ferrero

Naked Ferrero
Naked Ferrero

Step 3 – freeze and crush Ferrero

Crushed Ferrero
Crushed Ferrero

Next important step is to cool the mixture thoroughly before trying to freeze it in the machine. If you don’t chill it as much as possible and put it in the machine, you’ll end up with runny custard… then slightly thicker custard… and then runny custard again. It’ll never get creamy and thick.

Step 1 – get all the pieces for the machine

Machine in Pieces
Machine in Pieces

Step 2 – assemble and run the machine

Mixing till it Climbs the Paddles
Mixing till it Climbs the Paddles

Step 3 – decant (scrape) into container

Finished Product in a Tub
Finished Product in a Tub

Tomorrow I can get another 2 litres finished, and over Monday/Tuesday I’ll finish the remaining 3 litres. Prioritising them by order in which I need to deliver. Just enough time to get it all done.

Obie Supervises the Job
Obie Supervises the Job

I love it when a plan comes together.

Day 157 – Dry’n’Tame

It’s the perfect park for the over-excited and overly excitable. It’s where you go when you have All The Feels, and can really only cope with 1 or maybe 2. It’s remarkable full on a Friday evening.

My timing wasn’t too great. I did consider the weather, but I hadn’t realised what impact a storm has on a water park. Apparently when there is lightning sufficiently close by they cannot run the slides or let anyone in the water. I feel sorry for the kids that arrived at the park when I did… it must have been a disappointing evening for them.

I was there to have a first look around. I have a Gold Pass membership to last me all season. I have some time to get the most out of it.

The first thing that struck me is how many kids there were after 8pm. I guess I hadn’t counted on the effect a 40 degree Friday evening might have on parents. I guess weekdays and/or Sunday nights might be quieter due to any parents that might have to go (back) to work the next day.

The second thing that struck me is that is appears to be a bit of a night-life spot as well for the younger age brackets. Again, Friday night being the key factor there I guess?

The third thing that struck me was still not lightning. It was the cabanas for rent. They have televisions in them. What kind of sad person buys access to 1 – a water park, 2 – a cabana, only to sit down on an uncomfortable lounge to watch a television at the pool?

I mean… my plan to use the lawns/seats at the wave pool to perhaps do some Kindle reading through the summer isn’t exactly what the park is for either, but seriously… television?

Having said all that, I had a good time walking and looking around though. It looks like fun when the weather doesn’t intervene. And at night they have coloured looping lights everywhere in-sync with the music that blasts everywhere too. I made all my steps for the day.

And I had a shower. Which is more of a luxury than you might imagine when one’s bathroom is in renovation.

I’ll try again soon.
I might even touch water* next time.

* I’m not counting the shower.

Day 156 – Going Swimming

I bought myself a Wet’n’Wild Gold Pass early on when the park was first advertising availability. I like the idea of somewhere nearby with water that I can go to, to relax.

I missed out on the preview days before the park opened on the 12th, on account of being in Melbourne at the time. Since returning I haven’t really had time to go yet.

I’m hoping to remedy this tomorrow.
They are open till 11pm.
The weather forecast indicates 40+ during the day, going to 28-ish in the evening.

This all sounds perfect for having a look around the park. I don’t even need the water-slides so much the first trip; just bobbing around in some water will do, and not thinking of anything else.

I wish I could come back with pictures tomorrow night, but alas… modern society has decided that taking a camera into a water park is tantamount to pornography, so just words will have to do. We live in sad sad times.

Day 155 – Finishing Wednesdays

Tonight was the last Wednesday Night Regulars for the year. As of next week, Mr. Ken will be away for XMAS and NYE.

But that’s okay, because he brought very nice Champagne for the occasion, so he is forgiven. And he obliged with two games of 7 Wonders, both of which I lost; once to Abbey and once to Ken. But I had fun.

And we had Upper Crust pizza from Crust, which is excellent.

Black Bean Burrito
Black Bean Burrito

Behold the Black Bean Burrito; a spicy vegetarian combination sliced into 8 pieces, each served with a dollop of Avocado Salsa.

Pulled Pork & Slaw
Pulled Pork & Slaw

And the Pulled Pork & Slaw; shredded salty/tasty pork sliced into 8 pieces, each served with a dollop of Coleslaw and Pear.

One thing that never fails to impress is how close to the sales images on the site the actual finished product arrives. And edible too!

Day 154 – Unconnected Thoughts

First

V Core feels like a good class; bit of a struggle, but not too painful. Although I suspect it will hurt later, because I never do either that many or such tough crunches. Good mix. Do again in three weeks (damn you XMAS and NYE!).

Second

Do we, when it really comes down to it, actually *need* politicians?
Discuss…

Third

I’ve had the show in the to-watch pile for a while, but hadn’t gotten around to it. Heard it was good. Believed the sources. But Girls is definitely an experience that’s hard to describe before experiencing it. Try. Be prepared to take a few episodes to make up your mind.

Fourth

OK GO remains great.
That is (almost) all…

And done.

Day 153 – Twelve Days of Rush-Mas

So far I have managed to dodge the bullet. I haven’t had to go out into the crazy. But the longer it lasts, the closer it gets, the worse it will be when I inevitably do.

I wonder if eventually this is the death-knell for local retailers here in Australia. They are already continuously whining about the fact overseas purchases under $1000 are exempt from taxation on importation… but if they think it’s merely that 10% that’s stopping us from buying locally, they are kidding themselves.

In many cases online easily saves 40-50% or more.

And it’s not merely price either; often things can be had online that simply are not available locally. Sometimes there is stock where there is none in the shops.

Or sometimes you do not need to queue in an insane line.

If I could do all my Christmas shopping sitting in the convenience of my home, I wouldn’t care where it was shipping from. And I don’t think there are many Australians that’d feel differently. Convenience always wins out, because out there *waves hands* is almost like psychological torture now.

Much better to relax into Christmas from the PC.

Day 152 – Tasty Bacon Numbers

Yesterday I discovered one of my cousins will be appearing as an extra in a movie. I do not recall the movie now, but that’s not nearly as important as some of the details surrounding her day on-set.

Apparently she had the good fortune of spending the day around Owen Wilson and Pierce Brosnan. Moreover, she had time to have friendly conversation with Pierce. Or Uncle Pierce as I will from now on call him. He’s family now…

More interestingly, a quick consultation of The Oracle Of Bacon confirms that both Owen Wilson and Pierce Brosnan have 2 as their Bacon Number.

Aside: for those unfamiliar with the term Bacon Number, and its definition; it’s a six-degrees-of-separation variant which connects actors back to Kevin Bacon through movies they appear in together. So Kevin himself has Bacon Number 0, Pierce Brosnan has Bacon Number 2, and my cousin now has Bacon Number 3.

All that separates me from an undefined Bacon Number and a very respectable 4 is shooting an episode of my yet-to-be-named/conceived/started YouTube cooking show with my cousin in it.

You may now bow to me.

Interestingly, it turns out that Bacon Numbers go higher than the original six-degrees-of-separation limit; probably because it requires being in a movie together. Wikipedia suggests that the highest defined Bacon Number is now 9, meaning that there are actors/actresses whose shortest connecting path to Kevin Bacon is 9 steps long. Furthermore, apparently about 12% of actors have an undefined Bacon Number.

I wonder if I should put this on my résumé?

Day 151 – Penalty Rates

Running over-time now. The Gingerbread House should have arrived at the party round about now, but we’re still putting on a few more finishing touches.

Partial Roof
Partial Roof

It’s not quite as complete as I would have made it, had I had more time, but I’m happy with the result of my first attempt at building Gingerbread.

Roof Complete, and Pool Filled
Roof Complete, and Pool Filled

Tiling the roof was a lot more effort than I had anticipated, but worth doing well. Now I think I may need a massage to get the knots back out of my shoulders from all the hunched-over tiling I did.

Does this mean I need to start driving a ute and wearing work boots?

Day 150 – Ginger Base Structure

This evening has been hectic and fruitful. It has been full of gingerbread and royal icing. Some excess pieces may have found their way into my mouth along the way.

Numbered Pieces
Numbered Pieces

I started by re-baking the pieces for another 10 minutes in the oven to firm them up. Gingerbread has this habit of getting soggy over time as it absorbs liquid from the air.

Some Pieces in Pieces
Some Pieces in Pieces

Unfortunately, not all the pieces were equally structurally sound. After the baking, the wrapping, and handling earlier in the week, some pieces had multiplied.

The Gingerbread Doctor
The Gingerbread Doctor

I got some assistance doctoring the pieces back together with royal icing. It’s amazing how hard it sets once it dries. The pieces all made a very satisfying plywood sound when tapped.

Somewhat Uneven
Somewhat Uneven

Now, putting together a house of pieces of gingerbread that are 4mm thick is not quite as easy as building it from cardboard. Also, the cookies aren’t as perfectly flat and pliable as the cardboard was. End result: many gaps and mis-matched edges.

Everything Glued Together
Everything Glued Together

Luckily, there is a lot more dressing to do before this work of art is complete, so for now I’m filling all the excess space with royal icing to keep the base structure sound.

A View of the Front
A View of the Front

And then I will worry tomorrow about hiding all the flaws. There’s quite a lot of work left, and only about 4-5 hours to complete it all in tomorrow, but I’m going to use some Agile Methodology here. Adding the most important features first, so that at each point in time I have a house that can be shipped for dinner tomorrow evening.

There will be pictures of the completed product, whatever that ends up being.