Our first week of the new year

I hope you all had a nice Christmas and an excellent new year!

As is usual, the time between Christmas and New Year’s day is packed with feasting and socialising. That’s my excuse for being slack with posting and I’m sticking to it.

Here in Sydney Australia it’s stinking hot right now and for reasons I don’t understand, I always get highly motivated to do major projects around the house at this time of the year. The smart time to do most of these laborious jobs would be in the cooler weather, but no, that would make too much sense. I never really feel like doing such things until it gets uncomfortably hot and humid.

Further proof that I’m a complete idiot. 

Last year at about this time I landscaped the front yard in the blazing sun. This year I’ll be toiling in the backyard making a pond and replacing two toilet sets in the house. 

The photo below is of Engogirl on the first day of this year, helping me with the construction of some bench seating that will surround the pond we are constructing.

Engogirl likes using the drill press

After sweating our butts off for a day, we decided that instead of getting stuck into our backyard work and knocking it over quickly, we would rather get into an air-conditioned car and take couple of days off to visit Engogirl’s parents at their holiday home in Tallong (2 hours south of Sydney).

There are a few orchards in Tallong and stone fruits are in season. Engogirl’s father loves jam and makes his own.

This man is powered by jam

Here’s Engogirl’s father’s recipe for apricot jam


Equal quantity of firm (slightly unripe) apricots and sugar. For the jam that was being prepared in the photo above, 1kg of apricots and 1kg of sugar were used.
Pectin (use only half the amount that is recommended on the packet or the jam will be too firm).
Glass jars. 


Place freshly washed jars with lids and sugar into an oven and heat up to 100 degrees C (which is boiling point at sea level or about 212 degrees F). The sugar is preheated so that it dissolves quickly and completely when it is added to the fruit. Wash, pit and halve the apricots. Place prepared apricots into a saucepan with a cup of water, then heat for about 15 minutes, until the fruit begins to soften, over medium heat.

When the fruit is soft add the sugar and pectin stir until dissolved. Bring the mixture to the boil and cook for about another 5 minutes, whilst continually stirring. You will know when the jam is ready to fill the jars when the jam mixture sticks to the side of the saucepan in thick blobs. When the mixture is ready, take the jars and lids out of the oven (don’t forget that they will be hot, so use oven mitts) and fill with the hot jam mixture and screw on the lids straight away. It’s probably best to perform this operation in your sink in case there are any spills or accidents.

8 thoughts on “Our first week of the new year”

  1. How hot or humid does it have to be for it to be “stinkin”? Is this the same holiday house that has the long driveway and was stormy the last time you visited? I don’t know how his jam tastes but Your father in law is fashion forward! He dresses for his beautiful blue eyes!

  2. Feasting and socializing are excellent excuses.

    You are a complete idiot working in the heat and humidity. You should let OTHER people work in the heat and humidity and supervise them whilst sitting in the shade with a glass of iced tea (or a beer.)

    I would like to eat the apricot jam but not make it myself. Does he take orders from America?

    Happy New Year!

  3. Pat

    Yesterday was 43 degrees C or 109 degrees F, which I think you’ll agree is hot. Stinking hot! As for the holiday home, you’ll notice that the words, “holiday home in Tallong” in the post are in bold, which is to indicate that it’s a link to the post you’re referring to. So in short, yes.


    Another manifestation of my idiocy is that I don’t have enough money to pay others to toil in the sun for me. I’m afraid that if you want the jam you’re going to have to make it. My father-in-law just makes jam for himself. He makes about eight jars at a time and at the rate that he eats it, that amount lasts him four months.

  4. 109 degrees!!!

    Stinking is understating that type of heat. For some reason, I think of Sydney as a more temperate climate. But, then, what do I know about Australia? Ahem. Captain Cook, exhibit A.

  5. Mmm, home made marmelade, we usually make it with peaches and a bit les sugar. I love every jar of it so I fully understand your father in law not sharing any with yor readers.

    As for the weather, 43 really is stinking hot and I must say I don’t see how working on two toilet sets would take the stinking out of the heat away :)) If I were you I’d probably just do the pond, fill it with water and sit in it till the heat melts away a bit.

  6. Hey, if the excuse works, use it! I’m hoping on that band wagon too! I’ve been trying to get the writing muse to come back and sit with me for a while but I think she needs more coaxing. Perhaps if I made some cookies…. Hmm.

    I do the same thing in regards to working in the heat. I’m fair of skin and pretty much hate hot weather but for some bizarre reason, always seem to tackle heavy, physical, out door jobs when all sane folks are inside or at the beach. I have no idea why I do this to my self. No worries of sun stroke today in Maine. It’s been around 19º F (-7 C) for the last few days. Brrr.

    -Turkish Prawn

  7. Grasswire

    I have been tempted to climb into the pond for a wallow or two.


    I thought you had some Native American genes in you? I guess you didn’t get enough! I don’t envy you for the cold though. I’m so over living in cold countries after living in Canada for 7 years. The only downside to living in Sydney is that it gets soooo hot for about two months of the year.


    No, I haven’t fallen in, but it took a lot longer and required far more work than I expected. I’d say that in total the pond has taken 10 full days to make, which is ironic because it’s so simple. As a matter of fact, when I look at it now, I can’t understand why it took me more than a day. Even though I’m experienced with carpentry and have all the tools the job just seemed to go on forever.

    I’ll be putting up a post about it soon when we’ve put some plants in it.

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