Monthly Archives: August 2015

Jasmine Birthday Dinner 2015

As is the tradition, this year I made another multi-dish extravaganza for Jasmine’s birthday dinner. It was not quite as good last year’s duck, but I think it was quite tasty on the whole. I will just share the pictures of the dishes and wish that I could share over the internet.

First Course: Oysters on the half shell

First Course: Oysters on the half shell.

Second Course: Ceasar salad

Second Course: Ceasar salad.

Third Course: Steamed Mussels with a butter and blue cheese dipping sauce

Third Course: Steamed mussels with a butter and blue cheese dipping sauce.

Fourth Course: Pan fried kumera cakes

Fourth Course: Pan fried kumara cakes.

And the dessert: Chocolate pudding!

And the dessert: Chocolate pudding!

I did give up on cake, but I think that making the pudding for dessert it worked pretty well as an alternative..

Waiheke Island

Jasmine had to work on her birthday last weekend but, to make up for it, she was able to take Friday off and we had a makeup birthday. We took the ferry out to Waiheke Island and went for a nice long hike on our second island of the Hauraki Gulf. As it turns out, Waiheke is a huge island and we were unable to hike around even 10% of it. But we stuck to the western peninsula where the main port is and did the most hiking that we could.

The whole hike was fun and quite beautiful. The north part of the island was extremely rocky with a lot of up and down on the trail. We then cut through a bunch of vineyards to have lunch at Oneroa Village, the most populous part of the island. The south part of the peninsula was less populous and our hike was mostly on the beach. The beach was really rocky in parts, and it was a good thing we went at low tide or we couldn’t have done the hike. We still had to do a fair bit of bouldering, sometimes on a field of oysters, to walk down the beach which was fun but a bit bizarre. By the way, oyster shells have some seriously awesome traction.

A fun trip overall and we will be going back to Waiheke to try and walk more of the coastline.

Jasmine with the harbor bay in the background

Jasmine with the harbor bay in the background

A random bay in the north part of the island. The coast was very photogenic.

A random bay in the north part of the island. The coast was very photogenic.

This vineyard is run by the university of Auckland. Jasmine is trying to figure out how to get to work on it.

This vineyard is run by the University of Auckland. Jasmine is trying to figure out how to get to work on it.

The sign on the ship said it was the last commercial sailing scow built in NZ in 1912.  Currently a bit worse for wear.

The sign on the ship said it was the last commercial sailing scow built in NZ in 1912. Currently a bit worse for wear.

The southwestern part of Waiheke was picturesque gnarled tree land

The southwestern part of Waiheke was picturesque gnarled tree land.

And to top the day off we got a nice sunset cruise on the way home.

And to top the day off, we got a nice sunset cruise on the way home.

Rubber Band Paddle Boat

I am starting to get up and running with enough new tools in New Zealand to actually build some fun things. I decided to start on a pretty easy project and build a rubber band powered paddle boat. It was a fairly small boat, only 14 cm long and made from 20 mm and 10 mm thick boards. The first step is to cut out the hull and the top deck out of 20 mm thick board and the two paddles out of the 10 mm thick boards. Next, you use a rasp or plane to round the bottom and front of the boat for hydrodynamics, and then a round rasp to cut in a groove for the rubber bands. Then go ahead and sand down the hull and the top deck and glue them together; exact positioning is not important. Next, press the paddle halves together to make a paddle; you may have to sand the grooves to ensure a good fit. Then use the round rasp to groove the center of the paddle. This allows a gap for the rubber band to wind up in. Now, a bit more sanding of the of the paddle and the boat is almost done. Put a rubber band around the grooves and insert the paddle wheel. Do one rotation and then add another rubber band. Then double rubber bands help to keep the paddle wheel in place when it finishes unwinding.

The boat was placed in the sink and worked great. I wish we had a swimming pool or hot tub to test it out in and see what sort of distance it could achieve.

This was the second iteration of the boat. The first iteration had a much smaller paddle wheel and didn’t work well at all. Also, the paddle was almost the same width as the cutout in the hull and didn’t let the rubber band wind up and, also, the paddle hit the hull and stopped rather frequently. So if you want to resize the boat, make the wheel cutout at least 25% larger than the wheel itself, and make the wheel extend at least one hull height into the water.

I hope you can have fun building your own paddle boat!

The plans. Exact dimensions are not that important.

The plans. Exact dimensions are not that important.

The kitchen table is a great place for wood working with the addition of a few clamps. And a lot of seeping.

The kitchen table is a great place for wood working with the addition of a few clamps. And a lot of sweeping.

A test fit of the paddlewheel before gluing the deck on. The  paddle had to be sanded down a couple of times to fit well.

A test fit of the paddlewheel before gluing the deck on. The paddle had to be sanded down a couple of times to fit well.

Making wood toys floats my boat.

Making wood toys floats my boat.

Auckland Aquarium

It was a rainy day on Saturday so Jasmine and I decided to check out Kelly Tarlton’s Sea Life Aquarium. We had walked past the aquarium a couple of months ago and, apparently, Jasmine went there when she was in NZ for study abroad.

The aquarium was fairly nice. It is possible that Jasmine and I were spoiled by the California Academy of Science. It was a bit of a small aquarium; it only took us an hour to walk through everything. But, on the plus side, there were sharks and penguins so I think we would rate it as a fun walk around. but not nice enough for us to take visitors. And, quite obviously, for lunch after the aquarium we had some very tasty fish and chips. You can’t look at fish all day and not want to eat some.

Penguins!

Penguins!

Now with extra swimming! I kind of like the weird fuzz that the the glass gives the picture.

Now with extra swimming! I kind of like the weird fuzz that the the glass gives the picture.

Apparently this is an infant giant squid. Still pretty giant.

Apparently this is an infant giant squid. Still pretty giant.

Jellyfish! They did some cool lighting with various neon cools in the various jellyfish tanks.

Jellyfish! They did some cool lighting with various neon colors in the various jellyfish tanks.

Sharks! There was a tunnel underneath the main aquarium, it was probably the coolest part of the trip.

Sharks! There was a tunnel underneath the main aquarium. It was probably the coolest part of the trip.

And they had one sea turtle. They swim so ssslloowwllyyy. I don't know how turtles can do long journeys at that speed.

And they had one sea turtle. They swim so ssslloowwllyyy. I don’t know how turtles can do long journeys at that speed.

Wattle Reserve

We decided to do a walk down south and check out the bays in the south of Auckland. We saw the forested beaches when we went to Amsbury Park and they looked nice enough to want to go to. The first part of the walk did not go well as the park we tried to walk through was under construction. That was about the third time that we got burned when we tried to go to or through Mt. Albert so I think we will avoid it in the future.

When we got to the south, the beaches were really cool, very stony and muddy so a little hard to walk on. The tide was halfway between high and low so we could walk through most of the beach, but occasionally we had to go up into the woods to bypass a particularly watery section. I would put the walk through the city as meh, but the beaches were really cool and worth checking out. Hope that you enjoy the pictures.

Walmsley park. It was a really nice pathway that went for about 4 km of the walk.

Walmsley Park. It was a really nice pathway that went for about 4 km of the walk.

Wesley Bay. The sky was just about perfect for pretty pictures.

Wesley Bay. The sky was just about perfect for pretty pictures.

The beach at low tide was littered with rocks and clam shells.

The beach at low tide was littered with clam shells.

I thought this tree with lichen and clams growing on it was really pretty.

I thought this tree with lichen and clams growing on it was really pretty.

A rare picture of Lloyd on the beach.

A rare picture of Lloyd on the beach.

This was one of the times the low tide path failed us and we had to find an alternative route.

This was one of the times the low tide path failed us and we had to find an alternative route.

Looking east at the Manukau Heads. One day we need to sail through them.

Looking east at the Manukau Heads. One day we need to sail through them.

Northwest Walkway

Jasmine and I took a bit of a walk west from our place in Pt. Chevalier along one of the cycleways in Auckland. In a bit of a haphazard fashion, there are cycleways throughout Auckland connecting bits and pieces of the city. They are really nice for some locations (and, conveniently, our house is near one of them), but other times a cycleway is nowhere to be found.

The one we went on today was the Northwester Cylceway and we took it out of the city. We went on a 20 km roundtrip walk, but most of the cycleway was under construction and right next to the highway. So a fairly pleasant walk, just probably better as a cycleway than as a place to amble. The bits that were completed were very nice, so come 2017 it will be a pretty killer walk.

Not the nicest start of a hike we have ever had.

Not the nicest start of a hike we have ever had.

Some of the walkway was complete and pretty.

Some of the walkway was complete and pretty.

The distance that you can see sky tower from is astounding.

The distance that you can see Sky Tower from is astounding.