A Leap of Faith

I just realized that it’s been more than a week since I have posted! We have been very busy here in sunny San Diego, and I actually have two or three posts worth of words to write and pictures to share. But I just haven’t had time to sit down and edit the pictures or write the words! 

So what is our leap of faith? 

We are in the middle of starting a major home remodel that will convert our garage into living space: an office, utility room, a powder room, and a master suite. Everything about this is an exciting but scary venture: the cost, the time, the construction. And there are many things that have to happen around the same time for this to happen! Josh and I just do not have the know-how or the time to remodel the garage on our own, so we are hiring this one out. 

One of our “requirements” to have the money to pay for the major remodel is to finish part of our bathroom remodel: the bathtub area and surround. So this week is bathroom remodel week. We are aiming to be done by July 5th with that entire area. There are still a few other things that need to be done, namely the floor, but we are going to wait on that until we have a second bathroom to use!

There will definitely be a bathtub remodel post. It has been an interesting experience to say the least!

The Lord has provided many things for us so far on this journey! I am looking forward to seeing what He does next! Stay tuned for more posts after our bathtub remodel is done.

-Lynn

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Raspberry Pi

My summer project for the boys and me came in the mail yesterday: a Raspberry Pi. It’s a tiny computer (motherboard) that you can use to teach programming to kids. It also has many real-world uses. My real-world use for it will be to replace our huge computer tower that we have by our TV with this tiny computer.

We use the computer tower to access the internet through our living room TV, which is how my youngest child watches homeschool videos. We don’t really use the hard drive part of the tower, so I’d like to move the whole tower to a computer desk where it can be used as a computer instead of a media center. This credit card-sized motherboard can sit on a shelf  and be our media center instead. Bonus: more space in the entertainment center!

Before I do that though, I’m going to let my kids play with it first. I borrowed a book from the library called Adventures in Raspberry Pi.

I’m going to have either Corran or Thias (or both!) program through the book. The main programming language used is Python. Corran has already had a taste of Python and says it is a little bit harder than Java. That is okay. I think once he sees what he can do with this little computer, he will be excited!

I ordered our Raspberry Pi 3 Model B through Amazon for about $40.

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I had seen pictures of the motherboard online but nothing prepares you to see it in person. It is tiny!

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Four USB ports (we plan to use two of them for a mouse and keyboard) and Ethernet. There is built-in wireless but it is still useful to have the option for a wired connection.

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Full-size HDMI port for hooking up a monitor or a TV.

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Audio/visual connection and a camera interface (For the Raspberry camera).

 

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The micro SD card slot is on the underside of the motherboard.

I think the Raspberry Pi also has some applications in robotics and possibly with our Lego Mindstorms robot. We are going to start with the programming part first and then go on from there. If I am able to use it as our living room media center, then we will probably need to buy another one or two to use for other applications!

-Lynn

 

Lego Challenge Tuesday: Build Summer Treats!

It’s starting to get warm out there! Or maybe it already is! Today’s Lego challenge from Gather. Love. Grow. is to build summer treats! Ice cream, popsicles, milkshakes, pick your sweet cool treat.

With my kids done with homeschool for the summer, they have been enjoying the Lego Challenges every week. It keeps them busy and in their room for a little while instead of telling me that they are bored. They always enjoy showing off their creations to each other and to me!

We had ice cream sandwiches (neapolitan and dark chocolate!), cold soda with a straw, melted ice cream in a bowl, a popsicle, and some easy summer treats by my two youngest. Gwen and Rhys have Duplo sets with ice cream cones and a picnic basket. Rhys made a yummy-looking tall cone of ice cream, and Gwen made something out of lettuce and hamburger buns with grapes on top.

Thank you to Isabelle for another fun challenge! I’m glad my youngest two were able to participate too!

-Lynn

Reveal the Geek: Lootcrate – Star Wars Limited Edition Crate

The second crate I ordered was Lootcrate’s Star Wars Limited Edition Crate. This one was more expensive than the Firefly Cargo Crate, but it also had more items in it.

We won’t be able to use two of the items until wintertime, but that is okay. They are still cool, and they seem to be good quality too!

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The items were packed neatly into the crate. The box was yet another nice design so we are keeping it also!

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Right on top was this adorable BB-8 3/4-sleeve shirt. I had to get size small because all the x-large sizes were gone. Either Corran or I will wear this shirt.

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Isn’t this hat cute? We can’t use it until winter (and possibly not even then!) but it is still neat to have.

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Here is Josh modeling the really, really long scarf that came in the crate. Isn’t he a handsome guy?

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BB-8 as a mug. I’m not sure how easy it will be to drink out of, but we actually collect coffee mugs, so BB-8 will fit in perfectly!

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I didn’t know that they made collectible quality Mr. Potato Heads! This Darth Vader Mr. Potato Head is a lot sturdier than the toys. He is standing beside Jayne Cobb on top of our homeschool bookcase now.

There was also a gadget bag. At first I thought it was a cosmetic or toiletry bag, but I guess gadget bags are a thing now!

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A Lootcrate exclusive: Vader Down comic book

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I’ve never seen a model like this before. It uses metal sheets instead of wood or cardboard!

The front and back of the full Star Wars Little Golden Book set. The kids aren’t allowed to read them unless we give them permission!

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One of the reasons we want to keep the Star Wars box. This image of the Millennium Falcon inside the top cover was gorgeous.

-Lynn

Reveal the Geek: Lootcrate – Firefly Cargo Crate

Josh and I don’t post as much geeky stuff as we should on our blog, even though it is called The Geek Homestead. We often don’t have time or a chance to be as geeky as we would like. For Father’s Day though, I decided to go all geek and order two Lootcrates for Josh.

The first Lootcrate I ordered for him was the Firefly Cargo Crate. Firefly is one of our favorite sci-fi TV shows, and in particular, we both love the character Jayne Cobb. Fortunately, May’s Firefly Cargo Crate focused on Jayne, so Josh got quite a few Jayne-related items.

I took video of the unboxing, but I have yet to learn how to edit videos, so instead of posting the video, I’m going to post screenshots of most of the items and a description of each.

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The box itself is so neat that we are keeping it!

kaylee2 A Kaylee Qbit was the first figurine Josh pulled out of the box. She is so cute!  Josh let me have her. She is now standing beside my Gundam figurine (who has somehow lost its scythe) on top of the printer cabinet.

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Yes, I confess that I was hoping Josh would let me have some of the loot, even though the boxes are really supposed to be for him!

jaynecoin2 This is a Jayne Cobb coin. It is exclusive to Lootcrate. You can’t find this anywhere else I think. Thias was very interested in this and actually wanted it for himself!

jaynefigure2 A figurine of Jayne next. He is wearing his “Troublemaker” shirt and carrying Vera. And wearing the famous hat that his mom made for him.

letsbebadguys2 One of Jayne’s quotes from the show on a pin: “Let’s be bad guys.” This is going on our bag of holding for Comic-Con!

jaynestownsticker2 A Jaynestown sticker with Jayne’s creepifying statue on it.

flask2 Jayne always carried a flask on the show. So here’s one for us. We will probably just use it for decoration.

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Josh loves T-shirts and especially loves geeky ones like this one. This shirt says “dead fish” on it. It does make me think of the phrase “carpe diem” though, which means “Seize the day,” though you kind of wish it actually meant “Die like a fish.”

There were also two more things in the box: a poster describing Jayne’s warrant for his arrest, and a small booklet all about Jayne and the significance of each item that was in the crate.

Being Firefly fans, we loved this crate. I am still debating whether or not to get next month’s crate, which focuses on Zoe. We will see!

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– Lynn

Jasmine Macarons

Father’s Day is coming up on Sunday, and I told Josh that instead of making him a cake, I would make him jasmine macarons, which he has been wanting me to make for a while! These macarons were a little bit trickier than I was expecting though! Having learned my lesson with my double chocolate macarons, I stayed with my usual recipe.

Since the flavoring for these macarons came in the form of jasmine syrup, I had to figure out the proportions for the hot sugar syrup as best I could. I think I came close, but the texture and rise of the macaron shells was a little bit off.

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I was a little less timid with my food coloring this time. In this first stage, I used 13 drops of red gel food coloring and 2 drops of blue.

For my Italian meringue stage, I used 1/3 cup of jasmine syrup and 180 g of granulated sugar in the hot sugar syrup.

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Scraping the Italian meringue into the almond flour/egg white mixture.
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The batter ended up being a little bit runnier than I’m used to. I think this might be because I used 1/3 cup of jasmine syrup instead of 1/4 cup. At this point I added 3 more drops of red gel food coloring to brighten the pink up.

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When I piped out my 1½ inch rounds, they spread out a little more as well. Fortunately, they did still form that crucial crust after sitting for about half an hour.

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The feet disappeared after the halfway through rotation of the baking sheet. They are still there, just not as visible as usual.

For the filling, I just made a standard vanilla buttercream. I didn’t want to make anything with so much flavor that it would overwhelm the jasmine flavor. Josh is a huge fan of buttercream and he asked me to make more than I needed for the macarons.

Confession: I seriously did not think I would like these macarons. While I was making them, the smell of the jasmine syrup was making me feel quite nauseous. Josh told me it smelled like jasmine, but the scent to me smelled like lilies (the scent of lilies gives me  a headache and actually makes me feel sick) instead of jasmine!  I’m not sure why this was the case, but being in the kitchen while working with the syrup was not a pleasant experience for me.

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These macarons did end up looking pretty. When I tried one the next day, I could not taste the jasmine anymore, though the macarons do have a “floral” flavor to them. I am not sure if someone who was eating them would be able to tell that they were a floral-flavored macaron though. All my kids like them and Josh likes them, so that is what counts!

-Lynn

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Sugar Cookie Fruit Tarts

I mentioned in an earlier post that my middle child, Ian, wanted Minecraft cookies for his family birthday party. I had planned to make Minecraft sugar cookies, but I ended up making Minecraft pie crust cookies instead. It was difficult for me to roll out and cut the shapes out, so I abandoned the dough and used pie crust instead. Since I had a sugar cookie dough now sitting in the fridge, I had to think of something else to do with it.

Sugar cookie fruit tarts with vanilla pastry cream seemed the way to go! This gave me a chance to use the tart pan my MIL had given me for my birthday.

The Sugar Cookie Tart Recipe I used can be found here.

My initial concern with the tart pan was not greasing it well enough and having tart crust stick to the pan. I saw this trick, strips of waxed paper placed in the tart pan hollows before pressing in the crust, on the Great British Bakeoff. It worked like a charm!

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They’re a bit rustic-looking but they tasted good as a tart crust. I actually can’t remember what I baked these tart crusts at or for how long! I’m going to assume that I used the recipe’s oven temp of 350 degrees and 9 – 11 minutes for the baking time and checked on the crusts as they baked.

For the filling, I just used my usual vanilla pastry cream recipe. It is true what they say about pastry cream. Once you learn how to make it, you can whip it up in about 15 minutes or less. That’s almost as fast as making vanilla pudding from a box!

I had strawberries, a few kiwi fruit, and blueberries to use on the tarts, plus I put some mint from our garden. I wasn’t too happy with my arrangement of the fruit, but it was worth a try to make it pretty!

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I think I made the cookie crust a little bit too thick, but I was trying to use up as much of the dough as possible. Next time, I will try to make it thinner.

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-Lynn

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