Monday, April 14, 2014

April 6-12 in Pictures

Our espresso machine was in dire need of cleaning
Some crazy hot sauce from the Stumps

A terrifying spectacle of hymenoptera power
Starting our search for a new home, we found this long-forgotten basketball hoop

Mixed berry scones for breakfast

Our caterpillars are getting plump and ready for chrysalis stage

Andrea and I stopped by Triple XXX Rootbeer in Issaquah during a house-hunting excursion

Monday, April 7, 2014

March 30-April 5 in Pictures

Jake and I made ninja hoods Sunday morning
Reed and his army men take down Iron Man

Jacob helps me get ready for my morning commute

Reed plays with his new yo-yo at bedtime

Jacob's "flying ship"

The boys have a sleepover on Friday, eat popcorn and watch a movie

My hiking boots are paired, strangely, with earplugs.

Monday, March 31, 2014

March 23-29 in Pictures

The trail on Mt. Si became snowy about 2/3 of the way up
Jacob has Andrea pose just so with him for a picture before bed
Jake sports his new knee, elbow and wrist guards with a homemade... weapon?

A regular dilemma for us: rustic and satisfyingly earthy? Or rich, complex and full-bodied?

The library on my walk home

Reed had his first sleepover on Friday

The boys play with a a diverse set of toys all trying to make it across the bridge

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Experiment #2014-03-12a: liquid dish soap

A couple weeks ago, I made my first two batches of soap. The first batch turned out okay; the second, very watery and not so much. So with our supply dwindling fast, I decided to try it again and try to meet in the middle a bit.

The first recipe called for 0.25c grated castile soap, packed, which made for a difficult time dissolving in hot water. I guesstimated about one cup unpacked as a rough equivalent.

To make it slightly less solid, I increased the water from 1.25c to 1.5c, melted, and added the other ingredients in turn.

This experimental batch contained the following ingredients:
  • 1.5c water
  • 1c grated castile bar soap
  • 1 tbsp washing soda
  • 1 tbsp glycerine
  1. Boil water, adding and stirring grated soap until dissolved.
  2. Add washing soda and stir in.
  3. Add glycerine and stir in.
  4. Pour into a heat-resistant container (eg, mason jar) and let cool.
After an hour, the soap had an excellent viscosity exactly as I had hoped for. Unfortunately, the next morning, it had a Gak-like consistency.

And since then, it has become more solid -- still soft enough to scoop out with a dobie, but certainly not free-flowing. More water next time?

This version seems to do a reasonable job of cutting grease, so I think it is better than the previous two.

Monday, March 24, 2014

March 16-22 in Pictues

Mailbox Peak on Sunday was rainy at low altitudes, snowy at high

Playing at Catharine Blaine, Reed "adjusts" his glasses

We caught Reed quietly enjoying his book

I discovered Washington has "horseless carriage" license plates

Checked out Batch 206 Distillery on Friday

The boys climbed the orca art at Seattle Center

Hanging out with Baz

Monday, March 17, 2014

Experiment #2014-03-08a: alcohol camp stove

I've been trying to streamline my hiking gear for minimal weight and bulk, and I've been looking at homemade soda can stoves as an alternative to the Trangia stove that had caught my eye.

My first version DIY stove didn't turn out terribly well, but it was fairly straightforward and should improve with subsequent iterations.

I started with some small juice cans like this one.

Putting a razor blade in a book as a makeshift jig, I scored the cans until I could easily split them.

With a small amount of work, I was able to get a couple uniform half-cans.

Then filed down the edges to prevent unnecessary cuts.

I had some problems assembling the two can bottoms, so I started with a sort of shim to try to get the top piece fully contained in the bottom.

That failed to be fruitful, so for this version, I cut little notches around the inner piece, folded each tab in, and made it work. Sort of.

The problem with this approach is that the tiniest jut on this piece will shred the outer piece when the two are compressed together.

Once assembled, I drilled 16 holes around the edge for the stove jets. I also added a hole in the middle as a way to fill the stove with fuel.

Unfortunately, I only had 70% isopropyl, which I found is terrible for stove fuel. So bad, in fact, that it couldn't self-sustain. My local ACE Hardware had some denatured alcohol that is significantly better.

I'll be working on alternate versions -- likely using soda cans -- in the coming weeks. I'm evaluating the stoves on the following primary criteria:

  1. Ease of construction, use. I'd prefer not having to separate the pieces when done cooking.
  2. Strength. A stove that doubles as a pot stand would be great.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

March 9-15 in Pictures

Puget Sound from Golden Gardens Park

The trees are in bloom and temperatures approaching 60.

Got my first tattoo on Tuesday at Hidden Hand in Fremont.

Trying my hand at soap again

Snuggling with Reed before work

Posing at the Ballard locks

Waiting for our table at Chinooks