Thursday, August 12, 2010

Canned Tomatoes

This is our vegetable garden. And by our garden, I mean Teener's garden. She decides what to plant, and where, and I dutifully agree with her. That isn't to say I can't garden, I have grown successful gardens in my past, and I come from a long line of farmers. It's just that this is her hobby, and I don't feel the need to go poking around in it.

It is placed between two garages, and it basically swims in sunlight all day. The first year we planted a ton of tomato plants, and we ended up with an impenetrable jungle of rotting tomatoes. Last year we planted a lot less, but we still had too many plants, and in a fit of cleverness, we planted the earlier ripening ones in the back. This year we planted a dozen different varieties, and that seems to be the perfect number.

We are now at the phase where we are getting more tomatoes than any reasonable person has use for, so I decided to can some. I have done a bunch of canning in the past, so this wasn't new territory.

I won't go into a ton of detail about canning, this is the internet, and there are tons of resources.

Here is my bounty:

And here it is cooking down after it was all peeled and seeded:

All that I added to it was a little salt, basil (from the garden), a shit-ton of garlic and some lemon juice as a preservative.

And here are the rewards:

I suspect that I will be able to get at least two more batches like this out of the garden.

Cuff Links and Rings!

Not every project has to be macho. And now that I have stated that, let me get into today's projects.

I first read this page years ago (long before instructables and I don't remember how I ended up there), and I was intrigued by the process.

Now, I cannot stand to wear jewelry. It is honestly a struggle to even wear clothes. Not because I am a nudist, or some other weirdo with an agenda, but because I have a hard time getting comfortable. Which is probably why I still stick to t-shirts, work shirts, Levi 550s (34-32), and chuck's size 9.5.

But, the thought of making a ring has stuck with me since. And no, it has nothing to do with any of that Tolkien shit. I may be a nerd, but I am sorry, those books were a serious task to get through. I won't go too far into it, but man, how many pages can you dedicate to a couple dwarfs hiking through a wasteland?

Anyway, Teener has a thing for silver jewelry, and I recently found myself at a flea market where an older chap was selling silver coins. It seemed like it was time to give it a try. I won't go too far into the process. The link up above goes into much better detail than I would.

She says she likes it, and I have chosen to believe her.

The other project stems from jealousy over a buddy's recent birthday present.

My pal Ryan just got a pair of cuff links from his girlfriend. I know I made a bunch of ballyhoo above about clothes and comfortability, but I must admit, I do like wearing a suit. I think it might stem from the fact that I wear one about three times a year, so it is always a special occasion. And if I am going to wear a suit, I want to do it properly.

And speaking of a special occasion, my cousin is getting married in two weeks, so I decided to get a pair of French cuffs for myself.

I toyed with buying a pair of links off Etsy, but I decided to go the DIY route. I ordered some link backs from a seller off ebay, which set me back about $7 for six pairs. I could only think of two ideas for now. One pair is made out of some circles I cut out of some old ram chips, the other pair was made of a couple keys I popped of a defunct laptop keyboard (Alt and FN, silver, which is a bonus). I just glued them to the back with marine epoxy. I think I might dip the circuit board pair in a resin, to give them a nice finish.

Nice and yet subtly nerdy, much like myself.

Speaking of which, I bought a nice tie while I was at the Detroit Maker Faire. It was from the Cyberoptix booth:

Their shit was really cool, and yes, it made me feel very old and sad when I realized that I went to a faire, and I bought a silk tie.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Bikes (pedal powered)

I wouldn't call what I had when I turned 30 as a freak out, but it was definitely a realization that I had to change a few things. I certainly wasn't going to give up beer, and running is completely boring, but I did need to make at least a better than token effort at taking care of myself.

As a college student I did a lot of biking on campus, and bikes always appealed to the engineer in me. They are wonderfully purpose driven machines. So I decided to purchase a nice road bike and commit to putting some miles in. I won't turn this into a post about exercise. What that first bike did was not just get me back into riding, it also got me into wrenching on bikes. What followed has been 6 years of collecting, tearing apart and rebuilding my bikes, and wrenching on friends' bikes as well.
I currently have 3 road bikes, 1 mountain bike, and 1 art bike.

Two of the road bikes are high-end Cannondales. One is almost an antique, and one is pretty new. The new one is a much better bike than I am a rider. The funny thing is, the bike I ride the most is a fixed gear that I cobbled together from an old Bianchi I bought off ebay, and a bunch of spare parts.

There are tons of sites explaining the fixed gear cult, so I won't get into it now. What I will say is as a riding style, it is addictive. As a bike nerd, I love the absolute simplicity of a fixed gear. For more info, check this link:

I didn't take any pics of the Bianchi when I first bought it. But trust me, it was ugly. It kind of looked like a beat up version of this (substitute purple for blue):

It has gone through a bunch of iterations, but this is it as it stands now:

This was it a few years ago:

This bike is worth less than a tenth of my other bikes, yet this is the one I ride the most. Maybe it's because I'm not afraid to leave it leaned up against a parking meter outside a bar.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Frames and More Frames

Teener used to live with a bisexual chic artist. I mention that because it is awesome.

Anyway, this is a self portrait that she left with her. I made the frame out of oak that I notched on the table saw, and then notched with a coping saw to get it all to fit together.

There is a story behind this poster. A buddy of mine traveled somewhere down south (I want to say it was a Virginia, but it might not have been) to purchase a barnfound VW bus. It was an old split window that some olde timer parked in his barn about 40 years ago. The old guy said he parked it after returning from the inaugural race at MIS. When my buddy got it home he started tearing it apart, and in an oil stained folder under the passenger seat was a folded up copy of the race program. I loved the design, so I had it scanned and enlarged. I made a simple oak frame with a dark stain. I am pretty happy with it.

And lastly, my pal Mattie is a painter (and musician/sculpter/gardner/bartender/dog owner/drunk). I have been trying to get a painting from him for years, and he always demurred, saying he wanted to paint something special or some other excuse. About a year ago we were hanging out after the bar closed, and I informed him that I was going downstairs to where he paints, and I was stealing a painting. And that is what I did. It's oil on paneling. For the frame I used some wood that I salvaged from a sandbox that was in the back yard. The wood has a nice weathered look that I think fits the piece. I did a little cleaning on the table saw, stained it (over the weather damage) and added a couple polyacrylic coats.

*we don't normally have this much crap on the mantle.

If Sam ever ends up reading this, I want you to know, I have framed your painting, and it is hanging in the house, but i am not thrilled with what I came up with. As soon as I can come up with a frame I am proud of I will display it here.

And I would also like to give some props to my buildshitwoman. Teener is no slouch in the creating department herself. I found this oak chair in the trash next to a friend's house. The wood and construction is solid (it just needed a little scrubbing), only the upholstery was missing. She was able to put this together, and made a pretty great chair. She also made the ottoman quite some time ago.

Finally, we had some friends over for the weekend, and after some wine we started doing some long exposure sparkler photos. Here is the family portrait we came up with.

That's about it for now.