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Pecan Cheesecake

Earlier this summer I posted a cheesecake recipe.  I gave options to make it with orange, lime, or raspberry.  For Thanksgiving, I made it with pecan!  Take that!  For real, it’s right down this page, just take the recipe and enjoy deliciousness.

What you’ll need:

For the crust

  • 1 1/2 cups of pecans (I used pecan chunks, not whole pecans)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp butter (melted)


For the filling

  • 24 oz. cream cheese
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup pecan whisky
  • 1 pkg unflavored gelatin
  • 1 cup of whipped heavy cream


For the topping

  • 2 tbsp cinnamon whisky
  • 3/4 heavy cream
  • 1/4 powdered sugar (or more, depends on your taste)

How you’ll do it:

  1. Put the pecan pieces, cinnamon, and sugar in a food processor (or something else) to crush up the pecans until they’re finely ground.  It’ll be somewhat sticky from the oils in the pecans.  Mix that stuff with the melted butter until it is all an even consistency.  Press that into the bottom of an 9-inch spring form pan (you don’t need to grease or butter the pan for this crust).  Bake that at 350 degrees for 10 minutes, then remove it from the oven and let it cool.
  2. Find yourself a little saucepan, and put the pecan whisky in it.  Sprinkle the packet of gelatin into the orange juice, and let them get to know each other for five minutes.  Then cook it over low heat until the gelatin is all dissolved into the whisky.  Remove it from the heat and let it cool down for 10 minutes.
  3. While that’s coolin’ off, beat the cream cheese and sugar together until it’s nice and floofy.  Once you’ve got that well mixed, grab the whisky/gelatin combo (provided it’s cool now (temperature wise, not like, ‘hip’ or ‘with-it’)), and gradually add that into the sugary cream cheese.  Let that chill for about 3 minutes, this seems like it might not actually do anything, I mean, it’s only 3 minutes.  But it lets the gelatin start to set up and get things firmed up.
  4. Now, gently fold in the whipped cream.
  5. Transfer all that jazz into the pan with the crust we made earlier.  You’ll more than likely have to spoon it from one to the other, as it doesn’t pour very easily.
  6. A stand mixer is best for this next part.  Put all the topping ingredients in the bowl, and whip it forms nice, stiff peaks.  You can pipe it on all fancy like, or just spread it on.  (Or, after the next steps, even take the somewhat lazy route, and just serve it on the side so people can top their cheesecake with however much whip cream they desire.  Also, have some pecans there to sprinkle on top for a delightful crunch.)
  7. Stick it in the fridge!  I normally make this a day ahead so it can chill overnight, and the flavors get a chance to really get in there and mingle among the rest of the cheesecake mixture.
  8. Once you’re ready to cut it up, you’ll want to use a knife to loosen the cheesecake from the edge of the pan.
  9. Slice it up and eat it!

 
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Travel-size Jewelry Box

Boxes such as this, while simple in shape, provide ample opportunity for them to be different.  By changing the wood species used, or the designs on top, or even how the interior is arranged, you can create a box that has the look and functionality for any purpose or taste.  I’ve made four boxes like this, but really all they have in common is the number of sides, a top, and a bottom.  This particular box was for a friend, and her excitement as I shared progress photos drove me to be sure this was the finest I’ve built yet.

What she wanted:

  • Reddish wood for the main body of the box
  • A custom fleur-de-lis design on the lid (this worried me slightly)
  • Ring storage

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Once she asked for a reddish-hued wood, I knew Paduak would be a winner.  To be safe, I took a sample to her, so she could give final approval.  There are other red woods out there, but Paduak doesn’t break the bank, and my local Woodcraft normally has a good selection of it.  And it’s just pretty, the dark streaks really pop out once you get some finish on there.

For the lid, she had asked that I replicate an image she found online.  She’s fond of New Orleans, hence the fleur-de-lis, and after she’s wed there very soon, ‘W’ will represent her last name.  I agreed to create this design on the lid, though at the time, I had no idea how I would actually do so.

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I had used Purpleheart for the inside liner of the box, as well as the top and bottom panels.  So I thought having a contrasting wood that revealed the fleur-de-lis of Purpleheart would be a nice touch.  Luckily, I already had some curly Maple veneer on hand.  I just drew right on the veneer, then used an exacto knife to cut out the shapes.  For the ‘W’, I used another piece of veneer I had lying about, I’m uncertain what species of wood this was, though it looked to be from a burl. Same process for this, I drew it out, then used an exacto knife to free the shape.

With the veneers stacked as they were, it would have been possible for something to get underneath them, and pry them up from where they sat.  To prevent that (and to prevent me from having to try to inlay the ‘W’ into the fleur-de-lis), I superglued them in place, and filled the rest of the lid with clear resin.

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Inside the box, there needed to be a place to keep rings in place.  I used Fusion360 to design a 3D model that I could print out on my Lulzbot Mini.  This took some trial and error to get right, but that’s the nice thing about 3D printing, it’s quite easy to tweak a 3D model, and print a new version.  If I had tried to use wooden dowels (which I considered), once I drilled the holes to hold them, I would have needed to get a new piece of wood if they weren’t exactly right.  But as it was, once the spacing for the ring slots was correct, I only needed to glue craft foam to the printed part, which helps to hold the rings in place, then slide it into the box, and that about wrapped it up.

 

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Quack! [GIVEAWAY] {UPDATE: GIVEAWAY CLOSED}

I made a ducky pull toy.  Watch the video above for how I did it.  I’m also giving away this duck, as a celebration for surpassing 100 subscribers on my YouTube channel.  If you’d like a chance to win it, head over to the video’s page on YouTube, and leave a comment there by 11:59 PM June 30th, 2018.

If you want to make your own duck, I have a template available on Etsy, which also comes with the files to 3D print your own wheel assemblies.

Just a short post today, if you want more details on the duck, check out the video!  Thanks again for visiting!

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It’s been a while! (Double feature)

Hello, there!  If you have come here recently hoping to see something new, I apologize for disappointing you.  But hey!  There’s something new now, in fact, you’re reading it!

Let’s flash back to about a month ago.  My parents were coming to town on Memorial Day, and Tiffany was planning to cook up some ribs, so I wanted to have an equally tasty dessert to follow that up.  A cheesecake was in order.  Not a cheesecake with one of those hard, crumbly graham cracker crusts, though.  No, this one wanted a softer place to rest, perhaps a bed made of brownies?

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Yes, delightful.  The brownies are pretty-straightforward, home-made, no box recipe here.  The cheesecake is no-bake, very creamy, and jazzed up with some orange.  And, if you do like I did, and forget to cut back on the brownie recipe, you have a bonus pan of brownies to snack on as well!  I’ve got recipes for both the brownies and the cheesecake below.  They’re separate, so you can make these individually, or combine them into one glorious dessert masterpiece.  A note if you are combining them, don’t worry about the foil for the brownies, just butter up the spring form pan really well, and bake the brownies right in there.  Once they’ve baked, I use a skewer to perforate the top of the brownies, which lets the cheesecake adhere better to the brownie base (I don’t know how much this helps, but it seemed to improve it this past time).

Keep scrolling to get to the recipes.  Thanks again for coming back after we’ve been gone so long!

Super Awesome Brownies (consumable)

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped up
  • 1 1/2 sticks of unsalted butter (12 tablespoons)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Recipe:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. I suggest moving a rack nearer to the top of the oven, the brownies seem to bake more evenly that way.  Depending on your oven, you could get away with doing this later, so your oven isn’t on for longer than it needs to be.
  2. Acquire a piece of aluminum foil that will be large enough to line a 9×13 cake pan. Butter the aluminum foil. I find it works best to lay the sheet of foil on the counter, and just rub a stick of butter on it. Not the whole stick! Just rub the butter until there’s a nice coat of butter all over the foil, then place the foil into the pan, buttered side up.
  3. Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt and set aside for a bit.
  4. Grab a medium-sized bowl, glass works best, and put the cubed butter and the chopped chocolate in there. Now rest that over a pot of boiling water, be sure the bowl isn’t actually touching the water, as that could scorch the chocolate. Let the steam heat the bowl, thereby melting the chocolate and butter together, and stir it up so it’s all smooth. Then remove the bowl from the heat and set it aside to cool. Be sure to use pot holders or something when moving the hot bowl.
  5. A stand mixer works best for this next part. But a hand mixer will do just as well, or, if you’re feeling especially funky, you can just grab a whisk and do it yourself. The eggs, sugar, and vanilla need to get whisked together. Whisk them until the mixture is a pale yellow-ish color, and it’s a thick consistency.
  6. Now grab that chocolate/butter mixture from before, and pour it into the egg mixture. Be sure the chocolate is cool, as you don’t want the chocolate to start cooking the eggs. Unless you’d rather have sweetened chocolate scrambled eggs, rather than brownies, then, you know, do whatever. But that sounds gross. Once everything is completely mixed together, you’re good to stop whisking.
  7. Find the dry ingredients you mixed together way back when. Pour that into the eggy-chocolate mixture, and whisk that up until it’s all incorporated together. Transfer the batter into the foiled pan from earlier.
  8. Bake the brownies in the pre-heated oven for about 30 minutes. You’ll know they’re done when a toothpick or skewer inserted into the middle comes back out clean. Be careful, it’s easy to over-bake them, and then they aren’t nearly as gooey as they should be.
  9. Now eat all the brownies. Don’t share them. Tell others to make their own brownies.  Making your own food is a valuable skill,  so they should be thankful you’re giving them this opportunity.(Or, be nice to your friends and family and share the brownies).
  10. NOTE! If you don’t want plain chocolate brownies, grab some of the fancy chocolate bars that have fruit added (I’ve used orange, blueberry, cranberry almond, and a few others) for a fancier treat with no extra work on your part. You could even use fruit juice in place of the vanilla to kick it up that extra notch.

 

Equally as Awesome Orange Cheesecake

Ingredients:

  • 1 package chocolate graham crackers (crushed up into crumbs)
  • 3 tablespoons butter (melted)
  • 1/2 cup of orange juice
  • 1 package unflavored gelatin
  • 24 ounces of cream cheese (softened, just leave it sit out for about an hour)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream (whipped up to have stiff peaks)
  • The zest of one orange
  • Chocolate shavings (use a vegetable peeler to shave chocolate off a chocolate bar) or mini chocolate chips

Recipe:

  1. Mix the graham cracker crumbs with the melted butter until it is all an even consistency.  Press that into the bottom of an 9-inch spring form pan (you don’t need to grease or butter the pan for this crust).  Bake that at 350 degrees for 10 minutes, then remove it from the oven and let it cool.
  2. Find yourself a little saucepan, and put the orange juice in it.  Sprinkle the packet of gelatin into the orange juice, and let them get to know each other for five minutes.  Then cook it over low heat until the gelatin is all dissolved into the orange juice.  Remove it from the heat and let it cool down for 10 minutes.
  3. While that’s coolin’ off, beat the cream cheese and sugar together until it’s nice and floofy.  Once you’ve got that well mixed, grab the orange juice/gelatin combo (provided it’s cool now (temperature wise, not like, ‘hip’ or ‘with-it’)), and gradually add that into the sugary cream cheese.  Let that chill for about 3 minutes, this seems like it might not actually do anything, I mean, it’s only 3 minutes.  But it lets the gelatin start to set up and get things firmed up.
  4. Now, gently fold in the whipped cream and orange zest.
  5. Transfer all that jazz into the pan with the crust we made earlier.  You’ll more than likely have to spoon it from one to the other, as it doesn’t pour very easily.
  6. Top it with the chocolate shavings or chocolate chips.
  7. Stick it in the fridge!  I normally make this a day ahead so it can chill overnight, and it gives the orange flavor from the zest a chance to really get in there and mingle among the rest of the cheesecake mixture.
  8. Once you’re ready to cut it up, you’ll want to use a knife to loosen the cheesecake from the edge of the pan.
  9. Slice it up and eat it!
  10. NOTE!  Don’t want orange, that’s fine, well a little weird, but workable.  I’ve made this with lime in place of the orange, you’ll just want 2 or 3 limes for zest, and if you top it with coconut, it is quite delicious.  Raspberry is also a good choice, use raspberry puree in place of the orange juice, and you don’t really have to worry about replacing the zest.
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Mother’s Day Bowl

Just a quick post today about the bowl I turned for my mom’s Mother’s Day gift.  I hadn’t turned a bowl this large before.  It was a fun one!

The wood wasn’t as dry as I thought it would be, so it might develop a few cracks over the early part of its lifetime, but that’ll just add to the charm, right?  And I’m still figuring out the best techniques to use on the lathe, so I’m sure there’s some other stuff I did wrong.  but at the end it was bowl shaped, so I’m gonna call it a win.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!

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Do you knead a box?

No, you shouldn’t knead a box.  Sorry, kinda forced that pun out there.  A friend of mine wanted a box for her bread, though.  I hadn’t made one of these before, and I learned a lot in the process.  This is also the first project I’ve made for profit (though that part didn’t work out as I thought it would, more on that later).  Let’s get on with it!

About all I knew going into this project is the rough size Steph wanted, and that she preferred it to be a darker color.  I knew about any wood I got we could stain to be dark, so I wasn’t too concerned with that.  I did give the option of using pine to save on cost, but she opted to go with a hard wood instead (a great choice!).  Walnut would have saved a step, as it wouldn’t have needed to be stained, but I don’t really have a means right now to break down rough cut walnut, and I don’t know a place that I could easily get milled walnut relatively inexpensively.  So I was thinking I’d go with oak, but while at Home Depot, I found an 8-foot mahogany board that was just about perfect, so I went with that instead.

As far as  the design, I considered doing a hinged door, just to keep it simple.  But I really felt like if I went that route, I wouldn’t really be doing anything new with this project.  Sure, the final product would be something new, but the path there would have been very familiar.  Also, there would have been a severe lack of llamas in the finished bread box.

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I was just going to get a somewhat plain canvas fabric for the door backing.  But then there were llamas.  And I’m fairly certain Tiffany would have thrown a fit if I didn’t use the llamas.  (Side note:  I kept the llamas a secret from Steph, so it’d be a nice surprise when she opened the breadbox for the first time.  And I was a little worried she’d have a fear of llamas that I hadn’t known of, luckily she does not.)

The build process was mostly straightforward.  And rather than typing out the entire process here, I’ll let the video do most of the work in showing it.  I know some of it happens pretty fast, so feel free to ask questions using the comments below.

I do want to address a few things I goofed up on, though.  So if you feel like taking on a project like this, learn from my mistakes:

  1. Rounding the edges on both sides of the door slats.  I didn’t mean to round the back over, that was me just being dumb.  It made it much easier for glue to get into the cracks between the slats when assembling the door, which required me having to actually knock a couple of them apart.  And where there was glue, the stain didn’t penetrate.  Luckily it’s in a place that shouldn’t be seen.Door glue up
  2. One of my sides got slightly out of square during the assembly of the box’s outside.  That made the door slightly too wide, so I had to cut the bottom of the box off just past the groove, then use chisels to remove enough material from the groove so I could slide the door out.  Then I was able to trim up the door just fine, reassemble, and all was well.Too snug.png
  3. I didn’t want to use screws for fasteners on this project, for no real reason other than to challenge myself to do things differently.  Dowels worked well for reinforcing the butt joints on the corners of the box, but I should have gone with a smaller size.  I used 3/8 inch oak dowels, and you can see where the drill caused some tear-out on the edge of the board.  Easily patch-able using saw dust and wood glue, but the stain there looks different as that patch doesn’t soak it up and become as dark as the surrounding end grain. Bad dowel hole.png

Overall, I’m still very happy, and proud of how this one came out.  Steph finally received it (was originally going to post this 3 days ago, but USPS took forever in delivering it), and she is happy with it as well!  So what am I going to do with the profits from my first commissioned project?  Nothing, because there were none.

Turns out I made a very common rookie mistake.  I poorly estimated how much this project would take, both in time and money.  I was making this for a friend, so I wasn’t overly concerned about getting paid for my time.  But I really only made back the money on shipping and the mahogany board.  I’m not upset about it, I’m not going to beg to get paid more for it.  I consider this a very important lesson for me.  Eventually I would like to be able to regularly make things for people and get paid for doing that.  I’m sure this is the first lesson among many more to come how to realize that goal.

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Jalapeno Bizness

Ahhh, work potlucks.   You can take the easy way out, buy a couple bags of chips, grab some pre-packaged cupcakes from the grocery store’s bakery.  Or, you could spend most of your evening the night prior to the event making something to share.  This time we aren’t having a full-on potluck, just a nacho bar.  You typically don’t get sweets with nachos, though.  So I decided to bring an on-theme sweet snack for the day.

Enter:  Chocolate-covered, sweetened-cream cheese-filled jalapeno slices.  In two varieties, some flavored with honey, and some with pineapple.

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This is the type of thing I should have started the night before I wanted to make them.  Once you get the cream cheese into the jalapenos, you want to freeze it, so it’s easier to slice.  So if you can make get them in the freezer a day early, you’re a step ahead, and not waiting up late into the night for them to be ready to slice and dip.  Overall, it’s a pretty straight-forward recipe.

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Grab some jalapenos, some cream cheese (softened for a bit at room temperature works best), powdered sugar, and  dipping chocolate.  If you want to add flavor to the filling, you’ll need whatever you want for that.  In my case, I used about 3 oz of pineapple juice, and about 1/2 tbsp of honey.  My worry with the pineapple, juice, however, was that it would make the filling too runny, which causes problems when the dipping process begins.

Ingredients:

  • 6 Jalapenos
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 1/2 to 1 cup powdered sugar, depending on desired sweetness
  • Optional: Extra flavor for the filing
  • Chocolate for dipping

Makes about 4 dozen.

Instructions:

  1. Cut the tops off the peppers, and core them.  I just slice down the insides of the pepper to free the middle part with all the seeds, and that seems to do the trick well enough.  IMG_5566
  2. Mix up your filings.  I use about equal parts cream cheese and powdered sugar.  Ultimately, it goes by taste, if you want it sweeter, add more powdered sugar.  If you like the cream cheeese flavor, then use less, or none.  Personally, for this, I want it to be sweet.  This is when you’d add whatever additional flavor you’d want as well.  IMG_5574
  3. Fill ’em up!  Since my pineapple filling was on the runny side, I transferred it to a measuring cup with a pour spout on it, and just poured it into the peppers.  The honey filling, since it was thicker, I used a baggy, cut the corner off, and piped it in.  Once they’re full, pop ’em in the freezer until they’re frozen.
  4. Once frozen, remove the peppers, and slice them.  You’ll want to be sure you have a nice, sharp knife for this, as the peppers are pretty solid when frozen.  I slice them into about 1/4 inch thick slices, and lay them onto a cookie sheet lined with wax paper, and put them back in the freezer while I prepare the chocolate.  (Note:  This is where I noticed that, yes, the pineapple juice did cause some issues.  Even after being in the freezer for about 3.5 hours, the filling was still on the runny side.  Luckily, it had thickened up enough that I could make it work, it was just a bit of a sloppy mess.  Had they been in the freezer overnight, I think the juice actually would have improved things, as it would have turned more into a solid.  Maybe.  I don’t know.  Moving on!)IMG_5600
  5. Melt the chocolate according to the instructions for whatever chocolate you have.  I like to use the Ghiradelli dipping chocolate, it’s simple and tastes great.
  6. This is the part of the recipe I’m still working out.  Dipping/coating these things.  Dipping doesn’t work well, as the filling doesn’t adhere to the pepper well, so it has a tendency to fall out and just get mixed into the chocolate.  So far, what’s worked best for me, is to use the back of a spoon to ‘paint’ a layer of chocolate over the top of the slices.  Then refreeze that for a few minutes.  Once that’s done, I dip each slice halfway into the chocolate, let that set, then go back and dip the other half.  They don’t come out as the prettiest things on the planet, but it works.  If you have a better idea, I’m all ears, leave a comment down below!
  7. Once that’s done, I keep them frozen or refrigerated until they are ready to be consumed.

There’s a lot of bugs still to be worked out in this recipe, but this is only the second time I’ve made these, and the first was two years ago.  If you have ideas about what could improve any of this, let us know in the comments.

I know this isn’t a snack for everyone.  Quite a few people wouldn’t even consider eating jalapenos and chocolate at the same time.  But that’s fine, it leaves more for the rest of us!

Thanks for reading!

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The Quest for Cake

What happens when you want to eat cake, but there’s no knife with which to cut that cake (and you feel like eating the whole thing right then and there with a fork would be frowned upon)?  Watch my epic journey unfold!

If you like the video, I’d appreciate if you give it a thumbs up on the YouTube page.  You could subscribe to our channel while you’re there, to be sure you get updates when we post new stuff.  Thanks!

The knife turned out really well.  I watched a video a while ago from Bob at I Like to Make Stuff, where he made a cake knife, and I’ve had this lil’ project in my mind since then.  I’m pleased that I finally got around to it, it was fun and only took an afternoon of work (between working on a larger project that I’m excited to share next week, hopefully).

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The knife was made entirely of scraps leftover from other projects.  The knife scales are a paduak off-cut, and the blade is a lovely strip of curly maple.  The paduak was a beautiful orange color as I was sanding it down, and I’m bummed it doesn’t keep that tint.

Orange Paduak

Curious about the cake?  That’s Yummy Cake (no, really, that’s what it’s called, but, yeah, it’s also an apt description).  It’s a recipe from Tiffany’s family’s cookbook, and it is super simple to make.  I can sum it up in two pictures, really.

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Mix these together for the cake (only 1 cup of the oil). Ignore the instructions on the cake’s box.

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Mix this stuff up for the frosting.

Bake the cake at 350°F for 30 minutes, or until you can insert a toothpick into the center and have it come out clean.  You want the cake to cool completely before adding the frosting.  And I hope you like the frosting, because it ends up being about half as thick as the cake (not a bad thing!).

Full Disclosure!  We had plenty of knives available to cut this cake.  I staged the knife disappearance simply to have a more fun way to present this video.  I apologize if you feel as though you were misled.  But at the same time, it’s a silly video, so maybe do some self-reflection, and see what the root cause of that feeling really is.

Thanks for reading!  OH WAIT! Before you go, have you entered our giveaway yet?  It’s only open until this Saturday, May 5th 2018, so check it out here or watch the video here.  Ok, thanks, you’re free to go now!

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What’s in the box? (GIVEAWAY!)

More woodworking today!  This one’s a project that’s been on the list for a bit now.  At some point, my sister had asked for a box to keep some dice in for when she leaves home to play Dungeons and Dragons.  I finally got around to it (YouTube video of the process here).  I think it turned out well.

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Hers is the one on the left.  Walnut wraps around the outside, with a painted night sky, curly maple moon, and more walnut (I think) making a mountain.  The one on the right still needs a purpose (more on that in a bit), it’s got an osage orange shell, and the pattern on the lid is made of bocote.  I hadn’t made boxes quite like these before.  The closest thing was a box I made for Tiffany recently.

It's empty.

This design wouldn’t work, though, as the lid didn’t quite fit snugly enough that I felt it wouldn’t wiggle itself free and spill dice all over the place while being transported inside a bag.  Hence, the hinged lid with a clasp to keep the contents secure.

About the lids.  Once I had the boxes glued up and ready to go, I realized I had never really ironed out a plan to make them something more than just a plywood rectangle.  I think I stood in the garage just staring at the box tops for about 15 minutes or so trying to come up with something.  Once I had an idea for one, I got to work.

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Free-handing all those angled cuts wasn’t a great idea.  It required quite a bit of fine-tuning and sanding to get them to fit in without huge gaps all over.  Even so, I still had some gaps that required filling, but that’s what sawdust and glue are for, no?  The other lid was simpler, no angles, just measuring then cutting.

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I mentioned this one still needs a purpose.  We want to thank those that have been checking out our content, so we’re going to give it away, maybe even fill it with a couple things (it could even be a boat!).  If that sounds like something you’d be interested in, shoot us an email (bearmaked@gmail.com) with the subject line “Gimme that box!” by May 5th at 11:59 PM PST, and you could be the proud owner of this lil’ guy, or gal, or non-binary gender distinction, you be you, lil’ box.  Anyhoo, we’re going to pick someone at random from those that email us, and send it out to them.  No need to spam us, only one entry per email address, so just one email is fine.  We’ll reply to your email if you’re selected, so be sure to use an email address that you’ll keep an eye on.

We really appreciate everyone taking the time to read our nonsense, and we’re having fun putting this stuff out there.  Not everything we make is perfect.  Actually, none of it is.  But the only way to get better is to practice.  And we’re happy to share the results of that practice with you.

 

 

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Cake or Cheesecake?

Why not both?

Most Sundays we get together with a few friends to play have some fun in our imaginations with a good ol’ tabletop RPG (we’re being pirates in 7th Sea right now).  Typically, this involves us making some sort of food.  If we’re hosting, it’ll be a main dish, but when we make the arduous journey to their place (it’s, maybe, 1.5 miles), we like to bring a snack, or side dish, or dessert.

Not long ago, we picked up a new bundt pan for 50% off.  What a deal!  I thought it was time to break it in, and am I glad I did.  While I can’t take credit for the recipe, I’ll take credit for googling it.  I knew I wanted to try a stuffed bundt cake, and this didn’t let me down.

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Not content with leaving the recipe alone, though, I wanted to kick up the cheesecake part a little bit.  My first instinct was to make a strawberry jam to swirl into it, and I was going to stick with that plan until we hit up the local farmer’s market.  There was a booth with a very friendly gal that let us taste a few samples, and after doing so, it was pretty clear some cherry preserves needed to go into this cake, not what would have been a lame attempt at strawberry jam by yours truly.

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My only regret is I should have used more.  The bites of cake when you get the cherry, it’s a delightful tartness to offset the richness of the dense chocolatey cake.  Those bites just didn’t happen enough.  Next time, they will.  Not that the bites without the cherry weren’t great, because they were.  It’s one of those instances where something awesome gets taken up another notch from one little addition.

As far as other modifications to the recipe, I omitted the espresso powder, simply because we didn’t have any, and I had to bake it for about 75 minutes.  I think adding a little cherry liqueur to the glaze would have been a welcome addition as well, but I thought of that too late to incorporate here.

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Part of what makes creating things fun and worthwhile is when you get to share those things with other people.  I don’t think I’d make nearly as many things as I do if I just kept them to myself (though I was tempted to do that with this cake, at the risk of suffering Tiffany’s wrath).  Luckily, when you bake something, it’s much easier to share the results with others.  They appreciate eating cake much more than they do anything I’ve ever tried to feed them that I’ve made from wood.