Monthly Archives: February 2014

Vasona Lake County Park

In our effort to visit all of the Santa Clara County Parks, we went out to Vasona Lake Park as well as the Los Gatos Creek County Park – so two in one day. I have to say that all of the parks we have gone to so far have been awesome parks with cool views, mostly natural, and good hikes away from roads and other such things. These parks were not that; they were by a major highway that you could always hear, and it was mostly groomed grass with sidewalks, parking lots, and picnic areas.  We went up and down a couple of miles on the trails and we were pretty underwhelmed. Nothing actually bad, just not what we are looking for in a park. So I guess there is at least one park in Santa Clara County that we won’t be planning on going to again.

The lake is very blue and also rather small.  They rent out paddle boats but as we walked the whole of the lake in 10 minutes I don't see the point

The lake is very blue and also rather small. They rent out paddle boats but as we walked the whole of the lake in 10 minutes, I don’t see the point.

Not really that busy but The most people we have ever seen at one of the parts.

Not really that busy, but the most people we have ever seen at one of the parks.

We did find a cool waterfall off of the lakes damn to have a little picnic lunch.

We did find a cool waterfall off of the lake’s dam to have a little picnic lunch.

The park does have a working miniature railroad running through it??

The park does have a working miniature railroad running through it??

Workbench

In the house we are renting we are lucky enough to have a nice garage out back that we use as a workshop.  There was an old workbench in the back that I used a fair bit but, as it was about 50 years old, I thought that I should try to make it a little nicer and maybe that would help me keep the area clean.

The steps were – Clean everything off of the bench.  Go to town with my planer; I probably took off about a tenth of an inch.  Next, I sanded it down with some 100 grit and 220 grit sandpaper to make a little smoother.  Then I added some linseed oil. It took two coatings to get fully soaked in.

It is so much nicer to work on the table now and I find myself keeping the area clean and not getting any more splinters so it was a success.

This is the workbench surface before repair.

This is the workbench surface before repair.

Halfway through cleaning up.  Can you guess which half?

Halfway through cleaning up. Can you guess which half?

All done with my newish seeming workbench

All done with my newish seeming workbench.  The green color is some weird photo artifact, sorry.

Limoncello

We have some neighbors on our street that have lemon trees in their backyard and they gave us some as they couldn’t use all of them before they went bad, which is really the only downside of having a fruit tree in your back yard. As there are only so many lemon squares and whiskey sours that one man can have, we made limoncello.  On the slightly bad side, it just uses the rinds so it didn’t use up any of the juice; so more lemon square’s, yay!

Ingredients:

-Lemons: 6 large lemons; organic only and clean them well since you use the skins. You can also use any other sort of citrus.

-Strong neutral liqueur- Higher proof is better. In California, we are limited to 150 proof (75%), but I know in Indiana you could buy 190 proof (95%). Also, just FYI, water/ethanol forms an azeotrope at 96% so don’t use pure ethanol as it probably has benzene or something else nasty in it.

-Sugar, white

-Water

tank the lemons and with a pairing knife cut of the zest (yellow bit) leaving the pith (white bit) behind.  This takes some practice to do quickly and well.

Peel the lemons and with a paring knife cut off the zest (yellow bit) leaving the pith (white bit) behind. This takes some practice to do quickly and well.

Juice the zested lemons immediatly and either use the juice or store it in the refrigerator.  If not juiced in the next 24 hours the lemons will grow mold.

Juice the zested lemons immediately and either use the juice or store it in the refrigerator. If not juiced in the next 24 hours the lemons, will grow mold.

In a container (we used a 2 quart ball jar) Soak the zet in liquor. I usually fill the liquer up to twice the level of the zest.  For this we are using some homemade (from a friend) neutral grain spirits.

In a container (we used a 2 quart ball jar), soak the zest in liquor. I usually fill the liqueur up to twice the level of the zest. For this we are using some homemade (from a friend) neutral grain spirits.

The next step is to wait 4 weeks.  Yeah, I know, it is a long time but whatever, welcome to anything to do with making your own alcohol.  Then make a simple syrup by boiling together 50% water 50% sugar that is 1/4 the volume of the liqueur you added to the lemons. Strain out the used lemon zest then combine with the simple syrup.  Put in another container to store, lets just say cleaned out old whiskey bottles for instance.

Put in freezer till very cold and enjoy.  We only use ~ 80 proof to make ours here but when you use 190 proof the color is an amazingly bright almost neon yellow.  Enjoy!

Put in freezer till very cold and enjoy. We only used ~ 80 proof to make ours here but when you use 190 proof the color is an amazingly bright, almost neon. yellow. Enjoy!

Let’s go fly a kite!

I have always liked kites even though I never really played with them very much growing up as I was more of a rocket than airplane person.  One memory I do have from being a kid was building a kite out of some reeds and tissue paper at my grandparents’ house in North Carolina – and it actually worked! (Please don’t tell me if my memory is wrong! :))

So a slightly older and potentially wiser me was bought a book by Jasmine (The Kite Making Handbook) after I had talked about wanting to try Kite Arial Photography and I decided to try one of them out.  I settled on the Eddy kite, which is a diamond shaped kite with some curvature to give it stability.

Like my only other kite, this one worked!  It was actually a lot of fun to take it out flying and it has inspired me to try a bigger and better kite in the near future.

So you need 1 mil dropcloth, 2x 1/8th 4ft dowel, kite twine, and normal scotch tape.

So you need 1 mil dropcloth (thicker would be better), 2x 1/8th 4ft dowel, kite twine, superglue, and normal scotch tape.

Cut knotchs in the 4 dowel ends as shown then dropping in a bit of superglue to hold fast.

Cut notches in the 4 dowel ends as shown then, drop in a bit of superglue to hold fast.

Tie lash the frame together to form a diamond with the vertical side split 40"x8".  Make the bowes 4" depth.

Lash the frame together to form a diamond with the vertical side split 40″x8″. Make the frames bow 4″ deep.

Measure out and cut the dropcloth with a 2 inch edge margin.

Measure out and cut the dropcloth with a 2 inch edge margin.

Put the kite fabric on the bottom of the kite and tape dropcloth to itself around the twine.

Put the kite fabric on the bottom of the kite and tape dropcloth to itself around the twine.

Tie a bridal line onto the center and bottom of the cross as shown, then tie the flight line onto the bridal.

Tie a bridal line onto the center and bottom of the cross as shown, then tie the flight line onto the bridal.

Go out and launch the kite. Have fun.  Remember NO powerlines or lightning storms.

Go out and launch the kite. Have fun! Remember NO power lines or lightning storms.

The kite can get a couple of hundred feet in the air.  Now to make it bigger for some camera lifting.

The kite can get a couple of hundred feet in the air. Now to make it bigger for some camera lifting.

Guacamole

So in honor of the Super Bowl this weekend, we thought we would post the recipe that we use for guacamole.  The ingredients are as follows:

Avocados – 2/3 avocado per person for appetizers
Salt (optional)

Mash the avocados and sprinkle on a little salt.  Seriously, that’s it. That is how we roll in California, though some far out people will add a little citrus juice or cayenne pepper; this simple recipe is, in my opinion, best.

Here are 6 fresh avocados out of our backyard.  We think the are Fuerte.

Here are 6 fresh avocados out of our backyard. We think the are Fuerte.

Cut avocado in half then remove the pit using your knife and twisting out the seed

Cut avocado in half then remove the pit using your knife and twisting out the seed.

Smash!

Smash!