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Craft: Halloween watermelon, Queensland-style!

November 2, 2010 6 comments

In time for Halloween, Yours Truly reviewed the traditional pumpkin for its carving qualities.

To remind you of the pumpkin and its price:

Pumpkins, from $20!!!

Because Auntie and I like value for money as much as the next person, we’ve decided to share with you our secret for next year. Instead of fully participating in the overpriced pumpkin rort, we’re going to do it Queensland-style, using watermelons!

Auntie had a crack at it and produced this specimen. With practice, she’ll get it looking more mean …

Aussie watermelon beats American pumpkin!

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Categories: Australia, Business, Craft

Craft: Halloween pumpkin & be safe message

October 30, 2010 Leave a comment

Using the right pumpkin makes the job EASY!

Brisbanites frequenting supermarkets have started encountering big, overpriced, yellow pumpkins just lately. I took it upon myself to see what all the fuss was about.

In the name of craft and open-mindedness, I put aside my reservations about ‘celebrating’ Halloween, to see whether these pumpkins were anything special. To be honest, I’d wondered how hard it would be to carve one up, given the near brute force needed to cut up our typical Butternut pumpkin for dinner.

In short, it was as easy as falling off a log. Using the right kind of pumpkin makes all the difference. As you can see from the photos below, it’s a softer pumpkin which has a lot of ‘guts’ that’s easily scooped out by little kids. The cutting must be done by an adult (obviously, one would think). The supermarket instruction sheet sets out 8 steps, but really, there are only five, tops. To be clear, the hairy fingers in the photos are not my own. Yours Truly suffered a shoulder / neck injury while sleeping (how sad is that?) and couldn’t operate the knife without screaming like a banshee, so Dear Brother did the honours.

1. Carefully cut the top off using a knife (operated by a competent adult).
2. Scoop out the insides.
3. Draw a face with a permanent ink marker or mark the outline of a face with pins (eg. using a template).
4. Cut out face
5. Insert a tea light candle and light it.

Easy carve pumpkin

Instructions & template

Step 1

Step 2

Step 3

Step 4

Step 5

Step 6

Carving up a pumpkin and having a bit of dress-up fun at home is one thing. But if you are taking kids out for trick or treating, do keep in mind the contradictory messages (Don’t take lollies from strangers, except on Halloween. Don’t be mean, unless the neighbours don’t give you sweets. Bullies are bad, except on Halloween.) which can set you up for trouble down the long and winding road of parenthood. While you might be going with them this year, there’ll come a time when they’ll think it lame that their parents tag along (and by that stage, they’ll be too big to say “No” to, with any sort of moral authority). And please don’t kid yourself that children in a group are safe. Sometimes, a group is the most dangerous place to be.

Keeping kids safe is hard work. In a perfect world, there would be no begging for lollies (as opposed to nuts in days gone by, in preparation for winter), but if it must be done, then perhaps consider door-knocking just your friends and family and by prior arrangement. Don’t freak out the elderly, or people who don’t understand or want to have Halloween thrust upon them. Realistically, anyone opening the door to strangers on Halloween is crazy, even if it’s a little kid standing at the screen door (who’s standing behind him?).

A bit of consideration goes a long way in not only keeping good neighbours, but in keeping EVERYBODY safe. Go look up some statistics about how many kids go missing on Halloween overseas. Ask your friendly police how many assaults happen and how many complaints they clock up. Fun should never be at the expense of others.

And this is the end of the government, anti-fun policy.

Have fun, responsibly. And regardless of your religious beliefs, think about the dearly departed on 1 November, which is what it’s all really about.

UPDATE: To avoid being gouged on the price of a Halloween pumpkin, try using a watermelon – it does work and you get to eat the insides. The Halloween pumpkin isn’t good eating. See my later post with photos of a Halloween watermelon, thanks to the Auntie-who-thinks-of-everything.

Road Test: No mess tomatoes

October 25, 2010 2 comments

Yours Truly gets a little bit excited when a product actually lives up to its marketing hype.

Hooray! Truth in advertising ...

I can say that I was hugely impressed with the fact that these tomatoes didn’t turn into sandwich sludge – not even when put in the toasted sandwich maker (aka jaffle maker). They hold firm and seem to last longer than other types of tomatoes, when kept in the specially designed holey plastic bag, in the crisper section of the fridge. The tomatoes cut very easily (even with my perpetually blunt knives), present very well and taste great.

While I don’t personally believe in salad, I’m sure these tomatoes would be great for those who do. They’re not as juicy as other kinds, so they wouldn’t be my first choice for sauces and suchlike. (I’m told, in comments below, that they perform equally well in sauces and cooking.)

No more mushy tomato sandwich nightmares. Enjoy! No Mess Tomatoes, indeed!

UPDATE: I’ve had buckets of people agreeing that these are now their favourite tomatoes! I love a local good-news story. Hats off to Aussie ingenuity.

LOL: I’m lovin’ it

October 15, 2010 Leave a comment

I’m lovin’ McDonald’s new t-shirts, this one pictured in the wild yesterday, at Newmarket in Queensland.

Thumbs up, McMarketing Department! You’ve made the world’s uncoolest mascot, so very hip.

Thank you to the brave man who agreed to this photo being taken. Your commitment to the clown is exceptional!

Enjoy your Friday.

BHP Billiton finds its soul; or Marius Kloppers sees a business advantage in pricing carbon

September 21, 2010 Leave a comment

Not green, but MEAN. BHP plans to bury its rivals in a State forest near you ...

Has anyone wondered why the CEO of BHP Billiton Australia, Marius Kloppers, was against Kevin Rudd’s CPRS & Resource Super Profits scheme, but this week comes out ahead of anyone else to announce that Australia has to ‘get moving’ on carbon pricing?

Kloppers is a smart man, who out-maneuvered everyone on the recent mining tax negotiations. Keep that in mind, when answering this multiple choice question. And also remember, that a tax is a tax, no matter how many times you rename it, or whether you put happy-feeling words in its title.

So, is Marius Kloppers:
(a) Suddenly mad;
(b) In secret negotiations with Prime Minister Julia Gillard which could benefit BHP if he were to shout support pre-emptively (Labor modus operandi involves hanging someone else out to test public sentiment & then backing away if it goes badly);
(c) Keenly aware that it would be in the interests of shareholders and BHP to price out smaller competitors;
(d) In Team Julia, not Team Kevin; or
(e) A Greenie.

The Australia where everyone had a chance to ‘have a go’ and where small companies could work hard and grow, might just be behind us. The fact that no-one is shouting “anti-competitive behavior” is most vexing.

Australia: vibrant and competitive one day … dull and anti-competitive the next….