October 16, 2017

Bigger Hooter

"Who-hoo, hoo-hooo"

That's what I hear when I'm up all night. Our owl in the box is much larger than the last one. Or could it be the same one, just older and well fed?

owl reach box austin west lake hills tx 


The image below is from April of this year

small hooter

Blue Palo Verde Box

I'm still not done... I hauled in over two tons of soil this week. Wheel barreled it all UP hill to fill the quarter inch steel containers I constructed to house a Blue Palo Verde tree.

Blue Palo Verde steel landscape container west lake hills 

Kat doesn't like surprises. I try to keep her informed of the plan and I had her choose the siting and box arrangement (a 12" 5ftx5ft box is floating over a 6" tall rectangle).

We sited the upper box first. Our lot has a pretty good slope to it. When it came to install the lower container, half of it was under ground when leveled. The remedy was to spend many hours with my pick axe and shovel leveling an area between the containers and the house. I still need to get some small desert plants and a ton of white limestone chips. But for the most part... I'm over the hump on the Palo Verde project.

Quick trip to the Texas Wine Country

airstream in fredericksburg tx

(full disclosure, I made a propane tank and some septic equipment disappear from the pic above) 

Friends of ours recently bought a ranch near Fredericksburg, in the "Texas Wine Country". We took our airstream out for a quick trip to sample their local wine.  

sunrise fredericksburg texas ranch 

Fall weather blew in as the sun rose.  

fredericksburg texas pond fall 2017 

Temps dropped quickly. That didn't stop the boys from playing around the ponds (there are two).  

fredericksburg tx ranch house 

fredericksburg winery texas 

Kat and I tried some of the Texas wines when we first moved from Northern California more than a decade ago. The wines were not good. We gave up on the local juice pretty quickly. I can now say the scene has improved. The wines we tasted this weekend were not bad at all. The majority of the grapes were sourced from the Texas High Plains (a seven hour truck ride), with some of the grapes still coming from California. The whole area between Dripping Springs and Fredericksburg is flush with new Wineries, SO MANY new wineries there now.

kuhlman cellars fredericksburg tx wine country 

We enjoyed the signature tasting at Kuhlman Cellars. They have figured out how to get the most out of the wine, by pairing each with a chef prepared bite.  

kuhlman cellars wine tasting food pairing fredericksburg, texas wine  

I'd recommend it. We took a bottle of their  Hensell Rose' which is dry, acidic, with a nice minerality. We enjoyed it with some Spicy Indian foods later that evening.

Hendrick's Grand Garnisher

Hendrick's Gin invited us to come see their 38 ft Cucumber Slicing Machine. We had really enjoyed the Hendrick's event a few years back, so we made the effort to view their new device.

hendrick's Gin Mattias Horseman Austin

It was just as the press release stated, a 38 foot mobile cucumber slicing machine, The Grand Garnisher. Mattias mounted the beast and demonstrated his pedal power ability, and paid tribute to the cucumber.

Hendrick's Grand Garnisher 

#hendricksgin #grandgarnisher 

October 09, 2017

Floating Vanity Cabinet

The way our master bath vanity has been for the past ten years...

floating sink shelf before 

the PVC P-traps were all exposed. We had so little storage for bathroom cleaning stuffs that they often sat out in the open. Clutter is a constant battle, one that I often conceded defeat. The round vessel sinks had been replaced soon after the pic above was taken. I still have one of them in the garage.

I've spent countless baths staring over to my left, mentally fixing the issue.

It's been a rough couple of weeks here with a hectic schedule that rarely yields more than an hour or two to work on projects, of which I have three in progress. BUT, I managed to buckle down and complete the floating vanity cabinet (seen below).

midceentury modern inspired floating cabinet 

I have a bit of trim to apply, but mostly it's done.

floating angled bathroom vanity 

Let's see if I can complete another project to share for next week... 

October 02, 2017

Fall arrives in Central Texas, the grass is greening

We had a good rain, followed by a cold front. It's becoming nice to be outside. The grass is green, I will need to mow this week. I'm behind on two projects and I've started a third. My week days are often sliced up into small segments, creating difficulty to find a block of time to progress. I hope to get at least one project completed this week. But look at how nice our yard looks now... So many things to occupy the eye.

austin modhouse back yard sculpture paul schuster 

I am also enrolled in a sculpture class that meets once a week. I might be the youngest person in the class. I've been welding for more than twenty five years. When the instructor is busy, some of the other students have learned they can rely on me to help if they have a problem with their welder. I like being useful.

While they were learning how to weld, I made something with scraps found in the shop (below).

floral metal sculpture 


I started to work on a larger piece in the class. One of the older ladies looked at it quizzically, squinted her eyes and asked "What's it FOR?". I gave pause, looked at the beginning of my creation, looked back at her as she patiently waited for my response.... "It's for looking at", I concluded.  



September 29, 2017

Bike project update #1

The first update on the Cannondale project bike involved replacing the massive comfort gel saddle with a light weight one. I also replaced the seat post with a carbon fiber post.

cannondale restobike 

Old seat: 769 gm, old post 339 gm for a total of 1,108 Grams/ 2.44 lb 

New seat 240 gm, new post 216 gm for a total of 366 Grams/ .8 lb

Weight savings of 1.64 lb

That was a substantial weight savings that was relatively easy and not too spendy (around $44 for both seat and CF post) 

We also picked up a digital luggage scale to more accurately weigh the bikes. Current weight is now 30.26 Lb, that puts a corrected beginning weight closer to 32 Lb.

While I was weighing bikes, I put my early 90's Marin on the scale, with its CroMo steel frame, 29.03 lb. That was a little discouraging as I'm still not lighter than my vintage steel framed bike.  

Other items I could swap out are tires, quill and ford, and handle bars. The fork and quill are the most problematic as standards have changed since this bike was new and prices for those parts are greater.

#1 son has grumbled that he prefers his Cannondale in VT over his Specialized Hardrock here in TX. I weighed the Specialized at 29.34 lb. I suspect the difference he feels is more about the tires. His bike in VT has a smoother street tire that surely rolls faster. I think I'll replace the tires on the Cannondale project bike, and see how he likes it.  

Reader, did you come here seeking info on modern home design and construction? Many of you did, a long time ago.  We are hoping to have more of that type of content in the coming years. Otherwise, you will have to be sidetracked with bikes, beers and whatever else is the fancy of the week. But know that I haven't forgotten that this blog started with modern home design and build.




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