Reuben

About Reuben

Reuben is a green thumb with a knitting machine for a brain. He likes dinosaurs, The Beatles and homebrew (among many other things).
Archive by Author

Home Brew

Beer 2

Brewing my own beer is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, but I’ve always been really daunted by it. (I guess I’ve heard one too many stories about bottles exploding in the garage!) It wasn’t until a friend lent me his brewing kit a couple of weeks ago that I finally plucked up the courage to give it a go.

Beer Ingredients

Reuben Making Beer

I wanted to keep the process as simple as possible for my first attempt at home brew, so I used a can of malt extract (rather than whole grains) to make the base of the beer. After sterilising everything, I added the water and yeast to the extract and wrapped it all up in a towel to keep it warm. I was pretty lucky that the temperature was pretty ideal for brewing, but I borrowed a heat lamp from Katie’s mum just in case it got a bit chilly. Every afternoon when I got home from work I’d check on my beer and see the fermenter happily bubbling away. Then, after almost a week, it was time to bottle it up. I borrowed a bottle capper from a friend and filled all the bottles I had on hand, but I had made so much I ended up filling 12 mason jars as well. Then I just had to let the beer condition. I was so excited to try my brew, waiting for the beer to be ready was the longest 2 weeks of my life!

Beer 1

Reuben with Beer

Finally, on the weekend I was able to try the beer! I had one of my favourite store bought beers and then one of my own, and I actually preferred the home brew. So I’d call that a success! I was a little worried about how the beer in the mason jars would turn out but we cracked one open and it was great. Each one holds almost a litre so they’re a bit big to drink in one go, but they’ll be perfect for sharing.

I’ve loved learning how to brew beer. We’ve shared a lot of this batch with friends so I’m already planning my next brew and this time I plan to do the whole thing from scratch. For now though, I’m really enjoying being able to kick back with a beer I made with my own two hands!

Have any you ever attempted making beer? I’d love to hear some home brew stories.

Reuben

Comments { 17 }

A New Deck

When we bought this neglected old house of ours, we made a list of all the things we needed to fix. Somewhere down the list was the item “replace old deck” but despite being older than the pyramids, the pile of weathered wood outside our front door that we called a “deck” somehow managed to hold our weight, so replacing it never made it to the top of the list. That was until Friday morning, when little Clover decided to pull a large piece of the old deck up and eat it (as you can see by the missing piece in the picture). And so this weekend became dedicated to deck replacement! Here is our sad (and dangerous) deck before:

Deck Before

I naively thought the job would be fairly easy. I made a trip to the hardware shop and bought some replacement decking boards, nails and a circular saw, planning just to rip up and replace the old, brittle boards. But once I started pulling the deck up and saw the joists underneath, my heart sank. Below our weathered deck was a tangled mess of rusty nails wriggling their way out of old rotten beams. In one spot there was even evidence of a small fire! Scarily, the joist beneath an uncharacteristically new section of deck was actually half charcoal. So it was back to the hardware shop to buy new joists!

Burnt Joist

Dogs Watching Reuben

Once the new joists were in place, the it all came together rather quickly and by this afternoon the job was complete! We still have to oil the boards for weather protection but we now have a nice safe deck, and one more thing ticked off our never ending to-do list.

Reubs and Dogs on Finished Deck

Reuben and Clover

Daisy and Clover seem pretty chuffed with their new sunbaking spot too!

Reuben

PS. You may have noticed that the bottom panel of our front door is cracked and has been taped up. It turns our my dad was right, that is what happens when you run around inside the house. Another thing for the to-do list – “replace front door”.

Comments { 18 }

Summer in the Garden

Garden 2

Garden 3

Garden 4

Garden 1

Garden 5

So far our first growing season in our own home has proven to be a quite a learning experience!

At times it has been very challenging. We’ve lost a blueberry plant to an unknown fate. A mystery bug (I suspect earwigs but haven’t enough proof) has eaten one and a half of our two raspberry plants (not the fruit, the leaves and stems!) All but one each of our watermelon and cucumber plants have mysteriously disappeared. One of our passionfruits’ new growth has been repeatedly gobbled up by something, preventing it from growing. We’ve had hot days then cold days and gale force winds. I can’t even remember the last time it rained…

But! Despite all of that, we’ve also had some wonderful successes in our our little garden. Our raspberry is bouncing back. The tomatoes are out of control. The beans have produced more than I could ever have imagined. The zucchinis are in good health. The elderflower is flourishing. We have at least 6 pumpkins on their way. And most happily for me, one of our two Camellia Sinensis (tea) bushes (that we thought had died) is starting to show some new growth, just as we were about to pull it out and replace it with a big blackberry bush! Over the last couple of weeks we’ve eaten homegrown rainbow chard, strawberries, sugar snap peas, basil, zucchini, perpetual spinach, one cucumber and mountains of beans, and now we’re starting to get tomatoes. Though we started small with just two raised beds, we have managed to grow quite a lot!

Even though it can be frustrating at times, we’re really enjoying having a productive garden. We love being able to eat fruit and veggies that we’ve grown ourselves. Nothing makes me happier than spying Katie at the veggie patch, picking something fresh for our dinner. It’s so nice knowing the things we eat don’t have any chemicals on them and that they are in our bellies within minutes of being picked. A lot of the veggies we grow (including all of our peas) don’t even make it into the kitchen. They are so good we can’t help but eat them straight off the plant!

With the successes and struggles of this season in mind, I’m now starting to make plans for the next growing season. It’s time to expand our veggie patch from the two raised beds and I’ve earmarked half our front lawn for some serious redevelopment. Soon it’ll be time to put things in for winter. I’ve already got some kale seeds that are calling me…

What’s been happening in your garden this season?

Reuben

PS All these pictures are from Katie’s Instagram account. We’ve gotten a bit out of the habit of taking photos over the last few months, but we are both determined to get back behind the camera this year!

Comments { 20 }

The Veggie Patch

New Seedlings
Adding Compost
Last Minute Decisions
Planting Out
Almost Finished
Pop in a Box
Finished

Today was a good one. After months of planning and dreaming, this afternoon I finally planted some veggies in our first raised garden beds! Katie and I put the beds together about a month ago but the last few weeks have slipped by so quickly, until today I just haven’t had a chance to do anything more with them. This morning we made a trip to the garden centre and came home with lots of seedlings. I couldn’t wait to get stuck in!

I started off by adding some organic compost to the soil. It had been sitting bare for a month so was in need of a nutrient top up. I would love to have used our own compost but unfortunately it wasn’t quite ready, so I settled for store bought stuff. Then the planting begun! I put in tomatoes, capsicums, beans, peas, basil, coriander, dill, zucchini, cucumber, rockmelon, watermelon and rainbow chard. Once the plants were all in the ground Katie and I mulched them with some lovely lucerne hay and gave them a nice long drink.

I’d love to grow more vegetables including kale, artichokes and some more unusual things, but we’ve got limited space right now and it’s probably best I don’t take on too much too soon anyway. Next year we plan to put in at least two more beds so we’ll have room for double what we’ve planted this year. But I think this is plenty for now. I just can’t wait to watch these little seedlings grow up into edible treasures!

Reuben

Comments { 23 }

Reuben’s Whale Shark iPhone Cover

The Whale Shark

Under The Whale Shark

Whale Shark

Some of you might remember that at about this time last year I was working on a knitted cover for my iPhone, in the shape of a whale shark? At first the project came together really quickly and I began writing down the pattern with the intention of publishing it, so that anyone interested could make it too, but unfortunately I got distracted along the way. Between being promoted at work, completing a diploma, buying a house and trying to find time to renovate it, I’ve had quite a busy year, and until now I just haven’t had the time to put it all together.

The good news is, I’ve spent the last couple of weeks working really hard to get the pattern finished and it is finally done! I simplified the pattern from being knitted on DPNs to flat rows (for communication and tension purposes) and modified the fins to make them a better shape. I’ve even had a friend test the pattern to double check it works!

You can download the pattern here. It’s absolutely free! And while I made the whale shark as a cover for my iPhone, I think it would do equally well as a soft toy.

I’m so excited to be sharing my very first knitting pattern. I really hope you like it!

Reuben :)

PS What do you think of the blog’s new look? Katie gave HOH a bit of makeover over the weekend and we’re pretty chuffed with it! It felt like time for a fresh start…

Comments { 40 }