Literal green pizza

Playing with toys again…had to wait weeks before the Todo pizza makers showed up again at NZSale…only a third of the price they go for at Mighty Ape…Yes, I know I can make pizzas in the oven but I was interested in something that might offer a more portable pizza-ing experience and a new toy (plus it IS in Deadpool colours)

p70101-192150I made a few conventional dough-based pizzas but I’d been hearing for a while about vegetable bases for pizzas. Being gifted a full head of broccoli seemed like a perfect opportunity to try this (plus a head of broccoli goes a loooong way in conventional meals).

I found this recipe at Gothamist. It was easy, easy, easy…I put some baking paper down case it stuck but I need not have worried: the base pan is super-non-stick.

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The topping was just whatever was in the fridge: tomato, pineapple, yellow capsicum and some mozzarella…

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Forgot to add the tomato sauce base (store-bought pasta sauce) so applied over the top of the other toppings…

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Came out OK…cooked for about 20 minutes…even though the base is a full head of broccoli, the taste is quite subtle and not as overpowering as you might expect – probably a good way to sneak soem veges into unwilling younger diets…

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I use the pizza make quite often with a variety of bases, including store-bought ones which are good to rush meals and also wraps, although these need some care so that the more liquid toppings don’t flow off the edge…

DIY Almond Coconut Milk

My green journey began after the reducing dairy conversation with Bubble…my initial resistance was based on the impossibility of life without cheese, yogurt or ice cream, all of which quickly found dairy-free alternatives for…”Plus think I have mastered the bannoffee breakfast drink now and must have milk for that!!” The comeback “Sometimes milk is needed (e.g. nice cafe latte) other times vanilla almond milk is great (smoothies, cereal and instant coffee!)” set me on the path of alternative milks.

Until this point, I had only associated alternative milks with soy which I never much liked: that there might be other options out there was total news to me…I always pushed obliviously past those shelves at the supermarket. I started out with prepacked almond and coconut from the supermarket but was never that comfortable with all the big words in the ingredients panel on each package plus each empty package = waste…

It didn’t take much Googling to learn that making my own almond, coconut or almond coconut is actually quite easy, actually so easy that I wonder why anyone would bother with the store-bought packs..? I’ve expounded the benefits to a lot of people online and in real life and I thought that it’s probably past time for a bit of a tutorial…

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I have a dedicated blender for milk making…it was only $24, heavily discounted at Briscoes…the advantages it brings to the game is that it has the capacity to hold the nut and 1.2 litres of water, and I can pulse the mix every ‘while’ as it sits.I used to use my bullet blender but had to amalgamate the mix in a separate bowl.

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The raw materials: I buy the chopped almonds in 3kg lots from Happy and Healthy, and the coconut chips in 1kg lots from Bin Inn or similar bulk stockists. I add a cup (approx 100 grams) of each to the blender and cover it with boiling filtered water – our water here is all rain water, but we’re well into the filtering habit and it doesn’t do any harm…

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Pulse the mix of nuts and boiling water for a minute or so…I think that the boiling water helps bring out the oils and flavours from the nuts…

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It’ll look something like this..DSCF0453

Top it up to the Max mark with cold filtered water – you could use more boiling water but I don’t thing it adds anything and you would need to be a lot more careful pulsing the mix until it cools down…

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Let the mix sit for a few hours or preferably overnight, giving it a quick pulse stir up every time you walk by or get bored…

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After sitting overnight, the milk has separated into the meal at the bottom and the oils and good stuff has risen to the top…the same happens in the bottle hence the good shake before use…

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Spread your filter cloth over the target bowl. My filter cloth is polyester voile I bought as a bulk end lot from Spotlight ($12 for 5+ metres)…I just sliced off a half metre square and find this much easier to use than nut milk bags which are also more expensive and harder to clean.

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Pour the mix into the centre of the cloth…

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Draw in the edges and let the bulk of the liquid drain through into the bowl…

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Hold the top of the filter cloth and twist the ball of meal so that the tightening cloth squeezes the remaining liquid into the bowl…

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Voila! one litre of almond coconut milk, fresh as with no big words or other additives. This will last in the fridge for a week. It will settle and will need a shake before you use it. I use this any place I would previously have used milk except for cheesemaking where it probably will not work (haven’t actually tried that) but may still be doable for dairy-free cheese (also not tried yet – with this milk)

I save the leftover almond coconut meal to use in baking. I generate a lot of it and so dry it over the fire or in the oven after baking (I switch the oven off and let the residual heat do the drying) and store it in a sealed container until I need it.

I use the meal in bread (1/2 a cup into every mix), almond coconut cookies, as a substitute for flour-heavy recipes and also recently used it to absorb the additional fluid when I put too much milk in the mix for my roast baby armadillo recipe

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Burn | The Daily Post

Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt: burn.

Source: Burn | The Daily Post

When they refurbished our woodburner, they took out the damper in the flue and opened up the air vent at the base of the fire box.

The net effect of this was that there was more air coming into the combustion chamber, more than the flue could handle once it was heated, especially a good burn with really dry wood.

So what would happen was that the heated air would go about half way up the flue – it is about 6 metres in length – before it created a vacuum behind it and came rocketing back down the flue. On occasion we would have jets of flame a metre long blasting out the air vent! Not only did we have to put up with a smoky home but the point in the flue where the hot air reversed flow would build up and block with soot…

The solution after trying everything else was to stop the air vent, opening by about a quarter inch so that the air coming in was proportionate to that amount that could go up the flue…

Curve | The Daily Post

For this week’s challenge, get inspired by the curves around you. From curves in architecture to bends in nature to man-made undulations, you have lots to work with!

Source: Curve | The Daily Post

A real score!! Le Spiral 016

Eight years ago, I stumbled across an auction on a local site for a rimu spiral staircase…there were no bids on it and even with only a few hours to go, we tossed a pretty large maximum bid in on it. In New Zealand, most rimu is recycled and exotic (the handrail is a single lamination) structures like this are few and far between, affordable ones even less…To our intense amazement we won the auction for the opening amount.

We drove down the Wellington to collect it and were even more amazed: the seller had only put it up for auction on the advice of a friend thinking he might get enough for a few beers for it: his original plan had just be to convert it into firewood! He also had a full set of rimu kitchen doors that he said we’d be doing him a favour if we took them as well. Only too happy to help there!!!

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The dismantled staircase languished in the garage next door for a year or some while we considered the best location for it. We decided to use it to replace our front stairway from the lounge up to the mezzanine. As you can see below, there is quite a drop down the centre axis and with small children running around…

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Despite his stated intention to burn it, the seller was a retired engineer and, despite himself, had meticulously named and marked all the parts in relation to each other. The joiner scratched his head with it for a while before deciding it would have to be assembled vertically and then installed complete. Away he went with all the parts to assemble in his workshop…as it came together in his front window, it became the subject of much interest, including a few offers that showed just what a good score it was…

Seven years later its curves are still as smooth and it still looks great…

Blank | The Daily Post

Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt.

Source: Blank | The Daily Post

Blank: something from which something else is created, raw material, what comes before the product…a piece of firewood perhaps..?

I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to look at firewood in quite the same way again…in some ways I’m reminded of the story that Trautman recounts to Rambo in Thailand..

There was a sculptor. He found this stone, a special stone. He dragged it home and he worked on it for months until he finally finished it. When he was ready he showed it to his friends. They said he had created a great masterpiece, but the sculptor said he hadn’t created anything. The statue was always there, he just chipped away the rough edges.

It’s known as the Full Circle speech and goes on further but it is always this bit that I remember…that an artist, a creator needs good material to work with and that you can never know what may be hidden away with a block of stone or a piece or wood or even a person if you look at it in the right way and with an open mind…

As I slowly work out from the house in tidying up this property, I often uncover chunks or hardwood, mainly rimu and matai, that were dropped to clear the way for the house or, much earlier, for the section of the old State Highway 4 that now forms the driveway after the road was straightened some decades ago. Until now, the fate of such recovered wood has been conversion to heat and light.

About a month or so ago, I picked up a chunk in the woodshed and realised “this is good wood” sowing the seed of “I wonder what I could do with this

Since 2014, I have been applying a ‘teach a man to fish’ philosophy and investing in tools so that I can be relatively independent in doing work around this place. So far, the cottage project has been the major beneficiary and recipient of this philosophy.

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Perhaps an unintended consequence of my green journey has been a growing revitalisation of my interest in ‘arty’ things. I ran a couple of these logs through the table saw to see how they came out and how thin I could slice them. At the back of my mind was a thought that perhaps they might form the basis for book covers or something similar…

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After some experimentation and confirmation that I could still count to ten, I had a small pile of sliced matai…

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I didn’t photograph all the steps but I used two strips to mount another six strips and dedicated a number of night in front of the fire to sanding them smooth and removing all traces of the saw blade. I had intended running this through the saw again to square up the edges but I quite like the way it looks…

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To bring out the grain and add some colour, I’ve rubbed a 60/40 mix of meths and linseed oil into the front and back…I’m assuming that I can darken it further but rubbing more of this mix into the wood…?

Still not sure what I’ll do with it but I have enjoyed using tools and my hands to get it this far…from a blank that was little more than a piece of firewood…

Edit…a day later

Someone at work pointed out that I’ve (so far) created a blank from a  blank…if i was sharper I could have done that “see what I did there” thing…

 

 

 

 

Top Gun Day

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May 13 was, apparently, Top Gun day…

Anyone who is anyone knows that Top Gun is Tom Cruise’s principal contribution to Western culture and that TOPGUN is the place where real aviators do way cooler stuff than was ever in the movie…

Everyone also knows that movies like Top Gun are all about the toys and not about the boys…

topgun256Top Gun was released in 1986 and screened in New Zealand later that same year. I’m pretty sure it was 1986 because it was my first year in the Army and I used to crash on many weekend at my mate’s flat in Picton Ave…handily the corner with Riccarton Road on which the KFC sat…

The good thing about going to the movies in the 80s was that we were spared the torrent of media releases, spoilers, making-of, etc, etc, etc and going to the movie was actually the first part of the experience not the last…

At that time in NZ, Ready to Roll was the weekly TV Top 40 show and that was where we might get an inkling of what a movie was like from the music video. But in 1986, TVNZ had a falling out with the music producers who demanded a royalty for the screening of said music videos. TVNZ’s position was that it was providing free advertising for their product so no way…as a result, we missed some of the better music videos from the mid-80s, of which Top Gun‘s Danger Zone was one…

That Saturday night Top Gun was our movie night pick – we didn’t have great expectations, modern aviation based movies to that point topping out with Blue Thunder and hitting rock bottom with Iron Eagle.  My mate Paul had other plans for the evening so I went with a chap named Dom Kelasih.

Now at the that time, our chose mode of transport around Christchurch was motorbike. When I had come up from Invercargill in January for my infantry training, my first act, like very first, as soon as I rode into town, on arriving was to trade this…

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…in on this…

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I usually rode it with the side covers off as they were only thin ABS and used to keep cracking…this is it all packed for Christmas ’86…from memory, I was house-sitting for a friend in Christchurch and working over the holidays…this is porobably just after the Top Gun incident…

Anyways…so Dom and I sent out in plenty of time from Picton Ave into the movies in the centre of town – from memory, it may have been the Embassy Theatre. The most direct route was through Hagley Park, and a road with some lovely gentle curves. Dom’s chariot of choice at the time was a 50cc ning-ning machine but he rode it like a maniac…right up to the point when the cop parked by the hospital waved him over – and then me,because we were obviously riding together…

We had been travelling a little over the 50kmh urban speed limit and this could have been expensive. I played the soldier card, good old country boy from the wilds for Burnham Military Camp just having a quiet weekend in the city but worried about getting lost and so my only concern was getting lost and keeping up with my guide. Many of these cops were ex-Army and/or Territorials and this was often a successful approach…as it was this time…for me…

Poor old Dom was not quite so lucky being somewhat deficit in some of the his critical documentation, like a license and maybe a warrant of fitness, and rode away a lot poorer…

As a result, we got to the theatre late, although this was the good old days of trailers and shorts so we still got to be seated before the main feature kicked off…seated right at the very front, in the veriest front row…so close to the screen that the action flew (literally for this movie!) beyond the extent of our vision…getting all that glorious ACM from  neck-crickin’ proximity…

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Top Gun is probably the only movie that I have seen that was a pain in the neck in a positive sense – have seen many others that have been pains in the neck – and elsewhere – in more negative contexts…

Of course, we had to revisit it the following night…at a more sedate pace…and from seats more in the viewing sweet spot…

Top Gun…probably one of the best recruiting movies ever made…one of the first blockbusters that introduced an element – in a  very Hollywood manner but who really wants to pay to see a military training movies..? – of what the military really does…

At the time it was also quite topical: earlier in 1986, there had been another misunderstanding between Libya and the US Navy over access to the Gulf of Sidra, one that had been resolved by naval aviation and ELDORADO CANYON was the follow on act to this later that year…As young soldiers, brought up in a Cold War environment  (as close to it as you got down under), we wondered what these events might lead to, especially before the Challenger disaster was found to be the result of a cheap washer and not some Middle Eastern nutjob…

While I’m not convinced that it deserves its own day, Top Gun (two words, only first letters capped!), the movie, the soundtrack, and the ripper quotes, did shape and define our 80s…

 

Hot stuff

Plans for dinner last night didn’t start so well…I was a bit unsure about the meat that I had thawed out during the day so the dogs got a treat for dinner…

Jen Rice’s beer and jalapeño cornbread was already a contender and I had bought some jalapeños and chillies on my way back from the Rangipo Dune field on Monday evening…I had thought that I had bought a couple of cans of Guiness for cooking purposes previously but couldn’t find them anywhere so went with this instead…

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The recipe is quite simple, not much more than mix all the ingredients and bake in a greased pan, so I won’t repeat it here unless I end up changing it at all.

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Almost ready for the oven

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With the butter drizzled over the top before baking – not sure this was a good idea…

It was quite delish though and I was sorely stretched to wait for the recommended 30 minute cool down period before removing it from the pan and slicing the first slice off…the combined aroma of fresh bread and jalapeño wafting out of the kitchen was irresistible…

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Even small slices like these are very filling but I need to think some more on where this might fit on the health scale…probably about midway as there is nothing inherently unhealthy in it, i.e. no sugar but it is three cups of white flower (although I could have added some bran had I thought about it) plus the beer. I used bottled jalapeños and canned corn: I’d prefer fresh next time if I can find some…

The top crust is quite crumbly, possibly due to the butter drizzled over the top before baking. Next time, like, probably tonight, I may try this again but deleting the beer and just putting it through the breadmaker. I think this may give me a denser loaf and less wastage from crumbing – this is too good to waste one speck!!

Have created this, I was a bit lost as to what to have with it and took the lazy option of a can of soup from the pantry – there is probably a reason that it was on special: the only reason that I would buy soup…it wasn’t very nice: well, certainly not a shade on our home-made soups. I tried a spice of jalapeño bread toasted with butter this morning and that was very nice – only later did I remember that I have some dipping sauces in the pantry that I bought because I liked the containers…

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I can’t complain as I’ve had a really good break with the weather while I have been consuming some leave – having the truck (still) at the ‘doctors’ has been a bit of a limiting factor as the courtesy car they gave me is way thirsty than the mighty Ssangyong and it’s only intended for local running – but it is a bit of a crappy day today so there go my intentions to finish off the framing for the roof over the deck on the cottage…

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I made a good start yesterday…it’s not a particularly complex task but made all the more difficult because the design that I inherited in this thing isn’t the greatest and the original construction leaves a lot to be desired: almost nothing is square and the builders took a lot of shortcuts. The spacing on the original roof supports over the deck was only a few cm less than the 660mm width of the supplied roofing iron so my first attempt had to be taken down and redone at 400mmm spacing…

….so insidey jobs today…more cleaning…updating my paper model database and more progressing on this beast…

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It’s not really as chaotic as it looks…just want to get all the foam-reinforced parts ready for sanding (outside) once we get some nice weather again…

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…most of the larger sub-assemblies are done…

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Just debating whether the day deserves a fire or not…

Abstract | The Daily Post

This week, snap a picture either so close or so far from an object that it stops being what it’s normally seen as.

Source: Abstract | The Daily Post

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Something retro perhaps..? Part of a Golden Age appliance..? An old heater, or fridge maybe…? Shiny…most definitely… Precious…possibly to some…

Challenges like this are a fun way to examine how we perceive objects when they are isolated from their more common associative reference points…

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Like this drain…or is it part of a washing machine SmartDrive…?

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Or the exhaust of the engine that punches this D-21 drone to well over Mach 3…?

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An F-111 of the Royal Australian Air Force performs possibly the last ever “dump & burn” at the 2010 Brisbane Riverfire Festival in Australia. This is the only aircraft with the fuel dump nozzle positioned between the two engines at the back, and with afterburner on, the fuel dump switch is flicked resulting in a giant fireball.

Three Zems walk into a bar..

Three Zems walk into a bar..

You’ve probably got no more idea of what a Zem is that I did only a couple of weeks ago…there I was just innocently passing my time on NZ Sale, scrolling through the forest of sales, when I spotted one for something I was totally NOT looking for…ZEMgear

I had vaguely heard of the concept of lightweight ‘natural’ foot wear but was unfamiliar with this company or any of its competitors/peers but as someone who had rashly stepped into the arena of Army footwear projects (starting a land war in Asia and marching on Moscow in winter had already been done), this piqued my interest.

The sale listed was obviously made up of largely end-run stock as most of the sizes were at the midget end of the scale but I managed to find one model in  US12 – it was listed as a man’s shoe but came in a cardboard sleeve marked Women’s US12….hmmm…not too worry, though, NZ Sale probably has a high rate of returns as its return system is pretty slick and painless but…you know how it is…they were cheap…they were here…and they weren’t pink…so I gave them ago…slipped off my shoes in the office and slipped on the Zems…

The fit was firm and comfortable: the main difference immediately apparent was the lack of any shock-absorbing in the heel. This is not a bad thing as it promotes shifting your weight on to the balls of your feet and thus walking naturally as you would/should when barefoot…

I wore them home, took the dogs for a walk, did some minor jobs about the house, cooked dinner, watched some TV…as an indication to how light and comfortable these are, by the time I was ready for bed, I had pretty much forgotten that I was wearing them and almost wore them to bed…

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These were the first pair I bought and they remain my favs…they are a perfect fit and feel ‘just right’ in a very Goldilocks sort of way…they are my daily ‘stepping out’ Zems until it gets colder. I wear them to work where they often attract comment and questions from visiting school groups; the design encourages walking on the ball of the foot, not the heel that we are used to,  enabling agile manoeuvring around visitors and displays, very dance-like, very easily to stop or change direction…

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The split toe looks a little weird but is very comfortable and allows the foot to spread out for better balance and manoeuvrability. The only downer that I have found is that walking across long grass tend to attract the odd seed head that gets stuck between the toes, sometimes the occasional small stone.

The laces are elastic and I find that I don’t need to use the adjustment at all for tight comfortable fit. the seal around the ankle is firm but not tight and deters most stones and other ground debris getting into the shoe…

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Totally sold on the Zem concept, I ordered some more: one pair lighter and one pair heavier than the first ones I bought. I got them a half-size larger as I wrongly felt the blue ones were a little tight (adjust the laces, dummy!).

DSCF9662These are a heavy-duty Zem intended for more outdoors walking. They don’t really do it for me.  Although they are a little larger, they are very tight across the instep with no form of adjustment: this tends to force them forward on the foot and they always feel like they are going to come loose at the heel.

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They are OK – but only OK – to wear across open terrain but my feet will slide out of them walking up the track from the stream at home, especially if it is a tad slippery after rain. The heavier sole offers better protection against sharp rocks and roots but the extra heft also discourages walking on the balls of my feet and pushes my weight back on the heels. I use them for working around the house when I don’t need safety footwear and where it is fairly flat.

This model has been discontinued but I will keep an eye out for a new version with the elastic lace adjustment and a half size smaller…watch this space…

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Don’t judge me by my choice of movies

My sloth-around Zems, also bought a half-size larger but they always feel just a little on the tight side, again across the instep. These are for inside use only, maybe out to the car if it’s dry but not off the seal, not even to grab the dog bowls up off the lawn…They are very light and flexible; it is easy to scoop them up with a load of dirty washing and put them through the machine. I don’t think it hurts them but it is frustrating when searching for them…

These are the only Zems I have without the split toe and it actually feels a little strange to not have feature, much more so than when I wear ‘normal’shoes, possibly because the Zems’ tendency to push my weight onto the balls of my feet creates a different wearing and walking feeling where my big toes don’t get to rub alongside their mates…

Care and feeding is pretty simple: just wash them in warm soapy water and rinse them off. I dry them on the coat hooks just outside the front door – it doesn’t take long because they are so light. Going through the wash a couple of times doesn’t seem to have hurt my sloth-around Zems at all but it may be a bit rough for my other, more rigid models.

Circle | The Daily Post

Today, let a familiar shape inspire you…I wanted a broad theme that could be simple, fun, and festive, but also complex and introspective. And so, circle it is.

Source: Circle | The Daily Post

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Circles, circles, circles…circles everywhere, doing my head in…that’s how it felt when I got to the undercarriage stage of the large scale TSR.2 I was building in 2014. Being a paper model, every shape is transformed into 3D parts from a 2D printed sheet…wheel generally mean lots of circles…

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…painstakingly cut out with a circle cutter…

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…and laminated…

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…layer by layer…

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…until something approximating a wheel is formed.

Normally the next stage would be to mount each wheel on a drill and apply a sanding stick to the spinning tread surface to form the necessary tyre profile, colouring the final product with a deep grey. On this project, however, I decided that I had reached a point where I couldn’t continue and still produce a model that would be worthy, so this was deemed a test/recce build with the real thing to occur this year hopefully before the Scale Model Expo in Wellington on ANZAC Weekend…

This is the model’s home, here is the start of my build at the Unofficial Airfix Modellers Forum, followed by my continuation build.

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It’s a big build – 82cm long when complete – and generally well designed albeit with some areas for improvement and the scale begs for more detail to the added to the pilot’s cockpit – you can barely see into the WSO’s cockpit as the canopy is not designed to open…

Watch this space for construction to re-commence but I am not looking forward to all those circles again..!