Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Fireplace, Part I

It's time to start working on the fireplace mantel again.  I won't tell you how long it's been, but it rhymes with "tree deers".  Here's where we stand.

Except for the actual fireplace, all the tile and woodwork I did myself.  The wood is black walnut.  You're probably asking, "what the hell is going on with the top?"  Well, I'll tell you.

We don't plan on mounting a television above the fireplace.  BUT, never is a mighty long time, so who knows what will be going on years from now.  The top is for television mounting.  It will be covered (we'll get to the plan in a minute), so what you're seeing now will be hidden.  A television can be mounted in the middle, a hole cut in the panel that will be in place and the wires dropped down the open section in the middle right down into the current top of the mantel.

There is a one inch gap there, although it's a little tough to make out, that wires can fall into.

In the mantel piece above the fireplace, I've placed a panel to allow access into that area.  Below is with the panel removed.

The wires can then be dropped down the pillar on the left side and come out along the outside where a cabinet could be placed housing all of the television accoutrements.

That's where we're at so far.  Next up is going to be the upper mantel.  It's going to look like a smaller version of the bottom section and will go all the way to the ceiling.  Below is my high tech, super CAD drawing.  Yes, Virginia, pencil and paper still do exist.

I'm still a little concerned about the proportions.  As such, I decided to transfer the dimensions for the upper pillars to a piece of plywood.  That's below, although a little tough to see.  I never said I was a photographer.

I'm going to cut this out and put it up on the mantel to see if it looks alright.  One thing I don't want is for the top to appear heavier then the bottom.  I'm sure there's some math I could bust out in order to accomplish this, but I'm a simple guy and holding a piece up should suffice.

This template will also serve as a building diagram.  Plywood is cheap.  Walnut is expensive.  This way I can cut the pieces and fit them directly to the template.  No measuring.  Less fractions.  The world is a better place that way.

As the two of you will also notice, this post is labeled part I.  Stay tuned.  I would say "next up is...", but I haven't gotten that far, yet.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Crap Your Kids Say

"It's cool, because the bird actually went into the gravitational pull so the bird can kill the pig."

-The Boy, March 24, 2012

Words that would have never crossed my mind at the age of 9.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Garden: The Plan, Part III "Embarrassment is Fun!!"

Alright.  Here it goes.  Now, I'm typing this on my second glass of wine, and it may end up being fairly long, so I could be on my second bottle by the time I reach the end and I may propose to the Idiot by the time all is said and done.  By the way, go donate.  See previous post.

Now is the time both of you have been waiting for.  The time where I show what a horrid job at a gardening blog I have done.  Ready?  Wait.  Go get a beer.  It will be better that way.  I'll wait.

Our landscape designer, Mr. Savage, has given us three dimensional pictures of the finished plan, minus many of the plantings, but you can get the general idea.  I've included those as best I can.  And, we're off.

Side yard as it currently stands.  My contribution to the world of white trash.  My wife will be fuming when she sees this one.  Well, and the rest.

On the left you can see the vegetable garden.  Notice the lack of vegetables.  That's because of this.

That's a pepper tree.  That tree was half the size when we moved in a few years back.  It has now grown so large that it actually casts a shadow over the vegetable garden during the winter.  I need to call the City.

Moving along, the side yard should eventually resemble this.

See trees and stuff.  Apparently, that's my wife.

Moving on.

This is the backyard from a path that runs along the back of our house.  The path is actually a couple of miles long and winds up through the hills behind the house.  Of course, that requires a gate in the back as during the summer months we enjoy walks back there while the kids do what they do and I smoke a cigar and have a proper beverage.  Anyway, here's what it will look like.

The structure is going to be replaced.  Over to the left there will be a row of fruit trees.  I need something to put in my gin.  And my Blue Moon.  You get the drift.

Lastly, the front yard.

The front yard will be a dramatic change.  It will end up like this.

Big change.  Now, ALL of the lawn is being removed.  I'll have a mower available in a couple of years.  Currently, the yard slopes down to the sidewalk.  We're going to remove that and put in a retaining wall, creating a courtyard up above.  That will be a future post.  We can't give it all away right away.  Neither of you will come back.

So, there you have it.  Filled with good intentions, but a lack of time.  Maybe I'll win the lottery.  Probably not.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Donate for a Good Cause

The Idiot Gardener (I have no idea if he's one of the bloke's in the picture above, although I guess he could be one of the women, it is the internet after all.  Maybe even the dog) has got himself an allotment plot, I believe it's called.  We call it a community garden, but I'm sure there's something witty they call it over in the old land.  I can call it that thanks to  Who would have thought I was Scottish/Irish on one side and 100% German on the other.  Explains all the yelling at Christmas.

Anyway, he has himself one of these plots that is also being used for educational purposes at a local school.  In order to get it up and running, they need to put in some deer fencing.  Anyone who has gardened with deer know that nightmare.  I have rabbits.  They're easier to shoot and eat.  And the fencing is cheaper.  Their club is called the Felbridge Garden Club and the Idiot has created a website where you can go and donate to this worthwhile club.  I have given some, so the gauntlet has been dropped.

So, go.  I have no doubts that if he can raise the required money's, then Spurs will win the League.  The God's look kindly upon those who give.  Or, at least that's what I'm told.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Travel: The Omni San Diego

This past weekend my lovely wife, M2, and I had a grown-ups only weekend in San Diego.  One of the nice things about the suburbs is that, by definition, there is a major city nearby.  For us, we have two:  Los Angeles to the west and San Diego to the south.  We decided to spend a couple of nights at the Omni Hotel in the Gas Lamp district of San Diego.  Very nice district with pubs and restaurants aplenty.

One of the notable features of the Omni is its location with respect to Petco Park, the stadium where the San Diego Padres play.  It's just across the street.  Below is a photo from our room.

Previously we stayed around the corner on the side of the building facing the stadium.  We could look down into the field and if it were baseball season I could have watched nearly all of the game from the comfort of my bathroom.  It would have only been better if I could have actually sat on the porcelain throne and watched.  Wouldn't that have been a picture.

The hotel also has its own entrance, a bridge that crosses over the street separating the two, into the stadium.  I'll need to check the schedule and see if our Anaheim Angels (I'm not calling them Los Angeles) play some interleague games there this year.  Although, I'm freightened to know what the rates are on game nights.

From the other direction we had a view of the Gas Lamp distrct and San Diego.

I've swiped some pictures from the Omni website below.  As I said, this was a "grown ups" weekend.  There wasn't much leaving the room (wink-wink) for picture taking.

The bridge leading into Petco Park.


Pool.  We did enjoy a drink (or two) out here as the weather was gorgeous.

View of the outside.

It was a great hotel to stay at.  There is a McCormick & Schmick's restaurant on the first floor.  McCormick & Schmick's is a chain restaurant with locations throughout the United States.

My only complaint about the entire weekend was the room service we ordered Saturday night.  I'm not sure if the restaurant prepares the food or the hotel has their own kitchen, but the meal was not good.  And, I had a caesar salad.  How the hell can you screw up a caesar salad?  Throw a chunk of cold dry chicken on the top.  Ick.  And, it was too bad as the breakfast is spectacular.  Bananas Foster French Toast.  Enough said.  Get it.  Eat it.  Love it.  Send me a buck for the recommendation.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Come ON Summer!!

I know it's not even spring.  But, a boy can dream.

Have you ever tried polishing these things?  Holy frijoles, it's a chore.  And, you have to concentrate.  Don't get the brown on the white, oh Lordy, a fate worse then death.  These will be shined up soon.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Brew: An Actual Drinkable Batch

Finally, the third time is the charm.  Something I can actually give to people I like.  The other swills I created I sent to my enemy's.  They sent it back.

We'll call this one the Turling Castle Pale Ale.  I like that.  Imagine on the label a big picture of a castle with me at the top surrounded by...well, I digress.  I picked up a new toy for this batch.  Actually, I didn't "pick it up" so much as "borrow" it from my father-in-law.

This is where I should impress you by spewing out how many BTU's it runs.  I have no idea.  Let's just go with it gets really, really hot.  Hotter then the stove.  Cooler then the sun.  It's somewhere between those two.

Here we are brewing the wort.  I did have a little trouble being outside as a few week's back when this batch was made we had Santa Ana winds.  It seems we've had Santa Ana's all winter.  (For those of you wondering, Santa Ana winds occur when a high pressure system sits over Nevada/Arizona and a low pressure system is off our California coast.  The hot, dry desert air moves from the high pressure system to the low blowing it's way across Southern California.  One of the rare occasions it can actually be as hot, if not hotter, on the coast then here inland.)

Off to take the wort into the house to place it in the ice bath in the sink.  I don't have a cooler yet.  Baby steps.

I got my recipe from Palmer's How to Brew book and modified it slightly for what my brew shop carried. Here's the recipe and the process:

          3 lbs. Briess Golden Light Dried Malt
          3 lbs. Briess Sparkling Amber Dried Malt
          1 oz. Cascade hops (pellets)
          .5 oz. Columbus hops (pellets)
          California V Ale Yeast - liquid (1 vile)

In the pot placed three gallons bottled drinking water, brought to a boil and added the malt extracts.  Just pour them in while stirring.  Waited a couple of minutes for the hot break (the point where it's less likely the whole concoction will explode) and threw in the Columbus hops.

At minute 45 I added the Cascade hops and 5 teaspoons of yeast nutrient.  The yeast nutrient is optional.  Gives the little buggers a little more to munch on.

At minute 50, I added 1 tablet of Whirlfloc.  This is for clarity (I think, the guy at the brew shop was helping 5 people at one time, but I'm pretty sure that's what this is for).

At minute 60, we're done.  I then dunked placed the pot in the sink filled with ice to cool it.  Took 51 minutes to get it down to 75.  Then, I pitched the yeast in after putting it in the fermenting bucket along with another 2 gallons of bottled drinking water.

I wish I could have calculated the alcohol content, but I was so happy the house was still standing I forgot to get the original gravity (OG) reading.  The final gravity (FG) was 1.02, but that doesn't do us much good.

Anyway, the brew turned out pretty darn good if I do say so myself.  I would put it right between a pale ale and an india pale ale.  I may go a little easier on the hops the next batch and see what happens.

Until, then, cheers!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Family Ties: LBJ, This Explains A Lot

Lyndon Baines Johnson.  He's my cousin.  Distant cousin, but cousin nonetheless.  The second of two President's I'm related to, LBJ is from my father's side.  From my mother's side I get William Howard Taft.  There is a nice article over at Get Kempt on the Johnson Treatment.  Below I've dropped in a video from that same post over at Kempt.  Christ on cornbread, listening to LBJ order pants explains a lot about me.  Anyway, enjoy.  It's pretty damn funny.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Lighting: Thank God, I Can See Now While Doing Dishes

Above our sink used to be a canister light shining over the sink.  Then, we put in a tin ceiling and I covered that up.  Don't worry, Mike Holmes, I removed the wiring from the canister before covering it.  We then put in kitchen cabinets and ran a shelf between two bump outs.  So, I, being the wise one I am, decided to put a puck light in the shelf above the sink in order to replace the canister that had been there.  One problem.  Try finding a single puck light that you can hard wire.  Nope.  And, I wasn't about to spend $80 on a group, so I could use one light.  I did the next best thing, I bought a puck light that has a plug, cut the plug off, and hard wired it.  It lasted 17 seconds.  So, instead I got this:

It's from a big box store...ok, it was Lowe's, maybe they'll give me an endorsement deal.  It shines a good deal of light and is nice to use as an accent light to keep the kitchen illuminated rather than the five remaining canister lights.  I'm guessing one is cheaper to run then five.  Here is what it looks like.

And, before you start mocking me about the title that I don't do dishes, I do.  Except for that one in the sink in the picture above.  Christ, I'm really not good at this picture taking blogging thing.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Inspiration: Audwin P. McGee's Pad

If I had a house, I would want it to be like this.  Ok, I do have a house.  But, also a wife, two kids, etc.  I still want it to look like this though:

Michael Williams over at A Continuous Lean has an excellent post on Audwin McGee, who he is, what he does and why he's most likely cooler then you.  He's cooler then me, that's for sure, but gives us something to aspire to.  The post is from a little while back, but style is timeless, yes?  I tried to get permission from Mr. Williams to post these pictures, but was unsuccessful.  So, Mr. Williams, if you want me to remove them, let me know.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Travel: Go to Rome for Book Porn

If ever a reason to visit Rome, this is it for me.  As if I really need a reason.  The Vatican has released 100 previously sequestered documents for an exhibit at the Capitoline Museums in Rome, from March 1st until September 2012.  The exhibition is titled Lux in Arcana - The Vatican Secret Archives Reveals Itself. 

I will admit, I am fascinated by the Vatican.  I will gobble up any piece of information I can on them.  And, if there's a conspiracy theory involved, forget it, I'm hooked.  They have documents on the trials of the Knights Templar for crying out loud.  Who doesn't want to see that?

Enjoy the above clip.  It is, of course, propoganda and not a documentary of the exhibit, but my oh my it does get the blood pumping.  For me, at least.