Sunday, October 25, 2009

Julie (knock, knock, knock) Julie (knock, knock, knock) Julie

Here's one for the friend listed in the title. And of course a reference there to Big Bang Theory, a mutually admired sitcom on CBS.

This lovely pocketknife has scales of pure pipestone. It needs a good final sanding and polishing, and a buffalo etched on the blade, but will look pretty much like this when I'm finished.


More Later

Friday, October 23, 2009

Snow, Knives, Lumberjacking

An interesting thing happened as the Boyo and I were playing Wii today.

We were trading off playing Wii Fit (the ski jump, no less) and it was my turn. I had just caused my little Mini-Me to leap daringly into the air, when I noticed movement outside in the corner of my eye.

My head turned in time to watch a rather large tree drop right across the road! Right across it! Like a railroad gate closing, and about as fast too. No more entry or exit to our little Cul du Sac.

I didn't hear it fall though. So I guess even when there is someone there to see it, it won't really make any noise. I commented that our new roadblock would make access for Mommy a little harder when it was time for her to come home. The Boyo immediately decided that the tree would have to be moved, and he could think of none other to do it than his Daddy.


Did you notice too, that it has snowed up here? Not the light, fluffy, let's go make snow angels kind either. But the big, wet flakes that accumulate quickly and heavily on anything they touch, forming a nice substrata of slush under the deceptively pretty marshmallow top.

I discovered two things today.

One - I'm not ready for winter snows. The only footwear I could find for a while were my Tiva's. Not great for slushing around.

Two - I'm not ready to play lumberjack in the snow.

I geared up as best I could, remembering in the nick of time that my snow boots were in the hall closet by the front door. Then I retrieved my trusty chainsaw from the shop and headed out to work. The Boyo had instructions to continue the Wii, or watch me, but not to join in the outdoor fun, and my little Sweet Pea was hard asleep.

After a good long time, the road looked like this...

The day was saved! The wife returned from work in time for me to spend a couple hours in the shop, where I finished putting this together...

It needs a little sanding here and there, and a nice final polish. But overall, I'm pretty pleased with how it came out!

And now, I am tired, sore, and in need of warmth. Fortunately the Wife turns into a little furnace when she sleeps. So after a little ibuprophen and milk, I'm going to go bask in her radiance for my evening slumber!

More Later

Sunday, October 18, 2009

I'm Back!

Thanks to a loaner computer from my folks. It's a Mac though, and I'm having quite an amusing time trying to find my way around it.

For the last few days I've been griping internally about not having access to the almighty Web. Also about the chance of losing all of my business files and some wonderful pictures of the kiddos, of course. But mostly grumping about not being able to check e-mail, or post something here.

And you know what? I haven't really missed it at all. Oh, it's nice to be able to look up that ever important information that I need from time to time, like how to harden stainless steel or who played Zelda in "Singing in the Rain". But I was able to busy myself with a great number of other projects. Working on knives mostly. And entertaining the folks during their visit this weekend. We stayed up late late late into the night after sharing some homemade bean soup, beer bread, pepper jelly, and cookies. We also had a campfire up on the back hill, and were joined by some friends, so we had a very packed little 'campsite'. But we enjoyed the s'mores and too soon went in for hot chocolate and hot buttered yum that the wife had whipped up earlier.

I showed Dad a video about forging knives, and I think we'll set a little blacksmithing rig up nest to the campfire next spring and give that a go. The Wives watched too, and were utterly perplexed by our interest in and desire to make forged knives. They are good sports though, and will let us explore the forge idea so long as it doesn't blow up or burn down the house.

Today the parentals and the four of us went to an apple orchard to do some pickin' and get a couple of pumpkins for the punkins. We went off into the corn maze and ended up making our own trail out because we were a) hopelessly lost, and b) extremely tired of wandering around in the corn! But we got the squash and the apples and a good time was had by all!

So, a good week without interenet is actually possible.

Enjoy Life.
It is too short

More Later

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Dead Computer, Live Dreams

Our computer gave up the ghost last week.

Do not weep for it though. It lived a good, long life in computer years. (About six)

The trouble now is, I have no place to post blog entries! I am doing this one from a computer at work. I'm on call right now. Which essentially means I'm off the clock and just waiting for something to happen.

So, the Wife and I are shopping around (albeit hesitantly) for a new computer. Most of our extended family has Mac's, so we gave those a brief glance. But they are VERY pricey. A friend of mine at work pointed me to the Dell outlet store. Those seem reachable financially, and they are PC, which we already have a history with.

Anybody want to donate to the My Dog Shoba Computer Fund? :) Maybe I should do like NPR and offer a gift for donations... I do have lots of extra pepper jelly!

Anyway. A computer will happen somehow. On to the dreams!

Found this on tonight and nearly spewed Pepsi from the nasal passages.

After hearing that my brother has harbored small neural nibblings about building something to cruise the open waters with, and having similar designs flit through my head from time to time, I'm wondering if a joint effort would produce something worthy enough for a cruise from St. Lo down to Cape. Or perhaps the completion of the 2002 adventure my Dad and I started when we paddled from Lake Itasca in Minnesota down to St. Louis.

Now, I am (of course) thinking of something a little less white trashy. Something a bit better balanced and something able to carry everyone who wants to go.

More importantly, the dreams in my head are active again. The Wife has already been warned somewhat, and now I'm warning the rest of the world too. I may not build myself a pontoon boat, or anything that crazy. But there's something brewing in my head, and change is coming on the winds of Autumn.

I have always had a multitude of 'wacky' ideas floating around up there. Sometimes they've been really successful and fun (like the 2002 river expedition). Sometimes... well... not so much. (Let's not talk about Broccoli Jelly. Ever.) The point is, they are there. I am so lucky to have a wife who lets me chase those dreams down, even if it is just gabbing about them for awhile.

Alright. Call is almost over. Time to drive home and snuggle in with that beautiful wife for a few short hours before the sun comes up and a new day dawns!

More Later

Friday, October 2, 2009

How to Make Pepper Jelly

It's really quite easy! See...

First take your peppers and clean them off so they are nice and pretty.

Then chop the peppers into small chunks.

Mix in a blender with some cider vinegar and apple juice. (The Boyo loves this part) Then store the puree in the fridge overnight. We actually have a separate fridge for this, as the soaking peppers will flavor everything in your fridge. Two years ago we had pepper flavored string cheese - and the package was still closed when we soaked the peppers!

The next day (today) we take the puree and strain it to get all of the yummy pepper juice. Toss the pulp away, or make it into a jam if you please.

Add pectin, sugar and a pinch of salt and bring it to a roiling boil.

Put the finished soupy liquid in jars and boiling water can them.

Ta Da! From the bottom up we have Purple Pepper Jelly, then a Red Pepper Mix Jelly (King of the North and Buran with a Hot Portugal for spice), then Chervena Chushka Pepper Jelly, and on top Sweet Orange Pepper Jelly! I've got 8 jars of each. The Sweet Orange and Chervena Chushka are gelling up quite nicely and are ready for eating any time (like an after dinner snack tomorrow night!)

The Purple didn't gel up very well. See, I made that batch first and couldn't find my recipe book, so I did it from memory. Turns out my memory gets a little hazy from year to year, and I added the sugar before the pectin... a big no-no in the canning world. So it's more of a syrup. I think if it doesn't gel up by next week I'll open them all up and re-work it to get it to gel. It's too pretty to use as a syrup. Although the Boyo used some of the leftover of it for dipping sauce for his chicken at dinner tonight. Turns out to be a VERY tasty idea!
So, you see. Easy Peasy! Come Thanksgiving, we'll put out a jar with cream cheese and enjoy!

I'm also running a grand experiment this year. I didn't have time to turn all of my peppers into jelly (I've got a Hazardous Materials course to do this weekend) So I only did these four batches. I cut up the other peppers into the big chunks and put them in the freezer. There's enough pepper parts in there to make two more batches of red, four batches of green, and maybe even another batch of purple!
In a week or two I'll try a batch with the frozen peppers and see how that works. I also had leftover juice from the two red batches and the orange batch. I combined those with about a 1/4 cup of apple juice (to get the right proportion) and have frozen that mixture as well. If these methods work, it will mean that next year I won't have to spend three or four solid days making pepper jelly! I'll be able to spread it out a bit and do it when I actually have time!
And freshly made pepper jelly in the middle of winter!?! Imagine the possibilities!
More Later
PS. I've got about six dozen extra Jalapenos if anybody needs some! Let me know...please!
Maybe I can freeze those too... Hmmm.