Monthly Archives: December 2015

Ellerslie Racecourse Boxing Day

Jasmine and I celebrated Boxing Day in the traditional NZ way: we went to the horse races. It was a beautiful summer’s day and we got to spend it outside watching horses going around in a circle. As it turns out, people go all out on Boxing Day at the races and there were quite a lot of fancy dresses on the grounds; we were a bit on the under dressed side. There is even an open to the public fashion show, which I’m trying to talk Jasmine into entering next year.

The only downside was that I have no idea how to gamble on horse racing so I lost a bit of money. :(

It was perfect weather

It was perfect weather.

We had fancy hats.

We had fancy hats.

Gallop!

Gallop!

Christmas Decorations

It’s Christmas time and, since this is our first summer Christmas, we decided to decorate our place so that it felt a bit more Christmasy. I put up lights and that helped, but we both really wanted a Christmas tree.

The more festive wall hangings. The bird is there year round.

The more festive wall hangings. The bird is there year round.

Lloyd and I took a trip to the local plant shop and bought a Dwarf Alberta Spruce. It makes our living room smell nice and piney. However, our Christmas decorations are still in storage so we made a few. Some of you will recognize the bells. I’d always intended to make some for us, and this seemed like a great time to do it. Lloyd made the wire-wrapped star at the top of the tree. It looked a little evil before it was assembled, but it came together nicely.

Our Christmas tree with its homemade decorations.

Our Christmas tree with its homemade decorations.

More Christmas posts to follow as projects get completed.

Croissants

I’ve been making croissants for a while now and thought I would post on the process. As a warning, this recipe does take quite a lot of time and counter space. We don’t have enough counter space to make croissants comfortably, but it is possible.

First, I follow the recipe here. It took me couple of times making the recipe to catch that the egg was for a wash on top of the croissants and not meant to go inside, but that’s why reading through a recipe is important. I usually mix up the dough and then let it rest in the fridge for about an hour. Then I roll it out, fold, and repeat until it’s difficult to roll out – about 3 rolling and folding cycles. Then it goes back in the fridge over night.

The next day, roll out the dough until it’s 1/4 inch thick. This is the part that takes a lot of counter space. I’ve found it’s a lot easier to make the croissants if the dough is rolled out in a square. Also, it takes up less counter space.

As it turns out, we have just enough space on our counter!

As it turns out, we have just enough space on our counter!

Then cut the dough into triangles, fill with chocolate (or almond paste), brush on the egg wash, and bake!

The assembly process.

The assembly process.

Eat and enjoy!

Eat and enjoy!

55 Gallon Planter

One of our friends had a 55 gallon drum that they had used as a planter, but as they were moving into an apartment, it got to be our 55 gallon drum. The drum is polyethylene and when we got it, it was cut in two top to bottom with some holes drilled in the bottom for drainage. It was also a nasty colour of blue.

So I decided to spruce it up a bit by painting it matte grey, adding some wooden legs and a wood trim at the top for some stiffness. Painting worked pretty well; the latex-based paint stuck very well to the polyethylene which surprised me. The legs were two 50 x 50 mm pieces of lumber screwed longitudinally along the base of the planter. The planter sits on the two legs which make for a nice, steady platform. After the planter was filled 3/4 full with potting soil, it looked quite nice.

Just add plants!

Just add plants!

We planted jalapenos, tomatoes, fennel, lettuce, garlic, and beans. It is probably planted a bit too densely, but we will see how that works in a few months when harvest comes around.

A couple of weeks later, we had a bit of an incident with chickens in the planter and the beans were starting to get tall so we decided to add a trellis. It was made with some bamboo bolted to the planter and then lashed together in a modified A-frame. They seem to use a fabric rope made of t-shirt material here in NZ for gardening and it is quite nice and stretchy so I used that for the fabric part of the rope. Overall, I think the trellis added a lot to the look of the planter and I quite like it.

I got to make a spaceframe!

Bamboo spaceframe!

Auckland Touring pt. 2

For the rest of the visit, Jasmine and I played tour guide on Waiheke Island and up north of Auckland near Goat Island. It was fun and I hope you all enjoy a few pictures of the visit.

Waiheke island had quite a few clouds and rain for our visit.

Waiheke Island had quite a few clouds and rain for our visit.

Alice with a rental bike down by the coast. The rental bikes worked well, Jasmine and I got to just used our own.

Alice with a rental bike down by the coast. The rental bikes worked well, but Jasmine and I got to use our own.

Wine Tasting! Waiheke has quite a few wineries and I think we made it to about a quarter of them.

Wine tasting! Waiheke has quite a few wineries and I think we made it to about a quarter of them.

Goat Island. We hired some wetsuits and went snorkeling,. It worked pretty well but the high winds made it relatively low visibility underwater.

Goat Island. We hired some wetsuits and went snorkeling,. It worked pretty well, but the high winds made for relatively low visibility underwater.

These are public restrooms. I am now confused.

These are public restrooms. I am now confused.