Posted on Leave a comment

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!

Posted on Leave a comment

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.

llamas.jpg

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Posted on 2 Comments

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.

IMG_5597.JPG

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.

IMG_5563

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!