Soak Naked and Wear a Silly Garment

Soaking buddies last night. We provided the ridiculous threads for the trip to and from the hot spring tub.

Coffee Roast - El Salvador Majahual

Meh...Not too impressed with this pound of coffee I roasted yesterday.

Ouch...Filled Up with Diesel

Ouch...Field Up with Diesel by mikeysklar
Ouch...Field Up with Diesel, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.
I forgot to fill up my Mercedes with diesel before the cold weather set in. This is a really issue for me because the car only had less than half a tank of B100 which has been a chunk of gel sitting in the fuel tank for the last two months. Today the temperature broke 60F so I was able to start the car and top off the stock tank with 10.5 gallons of biodiesel. Starting Chance should be a lot easier now.

SDC4 Prototype

SDC4 Prototype by mikeysklar
SDC4 Prototype, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.

Soldered....not programmed.

More Magnet Ring Tricks

More Magnet Ring Tricks by mikeysklar
More Magnet Ring Tricks, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.

Magnet rings are useful for more than just detecting the presence and shape of a magnetic field. My four latest tricks are:

1. Pickup and carry USB drives
2. Pickup and carry car keys
3. After soldering thru-hole components the cut legs fly right onto the ring, not making a mess. This one makes me feel like a super hero.
4. Finally, fans are awesome. When I put my hand near a 40W Vornado the magnetic field is intense. I can feel the fan spinning from over 12" away.

More Magnet Ring Tricks #2More Magnet Ring Tricks #2

Bread Recipe - Maple Rye

Bread Recipe - Maple Rye by mikeysklar
Bread Recipe - Maple Rye, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.

This maple rye bread has a lovely color and deliciously sweet taste.

1 c warm water
2 T maple syrup
2 t yeast
combine and wait for yeast to activate (foam)

1.5 c white flour
1.5 c rye flour
1 t salt
2 T olive oil
mix dry then combine with yeast and mix

let rise for one hour in bowl (hold at 88F)
let rise for one hour in cooking pan (hold at 88F)
cook at 350F for 50 minutes


A Reasonably Priced Sixth Sense

I've been enamored with body modifications that have utilitarian value. On my left forearm I have a 8" ruler tattoo which I frequently use to measure wire lengths and plumbing pipe diameter. In the web of my left hand I have a RFID tag which I've used on home door locks and for my fire trampoline. Now I'm wearing magnet rings so that I can feel magnetic fields. I've tried two different models of rings so far. The first was a metallic magicians ring purchased off e-bay for less than $5. The magnet was strong and the ring held up, but I didn't care for the look. A new friend from Seattle who turned me onto magnetic rings suggested I try a epoxy coated magnet ring. I prefer the look, feel and size of the black epoxy ring. I also like that it is not conductive in case I'm working with live wires. It is smooth to the touch and made from slightly more powerful rare earth magnets (N50).

What can I sense?

Obviously I can tell when I'm near a material with lots of iron. The ring regularly grabs door knobs, silver ware and knives. Cooking with cast iron has become a new challenge as the ring likes to snap against the metal potentially burning my fingers.

I feel cell phone calls in a new way. The speaker pulls the ring closer to the phone.

My favorite surprise sensation was stirring a cup of hot buttered rum during christmas dinner and noticing a pulsing in my ringed hand that was holding the mug. Each time the metal spoon made a trip around the mug I could sense it passing.

Finally, the most intense sensation I have felt is holding the electric cord on the tea kettle while heating up water. When the ring is within 1" of the cord I feel a strong vibration that is disturbing. It almost feels like being electrocuted minus the shock. 120V @ 10A feels bizarre. I've not experienced a larger load.

I have yet to place the ring near any spinning motors like fans.


Sweet Maria's

Sweet Maria's by mikeysklar
Sweet Maria's, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.

8lbs of unroasted coffee from around the world arrived today via Sweet Maria's. It took a while to arrive and only one pound of beans from India appears to be organic. We'll roast some up with our ridiculous popcorn roasting system and try to pick a favorite.

Any suggestions for places to buy green bean on-line?

Wendy vs Kahn

Wendy vs Kahn by mikeysklar
Wendy vs Kahn, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.

There is a resemblance, right?

Wendy vs Kahn

Worms Reloaded

Worms Reloaded by mikeysklar
Worms Reloaded, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.

I transferred one of our compost tumblers over to the worm bin. We recently found some window screens by a dumpster which I covered the worms bins with.

Worms Reloaded

Nearly 2lbs of Mozzarella

Nearly 2lbs of Mozzarella by mikeysklar
Nearly 2lbs of Mozzarella, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.

At least once a month I like to make this amount of mozzarella cheese. It lasts for almost 10 days in the fridge and provides us with endless dining options. This batch was made from 6 quarts of raw milk, 1.5 tsp of citric acid, 6 tbl salt and 1/4 tsp of rennet. It's a easy cheese to make that has become a staple in our household.

Next Kit is Getting Closer

Next Kit is Getting Closer by mikeysklar
Next Kit is Getting Closer, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.

I've ordered all the parts and am currently soldering a prototype board for my next kit. This device will charge, desulfate and stop charging a battery based on a user settable voltage. It can do a variety of voltages from 0-120V between @ 130mA - 500mA. More to come.

Making a Hot Spring Hotter

Making a Hot Spring Hotter by mikeysklar
Making a Hot Spring Hotter, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.

We live in a town where half of our friends have a hot spring in their back yard. The rest have it in their front yard. A common problem here is that the temperatures quickly drop from 113F down to 77F the further one moves away from the hot spring district. I made a sketchup drawing for a neighbor dealing with less than ideal temperatures of how I thought they could boost the temperature just using the sun (avoiding electrical or gas heating). I think this neighbor decided to plumb a old water heater in line and ignite a fire below it. I'm not sure how it worked out.


Beaujolais Started

Beaujolais Started by mikeysklar
Beaujolais Started, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.

Kicked off another wine kit today. We haven't made one in months and our reserves are running low.

Hot Buttered Rum

Hot Buttered Rum by mikeysklar
Hot Buttered Rum, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.

During a christmas feast at our neighbors we experienced a hot buttered rum drink for the first time. After a large meal this is the beverage that puts you to bed. It was made of something crazy like 4 sticks of butter and 2lbs of sugar plus a dash of vanilla. Just add hot water and a shot of captain morgan.


Back to Sprouting

Back to Sprouting by mikeysklar
Back to Sprouting, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.

Since the winter garden seems to be delayed we have resorted back to our old source for greens. I've started sprouting lentils and that seems to be going well.

On the Ground

On the Ground by mikeysklar
On the Ground, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.

We are now 48 hours into our fantastic snow storm. Most of the snow has melted from the streets and sidewalks, but there is still plenty of the white stuff.

On the Ground #2On the Ground #3

Winter Garden

Winter Garden by mikeysklar
Winter Garden, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.

I've seen better.

Winter Garden #2


Better Belly and Cota Tea

Better Belly and Cota Tea by mikeysklar
Better Belly and Cota Tea, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.

We have two products ideal for festivus and the holidays in general.

1. Much Better Belly (tincture 1oz) - Similar to Pepto Bismol, taken after a heavy large meal or one that was too rich - this plant has been known to bring relief to an upset stomach. We wild craft ocotillo to make this product.

2. Cota (Hopi, Navajo, Zuni) Tea - Dried Loose - Cota is a southwestern plant that produces a bright bold yellow tea that natives of the region say supports the kidney, cleans the blood and settles the belly. It's a refreshing drink that's for sure! This is excellent served warm with maple syrup.

Cat Pee!

In spite of the happy go lucky smile in this photo I am at my wits end with a cat that's pee'ing right outside of the litter box! Thanks to Mikey I am treating it as the sign of an illness. I was going to kill the cat but he stopped me and pointed out that he's likely trying to tell us something. Today I started up a batch of tincture that combines: uva ursi, horsetail, marshmallow root and dandelion. I'll make two bottles: one for people the other for pets. My fingers are tripple crossed.

Snowed In

Snowed In by mikeysklar
Snowed In, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.

We picked up a good 8" of snow last night. The drifts are easily 2' deep. This feels like the most signifcant snow storm I've experienced in New Mexico. I checked on the roads and saw that I-25 is closed 200 miles north of us and 100 miles south. Along with I-10 being closed for the entirety of New Mexico. I guess I should make some more ginger tea.

Snowed In #2Snowed In #3Snowed In #4Snowed In #5Snowed In #6

Roof Repair

Roof Repair by mikeysklar
Roof Repair, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.

When we bought our current property in TorC we knew the roof would be a issue. It's just layers of crappy torch down. The winter storms and recent roof leaks have required me to get back up and assess the situation. We need a real roof is my assessment. I identified and resealed the leaky areas for now.

Chevre Spread

Chevre Spread by mikeysklar
Chevre Spread, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.

Every time I make a chevre from our cows milk I think to myself "Why don't I make this more often"? This batch was made from 1 gallon of raw cows milk and tomatoes we dried from the summer garden. I blend the ingredients together with 1 tsp of salt. The entire process takes almost two days of waiting, but the preparation is minimal.

Chevre Spread #2Chevre Spread #3

Winter Tea

Winter Tea by mikeysklar
Winter Tea, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.

I've always had a weak stomach. I would be barfing everywhere after a amusement park ride or even a significant dip in the road. During the winter months I like drink hot ginger tea to calm my stomach. It is easy to make and also feels pretty good on soar throat. It sounds especially delicious at the moment as there are 6" of snow on the ground and the windchill is quickly approaching zero.

- 1 liter boiling water
- minced ginger
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1/4 cup maple syrup or honey
- pinch of chipotle

Dog Park

Dog Park by mikeysklar
Dog Park, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.

Our local dog park has been awesome this winter. Good dogs that play together nicely. The abundant moisture has also made for some incredibly scenic views.

Dog Park #2


Vacuum Nuts

Vacuum Nuts by mikeysklar
Vacuum Nuts, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.

I have been experimenting with making flavored nuts using our vacuum sealer. Today we had tamari soaked organic almonds and chipotle lime pistachios. The vacuum seems to accelerate the absorption of the liquids into the nuts.

Gas Bill

Gas Bill by mikeysklar
Gas Bill, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.

Yes! Only $42 for gas heating for the home and hot water this month. That is pretty good considering the temps were below average the entire time. We even went into the single digits for a few nights.

No Knead

No Knead by mikeysklar
No Knead, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.

It's been over a year since I made the super popular no knead bread. This weekend I made two loaves for different dinner parties. The bread was a hit and I remember why we used to make it all the time. Here is the recipe I use:

- 3 c flour
- 1 1/4 c warm water
- 1/4 t yeast
- 1 t salt
- mix
- cover and hold for 12 hours
- transfer to baking vessel
- wait 2 hours
- bake 45 min @ 425

Greens ... Finally

Greens ... Finally by mikeysklar
Greens ... Finally, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.

Our winter garden has been taking it's sweet ass time. We are now just harvesting enough for regular salads. Special thanks to neighbor Laura for hooking us up with some of her greens until ours came in. We should have planted much earlier.


Yucca for Arthritis

"Ouch" I've been suffering for the now second time in my life from an arthritis attack. Its in my foot. Gout? Maybe. In either case I tried many things: tart cherry pills, homeopathic remedies of great variety, enzymes. Finally the one thing that has proven effective is the yucca plan. I harvested and dried the root locally last year. I make a batch of tea each day by mixing it with other yummy tasting plants from the garden. I fill a mason jar and pop it in the fridge. A few times a day I chug a few gulps. It works!

Devils Claw

While wild crafting ephedra plant this afternoon we came across this lovely dried devils claw.


Another Chef's Knife

Another Chef's Knife by mikeysklar
Another Chef's Knife, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.

Our neighbor Larry gave us a second knife to add to our kitchen. This one features a mesquite handle which is significantly smoother than the hackberry handle on our first knife. I love the high carbon steel he uses. It's different than stainless steel knives in that you must remember to dry it or rust will form. The extra care required reminds me just how special his knives are.

Apple Mead

Apple Mead by mikeysklar
Apple Mead, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.

I added 1 quart of frozen apple juice left over from last summers harvest to our mead. I wanted to revive the fermentation and add a second element of flavor to complement the honey. I thawed the apple juice in the sun for two hours which liquified the sweetest part and left a block of ice that was mostly pure water. I will add more juice when we go to bottle it next month.

Go Club

Go Club by mikeysklar
Go Club, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.

We attended the first go club meeting this afternoon at Bella Luca. This is the 4000 year old Japanese game played with chips on a grid. A new resident in town Tor organized the event and instructed everyone on how to play the game. It was a lot of fun with the excellent turn out. Now the club meets every two weeks Thursday @ 4:30.