Lockdown projects — Month 2

Me making terrazzo coasters

One of the curious features of lockdown life is how little time I seem to have. Work is busy, life is busy, and the weekends fly by with barely any time to think. You’d think the lack of a commute would at least give something, but seemingly not.

But when I’m compiling these posts, I’m realising that it’s all a matter of priorities. Running for miles is in. Making intricate models of buildings is in. Chilling out is not in.

But these are the projects that keep us sane in challenging times.

This roundup of month 2’s lockdown projects includes some promised updates from last month’s list — beginning with news on my running exploits.

Virtual 10k — update

Plan B 2020 Virtual Challenge medal

This month, the medal came through for our virtual 10k. A very nice medal it is too. Lauren wrote about our race on her running blog.

To keep myself motivated, I decided at the end of April to set myself a new challenge — to run a half marathon by the end of May.

At the end of April, my longest run had been 13.4km. I figured out that if I ran an extra 10% each week, I’d be within reach of half marathon distance by the end of May.

Now my longest run is 18.5km. The next step will be 20km. From there, it’s just a little extra push to reach the half marathon distance of 21.1km. Let’s see how it goes.

Baking

With all that running, I need to eat some good food as well. Luckily, Alex is keen to continue her adventures with baking.

Brutal London — update

The full set of Brutal London models on our mantelpiece

As promised in last month’s update, I completed my set of Brutal London paper models.

Most of the remaining ones were far simpler than the rather intricate National Theatre and Balfron Tower. How handsome they look on the mantelpiece. Now to figure out where they’ll live in the long run.

Frank Lloyd Wright kirigami models

Kirigami model of Imperial Hotel

I thought we had a space problem with the Brutal London models. Then I started making these kirigami models of Frank Lloyd Wright buildings. Each of these cutting-and-folding models is made from a sheet of card sized 355 × 279mm — something approaching A3.

But the biggest problem with this is that they are extremely fiddly and time-consuming. The book contains 14 models, and I thought I might get them all completed within a couple of weeks. Well, it turns out it takes two to three hours to complete just one of these.

Every time I turn the page to see a new model to tear out, I am fooled by Frank Lloyd Wright’s elegant straight lines into thinking, “Oh, there isn’t much happening here. This will be a quick and easy one.” Oh no. None of them are easy.

Kirigami model of Unity Temple

I have revised my target to do two of these a week. But even this makes it a two month project.

The cutting requires intense concentration, and is actually quite sore on the arms. The folding is also mightily confusing. The concepts of mountain and valley folds are easy to get my head around. Remembering which side of the card they’re meant to look like a mountain from is a very different matter. I have got some folds wrong on each of the three models I have made so far.

As a result, my models do not look as good as they probably ought to. I don’t quite have the patience for kirigami, but it’s going to keep me out of trouble for up to 6 hours a week for the next couple of months. But maybe I’ll intersperse it with other things to keep these blog posts interesting…

Terrazzo coasters

Coaster chips smeared and waiting to dry

Alex ordered a terrazzo coaster making kit and online workshop run by Katie Gillies. It is surprisingly easy and fun to make these classy-looking coasters with your own design.

Coaster chips in bowls

I opted to try and mimic the colour scheme of my blog, teal as a primary colour and orange as a secondary, and greys as additional and background colours. I think I got the balance a bit wrong, and not as much teal came through as I’d hoped. But I was super pleased with how the dark grey one turned out. The contrasting orange is stunning!

Our complete coasters

We are going to be making many more of these throughout the year.

Home-made oat milk

Oat pulp, olive oil and dates in a blender

This is something I’d already been doing for a few months before lockdown. But all the more reason to continue.

Over the years I’ve moved from cow’s milk, to goat’s milk, to oat milk. Once I discovered how easy it is to make your own oat milk, I felt like I’d been ripped off for years.

Home-made oat milk is not quite as tasty as the milk you’d find in the shop. But it’s a hell of a lot cheaper, and it’s so simple to make. As good as Oatly is, there’s no need to spend £2.10 per carton.

I don’t drink that much oat milk, so I make about 400ml at a time. For this, I soak around 30g of oats overnight. Then rinse them. They will have become an oaty pulp. Blend this with 400ml of water, 2 dates (to give it a bit of sweetness), and optionally ¼ teaspoon of olive oil (I think this is to help make it a bit creamy, but I once made it without the oil and it was fine). An additional option is to add a dash of vanilla extract, but I found this overpowering and it made the milk too sweet.

Beer brewing — update

Beer being brewed

The beer we made last month is now ready to drink. Unfortunately it isn’t the finest product — it is rather bitter tasting. On the other hand, it isn’t nearly as bad as a couple of beers we’ve made at brewing experiences before.

We don’t have a hydrometer, so we’re unable to tell how alcoholic it is. The recipe suggested 8–9%. The first time I tried it, I was convinced it wasn’t very alcoholic. The second time, I got very drunk very quickly.

Living room jungle — update

Plants on our living room table

The hops never came through and have now been disposed of.

Chilli plants

The chilli plants are coming on strong.

We sadly killed the lettuce by not watering it often enough.

The avocado is making slow progress. We think roots may be about to show.

Despite the mixed success with our plant growing endeavours, our table looks more and more like a jungle all the time.

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