Saturday, 29 March 2008

When the cat's away

Yes, it is the weekend that many scrapbook widower's either love or dread, the weekend of the scrapbook convention/seminar/trade show/retreat etc.

Mrs Grendel has headed out to the Wheatbelt to teach scrapbooking classes to the women of the west, errrr east, but only the eastern part of the west really.

Here at home the male members of Grendel's Lair have lived it up by eating toast and drinking hot chocolates with marshmallows - except we ran out of marshmallows, some planning gone awry there I think.

Currently Junior Grendel Number One is sound asleep in the parental bed, having dropped off about 3 minutes after I pressed play on a DVD of Star Trek.

Unfortunately Junior Grendel Number Two is still wide awake, in the bed beside big brother and asking tricky questions like "what is holding it up?" about a space station.

My attempt to explain microgravity has been met with a certain level of scepticism and thus I have departed hoping that in the time it takes me to write this post he may have forgotten his Newtonian queries and dropped off to sleep.

UPDATE: No, not asleep and is now asking about the relativistic space/time distortion effects of wormhole transit while at warp 4.2

Long night ahead.

Wednesday, 19 March 2008


With Easter in just a few days time, anticipation in the Grendel household is at a fever pitch.

Junior Grendel Number One has been practising wearing his robes for his role as a jeering bystander in the Passion play at school and Junior Grendel Number Two , while welcoming the coming of the great bunny, is also facing the fact that the bunny is not only coming to deliver chocolate eggs, but also to take away dummies.

Our boys love their chocolate eggs, and we ration their take over a period of some months. I too love chocolate, I love that warm silky sweetness as it melts down your throat and the endorphin rush that hits soon after.

I'm sorry for what follows in this post - we should all be sorry for what follows in this post.

Tim Costello of World Vision has been off in Africa checking out the cocoa farming regions, and the news was not good.

Apparently human trafficking and slavery are alive and well and living in the cocoa plantations. The Rev. Costello visited Ghana and the Ivory Coast and estimate that over half a million children now work in the cocoa fields in conditions that at their best are exploitative and at their worst are outright slavery. 50% don't get formal education and most are involved in hazardous work - it is these children that are providing the majority of the cocoa we will consume this Easter.

70% 0f the world's cocoa comes from West Africa so their is an excellent chance that the egg you bite into on Easter morning will originate from cocoa harvested by a child slave. In the worst cases this child will have been forced to work 80-100 hours a week.

I'm sorry if that puts anyone off their elegant rabbit or giant egg, but the cheaper the chocolate for us to buy, the cheaper the price paid to the farmer and their labourers. International buying cartels force down the prices of cocoa and seek volume supplies. Sound familiar? Just like coffee - volume means poor quality. We need to be encouraging lower production of higher quality cocoa, and pay a fair price for it.

I know that World Vision are supporting the Fair Trade approach to cocoa, and in this case I think it is the best option. Unlike coffee, the production of chocolate is more specialised and the situation of the workers and the farmers even more dire than in the coffee world.

Interestingly World Vision are not calling for a boycott of the big chocolate companies - that would hurt the farmers further. However they are suggesting that when you can vote with your wallet and buy fair trade products when you can.

I'd encourage you to go and read further - this is an issue that won't go away and if you love chocolate then you owe it to yourself to at least KNOW the facts. More than this you owe it to those who labour to bring this treat to you, yet never get to try it themselves.

If you want to buy fair trade chocolate and Easter eggs then look for Scarborough Fair Fairtrade certified Easter Eggs which are available in some Coles and Target stores.

Check out the World Vision site for more information: What is the real cost of chocolate?

And here is a list of ethical chocolate available in Australia - hopefully it is good quality chocolate as well:

Alter Eco – Fairtrade
Dark Velvet (Organic)
Dark Velvet with Peppermint
Milk Moka
Milk Almond

Cacao Power – Organic and *Fairtrade (*certification imminent)
Cacao Powder
Whole Beans
Crushed pure chocolate

Chocolatier Australia – Fairtrade
Chocolate Thins – Dark and Milk

Cocolo - Fairtrade
Dark Orange
Milk Hazelnut
Milk Almond
Mint Crisp

Cocoa Farm Chocolate (Australian Grown Cocoa)

Mango, Lime and Chilli
Dark Orange
Coffee and Hazelnut

Endangered Species - Fairtrade
Peanut Butter

Green & Black’s – Fairtrade

Maya Gold Organic Dark Chocolate Bar
Organic Hot Chocolate

Oxfam - Fairtrade
Milk with nuts

Scarborough Fair - Fairtrade

All varieties

Oh, and this is the ONLY time you'll ever hear me advising you to go to Starbucks!

Starbucks - Fairtrade Chocolate


Sunday, 16 March 2008

Is it real?

Is there a thing called scrapbooking? I can't remember! I've spent the weekend running flatout at the WA Barista Championships and I've not seen Mrs Grendel and the Junior Grendel's the whole weekend.

I reckon if ever there was a scrapbooking business waiting to happen it is awards ceremonies.

Scrappers could hang around, seagull like, as award recipients come down from the dais and hit them at their most vulnerable:

"Scrap this exciting day? Keep the memories for ever! only the best cardstock - acid and lignin free. . ."

Monday, 10 March 2008

The walls

It is spreading like a contagious disease. Off you go merrily to work in the morning and return home in the afternoon to find that the scrapbooking has leapt off the pages and on to the walls.

I wondered if she'd run out of paper, but no, there on the shelf is the usual rainbow of cardstock - this was graffiti, pure and simple.

I suppose I should have expected it - but I am concerned that the next logical step once she runs out of immovable objects to scrapbook will be to scrapbook some of the, err 'movable' one. That includes the cats (although I'm pretty much ok with that concept) the two junior Grendels, and Me.


Let me make myself clear.


Not at all, never.

I am certain that because of the impermanent nature of any paper friend adhesive when applied to the human body that any scrapbooking of my flesh would involve tattoos. Worse still is the though of how I may be embellished - titanium brads or somesuch I suppose.

Can I just state for the record that I am not acid-free and that I intend to commence lignin eating immediately.

Of course I could get my own back by hiring the painter from this cafe to come and apply a brush to our wall so that I can have my own copy of the formula for caffeine on the wall - my very own graffiti!

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

The Church of the One True Scrapper

And while on the subjest of religious affiliation. . .

I note that members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints (more conveniently called 'Mormons') are very, very fond of Genealogy.

They certainly have extensive databases dedicated to collecting and recording family details. Thus it should be no surprise at all that they also feature heavily in the scrapping world.

In fact the Mormon Church seems ready made for scrapbooking with large families, acceptance of technology (Amish scrapping must be hard!) and a disavowal of alcohol and other intoxicants that might otherwise provide some distraction to the busy life of a Mormon Saint.

I have one question here - at EVERY scrapbooking event I have heard of or seen, the scrappers consume more coffee and tea than an army battalion on winter manoeuvres - and yet, the Mormons don't.

How do they do it?

Does it influence the scrapping style?

Are the allowed to scrapbook the visit to the Temple in Utah?

Even the secret bits?

At this point I had an overwhelming desire to add a joke about how Mrs Grendel NEVER scrapbooks my secret bits - but I was good and didn't.

Or did I?

Monday, 3 March 2008

The great circle cult

This is a warning for all scrapbook widowers.

They've all done it. Mrs Grendel once did a whole layout using them, and I know she's not alone. I'm talking about circles - specifically photos cut into circles.

Once or twice is probably not a problem, but too much more often than that and it may be indication that your scrapbooker is a member of the Great Circle Cult.

This a is a radical group of scrapbookers that believe that the circle is the most sacred form and that a layout acquires mystical powers proportional to the number of circle photos on the single page.

They're a pretty secretive lot and all I've managed to uncover so far is that they exist and may be a threat to right-angle loving guys everywhere.

Be aware, be alert and when they bring out that cutter that looks like a paddle from an air hockey table, then be afraid.