Monthly Archives: July 2013

Simple Parachord Bracelet

One day when we were out camping I made this improptu bracelet for Jasmine as she had been teaching we how to crochet and it is but the first row of a crochet.  All you need is about 4-5 ft of rope.

Tie a slipknot at one end

Tie a slipknot at one end

Pass the rope through the slipknot's loop forming a second loop

Pass the rope through the slipknot’s loop forming a second loop

Pass the rope through the last loop forming a new last loop

Pass the rope through the last loop forming a new last loop

Keep this up until the loops are just longer than your wrist

Keep this up until the loops are just longer than your wrist

Pass the last loop over the slipknots knot

Pass the last loop over the slipknots knot

Slide over onto wrist and tighten the last loop

Slide over onto wrist and tighten the last loop

Tie in the ends snugly

Tie in the ends snugly

Voila!

Voila!

Giants / Cubs game

One of us was bound to go home happy.

One of us was bound to go home happy.

Quiet blog this weekend as we were at the Giants Cubs game this Sunday.  My Giants let me down on three very important days in a row

Base loaded, no outs.  at least we got one run this time.

Bases loaded, no outs. At least we got one run this time.

Belgian Pilsner

I'm drinking my American Ale as I type this.  Per international statute you have to take a selfie when drinking

I’m drinking my American Ale as I type this. Per international statute you have to take a selfie when drinking.

About 4 years ago I started homebrewing beer with my friend Jon, and ever since it has been an enjoyable pastime for me.  I think I brew about 1 batch of beer every other month and, as 1 batch is usually 3-4 gallons, there is a good reason I don’t brew more – I couldn’t drink more.

This week I started up a new batch and I thought I would share.  It is a dark Belgian pilsner whose recipe I just made up based on past experience

The Ingredients (Mostly purchased at my local morebeer. They ship as well.)
-5 lbs Belgian Pilser
-1 lb Belgian Candy Syrup
-3 oz hops (Kent Goldings and Willamette)
-1 oz coriander seeds
-1 oz orange peel
-1 oz liquid yeast (Belgian Wit)

No peaches were harmeed in the making of this beer

No peaches were harmed in the making of this beer

The Equipment
-3 gallon stock pot (or 3 stock pots adding up to 3 gallons = sad)
-5 gallon primary fermenter
-5 gallon secondary fermenter
-Air lock (an awesome low pressure check valve)
-A strainer
-A 2 gallon bowl

I need an actaully stock pot

I need an actual stock pot

The Steps

Make or buy 1 gallon of ice.

Bring 2.5 gallons of water to a boil.  While you wait, clean the primary fermenter and airlock.  Clean it well – I like to use One Step cleaner.

Cleaniness is next to godliness.  In that it leads to beer.

Cleaniness is next to godliness. In that it leads to beer.

Add in pilsner grains and reduce to a simmer (75 C or 170 F) for 45 minutes.

Strain out grains and return then the water to stock pot. Add in the syrup and stir, then bring the water back to a boil. Add in 1/2 of the hops and boil for 30 minutes; add in the rest of the hops and boil for 10 minutes.

Remove from heat and put in primary fermenter.  Now add the ice and wait for thermal equilibrium.  When the temperature is less than 35 C (95 degrees F), throw in the yeast and add the cap and airlock.

Straining beer into fermenter

Straining beer into fermenter

Now wait 10 days, keeping the beer at 20-25 C (~75 F).  That’s where I’m at now.  The next steps are to switch to the secondary fermenter for 14 days, then bottle for 14 days, but I’ll update as the beer progresses.

 

Ginger Ale

I started brewing beer a few years back and while beer is quite tasty, it is nice to have a refreshing non-alcoholic carbonated beverage occasionally.  To this end, I made up this recipe for ginger ale which, after a few iterations, worked out very well.  I like it unstrained but, for those of you who like pulp free, I would recommend straining it after the bottling process.  Also, do NOT use normal capped beer bottles for storage and fermentation; this will lead to a geyser and, shortly after, a very sticky kitchen.

Ingredients

Ginger Ale ingredients

Ginger Ale ingredients

What                                                                          How Much

Ginger, grated                                                           1 cup

Lemons, juiced                                                          2-4

Water                                                                        ~1 gallon

White sugar                                                              2 cups

Honey                                                                        ½ cup

Yeast (preferably beer yeast, bread is OK)                2 tbl

Directions: Bring the water to a boil in a soup pot, then reduce to a simmer.  Add all the ingredients, reserving the yeast.  Simmer for 30 minutes, then remove from heat and allow to cool to less than 120 F or slightly warm to the touch.  Add the yeast (called pitching in brewing terminology) and stir to mix.

The Bottling

The Bottling

Pour liquid into sealable containers intended for carbonated beverages.  We use mason jars or growler bottles, but soda bottles work as well.  Store at room temperature (60-90 F) for a minimum of 24 hours and then enjoy.

Ready to enjoy

Ready to enjoy

This drink will keep for a week at room temperature or 2 weeks in the refrigerator and is probably best after 3-4 days.

Go Board

A while back my girlfriend and I decided that we needed to pick up a board game to play.  Being fresh out of 2 more for bridge and inspired by a xkcd comic we decided on Go.  It is a really simple game that consists of putting pebbles on a board in an attempt to surround the opponents pebbles, and is one of the great games that you can learn in an afternoon but not master in a lifetime.

To play, you need a board with a grid (9×9, 13×13, and 19×19 are the most common) and two different groups of colored pebbles.  For the board, we started with a 12×1 inch board from the hardware store (just normal pine) and cut it into a 12×12 inch square.  We then had access to a laser cutter, so we created a simple grid using Inkscape and used a laser cutter to cut out a 9×9 grid on one side and a 13×13 grid on the other.  To finish the board, I just sanded the edges and rubbed it down with mineral oil.

Finished Board

Finished Board

For the pebbles, we initially just used dimes and pennies which actually worked rather well but were a little tricky to pick up.  So we bought some black and white aquarium lining stones from Michaels that fit our board nicely.

Bags of pebbles

Bags of pebbles

And as simple as that we had a Go board.

Middle of a Go game

Middle of a Go game

Sun Tea

Today we shall harness the power of Interstellar Fusion to make a tasty beverage – just like Mom used to.  I just spent the weekend doing some rocket testing out in the desert where there is no lack of sun or desire for re-hydrating so I made some sun tea and thought I would share.

Almost as nice as my office

Almost as nice as my office

The steps are very easy

1: Acquire tea –  I’m a bit of a tea snob for an american but for sun tea anything works and I grew up with Lipton’s sun tea so that is what I usually use.  My favorite loose leaf tea is hibiscus Oolong.

Fancy sun tea

Fancy Tea for brew #2

2: Procure a clear jar –  Anything that hold water and you can see through works; I usually just use a half gallon ball jar, but in this case we have a rocket range special tea jar.  Also great to do with a Nalgene when hiking.

The Container

The Container

3. Fill jar with water and tea –  1 bag per every quart (liter) is a good starting point.  I remember my mom adding lemon as well so fell free to go crazy with additives like mint, etc. here.

Begin the Brew

Begin the Brew

4. Put in sun and wait ~ 1 hour –  You can wait however long you want with almost no chance of overbrewing because of the lower temperature of brewing.

tea done

The tea turns a pleasant brownish red with Lipton

5.  Cool and enjoy – Add a couple ice cubes or put in the fridge for later.

Pretty much the best simple drink on a hot summer day.

Rocketship Pillow Cases

Hello there! I’m holding down the fort this weekend on the posting front. You may notice a slight difference in tone as I, shall we say, have more formal training in English. Regular programming will resume in the near future, but I thought I’d share my rocketship pillow cases this weekend. It’s not one of the most complicated projects I’ve ever done, but it is one of the more enjoyable projects. After drawing many rocketship doodles one day in an attempt to postpone actual homework, I decided I needed rocketship sheets. Many, many stores and many comments of “But why does your son have a queen-size bed?” and many replies of “They’re for me! later, I came to the sad conclusion that rocketship sheets are only made for twin beds. Disappointed, I gave up and resigned myself to a rocketship sheet free existence. Then I saw this fabric in the fabric store and decided I would make rocketship pillowcases which, with few exceptions, have been the only pillowcases we’ve used ever since.

Rocketship Pillow Case

So how did I make them? Well, Step 1 is to measure your pillow. Fun fact that I didn’t know when I made these: pillows come in many “standard” sizes that may or may not be marked on your pillow. I used the dimensions of a pillow I threw out a few weeks later and it’s a bit tight on the new ones. I recommend using the soft, bendable measuring tape for sewing rather than the stiff measuring tape in toolboxes, but if you don’t have one just add one inch to your measurement to take the curve into account. This measurement should be from center seam to center seam across the width of your pillow and the length of your pillow.

Rocketship Pillow Case Instructions

Step 2: Cut out your fabric as shown in the diagram, adding 1/4 inch to the width and 3 inches to the length for seam allowances.

Step 3: Open the fabric and refold along the center line of the width as shown so that the right side of the fabric (the side you want to be on the outside) is facing in.

Step 4: Sew along the marked edges in the Step 4 diagram.

Step 5: Fold along the remaining open edge as marked in the diagram. This is the sort of edge you find at the bottom of your pants: you make a single first fold and then fold it down again a second time. Make sure this end remains open so you can put your pillow in!

Step 6: Sew the remaining seam as marked. Again, this should remain open.

You’re done and can now enjoy rocketship pillowcases or any other sort you choose to make. Enjoy!

The weather was nice this weekend so we were able to go out on a day trip to Half Moon Bay on Saturday, and while we were out, we had to visit the tide pools at the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve.  It is between Pacifica and Half Moon Bay and is well worth the small side trip if you are anywhere nearby.  For those of you who aren’t oceany, tide pools are rocky beaches filled with pools of water that get covered and uncovered intermittently by the tides.  The park was pretty small but somehow intriguing and dynamic in its space.  I think that is just what you get on the boundary of anything: cool and different life.

I’m out of words to describe it so I’ll let some pictures do the rest.

tidepool better panorama

One corner of the tidepool in a panorama

Tidepool_longview

Seals and Birds

Seals and Birds

crab moss beach

There is a crab in here somewhere

field of Mussels

A field of mussels

field of seaweed

A field of seaweed

Sea Creature

Sea Anemone?

celebration at beach

And then we hung out at the beach