Monthly Archives: February 2016

Auckland Harbor Swim

As it turns out, there are quite a number of people in Auckland just as crazy as I am and they have an open water swim series throughout the summer/fall. So I decided to get a bit better at my swimming and give it a try. The first swim was from Herne Bay to the Chelsea Sugar Factory 2.4 km across the bay, and I swam it this weekend.

The swim started at 6:45 am so, unfortunately, I had to wake up at 4:45 am to walk over to the swim, which was sad. On the other hand there were 400 or so other people to hang out with predawn waiting for the swim to start. The weather was pretty awesome: sunny and with only a 15 knot wind, thus perfect for swimming in the open water. Sadly, I am a slow swimmer and it took me an hour to make the 2.4 km distance, which put me in the back third of the swimmers. But I had fun and I will certainly do another swim; hopefully, I will get a little faster so I am less sad about my relative speed. :(

This is the start meeting. It was early in the morning.

This is the start meeting. It was early in the morning.

And the finish line after I got out of the water, quite a beautiful morning.

And the finish line after I got out of the water; quite a beautiful morning.

Jasmine and I went for a little hike over in the northbay which made for a delightful day.

Jasmine and I went for a little hike over in the North Shore which made for a delightful day.

Knit Top

I’ve been trying to branch out with my knitting a bit and not just knit a whole bunch of sweaters. When I saw this pattern, I decided to give it a shot as a summer top. The pattern was simple, but very nice.

In the planning stages, I wanted a maroon body and a brown lattice and actually found yarn I liked in the colors I wanted. Unfortunately, the yarn I found was Zealana’s Willow – which got discontinued shortly thereafter – and I didn’t buy enough of it. So when I went back for more yarn, there wasn’t any more. A quick redesign later, and I had a slightly shorter shirt that I could make with the yarn I had.

I'm happy with the way it turned out.

I’m happy with the way it turned out.

In general, I would make this shirt again, but would probably make it a bit longer. So many fun color possibilities!

Zelda Heraldry Crochet

I’ve been looking for a fun idea to try out in fillet crochet for a while and finally came across the Zelda: Skyward Sword logo again. I decided to make it for Lloyd for Christmas and, because it’s me, we’ve just hung it up on the wall. This was a surprisingly simple project that consisted of just three steps:

1. Convert the picture to a grid. I did this in Excel because it was already on my computer and let me follow rows and columns easily as I went along.

The grid pattern. I think this part was the most fun as I got to draw.

The grid pattern. I think this part was the most fun as I got to draw.

Crochet an open square for the empty grid squares and fill in the colored grid squares. Sorry, no picture for this step.

Hang on the wall.

The finished product hanging on the wall. Cotton yarn works much better than wool as this one looks just as nice in real life.

The finished product hanging on the wall. Cotton yarn works much better than wool as this one looks just as nice in real life.

I think it turned out well and will probably be doing more fillet crochet in the future as it is a lot of fun.

Coasters

One of the projects that I have finished recently was a pair of bear coasters I made for my brother. I was walking past the bookstore one day and saw Faux Taxidermy Knits in the window and immediately thought, “I need to get that book so I can make something for Brooks.” While I saw a fair number of fun projects, I decided to start small and make him a pair of bear skin coasters. I think they turned out pretty cute.

I'd like to make another set of these in orange for ginger beer. Note: this is only funny if you know how Kiwis pronounce "beer".

I’d like to make another set of these in orange for ginger beer. Note: this is only funny if you know how Kiwis pronounce “beer”.

I will probably make more projects from this book in the future, but the patterns are more fun than useful so it may be a little while before I try another one.

Hot Sauce – v1 and 2

One of the various food items that we were used to in the US that is not really great in NZ is hot sauce. They have it here, but it is either really expensive and imported, not very spicy, or rather sweet. So I fixed this in the only way I know how – make my own.

At a basic level, all hot sauce is is peppers boiled in salted vinegar and pureed. Usually there are a few more ingredients to mellow out the flavour. In my first attempt I boiled:

– 2 cups Thai chilies
– 1/2 onion
– 1 carrot
– 2 tomatoes
– 1 tablespoon salt
– 1 peach

in enough cider vinegar just to cover. After 20 minutes of boiling, I pureed everything together and ended up with a thin paste. Jasmine and I referred to it as Mexican in a jar, and it was a cross between salsa and hot sauce. It was delicious.

All the solids just waiting for the cider vinegar.

All the solids just waiting for the cider vinegar.

For version 2, we simplified it to:

– 2 cups Thai chilies
– 1/2 onion
– 1 tomato
– 1 tablespoon salt

in enough cider vinegar just to cover plus 25%. After 20 minutes of boiling, you puree and end up with a fairly traditional hot sauce with a good kick.

It works great with tortilla chips! And also with tamales.

It works great with tortilla chips! And also with tamales.

I say have at it and make your own hot sauce with any variant you can imagine; it is easy, tasty, and well worth the effort.