Thursday, December 03, 2015

Hot Tub Apple Time

Finally got around to oiling the hot tub - teak oil to the rescue!  I should do it every year.

And, in other news, we picked some apples at the neighbor's.  and a bag of persimmons. who's the boss?!?!

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Telescope Storage Box

For some reason, I needed to build a carrying case for my friend's telescope, that he's storing at my house.  Turned out alright. 

and, while I was working, I broke the tripod plastic, and had to  make new oak ones. not bad, if I do say so myself.  

Saturday, September 12, 2015

The Front Cob Bench

The spot right at the front of the house, between the doors has finally gotten a cob bench.  It took a while, and has a lot of mass.  First, I put in a foundation row of urbanite, and mortared it together.  

Then filled that area in with 1 inch drain rock. 

Then we got busy cobbing. I put at least 2 truckloads of crappy, uneven urbanite in there, as it isn't a structural piece, and that saved us cob.

The cob went all the way up to the window sill. 

Then, I did a finish plaster with fine, sifted sand and local clay.  We had the blue tiles left over from the kitchen job, and they match nicely.  Looks like I'm wearing camouflage! 

Then the bench got a good soaking of linseed oil: 

and then got a first, big coating of wax.  I hope to do another one or two, but it's a bit stinky, and we have some guests coming, so I'll wait until next week.   Then, Melissa has plans to make some outdoor cushions. 

Friday, September 11, 2015

More Water on a Hot Day

Got that third water tank plumbed in to the main house line the other day. I was smart enough to put a shut off in front of the addition, so now I can isolate each of the tanks, or any two of them.  I also put in a wash out, there between the blue shut off and the red, so that when it's time to get the gunk out, I can just open that up and rinse it out. I could also hook in a hose or fire truck filler line if I wanted to drain all 3 super fast. 

and, just a reminder about how it gets warm, in the shade, some days.

Wednesday, September 09, 2015


Finally followed the black chicken on her morning ramble, sure enough, she's been laying eggs off in the woods.  Here's me, at the nest.

Here's the batch of eggs that had been laid out at the base of that tree. 

Sunday, August 30, 2015

new bit for solar oven

Finally upgraded the solar oven so that the lid stays open at the angle one wants. the two lower sticks are movable, with more holes in the main shaft. the top stick isn't movable.  Happy with it.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Timber Frame of Oven Roof is Up!

Here's various photos of work in progress of the making of the timber frame for the earth oven roof.  I only had to cut two small trees down for this. (the girts - the horizontal connectors) I had the other pieces left over from other projects.  

I took this one when I was thinking about how it takes about an hour to do each mortise (hole) and then realized that this work is the sort of stuff I've really set my life up to do, so I'd better not complain.  It is cool to work with hand tools. 

Made a batch of pegs from hazel. I use linseed oil to grease them, which then also preserves them and hardens up 

The finished frame!

Did I ever post a photo of the new plaster job? I'm happy with that too.  

Nice detail of knee brace. 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Innovations done lately

Very happy to report I just got out and did some stuff lately.  Finally made a 'rocket stove' for boiling water quickly with wood fire.  One gallon paint cans cut together to make an L tube, in an old trash can surrounded by old ashes.   Fired up very well on first try.  

I will probably play with it a bit and get the air tube working a bit better. Still, I've been thinking about this for years. 

And, made a outdoor towel rack on a pulley.  I LOVE sun dried towels.  Here it is down:

And, pulled up:

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Sourdough Cracker tutorial - or, at least, how I do it.

So, from start to oven, here's the basics on whole wheat, sourdough crackers.

I keep my starter in a small plastic dish, with a lid, in the fridge, for about a week.  When I pull it out, it looks like this:

I weigh it, and then double that weight with 50% water, 50% whole wheat flour.   So, just to follow the photo - the plastic dish is 25g, so I have 250g of starter. therefore, I add 125g of water, 125g of flour. 

I move the whole lot to a bigger container, one of those designed for baking, also with a lid, and stir it up. Sometimes I let my daughter stir it for 20 minutes. doesn't help, doesn't hurt: 

Then let it sit.  Most sources say 'feed it' every 8-12 hours. I've gone 24 without any ramifications.  However, this is where you have to start thinking and planning about how much you'll use during this round of baking, how much you want to have left over, and how much you might figure out how to use quickly - like by making pancakes or something.  Every 8 to 24 hours, you're going to have about twice as much as before.  

Now, you don't *have* to completely double it every feeding.  I've gotten away with just adding 'some', especially when I'm getting close to having too much.  Still, it IS important to always keep the water/flour weight ratio exact. 

When you're feeding or ready to add it into the baking process, it should look 'active'; bubbled up, not exactly doubled, but bigger for sure.  When you stir it, I think what makes it seem 'healthy' is the strands between the bubbles. You can just see a bit of that at about 11 o'clock in this photo of my bowl.  As you stir it up, the bubbles of course go away.

Moving on to the cracker specifics. First, remember to always set aside a little bit to store for next week.  Then, the way I make crackers is always vague in measuring, because you never know exactly how much starter you're dealing with - that is, the amount is different every week. So:
to the bowl of starter, I add:
about 2 tablespoons of olive oil for every cup of starter. a bit more won't hurt
a teaspoon of salt for every cup of starter,
2 tablespoons of sesame seeds for every cup of starter,
and then I start adding a bit of flour (maybe 1/2 cup at a time) stirring until it turns into dough: 

As it gets to hard to stir with a spoon, I dump it out on the counter and keep adding flour and kneading until I get a nice smooth, soft ball that looks and acts like pizza dough you see in the cartoons. 

Then, once I have it shaped into a nice ball, into a rising bowl that's coated in oil until the oven is ready to bake - somewhere between 2 and 5 hours.  

Then grab a piece off, spread it on a floured surface, roll out with rolling pin until it's *quite* thin, then I spread an extra sprinkle of BIG sea salt, roll that in, cross cut with pizza cutter, transfer to baking sheets and toss in the oven for a few minutes until brown.  Done. 

Monday, May 11, 2015

Stepping up to tile work

So, it was finally time to deal with the bugs/worms in the beautiful madrone step going up to Amelia's room.  It looks great on the outside, but inside the bugs were eating away, and they could be heard in the evenings:

So, with some supervision, I dug out the step and the plaster around it.

we put in a new redwood piece and plastered around it, then Melissa put in some really nice tiles that we picked up in Mexico, surrounded by other white tiles

Friday, February 27, 2015

accomplishments for January and February... not much, but something

A good batch of green madrone hauled, bucked, chopped and stacked

A shed for the diesel generator, finally.  

That has doors on both sides for access. I still need to rebuild the veg oil piece, and add more exhaust pipe so that the muffler underground is implemented again. 

and I found a hollow tree with an old honey beehive in it. Bees were gone, but I enjoyed grabbing the comb.  Tried to melt it into wax... that didn't work so well.  too old? wrong stuff? who knows.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

The Front Bumper

Ripped off the front bumper by backing too close to a stump; mostly the driver's side:

All the little plastic bolt connectors broke off, which is actually a good system - the bumper itself didn't crack.

Reading in the subaru forum, zip ties were suggested.  actually worked pretty well!  I was nervous about taking off the other bits, but it wasn't too hard.

Everything back together in under an hour, including managing my assistant. not too bad!

view from the side after my work:

Still a little gap by the wheel well, but you'd only notice if you knew about it:

$1 tool rescue

Had a moment last week, so we strolled the flea market. A woman had a pile of rusty tools "anything $1!" and so I dug through it ...