Monthly Archives: November 2014

Dungeness Crab season

Its Dungeness crab season again!  My favorite season (other than cherry season).  And the Salmon run, and the concord grape time of year isn’t bad either.  But crabs, Huzzah!

You can boil them and well you can just boil them, but really what more do you want than delicious crabs?

You can boil them and well you can just boil them, but really what more do you want than delicious crabs?

Also Happy thanksgiving – remember for a historical thanksgiving have some duck, venison and shellfish, which sounds better than turkey to me actually.

Grant Park Visit 2! (N37.34 W121.72)

A little time ago, we finished in our quest to visit all the 30 some Santa Clara County Parks and we had a list of 3 we needed to revisit to determine which we liked the best: Sanborn, Mt. Madonna, or Grant.  Now that we finished the revisits, we have a winner: Sanborn! Yay and huzzah.  Grant gets a close second, followed by Mt. Madonna.

That being said, we really enjoyed our day at the park this weekend.  First things first, it was raining rather hard at times which was delightful and a refreshing change from blue skies around here – and I am not being sarcastic. It was nice to experience weather and hike through a couple of clouds though I could have done with some less mud as the trail was very slick in places.

We took the northern route around the park this time and it was about 8 miles of hilly, quiet hiking. I hope you enjoy the pictures of the hike below.

We wern't the only crazy ones! We say about a dozen people on the trail and in the parking lot.

We weren’t the only crazy ones! We saw about a dozen people on the trail and in the parking lot.

I was thoroughly soak by about a mile in. Squish Squish Squish goes the Lloyd

I was thoroughly soaked by about a mile in. Squish Squish Squish goes the Lloyd.

Saw an old school windmill directly mounted to a water piston pump actually pumping water. Weirdly I don't think I have seen a water pump like this working up close and I was quite excited, probably proving how Dutch I am.

We saw an old school windmill directly mounted to a water piston pump actually pumping water. Weirdly, I don’t think I have seen a water pump like this working up close and I was quite excited, probably proving how Dutch I am.

And It cleared up occasionally by the end of the hike. There is something crisp and special about just after a rainfall outdoors.

And it cleared up occasionally by the end of the hike. There is something crisp and special about just after a rainfall outdoors.

Mulled Wine

For Christmas a couple of years ago, Jasmine’s brother made us some mulled wine (or gluhwein) and it was delightful, and since then when he is not around, I have been trying to replicate the results without a ton of success.  Below is my most recent attempt -Brooks please email me your recipe- I promise not to share it with any one else.

-1 bottle of dry red wine
-1/4 cup of brandy (to replace the alcohol from the boil off)
-3 tablespoons of white sugar
-1 lemon, sliced
-4 cloves
-1 stick of cinnamon
-1 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
-1 teaspoon of Marsala chia spice

Pretty much just simmer all of the ingredients together for 20-30 minutes and serve. Quite tasty, but somehow missing something like mace or maybe allspice, or perhaps an orange instead of a lemon. Always something new to try.

The Ingredients!

The ingredients!

The  process!

The process!

The results!

The results!

Watering Can

A couple of years ago for Christmas, I made Jasmine a watering can to water all of our household plants and I thought it was time for a updated version.

I know it is brass but it reminds me of the tin man everytime I see it.

I know it is brass, but it reminds me of the tin man every time I see it.

I made the watering can out of a 12×12″ sheet of copper, some solder from stained glass, and a leather cord.  First, I cut the sheet of copper with tin snips into a 12×7″ rectangle with a 1″ tall rounded crown as show below.  If you want, I would switch the seam to the tall side to make attaching the handle nicer.

Maybe a little less sharp of an angle would work better in the middle

Maybe a little less sharp of an angle would work better in the middle

I took the sheet and rolled it into a cylinder and soldered at the seam using a butane torch and some flux.  Pro Tip- Make sure to get the copper hot for good wetting and don’t just heat the solder.  Then cut circles for the base and the top (leaving 2 holes in the top for the watering and the filling) and solder those on as well.  At this point, take a file and a torch and make all of your seams look OK.  Cut a rectangular strip 6.5″ x 1″ wide and bend it into a handle shape and solder it on as well.  Now go to town with the file, torch, and some sandpaper to get it all prettied up and you are done with the metal work.

An the finished part in metal

And the finished part in metal.

The leather is pretty easy, just tie it down at one side, wrap it tightly up the whole length, and tie it at the top, cut to size, and you are all done.  I quite like the 20’s vintage look.

Now with extra leather!

Now with extra leather!

Persimmon Preserves

I’ve been making preserves for a few years now and thought I would share the process. Our neighbor has a persimmon tree so we thought we’d try making jam out of them. Making jam is surprisingly easy – if you don’t care too much about the thickness of the jam. To make it, you need the following:

  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 2 cups of fruit, cut small
  • Ball jar(s) with a capacity of about 3 cups
  • Sauce pan
First, cut up the persimmons into small pieces and add to sauce pan with sugar.

First, cut up the persimmons into small pieces and add to sauce pan along with sugar.

Turn heat to medium and stir constantly until the mixture liquefies. It will look about like this.

Turn heat to medium and stir constantly until the mixture liquefies. It will look about like this.

Then, turn burner to low and stir occasionally. Simmer for about 35 minutes.

Then, turn burner to low and stir occasionally. Simmer for about 35 minutes.

Finally, turn off heat and pour into clean jars. The persimmon jam is sitting next to the blueberry-strawberry jam I also made last night.

Finally, turn off heat and pour into clean jars. The persimmon jam is sitting next to the blueberry-strawberry jam I also made last night. Let the jam sit in jars until cool, then move to refrigerator.

The persimmon jam turned out too thick. We think it’s because it didn’t give any moisture during the boiling process, so we’ll be trying again after letting the persimmons ripen further. Other than that, it was pretty tasty!

Coyote Hills Regional Park (N37.55 W122.09)

Having nearly run out of new parks to see in Santa Clara County, we decided to head to the other side of the bay and check out Coyote Hills Park in neighboring Fremont. The park is set up right next to the bay in a with a combination of marshland, hills, and salt ponds. It seemed to be a park set up mainly for cyclists, but we and many others were getting our fair share of enjoyment out of it hiking. We did about 12 miles total, many on bike friendly tarmac, but around 4 miles on dirt parts, so a little bit of everything. When the walk went past the marsh, the bay, and salt ponds, there were tons of water birds, ducks, pelicans, geese, terns, sandpipers, herons, egrets, gulls, and I think a coot or two so some prime bird watching, but my phone camera is not up to the task of bird pictures.  Also, pelicans and herons are huge!  Every time I see them, I seen to have forgotten just how huge.

It was a very nice park, quite busy but still maintaining that aura of peacefulness and away from it all that I really want on our our weekend excursions so I highly recommend it to folks in the area.

It was a quite foggy morning so our view from the top of the hill wasn't quite worth the hike to the top.

It was a quite foggy morning so our view from the top of the hill wasn’t quite worth the hike to the top.

We just kept walking closer to the bay and the fog jsut stayed with us to noon.  The bay was really calm but somehow forboding nevertheless.

We just kept walking closer to the bay and the fog just stayed with us to noon. The bay was really calm but somehow foreboding, nevertheless.

The fog eventually cleared out letting us see the walk over the dikes that we were going,  which was pretty, but I like the fog too.

The fog eventually cleared out, letting us see our walk over the dikes, which was pretty, but I like the fog too.

We started the days hike just over that set of hills.  Also you can see some of the thousands of birds in the foreground.

We started the day’s hike just over that set of hills. Also, you can see some of the thousands of birds in the foreground.

Boat Progress #3

Finally got the boat far enough along to take it out on the water for a go.  It works!  At least it doesn’t sink. We took it out about a mile into the bay and were able to sail about quite well until we tried to go back in.  We planned the trip poorly and were going against the tide (~2 knots) and into about a 5 mph wind and we were able to tack well enough to go about 1 ft a minute in the upwind direction.  So we rowed it about half way back till we were out of the tide, then sailed it back in most of the way and paddled in to finish up at the docks.

A couple of slight modifications are still needed:

– A bigger sail, as we just used the old boat’s sail for a test run.
– Fix the tiller which started to show some cracks by the end.
– Add the gunwales.
– Touch up the paintjob

And then out again for another run and, hopefully, once it is working well I’ll post some more detail about the build.

Daggerboard and rudder cutout of 1x12 and then faired down to a airfoil shape

Daggerboard and rudder cutout of 1×12 and then faired down to an airfoil shape.

The boat all built just waiting for a paintjob.

The boat all built just waiting for a paintjob.

And on the water for the first go.  We are still working on how to set up good boat pictures :)

And on the water for the first go. We are still working on how to set up good boat pictures. :) It is a bit small but its waterline is just under 8′ so it doesn’t need to be registered.

Halloween 2014

Our neighborhood is a popular Halloween destination: one of the neighboors goes over the top with fog machines and Halloween lights and the other has his band play a little block party.  So we figured this year that we would put a little bit of effort into the costumes.

I decided to go as an 19th century British navel officer and as such I bought a sport coat from goodwill with some magnificently large and hideous buttons and a ladies’ floppy dress hat. I took the sportcoat and sewed some gold braid on the ends of the sleeves. I then sewed some shoulder pads out of scrap gold fabric onto cardstock and onto my shoulders.  I took the floppy hat and tore out the vile lace trimming and, using a couple safety pins, put it into the shape of a fore-and-aft cap. Total price was about $12 and an hour of sewing.  I also decided I was going to, more specifically, be Captain Bentwick from Persuasion (one of my favorite books) so I could be melancholy and quote Lord Byron all evening. Also, I shaved in some sweet muttonchops which helps with the period feel.

Captain Bentwick says "I only go out to get me a fresh appetite for being alone."

Captain Bentwick says, “I only go out to get me a fresh appetite for being alone.”

Jasmine played off this idea and made a Victorian woman’s costume. She had an old bridesmaids’ skirt from a friend which she took in at the sides to make a bustle. Then she made an overskirt out of some leftover fabric from the Qinceanera Dos dress. It was made from a rounded off triangle pleated to add volume and pinned to the bridesmaids’ skirt. She also used an old tank top and sweater that looked period appropriate. Total cost was $0 and about an hour and a half of sewing. She was specifically Louisa Musgrove from Persuasion and added a locket with a picture of “Captain Bentwick” to complete the costume.

Another use for a bridesmaid dress!

Another use for a bridesmaid dress!

And here we are together with one of the neighbors  as a mortician.

And here we are together with one of the neighbors as a mortician.