Monthly Archives: October 2015

Bone Work

For some unknown reason I have wanted to make scrimshaw and bone tools for a while, I assume as an offshoot of my small scale carpentry. And while Jasmine and I were walking on the beach, we found a washed up cow femur which I took as a sign to start on some bone work. So in addition to the sign, I took the femur home with me.

Post processing bone. As it turns out cows are large.

Post processing bone. As it turns out, cows are large.

To clean up the bone, you cut off the knuckles; I used a normal fine tooth hand wood saw. You just get rid of the knuckles as you want the hard and smooth center bone and the knuckles are too porous. Then you remove the marrow, which normally I would make into a soup, because waste not want not, but eating unknown long dead juice from a bone just sounded unappealing. Plus it smelled pretty rancid.

I don’t know the correct method of cleaning bone, so I simmered in multiple washes of water for a couple of hours until the water was clear and didn’t smell. I then sat the bone in the sun until dry and it turned bone white.

So far I have made some scrimshaw jewelry, dice, a domino, and a pair of yarn needles and I am starting to feel a bit more comfortable with the bone. Below are some pictures of the work, and when I feel like I actually know what I am doing, I will post some directions.

Scrimshaw pendant. I a slowly figuring out how to make the colour darker.

Scrimshaw pendant. I am slowly figuring out how to make the colour darker.

This is a dice, and it actually rolls true. It also is small and historical looking.

This is a dice, and it actually rolls true. It also is small and historical looking.

Some bone needles for jasmine. Made from lamb shank bones for better wool comparability, and super made in NZ credit.

Some bone needles for Jasmine. Made from lamb shank bones for better wool compatibility, and super made in NZ credit.

Paintings 3

Since we moved to Auckland, I have been working on my painting. It is fun and it doesn’t require much equipment which is nice as I left most of my tools behind in California. So for your viewing pleasure, or at least amusement, at my amateurishness:

I made jasmine a bit postcard for a very belated valentines day. It has some awesome book reviews on the backside.

I made Jasmine a bit postcard for a very belated Valentine’s Day. It has some awesome book reviews on the backside.

And a birthday cake, for when you can't meet someone in person to make a real cake.

And a birthday cake, for when you can’t meet someone in person to make a real cake.

I'm moderately happy with the painting minus the path over the first hill.

I’m moderately happy with the painting – minus the path over the first hill.

Lake Taupo, from the northern coast. I like the cartoon style with watercolours.

Lake Taupo, from the northern coast. I like the cartoon style with watercolours.

And my favorite painting so far, Smaug- the Bejeweled!

And my favorite painting so far, Smaug- the Bejeweled!

Devonport

When we were in Santa Clara, we made an effort to go to every county park and we made it to all 26 of them, minus the shooting range and the motorcycle ranch which we decided not to count. For Auckland, we have an equivalent plan – take every ferry from the Auckland Ferry Terminal and go for a hike on the other side. There are 13 ferries managed by Auckland Transport and this weekend we added the shortest trip of them all: Devonport.

Devonport seems like a sleepy little seaside town, which is quite odd considering it is only a 20 minute drive from downtown Auckland if you take the bridge instead of the ferry. We had a quite pleasant hike up the east coast of the north shore; it was quite convenient for us that it was low tide. The top of our hike took us to Takapuna and Lake Pupuka, the town having a large enough selection of tasty looking restaurants that we will be going up again just for the food, even if you ignored the pretty coastal hike.

All in all, a nice walk around the city and a pleasant stroll on the rocky beach.  All told, we walked 35 km, which took its toll by the end of the day, but not as much as the sun. It was gray and chilly when we started, but sunny and warm for the walk home and we we a bit sun-touched by the end. Hope you enjoy the pictures. And that is 4 ferries down, around 10 left to go.

The hills overlooking the harbor are lined with a fair bit of old tunnels and artillery from the 1900-1950's. It led to a surprisingly educational walk

The hills overlooking the harbor are lined with a fair bit of old tunnels and artillery from the 1900-1950’s. It led to a surprisingly educational walk.

You can see me about 100m out in the ocean, right in line with Rangitoto. Cheltanham Beach is quite shallow in low tide.

You can see me about 100 m out in the ocean, right in line with Rangitoto. Cheltanham Beach is quite shallow at low tide.

And this is the reverse image of the beach  from the middle of the harbor. I was far enough out that I had to call Jasmine to talk to her, which is quite odd when you are 100m from the coast.

And this is the reverse image of the beach from the middle of the harbor. I was far enough out that I had to call Jasmine to talk to her, which is quite odd when you are 100 m from the coast.

Rangitoto looms large over the Harbor. I can't imagine what it looked like a couple hundred years ago when it erupted.

Rangitoto looms large over the harbor. I can’t imagine what it looked like a couple hundred years ago when it erupted.

The picturesque rocky low tide. This beach had dozens of perfectly shaped scallop shells just laying about.

The picturesque rocky low tide. This beach had dozens of perfectly shaped scallop shells just laying about.

And the bike path on the way home, we were starting to get tuckered out by the time we were here and only had 10 km left to walk in the day.

And the bike path on the way home; we were starting to get tuckered out by the time we were here and only had 10 km left to walk in the day.

New Mittens!

Over Christmas, I was talking to a friend about that annoying gap between your coat sleeves and mittens when you’re out in the snow. We decided that gauntlet mittens would be a good idea so I decided to make myself a pair. Since I also wanted to try out cabling, I came up with a cabled mitten pattern using a cabling pattern from Vogue Stitchionary: Cables. I used the Aztec Cable without the borders so that it was a 20 stitch repeat. This fit nicely on my mittens.

I’ve made a pdf of the pattern here. I was pretty happy with the way they turned out and am excited for the weather to get cold again so I can wear them. Even Lloyd was impressed. :)

The finished mittens. I'm glad I went with two colors; it makes it look a lot more finished.

The finished mittens. I’m glad I went with two colors; it makes it look a lot more finished.

Curtain for our Skylight

We have a skylight in our bedroom. Most of the time this is very nice, but it’s getting light earlier here and Lloyd and I both have trouble sleeping once it’s light outside. Consequently, we decided to make a curtain to block out enough light to sleep to a reasonable hour. Making a curtain is usually a relatively simple process, but this skylight opens via actuator so we had to leave extra space for this. The result was a wedge-shaped curtain design that worked quite well.

The mechanism sticks out about 5 cm from the bottom of the window frame.

The mechanism sticks out about 5 cm from the bottom of the window frame.

The design for the curtain. Basic shapes are so easy to work with! And they use less fabric.

The curtain design. Basic shapes are so easy to work with! And they use less fabric.

The finished curtain.

The finished curtain blocking quite a lot of sunlight.

We are now able to sleep in to the crazy hour of 8 am on the weekends. This curtain blocks a surprising amount of light!

Dragon Fruit

Since we moved to New Zealand we have encountered a number of new and exciting fruits and vegetables, so we thought it might be worth our time to document the novel fruits. We are starting off with dragon fruit.

As it turns, out dragon fruit is originally from Mexico, but somehow we never saw it in California. The fruit was about the size of a naval orange, had a thick red leathery skin, and a white flesh with small black seeds.  My best discription of the fruit is that is was like a shaved ice with a bland flavor and a handful of flavorless poppy seeds added. So not bad, per say, but not really exciting or worth talking more about.

Exterior of the dragon fruit

Exterior of the dragon fruit.

The flesh looks exactly like ice cream

The flesh looks exactly like ice cream.

Rakino Island pt. 2

Today’s post focuses more on the beaches. The weather wasn’t quite warm enough to swim. Even Lloyd only waded in! Although that was because the air was too cold; the water itself wasn’t too bad. None the less, we still spent quite a bit of time on the beaches skipping stones, hiking, and enjoying the view.

A view of the ocean from one of our hikes.

A view of the ocean from one of our hikes.

A typical Rakino beach.

A typical Rakino beach.

The obligatory shot of Lloyd in the water. This time skipping stones!

The obligatory shot of Lloyd in the water. This time skipping stones!

We did a lot of hiking on the beach over landscape like this - opportunistic bouldering.

We did a lot of hiking on the beach over landscape like this – opportunistic bouldering.

We also saw a lot of oysters on the beach and gathered our own. They made for a tasty appetizer for dinner... and lunch.

We also saw a lot of oysters on the beach. They made for a tasty appetizer for dinner… and lunch.

Rakino Island pt. 1

Jasmine and I took a bit of a vacation up to Rakino Island over the weekend. It is a relatively small island in the Haruki Gulf, about a 45 minute ferry ride north of Auckland proper. The vacation was fun; we just wandered around the island, hung out on the beach, and read a lot. By the end of the weekend, we had walked over every single meter of road on the island and had walked the entire east coast of the beach. This might sound impressive, but the island was only 2 km tip to tip.

So here is part 1 of the pictures from the trip. Part II will be up tomorrow.

Step 1: get a guard dog for your luggage on the pier. This dog was so calm both by itself with the luggage and on the choppy ferry ride. The guarding function was not necessary as the luggage loading procedure was everyone grab a bunch of bags, not necessarily yours, and load them up.

Step 1: Get a guard dog for your luggage on the pier. This dog was so calm both by itself with the luggage and on the choppy ferry ride. The guarding function was not necessary as the luggage loading procedure was everyone grab a bunch of bags, not necessarily your own, and load them up.

The ferry terminal is just on the right of the picture.

The ferry terminal is just on the right of the picture.

Our rental bach was quite nice, with an awesome view.

Our rental bach was quite nice – with an awesome view.

This is the longest flat section of the island. The one north south road changes surfaces from aspault, gravel, sand to grass in 2 km which is an impressive range for a short distance.

This is the longest flat section of the island. The one north-south road changes surfaces from asphalt, gravel, sand, to grass in 2 km which is an impressive range for such a short distance.

Maori Garden Beach. This was the closest beach to our bach. The  first day we didn't get a lot of use out of the beach due to on and off again rain.

Maori Garden Beach. This was the closest beach to our bach. The first day we didn’t get a lot of use out of the beach due to on and off again rain.

Ceviche Salmon

Our local grocery store just got some rather tasty looking fresh water salmon and, since I am currently minus a smoker, I went with my third favorite salmon “cooking” style: ceviche. Basically, ceviche is cooking a fish with acid instead of with heat. I don’t have a recipe per say but I do have my standard method.

1: Buy fresh fish and use it quickly. You can really taste the flavor of fresh fish in ceviche; conversely, you can really tell the flavor of not so fresh fish.

The freshest of fish. Not exactly true but it is only about a day out of the water.

The freshest of fish. Not exactly true, but it is only about a day out of the water.

2: Deskin the fish and, in the case of our salmon, we needed to remove the pin bones.

3: Cut into thin strips, about 5-10 mm thick or 1/4″.

Thinly sliced. A sharp knife an even medium pressure is necessary to cut raw salmon crisply.

Thinly sliced. A sharp knife an even medium pressure is necessary to cut raw salmon crisply.

4: Marinade for ~3 hours in a mixture of enough lemon juice to cover the fish with a pinch of salt, a couple of sprigs of diced parsley and a couple of spoonfuls of finely diced ginger. Do this in the refrigerator with the occasional stir. You can marinade longer if you want a more well cooked fish.

The marinade with 2 of the 4 lemons juiced.

The marinade with 2 of the 4 lemons juiced.

5: Serve! Dish out the fish and serve dry reserving the marinade to add to rice or as part of a salad dressing in the meal.

Viola! Or i suppose with ceviche, Aqui!

Viola! Or i suppose with ceviche, Aqui!

And don’t be put off by not heating the fish,this is a time honored method of safely preparing seafood. I quite like the flavor that you get with ceviche; it is novel and not really comparable to raw fish, grilled fish, or smoked fish. So go out, get some nice seafood, and have an exciting meal!